#BOSVMUG UserCon – Recap

Another successful Boston VMUG UserCon event is in the books! I’ve just arrived home from Boston after arriving late yesterday afternoon. As I get ready to put the red X over October 17, 2018, I thought that it would be prudent to share a recap of my experience at the event. I was able to participate in the event and spend my time speaking with attendees. To me, this was a hugely successful event from both perspectives: as a Leader and a VMUG member. I want to share with you a run-down of my day so that you can understand why we VMUG!

A Boston VMUG UserCon starts for attendees at 7:30am on the day of the event. That’s not the case for the Leadership Team. The Leadership Team arrived at the venue around 5:30pm the day before the event to do a final walk-through before kicking things off. We go over logistics to ensure that all of our demands requests are met. This is where we meet VMUG HQ Staff who have put up with our shenanigans on planning calls for the previous few months. It was a pleasure to finally see them in person and put a face to the voice over the phone!

Photo stolen from one of Ariel’s many tweets.

Following the walk through, the Leadership Team and VMUG HQ Staff headed to a nearby restaurant for a pre-UserCon gathering. The Leadership Team puts this on as a way to thank some of the special guests who help us put on great events. It’s a very small token of gratitude for what we and the community get in return. I had the opportunity to share this event with Andy Banta (Twitter), Jeramiah Dooley (Twitter), Kimberly Delgado (Twitter), Ariel Sanchez (Twitter), Sean Massey (Twitter) and his wife Laura, Matt Heldstab (Twitter), David Stamen (Twitter), and, of course, the VMUG HQ Staff – Caitlin (Twitter), Katie (Twitter), Karena (Twitter), Ashley (Twitter), and Falcon (Twitter – though I’m pretty sure he didn’t come out…?).

Another of Ariel’s Tweeted photos – sans some of our guests.

The pre-UserCon gathering is always special because it gives me an opportunity to have conversations that I can’t typically squeeze in on the day of the event. This one was a ton of fun and went on late into the night.

“I fell asleep.” Kidding – this was staged. The glass is still full!

The next morning came quick. The Leadership Team was on site at approximately 7am to perform any final preparations necessary for the open of the show. VMUG HQ Staff had already been on site for hours making sure that everything was perfect for us. I can’t stress how well the event was executed because of the efforts of VMUG Staff.

During the opening keynote, a few of my coworkers, Billy and Adam, found me. We chatted silently about a few things in the back of the room (sorry!). At the end of the keynote, we engaged Kimberly Delgado in a discussion about vRealize Automation and Cloud Assembly for just shy of an hour. Immediately afterward, Billy, Adam, and I chatted with Cody De Arkland (Twitter) about… well, vRealize Automation and Cloud Assembly – for another hour or more! This effectively brought us to lunch. Most of my morning was already filled with awesome conversations!

I saw so many faces that have become familiar to me at our VMUG events. It really makes me feel good to run into people that have shared stories with me over the years. I had the opportunity to chat with so many people. To name just a few:

  • Justin Bias (Twitter) and his coworker (whose name escapes me, I’m sorry!)
  • Nelson Perez (Twitter)
  • Jorge Torres who flew in just to attend the event! (Twitter)
  • Michael Sheehan
  • Mark Gabrygelski (Twitter)
  • Frank Millisi (Twitter)
  • Sean Thulin (Twitter)
  • Jonathan Frappier (Twitter)
  • John Troyer (Twitter) and Kat Troyer (Twitter)
  • Chris Pray
  • Phil Philbin
  • Kanji Bates (Twitter)
  • Tim Shipp (Twitter)
  • Luigi Danakos (Twitter)
  • VMware Design team – Alistair (Twitter), Molly (Twitter), and Louis
  • So. Many. Others.

I spent so much time talking that I only had an opportunity to sit in on two sessions, both of which were delivered by Cody De Arkland. His first session was “Zero to dangerous with Cloud Automation Services.” I needed to see this because it was going to show me my first look at VMware Cloud Assembly which orchestrates multi-cloud deployments. He rocked it with a total of about four slides and then straight live-demo of the possibilities of what VMware CAS is going to be. Super awesome session that was a great follow-up for the conversations we had earlier in the day. It left me thinking about approval policies and how CAS could enable a choice of cloud provider based on different criteria.

My second Cody session was “vAdmin to Lando Calrissian – Becoming the Baron Ambassador of Your Cloud City.” This session was effectively about how much more involved the traditional vSphere Admin role has become. He gave tips and tricks that he’s learned about how to start automating, learn new programming languages, and how to deal with some heavy, personal stuff along the way. An interesting parallel that I found in this session was comparing the things he was saying to Scrum (which I’ve been focusing on and studying a lot lately). Cody talked a lot about taking small steps to complete things – in reference to both an automation journey as well as learning. It was nice to reflect on some of my recent learning and apply it outside of a Jira board.

This was in the last session slot of the day… and with the session over, it was time to close out the UserCon. The Leadership Team met everyone in front of the General Session room and closed out a UserCon for the record books…

…but opened up an After-Hours to break records, too. It’s a long day. Everyone was able to wind down with some beer and their finger-food of choice. After some time to hang out and chat, we heard from John and Kat Troyer about how to prepare for and execute a digital detox. They shared how they’ve benefited from getting away from being glued to a screen. It was informative and something that I’m interested in working on.

The very tail end of the day is always exciting for me. We had an opportunity to present Chris Pray with the VMUG Partnership Award (a VMUG Service Award)  which was accepted by Steve on his behalf at VMworld. Chris is one of our largest supporters and it was great that we had the chance to present this to him at home. We then had the opportunity to thank people for the work they’ve done to put on the event. This is where we get to recognize VMUG HQ Staff who worked tirelessly during the event. The Leadership Team recognizes each other for their efforts and then recognizes everyone else for their participation. There’s a lot of energy being exchanged and it’s very refreshing.

It’s in this moment that I always reflect on the day in almost an instant. The energy that we get to push out into the attendees and the energy that comes back from them as the event finally comes down for a close gives me the fuel to keep going. I reflect on things that happened during the day (very much like this post, but a LOT faster) and store that energy away. I met new people and saw some old friends. I talked to people for almost 12 hours straight after a long night and was fed enough energy to come to work this morning AMPED about the ideas I had since waking up. The #vCommunity breathes life back into me when I need it the most and it always takes me by surprise. This is why I VMUG.

Check out Matt Bradford’s #BOSVMUG After-Hours 2018 video below. I hope it gives you even the tiniest taste of how awesome the event was. Note: All of the content of this video was taken on site. The final shot was taken only a few minutes before After-Hours began and this video opened After-Hours for us. It’s a masterpiece!

Huge shout-out the others on the Boston VMUG Leadership Team – Steve Athanas (Twitter), Matt Bradford (Twitter), and newcomer David Bass (Twitter). It’s always a pleasure to work with you and I can’t wait to get together again soon.

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