Preparing for the VMworld 2017 Call for Papers and VMUG UserCons

I recently received an email from VMware with an update around the 2017 conferences. For those interested, VMworld US is back at Las Vegas from August 27-31 and VMworld Europe is once again in Barcelona during September 11-14. Thus, no changes from 2016 for the locations. The Call for Papers (CFPs) will launch in February of 2017, giving everyone about 45 days to start thinking of topics.

What struck my eye was the giant VMware User Group logo at the top and this passage:

In addition to VMworld, there are many other opportunities for you to engage with VMware. Many of these opportunities have points or rewards systems and offer valuable opportunities to network with like-minded members of the VMware community.

The email then goes on to state that presenting at VMUG Events is a prime item on the list. Specifically, the Community Spotlight. I think this is awesome – the mood is generally quite negative after CFPs close and sessions are picked, mostly because there are several magnitudes more submissions than there are slots available, in addition to a lot of duplicated content. I say this as someone who has had their VMworld submissions rejected a LOT (for many years in a row) and then also had CFP abstracts accepted a few times.

Back to the VMUG … if you’ve not yet been to a VMUG, much less presented at one, I highly encourage going. There are two types of meetings.

The Local Meetings, run by volunteer staff and usually involving under 100 participants, are great for meeting and networking with local talent. I typically find that one or two vendors will sponsor the food, venue, and some door prizes, and then VMware and a few folks from the community will present on something that they hope you’ll find interesting – from use case stories to deep dives on technical topics. Then there are the UserCons, which are small to medium sized conferences ranging from 200 upwards of 900 folks and planned by the VMUG staff out of Chicago. These have multiple tracks, a sponsor expo hall, keynotes, and buckets of giveaways (such as home labs).

In the case of VMworld, if you aren’t able to get into their ever-shrinking quantity of speaker session slots, it’s worth taking your abstract and seeing if one of the VMUG UserCon’s would be interested in picking up your talk. The VMUG staff are friendly, encouraging, and will connect you with the leadership personnel running the VMUG chapter of your choice. The UserCon event page will have a full list of 2017 dates soon.

If you’re looking for inspiration and want some examples, check out the agendas from the 2016 VMUG UserCon events held in Chicago, Boston, and Sydney – all were awesome!