The 6th Annual UK VMUG UserCon – A Rimmary

Having been a VMUG leader for the past 5 ½ years, I was very much looking forward to attending the UK National event as an attendee for the first time. In some ways I was a little apprehensive. Ever since Jean Williams asked us (the previous London VMUG committee) back in early 2011 to put on a UK-wide VMUG event, I’ve been part of seeing the UK VMUG event grow and expand in terms of content, attendees and sponsors. When Al, Stu and I announced at last year’s event we were all stepping down as the London and UK VMUG leaders, handing over to the new committee, chaired by Simon Gallagher, felt a little like handing over ‘my baby’. However, I registered once registration was open and Simon asked if I’d do a mezz session on Social Media, so I was in!

It was a great night the evening before at the vCurry – was a pleasure to attend and not have to worry about anything. The team did an awesome job this year, with Chris Dearden’s vQuiz – assisted by James Kilby – topping even Stu’s humour and ridiculous questions at times! Was great to hear one of the general knowledge questions being about my other community involvement, WhatMatrix! The question was along the lines of: With the Great British Bake Off being such a hit, what industry bake off website was launched this year? Great question Chris, thanks! Our team, The Remote Shirkers, was placed second, winning £5 Amazon vouchers. A good summary of the evening can be read here, compliments of Christopher Lewis. There was a great turnout and a fun evening, kudos to the committee for having an open bar this year!

At registration the following morning, there was a great improvement on previous years, with the new VMUG Europe team, led by Esther Westerweele, enabling registration with a scanned QR code – all very smooth. It was an early start, but with the keynote being conducted by Joe Baguley the turnout was great. It was a pleasure to bump into Keith Norbie of SolidFire/NetApp fame at the keynote, his first time a UK UserCon. I think his tweet sums up the power of Twitter and the networking value of VMUG:

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As ever Joe gave a compelling talk, reiterating VMware’s strategy and the evolution of their vision. My key takeaways were:

  1. Aligning IT to the Business is the wrong strategy,
  2. Start with the user and
  3. Traditional Business = Digital Business.

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Amanda Blevins, director of technology, Office of the CTO, gave an extremely informative preso on OCTO and what they all do – it’s a lot!

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After the keynote I spent time in the solutions exchange and it was buzzing. Had a quick chat with Nick Furnell and hopefully provided him some useful input to managing UK Veeam User Group events. Had a good old ‘chinwag’ with my long time industry friend Tom Howarth and stopped by the SolidFire/NetApp booth and got my socks, thanks Keith! I also caught up with Trevor Cooper from Cohesity, who gave me my Cohesity vExpert backpack that he’s been holding onto for me since VMworld Las Vegas, thanks Trevor!

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I attended the StorMagic presentation; where I bumped into Arthur Bojilov, long time London VMUG attendee. StorMagic is a great solution for ROBO and is an interesting UK company, headquartered in Bristol.

 

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Then it was a very early lunch, which was very tasty and served in handy sized bowls to allow for eating ‘on the go’. It was also great to catch up with Stu and Al in the refreshment area – been a year since we were all together, do you think I was a bit excited to see them?!

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After lunch and more networking, I had my Social Media 101 mezzanine community session. Was honoured to have the likes of Barry Coombs and Tom Howarth attend and whilst I had some slides, it was a great roundtable discussion, with all the attendees contributing to the conversation. Thanks to those that attended!

 

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And thank you Megan for your kind words!

There was an unexpected fire alarm right in the middle of my session, and thanks to Craig Dalrymple for this awesome and totally appropriate tweet!!

 

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My last session of the day was Massimo Re Ferre’s Cloud Native Buzzwords Demystified (for Dummies). Clearly it was the words in brackets that applied to me, and it was a great session, I learnt a lot. Massimo presented this earlier in the week as a keynote at the Italian VMUG UserCon and was a cut down version of his presentation from VMworld.

 

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I then had to leave, so missed the closing keynote from Julian Wood, but as I know it was being recorded I look forward to viewing it next week. My twitter stream lit up during it, so it was clearly a great presentation and very well received! It was fab to see that the committee was presenting 4 VMworld trips again this year. I saw one winner tweet about winning, so congrats to him and the other 3 lucky winners!

I know what it takes to deliver this event so extend my hearty congratulations to the UK VMUG committee, Esther and her event team for an awesome job. I now know my ‘baby’ is in safe hands; it was a great community event, well delivered and executed – Thank You!!

Don’t forget all presentations and recordings will be posted here in due course.

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VMworld Day 2 Rimmary

With the Day 2 keynote traditionally being hosted by Steve Herrod, I think many of us were thinking who and what would replace him.  Well, it was not a disappointment!  The keynote was soooo much better than yesterday in terms of energy and the banter between Carl Eschenbach and Kit Colbert and then with our very own Joe Baguley was really enjoyable.  Although clearly rehearsed and scripted it seemed to flow and come across as reasonably natural, apart from the continuous use of each co-presenter’s name the WHOLE time, “yes Carl”, “really Kit”, “that’s right Joe” L Was great to see the presentations interspersed with funny movie clips.  Also funny to hear Carl offering 5 FREE vCenter Log Insight licenses, when I worked at VMware Carl was the VP of NA Sales and Joe joked you never hear a salesman giving anything away for free!

My fellow London VMUG member, Julian Wood, has written up a great overview of all the demos conducted during the keynote, you can read his blog here

After the keynotes I did my stint on the VMUG booth, encouraging all to join up – it’s also FREE!!   I then had a really nice lunch with Tom Howarth, it’s been a long time we’ve had a chance to catch up, so really enjoyed that Tom, thanks!

In the evening I went to the joint vExpert/VCDX party, where I met up with Carl and told him what a great job I thought he and Kit and Joe had accomplished with the keynote. I also had the chance to get my picture taken with Pat Gelsinger! Who I invited, as I did last year, to the London VMUG 🙂

Pat was so accommodating to many of us vExperts asking for a picture with him and I wondered if he felt it was odd that we all want a picture with him?  I’m sure that during his tenure at Intel and EMC he wasn’t bombarded by a bunch of geeks to have his picture taken! I personally think that because there is so much passion and enthusiasm for VMware within the user community, we all want to know the key people.  As always, I’d like to thank John Troyer and the whole VMware community team for making the vExpert community what it is, a collective of some really extraordinary people and for laying on the party for us.

Afterward, I went to the office of the CTO party where I met up with Paul Strong CTO of Global Field, who was our host, as well as bumping into Pat again.  I felt extremely privileged to be invited to this party, it was AMAZING.  It was held in the Old US Mint and each of the vaults had different things happening in them; scotch tasting, photo booth, pick and mix sweets and many other things.   We also had the chance to chat to Kit Colbert, and yet again have a vRockstar picture taken!

The food was great and then just as I was about to leave, Dr. Steve Herrod showed up!  I was with my fellow VMUG Leader, Liselotte Foverskov from Denmark and we had our picture taken with him and both invited him (also as we did last year!) to attend our UK and Danish VMUG User Conference.

Day 2 came to a close with a brief nightcap with some of my old Dutch colleagues from VMware, Jeremy van Doorn (of VMworld TV fame) and Marc Groetelaars.  Jeremy also advised me that the chat we’d had in the hangspace on day 1 was posted on VMworld TV, see it here!

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VMware Expert 2013 – My journey and thoughts

 

In case you’ve not seen the Twitter stream on #vExpert 2013 awardees, the list is here: http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2013/05/vexpert-2013-awardees-announced.html

I’m honoured to be awarded the accolade of vExpert for the third year running.  I was originally nominated back in 2010 by Tom Howarth and Mike Laverick mainly for my contributions to the London VMUG.  As a volunteer co-leader and steering committee member (along with Alaric Davies, Stuart Thompson and Simon Gallagher) I spend a vast amount of my personal time ensuring the community has a great experience as a member of the London VMUG and, for our sins, we also arrange the UK National User Conference.  Anyone else involved in being a VMUG leader knows the amount of time it takes to not just stage the meetings, but to arrange speakers and sponsorship, liaise with VMUG HQ on the invites, keep the VMUG workspace updated with relevant content, posting the presentations, etc. etc.  So receiving the recognition of our efforts as VMUG leaders by being awarded the vExpert accolade means so much for me personally, perhaps more than most in the community.  Why?  Well, I’ve worked for and with VMware since the early 2000’s and, while I call myself a technologist (or as Mike likes to say techknowlogist!), I am not an uber-techie like, I’d say, the other 579 vExperts.  I’m also in another minority – female!  So combining these two minority factors makes me even more proud to be a vExpert 🙂

But, sadly, the negative comments are creeping into my vExpert Twitter stream this morning about higher numbers devaluing the program, changing the selection criteria, the comments go on.  For me the bottom line is this, if you don’t see the value, don’t nominate yourself.  This is about community and as the community grows it is logical that the number of vExperts should grow. The number of awardees this year is only 580, a very small percentage of the overall VMware customer base, let alone the user base.  Should the vExpert award change to reflect ‘competencies’ such as, in my case, a VMUG ‘badge’? Yes, I think probably this evolution would make sense.  But that is for John Troyer and VMware to decide, and I know they will listen to the community, but let’s make the comments constructive guys, not bitching and whingeing.

In conclusion, congrats to all the vExpert 2013 awardees, you will get out of this community what you put in.  This is still THE best community in my opinion in today’s tech world – enjoy!

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