VMworld Barcelona – a few takeaways

This blog will give you some understanding of Barcelona and VMworld Barcelona. I’ve never been to VMworld Barcelona but been in Barcelona a few times (once with Citrix Synergy) and a few times with the family. Barcelona is a nice friendly city (if you take in account all the robbers waiting for you). Feel the atmosphere and enjoy the food, but don’t forget to visit VMworld there.
In my previous blog I wrote about VMworld Las Vegas, you can find it here. Some of the content is also present here, the event is the same but on a different scale. Let’s start this blog with the event and end with the city. VMworld Barcelona is a shorter version of the US one but unlike Citrix used to do (when they had Synergy in Europe) VMware releases products and updates in Europe. So going here is not such a bad thing. Can’t go to both events but would love to have been here also.


VMworld Barcelona is held a bit outside the city, close to the harbour. It’s not so bad the metro/train system in Barcelona works fine and gets you from one side to the other in minutes. Of course we all like to be in the heart of the city but VMworld Barcelona is located a bit outside so you can focus on the event.
Below is a map of the event center, if you click on the link below it you get the pdf. The event location is rather large, make sure you can handle it :). Take some good walking shoes as you will make the miles euh kilometers as we say here.
To get the the convention center you can get of the train. The stops is Europa/Fira, find the map of the trains  here.

1. Sessions

Of course you go to VMworld for the sessions, we’ll choose them wisely. A lot of session start of with 10 minutes of marketing BS and then go on in a far to low technical level. It’s therefore wise to read well on the content of the session and look at the session level. Most of us IT consultants come to VMworld with knowledge and want to learn more, get more deep insight information.
A lot of session are level 300 or lower and don’t provide that deep dive, they are for the less experienced ones and for non-technical visitors. My technique is that I have a short list of topics I want to learn about, get information about during VMworld and I reserve sessions depending on that.
Make sure you register for session on time, you don’t want to be in the waiting line. Registration for sessions opens the 15th of August. The session builder will be open from then. Here’s the content catalog which is online already.
I pick session where either the content is about those topics or the one presenting has knowledge about it. I prepare some questions (have them in my head all year long) and wait the moment to ask them during the session. sure not all questions are answered in the session, sometimes the question goes to far for the level of the session. If that happens you should wait until after the session and talk to the presenter in the hallway. First you have to wait for the fanboys to say goodby for they are always around.
Had some nice conversations in the hallways that gave more info than 1 hour in a session..my list of topics is growing already for this year.
…and don’t be afraid to walk out of a session if the content is not good enough, you are not there to please them, you paid loads of money to get good content.
In Vegas the best place to be was in the VMware Village, you can make an appointment there with the product managers, like the meet the expert sessions last year. These and going on the floor to visit the vendors are the best thing to do at VMworld.

2. The floor

The real content is to be found on the floor. Having said that, I should warn you that half the people at the stands has no clue on what they sell, they are hired to smile and show their nice figure to you. Try to find the guy who wrote the code, invented the product and talk to him. There are moments that the floor isn’t that busy (when they don’t draw for an iPad) and that you can actually talk to people.
Again I make a shortlist of vendors on the floor and write down why I want to talk to them. Some talks are because they are long time friends but most are talks about new techniques and products.
If you don’t come prepared you are facing 500 vendors in a hall that all have a stress ball or sticker for you, not why you came to the event is it?
At one side of the floor are the smaller companies the startups, They get the least attention and are almost most interesting. I make time to visit them, not all of them but again through a shortlist.
…and please visit my advertisers they got some really good products to show you, take a look at the left and right of this article and see who they are. They are on the floor and ready to demo anything for you. Tell them I said hi 🙂

3. Gadgets

If you want to pay a few thousand of dollars for an event and hotels to get stress balls, stickers, usb stick and so on… you gotten to the right place. I’ve seen men walk out with two large shopping bags full of crap worth pennies. Every stand will offer you this kind of stuff and the game is to pick out the nice things only.
A lot of vendors are giving away an iPad or similar, if you have time enough you could enter all drawing and hopefully go home with one. If you enter the drawing you have to be present and will miss out many other things. I would be very picky about this for it will eat your time and time is limited.

4. Registration

One last thing, registration. Registration is open already on Saturday and Sunday so go there, it saves you standing in line on Monday. in the weekend the opening is only a few hours but at that moment there are no lines so you’re done fast. Take all the crap out of the bag  and only walk around with what you need, you need to walk a lot even though Barcelona is more confined to one place.

5. During the day

Okay, one more thing. At VMworld they take care you have enough to drink and eat, during the day water, drinks and snacks are provided. My experience at Synergy was that Spanish catering didn’t work as US catering, there was little drinks provided between sessions, only at 1700 we got drinks. Don’t know about VMworld in Barcelona but I’d be sure to get my hands on a spare bottle of water.
Dress Code at VMworld is business casual I guess although you see everything from business suit to flip flops and bermudas. I tend to go in jeans with a T-shirt and colbert to look a bit business and a bit relaxed. The colbert is handy for a wallet and phone and gives me a bit business look.

6. Barcelona

Well Barcelona is a very interesting city but you have to be warned about gangs robbing people there. We’ve seen it happen and I know several people that got robbed there. It is best to never walk alone and always travel in a group. Having said that, the city is wonderful and most people are friendly (just wish they would act more against those gangs).

What to see in Barcelona?

The obvious things are of course the ones most tourist go to Barcelona for, so here’s you list;
Sagrada Familia, the church that Gaudia started to built and they are still building
Park Güell, wonderful park built pretty amazing.


– The cable car that goes up to the castle/fortress, the Teleferico de Montjuic
The marks on the map are for the Funicalar (F) the C is for the cable car to the fort and the Ch is for the Cable car to the harbour. the first one goes up to about where the C is, can’t remember the exact spot. From there you get the cable car to the fort. You need to be a bit adventures to find it all but you’ll get there. If you come back from the fort you can get the cable car to the harbour.
– The cable car that goes down to the harbour, the Transbordador Cable car
The website only says how to get from the harbour up but from the mountain down is much more enjoyable.
You see the marked area on the map, that were the cable car to the harbour is leaving. The road coming from the left at the roundabout is going to the other cable car. It can be a bit busy there but worth the trip, once down you’re at the beach, it saves a lot of time.
Camp Nou, soccer stadium of FC Barcelona

For the soccer fans it’s worth a visit but it will consume a massive amount of time so be warned. Camp Nou is reachable by metro with L3 and getting out at Palau Reial or Maria Christina, it’s a small walk from there.


Mirablau is a very nice place to get a drink and a nice view over the city. It’s situated on top of a mountain at the outskirts of Barcelona so take care of the time to get there. Worth the visit for the view.- La Ramblas, the tourist and shopping street of Barcelona.
If you want to feel like a tourist, this is the place, next to Sagrada Familia this is where most tourist are found.
I was there also (the real tourist) with my kids who love to be a tourist.


There are many Gaudi building in the city but surely you won’t be going to see them all for that will consume too much of your precious time.Enjoy the food in small restaurant that are not crowded with tourists, try to find the real Spanisch restaurants.

Well I think that this will keep you busy enough during the sparse moments, enjoy the city and relax drink some Sangria and enjoy the Tapas… that’s Barcelona.

Where to stay?

When I visited with the family I stayed in a very cheap but nice small hotel called Petit hotel Barcelona. it might be a bit far from the conference but the price was nice and within minutes we were in the City.
The conference is a bit from the city center so my knowledge of hotels there is limited… or not existing.

When you don’t mind the travel time take a look, it’s nice.Can’t say much about the other hotels, stayed in Vincci Maritimo once and despite I got locked out of my room and locked in also the hotel was fine after all. Next time I bring a screw driver or a saw to free myself for they didn’t care :).

You have to look at time to travel compared to prices, as I said before the city has a good metro/train system, just make sure you don’t travel alone with you iPads/laptops and other gears… it’s not the safest city.


Well that’s my view on VMworld Barcelona, hope you will get something useful out of it, if you have questions or additions please let me know in the comments or via twitter @RobBeekmans. I won’t be there but my colleagues are and they are so much more fun 🙂

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