EXPLOREing VMunderground 2022

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aka, the Obligatory “Know Before You Go” Post

Over here at VMunderground HQ, we’ve switched from counting down the weeks to counting down the hours until “go time” for this renewed edition of the original WarmUp Party before VMware’s week-long confab in the US.

We hope you all have your comfy shoes selected for a week of walking around San Francisco. The weather —according to Weather Underground—is going to be delightful, with cool mornings (56°F/13°C), warmer-but-not-hot days (71°F/22°C), and little precipitation in the forecast. The city is showing a low rate of infection and hospitalization from COVID-19, and while restrictions on gatherings and travel are minimal, the official status is “medium,” so masks are encouraged for indoor events to help reduce spread.

Some things to remember before you head over to VMunderground: our venue—Black Hammer Brewing— has a fairly open floor plan, with roll-up patio doors that open for an nice, airy environment. Although we don’t anticipate the need to formally check for vaccination status, if the City or Black Hammer requires it the evening of the party, we will have the obligation to do so as well.

Black Hammer is an adults-only venue. In the United States—for those of you coming over from other countries—the “drinking age” is 21, and you will need to be able to provide proof of age (government-issued photo ID) for entry. Just having a ticket to the party is not sufficient. We know we can’t control the registration/check-in schedule for the conference, but if you have the opportunity to get your badge before coming to the party, you’re encouraged to wear it so that other attendees have an easier time with connecting names & faces.

Although “adult beverages” are an obvious primary product of a brewery, Black Hammer has a selection of low/non-alcoholic options as well as some low/no gluten choices. One thing that Black Hammer is emphatically not, however, is a restaurant: dinner/hors d’oeuvres/munchies will not be furnished, so please plan accordingly.

The party opens at 7pm, and we ask all our existing ticket holders to arrive by 9pm. At 9pm, we will consider on-premises admissions if we have capacity and feel it’s safe to add more attendees to the venue. Because of this, arriving after 9pm with a ticket will not guarantee entry! We will also permit leave-and-return, but also subject to capacity limits at your return if it’s after 9pm.

Finally, although we’ve scheduled the event to run until 11pm and have budgeted the run-rate for our bar tab to cover the duration, we’ll be announcing “last call” when we near our limit regardless of the time. Black Hammer has told us that they’ll make an “at the moment” decision, based on time and “party feel”, whether or not they’ll remain open for operation on a cash basis as the party wraps up.

Safe travels, and we look forward to seeing you Sunday night!

Sponsor Guest == VIP

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Although we already think there are plenty of good reasons for you to talk to our sponsors, here’s another one: sponsor guests will be treated to special “pre-game” access to the party from 7:30pm to 8pm, after which the “main party” begins and anyone with a ticket may be admitted.

That’s right: get cozy with one of our sponsors and not only do you save $10, but you get 30 minutes of private access to the eats, drinks, and conversation before the place gets crazy.

2018 Opening Acts—Live Stream

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YouTubeOf course, the best way to experience Opening Acts is live-and-in-person, joining in on the interaction with panelists and peers. But if you’re unable to come, either because of conflicting meetings at VMworld, or you’re unable to join in the fun in Las Vegas, we’ve got you covered: we’ll be recording and live-streaming the panel sessions for “place- & time-shift” content consumers.

We’ll post links to the recorded content at a later time, but the live stream will be available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJJJ_9C_vkE

Before You Go, Viva Las Vegas Edition

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Viva, Las Vegas…

At this time next week, all the pre-show chaos for VMworld 2016 US will be over, and many (most?) of us will be sitting and listening to the opening keynote.

We’re excited to present the third instance of Opening Acts and the 10th Anniversary of VMunderground! A little “who, what, why, when & how” will help make the most of your pre-event plans with us.

Although we have all events being held in the New York-New York Hotel & Casino, it’s a large place and we’re using two different spaces within…

Main Venue

New York-New York Hotel & Casino
3790 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109

The venue is approximately 1 mile (or 1.5 Km) north of the main VMworld campus at Mandalay Bay; depending on your starting point within the resort, the true distance will of course vary. MGM (the owners of the Mandalay Bay and other properties in Las Vegas) has a free tram you can board at the Mandalay resort in order to get north to the Excalibur; the Excalibur, in turn, is across Tropicana Avenue from New York-New York. It might not be the fastest way to get there—based on tram scheduling—but it does create the shortest walk without relying on a paid transportation.

UPDATE: The tram service runs every few minutes during the day; it’s posted service hours end at 12:30am, so if you like to stay out late, plan accordingly. There are actually two different tram runs on the Mandalay campus, one which runs between the three hotels (Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay) without easy access to The Strip, and another “Express” that runs between the far-north Strip station and Mandalay Bay.

You want to use the Express for the shortest walk to NYNY, even if you’re at Luxor: Board the tram at Luxor and head to Mandalay, then board the Express back to the Strip. See the image below and it should make more sense…


Opening Acts & #vBrisket

Liberty Loft (link to the property map) is the official name of the meeting room for Opening Acts and #vBrisket. Access is located near the Shake Shack and Gonzales Y Gonzales; you can reach it quickly from The Strip at the north end of the property, as well as through the interior via any other available property entrance. We will have signs posted and the activity will be published on the video displays throughout the venue.

Opening Acts is free to all attendees; although there is registration, that’s for internal planning and tracking, so even if you haven’t registered, you are welcome to come. If we end up with SRO, but that’d just be gravy.

Speaking of gravy… #vBrisket is not a free event; only those attendees wearing the appropriate wrist band will be allowed to participate. If you purchased a ticket—they’re currently sold out—you will be able to exchange it for the proper wrist band during or prior to Opening Acts. Physical tickets will only be required if you are unable to provide an electronic ticket, so make sure you can get to your e-ticket on your smartphone before you come over.

Panel sessions start at 11am, and we run through 4pm; don’t worry if you can’t arrive at the very beginning. You are free to come and go as it suits you.

We will have light snacks for Opening Acts, but if you’re not doing vBrisket, they will not constitute a meal. There are a bunch of places both inside the casino as well as in the area to grab a real lunch.


Nine Fine Irishmen will be the site of this year’s tenth anniversary bash. Not coincidentally, we were there the last time VMworld was in Las Vegas and it was our fifth anniversary (also held on Sunday, August 28th!!!). Like Opening Acts, there will be signs to assist you in finding the entrance to the venue; although the pub has outdoor access, we don’t plan to use it for party access: you’ll need to come inside to gain entry.

Doors open at 7pm; there’s no “VIP” access prior to that time.

As with previous years, this is an adults-only event. Although non-alcoholic beverages (smoothie bar!) will be served, US and state laws require attendees to be 21 years old and be able to prove it using a government-issue photo ID. Driver’s license and passport are the most common forms of ID; your VMworld badge and/or party ticket/wristband will not be sufficient.

That’s not to say, however,  that you should leave your badge at home… On the contrary, having your badge helps fellow attendees see your name…and if you’re anything like me, getting a reminder of the name that goes with the face is always appreciated!

An important departure from previous years: This year the party is restricted to only those who have a wrist band. No public access—with or without a VMworld badge—is going to be permitted. As in previous years, your best bet to get a free wrist band is to hit up the sponsors; if you know you’re a sponsor guest, you will coordinate getting your wristband directly with the sponsor, not with the VMunderground organizers. As of this writing, there are still general access tickets available for purchase, but the number is few and when they’re gone…they’re gone. If you’d skipped purchasing a ticket and figured you’d “just show up” at the last half, you will be disappointed.

Also, if you have a GA ticket, you won’t have to wait until the party to get your wristband: we will be exchanging them during Opening Acts; if you purchased both vBrisket and VMunderground tickets, let us know so we can get you both wristbands at the same time. Like vBrisket, physical tickets will only be required if you can’t produce your e-ticket.

See you on Sunday!

#VMunderground, #OpeningActs, and #vBrisket Ticket Release

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Eventbrite is all setup.  The schedule is set.  Here’s what you need to know.

We’ve combined the ticketing process for VMunderground, Opening Acts, and the vBrisket lunch at Opening Acts into a single process.  Tickets for all events will be available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-events-at-vmworld-2016-us-tickets-26600043446.  (If you want the vBrisket VMworld Bus Tour, you want to head over here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vbrisket-vmworld-bus-tour-tickets-25211421039)

Go ahead and head on over to our Eventbrite now to review the FAQs.

Here’s the big part, everyone has been waiting for: Tickets will become available at 2:00 pm PDT/2100 UTC on 28-July 2016.  No time is ideal for all parties, so we tried to pick the best time for the majority of timezones.  Put it on your calendar.  Setup an alert on your phone.  Tell the family (work or personal) you have an important commitment at that time.

As a reminder:

  • VMunderground will be charging $25.
  • vBrisket (lunch at Opening Acts) will be $5.
  • Opening Acts will remain completely free, but we still want get a count ahead of time, so please pick up a reservation even if you’re just planning on Opening Acts.

All are limited due to budget and venue restrictions, so be ready at release time!

UPDATE: The first big rush is past, and there are still tickets left as of 1800h PDT. If you don’t have a ticket, it’s worth the click to see what’s available…

VMunderground, 2016 Edition

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At long last, here’s the details for VMworld 2016’s Warm-up Party as a Service. (TL;DR, see the bolded items, but I think you’ll want to read the rest anyways).

WHAT: A pre-VMworld US party

WHY: To get old and new friends together to kick-off the week in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere to set the week off right

Now, before we get into it, we want to preface our announcement with a little bit of background. Finding sponsors this year was hard. With US presidential elections, Brexit, a massive vendor acquisition/merger, and a cooling off of the VC and IPO markets, vendors don’t seem to have a lot of money to spend. That has affected our plans. Some of you will not be happy, but this is better than nothing. Hopefully you’ll agree. If not, remember that we’re just a bunch of introverted nerds wanting to get together to support the community.

On to the plans….

This year, VMunderground will be held August 28th, 2016. For those not keeping score, that’s exactly 5 years after our last round in Las Vegas (August 28th, 2011). And this happens to be the 10th VMunderground. Needless to say, nostalgia weighed heavy on the group this year, so we decided to aim for sacred VMunderground…well…ground.

WHERE: Nine Fine Irishmen, in New York, New York Hotel & Casino

Now, those who attended the party 5 years ago may be saying: “I don’t remember Nine Fine Irishmen being as big as City View was last year.” If you said that, you’d be correct. While we did have great plans for making this venue work with the much bigger attendance numbers, circumstances (see the preface paragraph) led to the venue being the right size after all.

WHO: 550 of our Sponsors and VMworld compatriots

Of course, timing is everything, and this reduced buyout of the venue has left us in a bit of bind with a double whammy.

WHEN: August 28th, 7-10 p.m.

Yes. That is the same time as the Inaugural VMUG Member Party. We have been talking to VMUG for months now trying to coordinate as best we can, but this was unavoidable. We’re excited to see them launch their own event and wish them the best of luck with it. I’m sure we’ll both have enough attendees given the size of VMworld.

HOW: Tickets.  Yes…tickets.

Given the reduced size of the venue, paid tickets will be required to get in the door at the beginning of the party. We will be opening up an Eventbrite page to acquire tickets soon, so keep an eye/ear/Tweetstream open for more details very soon. We’re going to do a single process for Opening Acts, vBrisket, and VMunderground to make it as streamlined as possible. Be prepared:

  • VMunderground will be charging $25 (see preface paragraph).
  • vBrisket (lunch at Opening Acts) will have a $5 charge to their expenses.
  • Opening Acts will remain completely free if you can resist the BBQ smell, but we still want get a count ahead of time, so please pick up a reservation even if you’re just planning on Opening Acts. We won’t restrict Opening Acts to only registered attendees, though.

Not the plans were were hoping for, but think of it this way: where else are you going to get a full BBQ lunch sandwiched in-between 4 hours of learning from your peers AND 3 hours of food and drink with the VMworld “who’s who” for only $30?

See you in Las Vegas!!

Opening Acts 2016

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Plans are starting to come together, and we’re tired of sitting on some of this fun information, so here’s our first dump of official details.

As we revealed last week in our Planning Your VMworld 2016 Trip post, Opening Acts is on.  We’ve had two good years of success running two panel stages concurrently to provide 3 hours with 6 sessions.  One common complaint we’ve received: “Why do you make me choose between all these great panels?!”  So, given this request and venue limitations in Las Vegas, we decided to play with the formula a bit this year.

For 2016, we’re going to run 4 panel sessions sequentially:  Show up for the entire time and you’ll catch all the panely-goodness.  This meant moving Opening Acts forward by an hour to noon, which put us into lunchtime.  If there’s one thing we know will get conference-goers riled up, it’s food!  As fate would have it, about the time we made this decision another great community group (who we’ve wanted to find a way to work with anyways) approached us about sponsoring lunch during Opening Acts.

Please join me in welcoming vBrisket to the Opening Acts family!!

That’s right! Opening Acts now offers you technical knowledge AND BBQ!

So here’s the schedule for Opening Acts on Sunday, August 28, 2016:

  • 10:45am – The doors open
  • 11:00am – Panel Session 1
  • 12:00pm – Panel Session 2
  • 1:00pm – BBQ lunch by vBrisket
  • 2:00pm – Panel Session 3
  • 3:00pm – Panel Session 4
  • 4:00pm – Fin.

The panel sessions are still not defined yet.  You still have time (assuming you’re reading this before May 31, 2016) to help us decide on topics (and possibly offer yourself up as a panelist).  Just go fill out this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1MtGcD3C4k2vGjvTPthgiyjONWrO1zx5gFrautroj6AA/viewform

Finally, if BBQ is your thing, the vBrisket team has an AWESOME opportunity available to both fill your mouth with meat (yeah, I know…) and help you get to Vegas right on time for Opening Acts. You should definitely check it out, especially if you live in Chicago, Kansas City, or Denver (or any points along that route).  See all the details here: http://www.vbrisket.com/vbrisket-bus-tour-to-vmworld-2016/.


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We’re at it again: the #VMunderground and #vBrownBag teams are at it again, preparing for the first, best community-driven events of VMworld!

We have our first sponsor announced and are getting ready to seek your input on the topics for the second year of Opening Acts panel sessions.

Let this serve as your “SAVE THE DATE” notice: OpeningActs and the VMunderground party will be held on Sunday, August 30, 2015. OpeningActs will run from 1pm to 4pm; VMunderground runs from 8pm to 11pm. We’ll be at the same venue as 2014—City View at the Metreon—which is just a stone’s throw from the Moscone conference site.

Keep your eye on this site, as well as the @vmunderground twitter feed for more information…

Obligatory “Before You Go” Message, 2014 Edition

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Well folks, VMworld 2014 US is upon us. The tweets and –god forfend– private Facebook message groups are awash with anticipation for the week.

There have been a number of questions sent to the VMunderground, #vBrownBag and Opening Acts teams; we’ll try and address them in this post…


Q: Looks like Opening Acts is full. Is there any room?

A: Who knows? We won’t turn anyone away as long as we have room. While we have a huge space (we’re using the same venue for both Opening Acts and VMunderground), a significant portion is will be “off-limits” during Opening Acts to allow for the prep & setup for VMunderground. We set the registration limit at 200 to manage the seating, but the spaces we set aside might hold as much as 2x that number. Additionally, there’s bound to be turnover–a bunch of folks might need to high-tail it over to v0dgeball–so don’t be afraid to come for a 2pm or 3pm session even if we’re packed at 1pm.


Q: I missed round X for tickets to VMunderground. How do I get in?

A: As of this writing, there are still nearly 100 tickets available. Hop on over to vmunderground.eventbrite.com and grab one. Keep in mind: if you have a conference badge, tickets are NOT required for entry! Tickets get you first access to the party when the doors open at 8pm, and are required for anyone without a conference badge (this is a VMworld community event, not a San Francisco community event).


Q: I have a ticket/wristband. Do I need to bring my conference badge?

A: Please do! This is a social event, and conference badges do a good job of helping people connect faces and names. Include your Twitter handle on your badge! Lots of people in the community are known by their Twitter handles rather than their IRL names; if your handle isn’t printed on your badge, find someone with a Sharpie or label maker and add it!


Q: Dude. That’s an insane amount of restrictions. What’s up with that?

A: In past years, limited space has made it…challenging…to keep an even, fair opportunity for everyone in the community to get access to the party. Every restriction listed is based on somebody in the community trying to take advantage of the then-stated-rules to get more that what we–the VMunderground team–consider to be a “fair share” of the tickets. Yes, it sucks to have so many rules, but there are some of those among us who consider themselves…”first among equals.” Let’s just leave it at that.


Q: I’m in like Flynn for the party. I love the sponsors and I already have a wristband (awesome, too, btw. I’m going to wear mine all week!). Do I need to bring anything else to the party?

A: Yes. Please, please, PLEASE bring a photo ID from a legitimate government to prove your age if you want to be served alcohol. California–like most of the US–requires anyone being served alcohol to be aged 21 years or more. By default, you should be that age as a participant in VMworld, but as they don’t check and the legal working age in the US is 16… Just do us and yourself a favor and bring your ID.


Q: I know where the Metreon is, but can’t figure out where City View is. A little help, please?

A: CityView is on the fourth floor of the Metreon. It’ll be easiest to access if you enter the Metreon from the Yerba Buena Gardens entrance, as opposed to 4th street. Take the escalator or elevator to the top, and there you go.


Q: I’ve got my backpack with me; will it be safe, or do I need to keep lugging it around with me?

A: Although you’ll need to keep track of it yourself during Opening Acts, we will be providing a coat check/bag drop during VMunderground. However, we won’t be accepting liability for loss/damage whether using the coat check or not, so please use your judgement if you carry a laptop or other personal electronics. A backpack full of expo swag should be just fine…


Q: I live in the city/rented a car and plan to drive. Where is parking?

A: We have no special arrangements for parking. Most attendees will be from out-of-town, and we explicitly chose a location near Moscone to make it more “walkable” than last year. If you do decide to drive, please have a designated driver. We’re also working with Uber to provide some “getting home safe” discounts, so please consider a cab or other ride before choosing to drive; we’ll have more info on that at the party

Opening Acts 2014 — Panel Agenda

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The afternoon’s agenda is set, the panel membership for the topics is being finalized, and moderators are being assigned.  With that, we’re ready to publicize the times and panels for our inaugural Opening Acts:

Time Panel A Panel B
1pm Social Media/Careers Storage (SDS & traditional)
2pm Networking (SDN & traditional) Orchestration, Automation, & Optimization
3pm Cloud & General Virtualization Architecture & Infrastructure