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As has been intimated on Twitter and through teasers on the vCommunity Podcast, the #VMunderground and #vBrownBag teams have joined forces for 2014 to bring a new type of community-driven event to anyone willing to come into San Francisco for VMworld 2014 a little bit early.

While it’s true that the mission of the two organizations are quite different in their approach to community participation—#vBrownBag is about education and happens year-round, independently of VMworld; #VMunderground is a party held prior to VMworld US—we do have some important synergies:

  • We are all about community participation
  • We absolutely support the “work hard+play hard” ethos

So how do these things come together, yet avoid kicking the shins of the VMworld giant as well as avoid cannibalizing #vBrownBag TechTalks? We believe we’ve got something here…

We are pleased to introduce “Opening Acts.”

Opening Acts will be a series of group/panel discussions over the course of a few hours on Sunday afternoon. Whiteboards will be present, but no slides or PowerPoint.

Like a concert, where you have a major big-name act that draws the crowd, an opening act is often used to warm up the audience, get the mood and tone set for the headliner. The VMunderground party has often referred to itself as a “Warm-up Party (as a Service);” Opening Acts is going to be a Warm-up Pre-con (as a Service). The idea is to get discussions started to get into the mindset for the conference.

And here’s where you—our community—come into the picture: We need feedback on what needs to be covered—and who you think should be there—to help push the conversation. We’ll have time and space set aside for sessions, but the number, topic and duration of each will be determined by those planning to attend. Nothing is off limits: Want to start to the discussion early on disruptive new technologies like hyperconvergence or the growth of flash storage in the datacenter? Fine. Want to chat about licensing challenges in a multi-vendor infrastructure? Fine. Want to talk about techniques to study and prep for certification? You bet. Do you think the authors from the five top vBlogs for 2014 (Duncan Epping, William Lam, Frank Denneman, Cormac Hogan and Scott Lowe) should be there? Sure: we’ll ask them—and any other community members you suggest in the form—to come join us.

Please give us a few minutes of your time to complete this Google Form so we can get a sense of what will be of most interest. It shouldn’t take long, but will give us valuable input into making this a great event.