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!

Cautiously Optimistic

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It’s like deja vu all over again: VMware is having a conference in San Francisco at the end of August 2022. It’ll have people gathered together–in large numbers–for the first time since 2019. It kicks off on a Monday and wraps on a Thursday. There has been a “call for presentations,” so there will be breakout sessions in addition to general keynote sessions. Sponsors will be gathered into a central exposition space.

VMworld? Nope. The marketers have rebranded it as “VMware Explore.”

But you know the saying: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…

It not only looks and feels like a VMworld, but the schedule hails back to the first years of VMworld, where the general activities begin with the Welcome Reception on Monday afternoon. Which means there will be people arriving on Sunday–or earlier–looking for something to do.

That’s where we come in. We’ll also be there, and with the help of our sponsors, we’re going to throw a party for the community. And we’re doing it Sunday night, just like “in the before times.”

And no: we are NOT changing the name. It’s still VMunderground, the original “Warm-up Party as a Service”

We’re going to tease the details out, of course; that’s also traditional. But you can work with the basic details: It’ll be Sunday evening, after the traditional “dinner hour.” It’ll be within reasonable walking distance of the Moscone complex. It’ll involve adult beverages, true, but we’ll also have non-alcoholic options available.

And we’re being cautiously optimistic that we can do this thing safely because we believe that vaccines work, and open/outdoor spaces help, too.

2020: Didn’t like. Would not recommend.

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Well, if you didn’t call 2020 a “dumpster fire,” what would you call it? We saw the COVID-19 Pandemic force the cancellation of just about every group event in the industry—those “lucky” few who had events in January or early February being the exception—with our cornerstone VMworld events included.

As I write this, the US dates that were originally on the calendar have come and gone, while the EU dates will soon be in the same shape.

But the industry responded to the crisis in many ways, and for our conferences, we leveraged the global Internet and switched to online/virtual conferences. Some went well, some…not so well.

VMworld 2020 will join the ranks of the Virtual Conferences in little more than a week, and VMware hopes to have learned from the examples—both positive and negative—of the ones that preceded it.

Naturally, that left the VMunderground team in a bit of a pickle: what will be our approach to our normal activities that kick off VMworld US?

In short, we decided to punt on the party. I don’t know about you, but we’re totally burned out on Zoom/Teams/whatever virtual meetings. If a virtual meeting doesn’t have legit value—business, career, education—coming out of it, forget it. We had some success during the first months of the “shelter at home” orders by doing some Trivia Nights, but even those got old…

But we thought we’d be able to pull of OpeningActs as virtual panel sessions. Those would bring “legit value” in one of the categories I mentioned (or so we hope!), and by partnering with Nick, Jeramiah, and Jason over on the Orbital Jigsaw Discord, we can have some of the same interaction, not just with panelists, but with attendees as well.

We have a nice lineup of sessions, and will also be hosting some content from our sponsors. We have all the schedule/agenda information on a landing page that will be updated regularly, whenever new details need to be communicated; we’ll also use Twitter (@opening_acts) to broadcast when an update was made, and—space permitting—what change needs attention.

The sessions will be live-streamed to both our YouTube channel and the Discord server; we highly encourage you to register with the Orbital Jigsaw Discord server, because that’s the only mechanism for interaction that we’ll support. If you just want to watch the YouTube livestream, that’s fine and very much your choice to make, but we’ll have moderators, audience interaction, etc., over on Discord. In fact, there’s a whole bunch of cool community stuff that’s going to happen on the Discord during the VMworld run, not just OpeningActs. There will be “watch parties” during the keynotes, roundtables, meeting rooms, and more. For those of you who have been to a VMworld in person in the last decade, you can think of the Discord a bit like a virtual “hang space”. And, while you’re there for VMworld content, poke around in the other channels; you may very well find that there’s community worth “sticking around” for after VMworld wraps! Take a moment to watch Nick’s “Orbital Jigsaw at VMworld” video to get an intro to the Discord and a peek at what’s in store…

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.

T-minus One Month

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Well, we’re one month out from the start of VMworld 2019 US, as well as Opening Acts and VMunderground.

Probably a good time to get the tickets & such out there, eh?

Your wish is my command…

Opening Acts Reservations: https://vsquaredb.ticketleap.com/opening-acts-2019/
VMunderground Tickets: https://vsquaredb.ticketleap.com/vmunderground-2019/

As in previous years, we’re limiting the number of tickets any person can acquire at one time. If you want more rules & blah-blah-blah, then scroll back through previous yearsticket release info. TL;DR: Don’t bogart the tickets; buy one for yourself, and let others fend for themselves.

Let it be known…

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Opening Acts and VMunderground will be held at

Tabletop Tap House

175 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

If that seems like a new location, but you recognize the address, you’re not wrong: the last time VMworld was in San Francisco, the space was a restaurant called “Jillian’s” and was the site of VMunderground back in 2012. It has been rebranded as a tap house, and some remodeling has been done, but it’s still well within the “walking distance” circle for the Moscone-area hotels.

2018 “last minute stuff”

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IMG_0917We’re one week out from VMworld 2018 US, which also means we’re one week out from Opening Acts and VMunderground. And while you may have become tired of advice, suggestions, and “before you go” tweets, blogposts and emails, we need to get this one out to everyone planning on attending our community events…

Opening Acts and VMunderground are two very different events at the same great venue. Review the information on the respective info “perma-pages” for timing and logistics for each event.
MK4_0280While we hope these pages are pretty comprehensive, we have thrown in some last-minute changes to VMunderground and some logistic requests to share.

First: Thanks to the generous support of VTUG, we’re opening to our sponsors and their guests at 7pm for an hour-long pre-party.

General admission for the party—whether you have a purchased ticket or a free entry thanks to a sponsor—is from 8pm to midnight.

Second: Although both Opening Acts and VMunderground are “come-and-go” events, we ask that you show respect for panelists and attendees at Opening Acts by minimizing your entry and exit while the sessions are in progress.

Finally: Both of these events are community-organized and community-attended. We hope that you’ll enjoy meeting new friends and re-acquainting yourself with old friends! If you’re anything like me, however, you may have trouble connecting faces and names (and Twitter handles!) with people you only get to see in person once a year. For that reason, you should plan to wear your conference badge so that people can take advantage of the (maybe not so) subtle cue on who you are.

Hello 0x7E2

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As of this writing, it’s only seven (7) weeks until VMworld 2018 US? Seems like seven (7) weeks is still plenty of time before we need to pack our kit and head to the airport…

But by other metrics, it’s going to get here faster than anyone wants…including the team here at Underground Central. We’ve got our homework still cut out for us: finding additional sponsors, announcing committed sponsors, finalizing session topics, populating the panel membership, coordinating with the venue for catering and audio-visual, etc.

But no worry…we’re veterans at this (this is our twelfth year!) and plan to have everything ready & in place for you when you arrive at Beerhaus on Sunday afternoon.

That’s right: We’re essentially “reverting to snapshot” from last year, doing pretty much the same venue and timing. Like last year, we’ll be starting the Opening Acts sessions at 1pm, running them back-to-back until 4pm. The kitchen & bar at Beerhaus will be open, but remain unsponsored for the panel sessions: you’re on your own to pick up the tab. If you’re not interested in eating there, best plan is to do lunch prior to arrival…and there are many, many options in the vicinity of New York New York Resort and Casino, the major landmark near Beerhaus.

Opening Acts: 1pm — 4pm PDT
VMunderground: Evening PDT
Beerhaus (at the Park)
3784 S Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109

The evening VMunderground party will start after the staff resets the venue space from the panel sessions; we’re still coordinating the exact time for the doors to open, but you can plan on it being after 7pm and no later than 8pm…

As mentioned in the first paragraph, we’re still seeking sponsors, so we aren’t planning on being able to commit to a zero-cost ticket for the party (as always, Opening Acts is a free event for all participants, but we’ll be requesting you to register for free reservations to help us get an idea of how full the venue will be). Like the last few years, we’ve needed paid tickets to “get us over the finish line.” so we’ll be selling party tickets once we’ve been able to finalize the sponsor slate.

And on that note, we’ll also begin announcing our committed sponsors this week; they’re the ones that really make this all possible, and will be an alternative option to purchasing party tickets. Keep an eye on the @VMunderground Twitter feed for new announcements–as well as the 2018 Sponsors page on this site–for more news on sponsors.

Before You Go, 2017 edition

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As I sit typing this, we’re exactly one week away from the kick-off to VMworld 2017 US: Opening Acts will have wrapped, and those who are inclined will be braving the crowds at the Solutions Exchange expo floor.

With it being the umpteenth conference in Las Vegas this year alone, and the second consecutive year for VMworld, there may not be a whole lot of new or important information for us to share that you wouldn’t know already.

With that in mind, I’ll try to keep it short and focus on the most relevant details for our events…

First off, we’re in a cool, new venue. Beerhaus is a fairly new addition to the New York-New York campus, so even seasoned conference-goers may not be familiar with it. It’s a bit of a beer garden, with a large variety of craft brews on tap as well as a full bar and kitchen. Although it’s affiliated with the New York-New York Hotel and Casino, you may find it easiest to reach from Las Vegas Boulevard (“the strip”) itself, especially if you’re coming from Mandalay Bay to the south.

BeerHaus Overhead

In simple terms, if coming from Mandalay Bay, head North on the west side of Las Vegas Blvd until you pass Shake Shack; turn left (west) and head back into the park area. You’ll see Beerhaus on your left.

Next: during Opening Acts, the Beerhaus bar and kitchen will be open, but there won’t be sponsored drinks and eats—you’ll have to wait until the VMunderground party for that!—so check their menu and make alternate plans for lunch if it doesn’t suit you.

Opening Acts is sold out according to EventBrite! While we don’t charge anything, we do have to limit the reservations due to space in the venue; but the reality is, we only worry about capping the attendance because of the indoor cooling & sound capability (as well as Fire Marshall restrictions). If you didn’t get a reservation, you should still consider dropping by to see if a) everyone that had a reservation is in attendance, and b) standing-room-only and outside-looking-in are options. It’ll be Vegas in the summer (+100°F/37°C), so it won’t be comfortable outside—even in the shade—but you’re still welcome.

If you do decide to come and eat/drink before or during Opening Acts, we’re going to ask you to stay on the east side of the venue so that conversations will be isolated away from the panel sessions.

The VMunderground party starts at 7pm, and entry is only permitted with a wristband. If you have an EventBrite ticket instead of a wristband from a sponsor, you will be able to exchange the former for the latter at the door; we haven’t made a final decision on which entrance(s) will be taking tickets in exchange for wristbands, but we’re planning on having several minions available to get you quickly checked-in and into the party.

The party has sponsored food and drink, and we can assure you that we have included both non-alcoholic and vegetarian options; however, other dietary requirements (vegan, gluten-free, etc) are not being explicitly accommodated. The simple reason is that we just don’t have any idea of the percentages, and our costs would skyrocket if we tried to be everything for everyone.

The event is in Las Vegas; there will be alcohol served. Although we are a private event, we still must adhere to domestic laws for serving alcohol, which means you must bring proof of age (government-issue photo ID with date-of-birth) showing that you’re 21 or older. The party is sponsoring selections from the beer and wine options; if you prefer cocktails or other “hard liquor” options, you will be able to purchase them on your own. We will also abide by venue rules for bringing in beverages from outside (you can’t) as well as departing with them (depends on container).

The venue this year does not lend itself to a coat/bag check, so keep that in mind if you’re in the habit of toting around a backpack or conference swag-bag…

Finally: this is a social event kicking off the conference. Please plan to wear your badge, both to identify yourself as an attendee as well as to let new and old friends have a crutch for remembering your name. I am absolutely certain that I’m not the only attendee who is horrible at remembering names…


Opening Acts 2017 Panel Lineups

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Join us for the 4th annual Opening Acts at VMworld US in Las Vegas on Sunday, August 27th. This year, we’ll be at Beerhaus at the Park next to New York New York casino. Here’s a fancy map link for your mapping pleasure!

As always, we strive to find just the right combination of snark, wit, and smarts in each and every one of our panelists and moderators. The only missing ingredient is your winning personality and friendly smile. Space at Beerhaus is limited, so please reserve your seat today.

1pm: Current State of the VMware Ecosystem

2pm: How Failing Made Me Better

3pm: Buzzword Bashing – Double-clicking on the premise of words in IT Marketing