VMworld needs to provide more feedback to session submitters

I’ve submitted a lot of sessions to a lot of conferences over the years.  And while the feedback from some of the conferences is a little cryptic thanks to the review team only having access to canned responses, it’ll do.  Now personally I’d love to get specific feedback saying exactly why my session wasn’t submitted, but I’m realistic in that there are probably hundreds or thousands of sessions submitted for every major conference, so canned responses are as good as it is going to get.

However VMworld hits the bottom rung of the ladder.  The VMworld content team simply provides this feedback.

Here is a list of the most common reasons why sessions were declined:

  • There were too many submissions with similar topics.
  • The submission was too basic, not enough information was provided in the abstract.
  • The session was too single vendor product focused and likely to have a commercial nature.

Having the most common reasons why sessions weren’t picked isn’t exactly helpful.  Given that my abstracts have been accepted at conferences like TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit I can assume that the submission wasn’t too basic.  While my sessions are SQL Server specific, virtualizing SQL Server is a major push for VMware so I’m assuming that I don’t fall into the last bucket.  That leaves that there were just too many submissions, which I can’t believe as currently there are only three sessions on the schedule that talks about SQL Server (as of my writing this).  The first is about virtualizing SQL Server, and the second is how General Mills succeed in virtualizing SQL Server using VMware, and the third appears to be a repeat of a SQL Virtualization session from last year.

The first session is called “Virtualizing SQL High Availability” but the abstract doesn’t talk about SQL Server High Availability, it only talks about SQL Server Performance Tuning within a virtual machine which let’s be honest from a SQL Server perspective is identical to tuning SQL Server on a physical machine.  Make sure the disks are fast enough, that you have enough memory and CPU then do the normal SQL performance tuning.  Looking at the external speakers companies website he appears to be knowledgeable on databases in general, but he doesn’t list anything more current than SQL Server 7 in his publications list for SQL Server, and most of his publications are for Oracle.

The second session called “Virtualizing SQL 2012 at General Mills” looks basically like a fluff piece being led by a Technical Account Manager from VMware (Sales) and a VMware Architect. In other words, they’ll have no one around who can actually answer any SQL Server questions, or talk about SQL Server in depth.

The third session is called “Virtualizing SQL Best Practices” which I’m pretty sure I saw at VMworld last year, and if it is the same session as last year I really hope that it is better than the session last year.  When I saw the session by this same presenter last year the session was full of incorrect and very outdated information, much of which was based on SQL Server 2000 but was being presented for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2.  If this is an updated version of last years session, I REALLY hope for the attendees sake that the session is updated and the incorrect information is updated.

Now am I writing this because I think I should have been handed a speaking slot at VMworld?  No.  I’m writing this because I think that VMworld needs to do a better service to their potential speakers so that the speakers can improve their abstracts based on VMworld’s requirements (as every conference has different criteria that they use when evaluating session abstracts).  I also feel that VMworld needs to do a better job providing SQL Server specific content to their attendees.  VMworld has 9 Oracle sessions listed (granted I think that only 7 of them are actually Oracle specific).

Hopefully this blog post won’t fall on deaf ears at VMworld and they will do something about their lack of SQL Server content as out of the three sessions listed, I personally don’t have much hope for any of them being very useful to the general VMworld attendee.

Before writing this blog post I emailed VMware asking for more information about why my sessions weren’t selected.  I got a pretty generic response back which doesn’t specify anything about why my specific sessions weren’t selected.

  • Take the time to specify some of the details in your session description.  The title, abstract, outline, and session takeaways are key factors in determining whether your session is selected and can affect session attendance.
  • Be sure your perspective or story is unique.
  • Attendees are there to learn, so educate rather than pitch your product.  Your proposal submission should clearly reflect your intention.
  • Make sure your topic is relevant to the audience you’re targeting. Review the content topics before submitting a session.
  • Session selections are based on the content described in the submission, and the speaker(s). Speakers should have extensive experience presenting at conferences of a similar nature. If a speaker has presented at VMworld in the past, we will look at speaker scores and take them into consideration during selection.

Again not exactly the more useful information for me as an abstract writer to improve.



2 Responses

  1. Denny,I may have some bad news for you. All major conferences work the same way. This includes our beloved PASS Member Summit. I did the exact same thing (other than blogging about it) and basically got the same response you write about here.Just thought I would let you know.Regards,John 

  2. Hi Denny— Barnaby Jeans sent me your blog post. I appreciate your desire to talk about this more, to prepare you for next year. I want VMworld to be different from other conferences, in a good way. My email is my first name @vmware.com. Please get in touch. Thanks, Neal

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