VMware Empower 2019 Recap

VMware held their second annual Empower US conference in Atlanta, GA last week. Empower is a stand-alone partner conference that replaces the Partner Exchange conferences of the past. I was lucky to have attended again this year, and was impressed at the work VMware put in to improve upon last year’s conference.

The highlight for me personally was being able to sit on a couple of panel sessions about tips and tricks for the VCAP-DCV Deploy exam. VMware reached out to partners to help share some experiences about all of the VCAP exams (DCV, NV, CMA, DTM) and I volunteered to join the DCV panel, as I passed the VCAP-DCV towards the end of 2017. VCAP certifications are of much more importance to VMware partners since the announcement of the Master Services Competency program, which requires a partner to hold at least 2 VCAPs for each track to achieve the competency. The interest in these exams were evident due to the high turnout I saw for our sessions. This was my first time sitting on a panel at a vendor conference, and I very much enjoyed the experience of helping my peers learn more about this exam and how different it is from the VCP. We had a ton of great interaction, and even had one person confirm that he took and passed the VCAP-DCV at Empower from the confidence he gained during our session! I can now certifiably say that I have helped at least one person in my career…

After the certification sessions Monday afternoon, the conference officially kicked off with a general session for the technical audience. This session further reinforced VMware’s current and future vision, which really focuses on the full VMware SDDC stack both on-prem and in the cloud. We got to see many of the same slides you’d expect from VMware that show trends for NSX and vSAN adoption, as well as the latest news for VMware Cloud Foundation. There were also a few live demos, including the FIRST ever live vMotion using WiFi from one usb stick to another…thanks ESXi on ARM!

The end of the general session was delivered by Craig McLuckie, one of the creators of Kubernetes, who is now at VMware by way of the Heptio acquisition. It was very interesting to see someone so steeped in the history of cloud native apps highlighting such a large portion of a VMware general session. You can certainly see the writing on the wall over the last year or so, but VMware really made it known at Empower that they intend to be a major player in the world of Kubernetes and cloud native apps. VMware’s stance seems to be providing the infrastructure to allow you to run Kubernetes so that developers can focus on creating applications without having to also worry about the infrastructure. That is super high-level and certainly coming from someone who mostly lives on the infrastructure side, but VMware is noticeably putting a lot of energy and investment into Kubernetes, and it will be interesting to see how that pays off in the next year or so.

Day two of Empower provided my first glimpse at NSX-T via an abbreviated Livefire session. It was also full of sessions around many of the other major current focus areas for VMware, VCF and VMC on AWS. The growth of the VMC on AWS offering has been pretty staggering to this point, with more regions and services spinning up every quarter. I took in a deep dive of the recently acquired Cloud Health, which looks like a pretty slick tool and a real value-add for cloud MSPs. I also used my free certification voucher from attending the conference and passed my VCP-NV! Getting that first time 2xVCP badge felt pretty good.

As per usual for conferences, a lot of time is spent getting side tracked on the way to sessions for networking opportunities. One great thing about Empower is the intimate size of the conference, which allows for easily bumping into people multiple times a day. I got to meet many vCommunity folks for the first time as well as catch up with people I’ve known for a little while. We also got some good NWN bonding time in at our favorite find from last year’s Empower, Der Biergarten:

Unfortunately for me, I had an early exit on day three and had to return home, but it looked like the partner networking reception was a lot of fun. I hate that I missed it, but did enjoy my time at Empower and look forward to passing all the latest VMware goodness on to our customers in the weeks to come. It was just enough to tide me over until VMworld 2019…

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