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…