The following year, 2008, I worked on a VMware Professional Services (PSO) engagement with Richard Lebedeff and Jeff Baylor. I worked on the VCB portion of a large VI3 P&D engagement and it was interesting to witness how VMware PSO worked; these guys are professionals


Later that year, I was connected to David Deeths of VMware who was the ‘lab captain’ in charge of the team responsible for the scripting lab at VMworld 2008. That meant the Perl SDK and the freshly-released VMware PowerShell Toolkit. Since I had both VMware Infrastructure experience and a software development background, joining that team made sense. I was lucky to work with a fantastic team made up of VMware employees Shridhar Deuskar, Lisa Guinn, Terry Lyons, Aaron Miller, Alket Memushaj, Brian Watrous, and Alton Yu in addition to Owen Thomas from New Age Technologies. I had the privilege of meeting and working with the team for a couple of days at VMware’s Promontory campus and we created two complete labs: one in Perl and one in PowerShell. Our goal was to work through the same exercises in both languages so that attendees could compare the toolkits in an apples-to-apples manner. I learned a lot of PowerShell and had a tremendous amount of fun working with the VMworld Lab Staff and assisting students in our sessions. I think our lab was one of the top-rated sessions that year and you can still download the manuals on the website.


In 2009, we got (most of) the band back together and revised the scripting labs. We added Phil Anthony, Chirag Patel, and Josh Thomas – we even had Carter Shanklin as a guest presenter and Yavor Boychev of Project Onyx fame around for additional support. With the expansion of VMware’s product line, I don't think there was enough space for two labs on scripting, so we combined, updated, and extended the Perl and PowerCLI labs from 2008 and allowed students to select a language when they attended the lab. Logistics were a little funny since we had to pair up Perl and PowerShell attendees, but it mostly worked out. Not cloud, but getting there.


This was also big year for me because I submitted a design and application for the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) defense. I arrived in San Francisco a few days prior to VMworld to go through the defense and to get the lab environment prepared for the show. My defense took place at the Promontory campus, so at least I knew how to get there. None of the candidates really knew what to expect – there weren’t any blog posts back then to help us out and we had to wing it. Builds character, right? It was quite an experience. The following week at VMworld, I received an email, stopped by the onsite testing center, and was told that I’d passed... Whew!


With the focus on “cloud” in general and self-service in particular, the VMworld 2010 labs were reformatted and no longer required dedicated presentation staff for each one – or, it was more cost effective to have VMware employees handle the tasks rather than bringing in outside (Partner) resources. I was seriously bummed not to be part of the labs, but we had worked out a partnership with a small company that was coming out of “stealth mode” during VMworld, so I had booth responsibilities. Unfortunately, that company dissolved just before the conference and I was left as “just an attendee” for the first time ever.


To be honest, I didn’t know at first what to do about my free time, but I found all kinds of sessions that interested me and had been asked by the folks at if I would blog about the conference. We set up a feed using an Evernote notebook and Mariah West took care of making sense of my ramblings and posting them to the web. I hear they got pretty good traffic, so that was nice. I stopped by the massive VMware lab room to see how my VMware-badged lab veterans were doing, to catch up, and to snap some pictures of the environment. Also at this show, I attended a lunch with Paul Maritz (I got to sit at the same table!), met most of the current VCDXes and Susan Gudenkauf (VCP #1!), and received a jacket for being one of the first 50 VCDX-certified individuals. It was especially cool to finally meet Duncan Epping in person and talk a little with John Arrasjid, whose sessions I had attended since the beginning of my VMworld journey.


This year, I looked forward to seeing a lot of my past coworkers, current customers, and VMware-badged friends at the show. I ran into Jim Rast who was a member of the original Phoenix VMUG -- it was nice to discuss current technology applications and customer challenges. I tracked down Frank Denneman in person, having worked with him a little this past year on the vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deep Dive book that he and Duncan published. Those guys gave me a signed copy of the book; very nice. It was interesting to catch up with Andreas Groth via Twitter and realize that we had presented together at another VMworld so many years ago. As an unexpected bonus, I caught up with Paul Strong, VMware's CTO for Global Customer & Field Initiatives. He's quite possibly the smartest guy I've ever talked to and I look forward to doing it again soon.


I’m certain that I haven’t mentioned all of the people I’ve encountered over the years, and I apologize to those whom I have not mentioned – there have been so many and this post is already a lot longer than I thought it would be. As for the guys from the local Phoenix VMware team that I work with most often: Jared Byrd, George Peck, I look forward to seeing you again soon, too.


Wow, I guess this qualifies me as the ultimate VMware fan boy, doesn't it? Looking forward to next year...