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Third Conference a huge success, breaks records

Packed room for Veeam’s breakout sessionThe third annual Midwest Regional VMware User Group conference, held on December 6th, 2011 at Kansas City’s famous Arrowhead Stadium, wrapped up shortly after 5:30pm local time. The final tally of checked-in attendees stood at 526, breaking the previous year’s numbers for the event, and setting a record for the recently-renovated venue as well.

According to Arrowhead event coordinator Ashley Netzer, the VMUG event was the largest non-NFL event to be held at the stadium since the $375 million renovation was completed in time for the 2010-2011 NFL season. It was those renovations that made it possible for indoor events at the scale of the VMUG conference to be possible. Although the stadium originally included indoor facilities that would support events such as wedding receptions and the like, nothing pre-renovation would have supported the number of attendees and booth space of the exposition area. In addition to stellar support from the Arrowhead event staff, the catering staff did a superb job of feeding the crowd with hot buffet meals for breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks and soft-drinks in-between.

Attendees in the expo area

The conference boasted an exposition area with booths for 40 sponsoring organizations, including VMware and Platinum Sponsors HP, Hitachi Data Systems and Riverbed. In addition to the conference-opening general sessions featuring VMware veteran Irish Spring and EMC’s Chad Sakac, 22 breakout sessions were presented across 5 tracks of interest: VMware, Backup, Network, Storage & Cloud.

Gold Sponsor EMC also provided 6 stations for cloud-based hands-on labs, hosted using VMware’s premier cloud computing services from the sponsor’s Durham, NC datacenter: proof that cloud computing’s promise can be fulfilled.

vBeers with the vStorage ExpertsVMUG events are all about “serious fun,” and nothing showcased it better than the final 90 minutes of the event. Thanks to Platinum Sponsor Riverbed, a panel session titled “vBeers with the vStorage Experts” concluded the educational portion of the day with an “open mike” format where storage questions and various beers were served to attendees and panelists Eric Siebert (HP), Nick Rieker (Dell Compellent), David Robertson (EMC), Theron Conrey (Nexenta), Scott Baker (NetApp) and Pieter Teeling (Dell Equallogic). Irish Spring’s deft moderation of the session kept the mood light, and attendees that were willing to stand up and ask questions for the panel found themselves with the additional reward of random goodies from ThinkGeek that the VMUG team had on hand.

Additional goodies in the form of ThinkGeek items, copies of Scott Lowe’s Mastering vSphere 5 and Mike Laverick’s Administering VMware SRM5 books, and various high-desire electronic devices like Apple iPads were raffled off to the ~100 remaining, dedicated attendees from both sponsors and VMUG prize bags.

Special thanks from the local VMUG leadership team to Ashley Netzler and the Arrowhead event & catering staff, the Chicago-based Global VMUG support staff (Amy, Frances, Victor, Bret, Dave), and of course, the Platinum, Gold and Silver sponsors, without which we couldn’t have made it happen.