This was a year of many firsts for me, including four conferences I attended for the first time: Interop Las Vegas, Cisco Live, Nth Symposium, and VMworld. This is a long one, but I wanted to share my comparison and suggestions for future events.
Disclosure: I received support from Tech Field Day, HP Storage, and VMware in attending these events. I was a delegate to roundtables with Tech Field Day at all but Nth, and a HP Tech Day delegate at Nth. None of these sponsors were promised any special consideration in my coverage (or lack thereof) of the events, nor was I compensated for any participation in or around their events.
Both Cisco Live US and VMworld US were huge affairs, effectively a full week with 20k+ attendees, keynotes, breakout sessions, noticeable social media engagement, and all the challenges that come with housing, feeding, entertaining, and educating a large crowd, not to mention navigating that crowd.
Cisco Live was at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. About a dozen official Convention Hotels were within a few blocks of the convention center.
VMworld was at the three buildings of the Moscone Center, and conference facilities in two or three nearby hotels as I recall. Attendees had choices of hotels within a mile of the conference center.