Last week I commenced my real duties at SQL Sentry, attending VMworld in San Francisco with Greg Gonzalez, Nick Harshbarger, and Jason Hall. I'd heard a lot of comments about VMworld from colleagues through the years about how great a conference it was, but I wasn't prepared for the sheer size of the event. They told us that this year there were over 23,000 attendees.
Don't get me wrong, I've attended large conferences before. In the 1990s I attended the Fall COMDEX shows in Las Vegas that had over 200,000 attendees, but the PASS Summit usually averages around 6,000, and I've been to the big Microsoft TechEd conferences of 8 to 10 years ago when it approached 20,000 attendees.
Does size matter? Well, it depends. If you can manage to deliver quality educational content, whatever scale the event, then no. I think that the PASS organization does an excellent job of providing a wide variety of content. VMworld in that respect felt like it was on par with Microsoft's TechEd conferences. (I was not able to attend this year's Ignite conference, so am not able to judge that one.)
So, the content of the sessions, while heavily focused on the core company's product (in this case VMware), were good, and informative. The expo hall, called the Solutions Center at VMworld, was packed. This is where I spent the bulk of my time.
My principal responsibility at SQL Sentry is developing our Partner network, and this is where I was able to work on that task. In the course of the conference I was able to meet with a number of current and (hopefully) future partners. The meetings we had were productive and will help increase the value of what we at SQL Sentry have to offer all our customers.
I'm really excited about the potential for the relationships we began and those we expanded upon at VMworld, and look forward to having a bigger presence at the conference next year.