When attending a vendor sponsored conference, you expect that most – or all – of the sessions will focus on that vendor’s products along with partner products. So, I wasn’t all that surprised when I found that to be the case at VMware Inc.’s Virtualization Forum 2008 in New York, NY on May 8.
But I felt a tad cheated when I left.
You see, the agenda I received from VMware prior to the event looked great. There would be analysis from Gartner’s Distinguished Analyst, Thomas Bittman, about virtualization technology adoption and trends. Also, Quest Diagnostics was scheduled to talk about their specific pain points and challenges and how virtualization saved the day. Good, and good.
Other sessions included Introduction to Server Virtualization, Datacenter Management and Automation, Business Continuity, Application Virtualization and Remote and Branch Office Management.
The agenda I received in my inbox before the event also included three afternoon sessions scheduled from 2:15 to 3:15 for Platinum Sponsor / Customer Story; the latter being of most interest to me.
So, I got up at 5 a.m. on Forum day and drove from Rhode Island to New York City – a lovely four and a half hour trek with traffic.
I registered, got my Conference Guide, ID badge, marketing package full of VMware ads, and headed to hear Bittman talk. It was interesting enough. Then Quest Diagnostics did a quick talk about their VMware implementation. Cool.
Then lunch. Which was free. Which is awesome.
After that, I hit the Datacenter Automation and Management Session, where John Suit, CTO and co-founder of Fortisphere, discussed how their product,Fortisphere Virtual Forsight, helped Duke University Hospital set policies for virtual machines. Then John Brock, senior product marketing manager at VMware, stepped up to bat to talk about all the wonderful things Virtual Infrastructure can do for IT.
Now for the 2:15 session – Platium Sponsor/ Customer Story. Much to my chagrin, the Customer Story portion of those sessions were not included in the eight page guide. All I see listed are Platinum Sponsor EMC Corp., Platinum Spronsor HP, Platinum Sponsor Dell/ Equalogic Corp., Platinum Sponsor NetApp. Brows furrowed, I flipped the pages looking for the customer stories. Were the times changed? Confused, I asked the nice VMware marketing representative if VMware mistakenly ommitted the customer stories from the guide.
“No, there won’t be anymore customer stories this afternoon,” she said.
“Oh, but the schedule I received last month had customer stories as part of the afternoon sessions,” I said.
“The sponsors will probably talk about some customer stories,” she said.
What the *%#@?
But, I was not too surprised by this program change. It happened at the last VMware event I attended as well.
The VMware Virtualization Seminar Series in Providence, RI in February was the same way – customer story on the schedule, but not at the podium.
I complain about this not because of the horrid commute I made expecting to hear from more than one real user, but because I can safely assume that, like me, data center managers want to hear about virtualization implementations from their peers–the folks who manage virtual environments in real data centers every day. You know, the people who don’t have the word “marketing’ in front of their name. I’m sure that attendees would have like perspective from the system engineers and architects who can give honest, detailed descriptions about pitfalls to avoid, the real costs and ways to deploy virtualization successfully.
I understand users also want to learn about products that can solve their IT issues, and I am sure that some of the information vendors provide is very useful. But, VMware, I beg of you–please include real users in your future seminars, and if you don’t, then don’t put it in your agendas.