VMware EMPOWER 2020 (Online Edition)

Last year in May, together with 2 colleagues, I visited VMware’s partner event in Lisbon, Portugal. This event offered a Technical and Sales track which was meant to train the partners as well as the VMware employees. This meant a huge list of Keynote and Breakout sessions in which the partnership and the different products in the space porfolio were central.

Fast-forward to February of this year where we just got the first signals about a virus in China. As a participant in the VMware Partnership in which ConoScenza participate, I got the first opportunity to participate again in EMPOWER which would be held in Lisbon on April 27th until April 30th. Although the event is interesting and I like to come to the southern countries, it did not fit into my private agenda and I offered the opportunity to colleagues to join. Unfortunately at the end of March it turned out that COVID-19 was spread a lot faster and more intense than everyone had thought and all the events fell out or were postponed, so did EMPOWER 2020. In the end VMware decided to organize EMPOWER this year only as an Online event and is scheduled for June 9th.

Now, in these strange times, it is difficult to make time for events like this and I was under the assumption that I would start with my new assignment at the beginning of June. Because the screening and onboarding unfortunately took longer than expected, my agenda was empty on June 9th. What better way to spend a day like that on acquiring knowledge, virtual networking with the vCommunity and also gaining insight into the vision and strategy of one of our key partners?

Luckily I was able to register the day before the event and on Tuesday morning at 9:00 I had a link ready to visit the event site. It soon became clear that the day started with the various keynotes in which CEO Pat Gelsinger, among others, spoke to the attendees about the consequences of COVID-19 for the world and especially the IT market. Of course also referring to the possibilities the VMware portfolio offers to support our customers in the field of remote working, improving business processes and being in control of security and management.

Before the general session started I went through the 142 sessions looking for Breakout sessions that fit my interests and made an agenda for the day. Luckily all sessions remain available for another year so I am not tied to just the sessions I was able to follow because one day is simply too short for so many sessions. All in all I attended a number of good sessions on Cloud Foundation, NSX-T, vSphere 7, Tanzu (Kubernetes) and playing with Cloud Foundation and NSX-T in the hands-on lab.

Although the event is very different from a real-life event, it was somewhat pleasant. Because of the chat function during sessions, there is now much more interaction between the attendees. Questions are asked a bit earlier in the Q&A panel because the threshold is lower than in a room full of people and switching between sessions that are less interesting than thought is of course easier. All in all, the event portal worked all day without any problems and I did not experience any problems with video or sound.

I am very curious about the future of events like EMPOWER. Will this be the new standard or will the first live events take place next year? In any case VMware has decided to do their biggest customer event VMworld online on 29 September 2020. I expect that the platform now used for EMPOWER will probably also be used for VMworld. Hopefully they will run it on an infrastructure that can then scale up to the proportions of a mega event as the threshold to participate is now a lot lower. Since a real life VMworld already attracted 23.000+ attendees in the US alone, a global online version will go beyond that. All in all, I am looking forward to the next VMworlds!

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