I had the opportunity to attend and speak at my first VeeamON conference this year in Las Vegas at the Aria from October 26-29. The session I co-presented on was called “Architecting Operations Manager Solutions with Veeam” and I had the honor of co-presenting with both Pete Zerger and Michael Stafford. This was an extremely professionally run event with a lot of great approaches to conferences which I had not seen before. This blog post will the top ten highlights of what I learned about conferences from attending VeeamON:
- VeeamON started this event on the right foot by having the speakers picked up at the airport by a driver with their name on the sign. I will admit this is a first for me as a speaker so I had to grab a picture (shown at the end of the blog post). This really started the week off on a high note!
- The room which had all of the sponsors was the home of all of the socials and the meals. The result was that attendees spent significantly more time in and around the sponsors than I have seen at other events.
- One of the very interesting aspects VeeamON was their approach to spouses and their involvement in the event. At the event spouses or significant others were allowed to attend socials and meals (or at least they the coordinators didn’t choose to make an issue of it). The result was that attendees often spent more time at the socials and meals. This made the event extra inviting as an opportunity to both attend a conference and to bring with your spouse or significant other on the trip.
- Having a keynote in the afternoon is an excellent idea, especially in Las Vegas as everyone can make it to the keynote versus early morning keynotes which can be challenging (again especially in Las Vegas)
- Veeam utilized VeeamON to gather together representatives of their new Vanguard program. This provided a way for the various Vanguards to meet each other and for Veeam to provide training specific to this group.
- VeeamON was the first technical conference where I’ve seen celebrity star-power integrated into the event. The keynotes were hosted by Richard Liable (a “Second City” comedian) and included an interview of William Shatner (see the picture at the end of this blog post for proof)! The addition of celebrity’s to the event was a nice twist and I will say, it was flat out the first time I’ve ever been able to tell a colleague that I would be late to a meeting because I was sitting 20 feet away from William Shatner while he was being interviewed.
- I really appreciated the more relaxed schedule and pace of VeeamON. In most conferences there is little time between sessions to catch up on email or just socialize. VeeamON set relaxed schedule so that there was time between sessions so we weren’t rushing around all week.
- VeeamON attendance was somewhere over 1800 people from a variety of countries around the world. In most conferences the audience is 90% male and 10% female (approximately). At VeeamON this was not the case as the ratio was closer to 75% to 25% based on the attendees that I saw at the event during the week. It was good to see that technical conferences can be more inviting to female attendees as there are some incredibly talented women in the IT field.
- VeeamON has a concept that they call “Lab Warz” which included a ten thousand dollar grand prize (and twenty-five thousand in total prizes).
- The mobile application for VeeamON was excellent and it included a game which was almost like a digital scavenger hunt. In the game you take pictures of things identified in the game and you get points towards swag. This was good both from a socialization perspective (multiple people playing the game at the same time) and it also gathered an incredible number of photos from the event which were provided for little to no cost (only the cost of the swag given away). I thought that this was one of the most creative ideas at the event.
Ok, ten wasn’t quite enough so I had to add one bonus item: The Veeam crew truly does know how to throw a party. The close-out for their event was one of the most impressive that I’ve seen in my career. Job well done!
Summary: This was a first class event, I highly recommend it if you are involved in the types of technologies which they cover.