Citrix UK UG – 21 again!

[UPDATE 12 July] The UKCUG has posted their blog about the event, that includes the link for all presenters’ slide decks.  Thanks also Andrew Wood for the shout out at the end of your post to this post!! Read the post here.

I attended the 21st Citrix UK User Group meeting yesterday with one of my clients, the Diamond sponsor, Liquidware. I’ve know the majority of the committee – Jim Moyle, Andrew Wood and Neil Spellings – for many years and it’s always great to catch up.

Andrew kicked the meeting off with a welcome and recap of Citrix Synergy. Some of the audience had attended the event back in May and I got the impression that, in general, there was a buzz around the event that may have been missing in recent years. There were a lot of new announcements, as you’d expect, a summary of which can be read here.

What I really like about the CUGC UK meetings is they stream the meetings – via Go-to-Meeting – to enable folks to listen in that can’t attend a meeting in Central London.

Tweet from committee member Chris Marks

After Andrew’s intro, Al Taylor delivered a very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and informative session from a field perspective on The Great SD-WAN Bake-Off. After Al, Nigel Woods from FSLogix spoke about their Office365 caching solution. The coffee break – which was held in the boiling atrium at the Barbican 🙁 – was a chance to speak with the attendees before we re-grouped for a fascinating session on GDPR: A Techie’s Perspective by James Rankin and Jim Moyle.

Sessions from Steve Atkinson and Rachel Berry followed on Remote Access and IoT respectively.

After lunch Luke Dynowski of multi-national law firm Clyde & Co LLP shared his trials and tribulations of managing EUC across the globe, always good to hear from a customer!

Mark Plettenberg from LoginVSI then delivered the key findings of the VDILikeaPro VDI/SBC State of the Nation survey. I think the survey yielded some interesting results and, with over 580 respondents, it is statistically viable. However, I also think the folks involved make the data very skewed. I believe if you had a group mainly focused in the VMware space conducting a similar survey the results would be quite different – #justsaying!

Dave Johnson from Liquidware then spoke about their solutions and, specifically, about a great customer story, Informa, who are undertaking a multi-faceted desktop transformation project, including Citrix, physical and Amazon WorkSpaces – fascinating!

Unfortunately I then had to leave – although the diabolical disruption at Paddington meant I should’ve stayed for the Kevin Goodman session and his sponsored beers afterwards!!

In summary, I love the diversity of the Citrix User Group agenda; there really is something for everyone in my opinion, so why not try to attend their next meeting in September, currently scheduled for 27th.

All slide-decks will be posted soon, so check out http://www.citrixug.org.uk/

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July 6th Citrix UK User Group Meeting – A Rimmary

I’ve known the committee members (Neil Spellings, Andy Wood and Jim Moyle) for a long time but with my prior volunteer role as a UK VMUG leader, it never felt ‘right’ that I should attend a Citrix User Group. So I was excited to attend the meeting in London on 6th July to a) learn but b) to see how it was on the “dark” side 🙂

My client, Liquidware Labs, is a platinum sponsor of the UK CUG, but is also a founding sponsor of the CUGC launched at Synergy in 2015. I’ve long harped on to anyone that would listen to me at Citrix – I specifically recall a discussion at IPExpo back in 2013 with Julian Wood, Andy Wood and the then NE Marketing Director Nick McGrath – that a user group needs the support and focus from the vendor to be successful. The UK Citrix User Group has been running for a number of years prior to a formal CUGC being launched. Support required isn’t necessarily financial, but does need to be supported by key technical team members. So it was great to see Simon Frost and Craig Hinchliffe in attendance. And it was great to witness a formal Citrix User group first hand!

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Andy Wood opened proceedings with a welcome and thanks to sponsors, of which there are 3 Platinum, 4 Gold and 4 Silver. As mentioned prior, Liquidware Labs is a Platinum sponsor and one of my other (previous) clients, PernixData is Gold. However, due to the current “situation”, PernixData was not in attendance 🙁

It was funny to hear Andy mention that they’d stolen  borrowed [updated as per comment below] “another VMUG idea”, tipping a nod to me, of a quiz (aka passport to prizes) to encourage members to visit each sponsors’ stands to garner the answer to company specific questions to then be entered into a prize draw for a very nice wireless Bose speaker, sponsored by AppSense. Interestingly – given they were recently acquired by LANDesk – their question was “What company was AppSense born out of?”!!

Then we had an overview of the Citrix announcements at the recently held Citrix Synergy, delivered by a customer, Dave Holborn of Aviva and a partner, Chris Marks of Esteem. As I’d watched the live stream of the keynotes, there wasn’t anything new, but I liked the way Dave and Chris made the session interactive by asking the audience what they thought about the announcements. This produced some great dialogue and, frankly, they needed more than their allocated 45 minutes.

Next up was Andrew Innes from Citrix talking about Federated Domain Logon: Flexible Auth for Windows Delivery in XenApp 7.9. Following Andrew was a sponsor 15 minutes presentation from UniPrint. After a coffee break, Dan Bolton and Jim Moyle presented a community session on Numecent’s JukeBox, now named CloudPaging – an app delivery application. Then followed a CTA (Citrix Technology Advocate) session on the Mysteries of FTA’s by James Rankin. The last session prior to lunch was the 15-minute sponsor session from Peter von Oven of Liquidware Labs, talking about User Login Process.

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After the community was fed, thanks to Liquidware Labs, I had to leave.

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It was a great first time meeting for me, informative and interactive and also great to catch up with some old and new friends; Yuri Pasea, Roger Baskerville, Ian Jones, Steve McElfatrick and Sharon Munday in the “old” camp and Rachel Berry of NVIDIA and Jane Cassell from TFL in the “new”.

If you’re a Citrix user and don’t know about this user group, you should sign up and attend for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Community 2.0

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Community – it means different things to different people, particularly in our industry. But I like this definition the best: A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. I’ve recently become involved in a crowd-sourced community, WhatMatrix. The goal of WhatMatrix is to provide free comparisons to organizations based upon collaborative, expert input. Having been involved in the launch of this community, it is exciting to see people’s responses to the matrices – particularly when they don’t agree! But the sweet thing about WhatMatrix is the fact that this is exactly what underpins it; if you disagree and can assert the correct information, it will be updated.

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The value of this can, however, potentially be undermined or misconstrued if an expert contributor is associated with a vendor. It could be assumed that the expert might have a bias towards his or her own company’s solution. This train of thought got me thinking about other things in general. I think that experts, bloggers, industry contributors etc., whatever “nomenclature” you want to associate with this group of people, it all boils down to respect. If you can demonstrate that your opinion is factually based and be willing to change it if proven wrong, then you command the respect to be an ‘independent’ member of said community. Whilst I’ve always said if you’re an employee, you’re ‘always on’ as a representative for your company, you can still be a community contributor and employee. I’ve also seen experts move from being independent to working for a vendor only to discover their ‘perks’, such as NFRs etc. are removed from them, as owners of the programs to which they belong don’t like the competition having access to their software. Well, let me tell you, if you sell via a channel and your competition is that desperate to get a hold of your product, they will! Don’t penalize the expert for no longer being independent is my view.

But I digress…….. What does the future hold for our community within the virtualization and cloud space? I see many vendors creating their own select programs and really getting behind them to own, drive and, in most cases, fund them. For any user community to thrive the vendor has to take ownership early on, in conjunction and collaboration with the users. Big user groups, such as the VMware User Group, have become totally independent to be effective and are funded via vendor sponsorship. For more niche players and start ups, make the community what your ‘social unit’ needs it to be, not what you, as a vendor, want it to be. Other community programs, such as VMware’s vExpert accolade, become less meaningful, to some, as they grow. People want exclusivity to feel more valued it would seem. My view is that as the user base grows, the vExpert numbers will grow. But maybe it is time to create some kind of tiering? This point reminds me of being involved building the channel for Citrix and then VMware across EMEA in both companies’ early days. The innovative partners that first came on board and really invested wanted recognition as the partner base grew to include the ‘box shifters’, and so tiering was introduced; platinum, gold, silver, etc.

In summary, I think Community 2.0 will be more collaborative, potentially less exclusive but more ‘segmented’ and should continue to focus on the needs of the member first and foremost.

 

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User Groups – They’re all about the users, but the vendor needs to recognize that!

Finally have the time to blog about a meeting I had at the recent IP Expo at Earls Court, London.  I had the great pleasure to meet up with Neil Spellings and Andrew Wood, steering committee leaders of the Citrix User Group here in the UK.  Julian Wood also joined us; as many of you know he’s a long term VMUG attendee and contributor, but he’s also attended some of the Citrix UGs as he – as with many VMUG members – has implemented both Citrix and VMware infrastructures.

We were discussing the merits of vendor involvement in user groups and how they can help, as well as hinder, community effort.  We discussed what is required from a vendor to make a successful user group.  Obviously being involved with a couple of VMware User Groups (London and UK), I have a good insight into what works well with a successful user group.  Observing from the outside in, I see a fundamental difference between what VMUGs receive from their eponymous vendor versus what Citrix provides, which appears very little.  On the other hand, I also see a striking similarity – and that is user passion.

The discussion got me wondering about why VMUG is so successful and why many other UGs stumble in its shadow.  I believe there are two intrinsic components to even get a UG started. One is the vendor’s belief in the value of supporting a UG and thus allocating a resource (preferably a dedicated one) as a ‘connector’ between the vendor’s relevant department(s) and the UG leaders.  Second, you have to have the passion and dedication from the users.  In VMUG’s case I believe this passion to border on (in a good way!) a cult-like following.  Without these 2 starting ingredients, you do not have a recipe for success.

If you look at what Citrix currently provides a focus on within its community – their CTPs (Citrix Technology Professionals) – it is too narrow in focus, as currently there are only 46 holders of this title.  Meanwhile VMware’s vExpert program has over 580 members and is highly focused on people evangelizing VMware and its technology and sharing within the community.

For me, VMware gets community, they invest in a team of people, including John Mark Troyer and Corey Romero, and originally help set up VMUG.  VMUG is now an independent, not-for-profit, organization run by the users for the users.  Although the London VMUG had been running long before VMUG was formed, by becoming a formal VMUG, we’ve been able to expand our meetings to all day and multiple tracks due to VMUG HQ taking the ‘back office’ burden off our shoulders – such as invoicing sponsors, paying the venue, etc. – enabling us to focus on securing the best speakers and relevant sponsors for our members’ enjoyment and edification and providing a networking forum that promotes further learning.

At last weekend’s E2EVC event, 2 of our prominent European VMUG members, Liselotte Foverskov (Danish VMUG) and Andrea Mauro (Italian VMUG) presented about VMware.  Their presentation was well received by the community in attendance at the event, which, from what I can tell, is predominantly Citrix/Microsoft focused.

Citrix has Perrine Crampton as their community programs manager – John Troyer recently interviewed her on Geek-Whisperers – it was great to hear about EMCElect, vExpert and CTP communities from the people that own the relationship within their respective vendors.  I think it would be great to see Citrix provide a deeper focus to their user group communities, expanding out from just a CTP focus.  I was recently asked by a senior Citrix marketing exec how much budget should they allocate to user groups.  My answer? None.  The funding comes from sponsors, but you need to provide the commitment of relevant speakers to attend the user groups and you need to connect with the leaders on a regular basis. And executive sponsorship is key – every VMworld has Pat Gelsinger or other senior executives mention VMUG.  While I’ve not attended a Citrix Synergy for a while now, I don’t ever recall Mark Templeton mention CUG………

A recent tweet from Julian Wood says it all:

and I hope other vendors can follow VMUG’s lead and provide THEIR users the commitment and dedication to supporting their user groups.  It’s all about the users you know 🙂

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