Thursday, 23 October 2014

VMworld Europe - TAM Sessions

An extra post about my favourite part of VMworld from the organised conference perspective...

I thought that the TAM sessions were by far the best sessions I attended. None of them were presented by the most well known vRockstars (they were out in the normal breakout sessions, doing their thing - and from the ones I saw, doing it very well) the TAM sessions were all by the engineers and product managers who you don't know as well, which was great.

The breakout sessions are all recorded and are hence available after the fact to every VMworld attendee. The TAM sessions are not recorded, not available anywhere, so you simply have to be there to get this invaluable opportunity to sit down with VMware folks and a small group of your peers to talk about the things that interest you most. each of the TAM sessions was kinda like a pick-your-own-content VMUG with a very limited number of  attendees, who were all super interested in the subject! As a result of this, I don't mind at all that I dropped the "Leet" EVO:RAIL 1337 session to talk about stuff that might be coming in future versions of ESX. Besides, I've already watched the origins of project Marvin online after getting home.

And of course you get the extra day, TAM day, which runs in parallel with the partner day stuff that is probably better known and more widely discussed in social media land. I covered my TAM day experiences already so I won't repeat myself. There's too much to see at VMworld Europe (let alone the US) to do it in 3 days, so give yourself a chance if you can, take 4 days instead.

You also get access to TAM Customer Central (which is where the sessions are held) which has it's own lounge, with decent sofa's and your own food and drink. That's the same comestibles as everywhere else, but with a definite comfortable seat nearby. As such, this was a good spot to take a few minutes out from a hectic schedule, to grab a coffee and hit twitter or add to a forthcoming blog post.

Not only did I take some good notes, see some great features (that may or may not appear in the future, product details and pricing are yet to be determined etc. etc. etc.) but the guys presenting the sessions and "leading" the tables in the birds of a feather lunch session took notes as well, to take back with them for consideration for the future. There were also offers to get me on additional beta's and so on.

I signed up for VMworld Europe late (don't get me started!) despite my TAM prompting me to get myself signed up for the TAM day and some TAM sessions well in advance. As such, I was worried that I would not get invited to any of the TAM sessions that ran through the three "normal" days of the conference. My fears seemed to be confirmed when I only got 2 invitations before arriving in Barcelona. One on the web client (VMware have already said publically that this needs a lot of work for vSphere 6) and one a tour of the Hands on Labs (admittedly, this turned out to be really interesting, but it was not my first choice). However, on both the Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I had an email waiting for me, listing sessions I could sign up for in person if I could get to the TCC room 20 minutes before the scheduled session start. OK, so did lots of people drop out or not make it to Barcelona at all? As it happened, I got on to every extra session I tried for in person. I was already a named reserve on some of the sessions I managed to get on, even though I didnt get an invitation when I initially applied, I think that's a bit odd considering that there was always space available when I asked. That's my only gripe about the whole thing really, other than that you have to add these in to your Session Builder manually.

The reason behind this blog post is that I wanted to put it on the record that I found the TAM sessions invaluable. Most people have to justify what they do to someone and the TAM folks are no different. I would go to VMworld in future just for this. My TAM is an American, in America, he does a good job, he pops in to see the guys regularly, in America. There's regular conference calls and I dial in (to America, on American time). I do feel a little out on a limb with all that, so this much TAM facetime was something that I really found worthwhile.

Thanks TAM Guys, hope to see you next year!

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