Does a Broader Church Impact the Congregation?

I had an interesting conversation with a long time VMUG member at yesterday’s London VMUG meeting. He’d not been to a meeting in a while and felt that some of the content and sponsors weren’t relevant, at least not to him in his role (specifically vSphere focused). In talking to one of the sponsors, BlueMedora, who operate on top of vRops – which this particular member doesn’t use – he said this highlighted the lack of relevance of a VMUG meeting for him.

I commented that perhaps VMware is becoming less relevant in today’s IT stack and he countered that with so many differing solutions, perhaps folks like him are looking at more niche type events.

However, on further cogitation I don’t believe that VMware is becoming less relevant per se, just that other options are becoming more prevalent. What I do think, however, is that whilst the VMware community is still strong and passionate, VMUG itself is, perhaps, becoming less relevant.

With the recent “VMUG Gate” issues surrounding Nutanix and then the communications debacle around the announcement of VMUG becoming part of Dell Technologies User Community, perhaps VMUG itself is at risk of demise due to trying to be a broader ‘church’? I recently spoke to one of my colleagues in the Nordic region about a decline in meeting attendance and with numbers on the low side in London too, especially considering Frank Denneman was on the agenda, maybe VMUG itself needs to adapt and morph to remain relevant?

Perhaps there needs to be different tracks for different interests; one for traditional ol’ vSphere-ites and one for the fanbois of all things new and shiny, and not necessarily just VMware?

Would love to hear other folks’ view on this post and hopefully it won’t blacklist me from a potential 2018 vExpert inclusion 😉

In closing, this tweet from last night’s Luxury vBeers reminded me that whilst there are corporate politics and bureaucracy, the community will always win through!

 

 

 

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London VMUG 6th April

vmw_vmug_logoI’m particularly looking forward to next week’s London VMUG meeting; not just because I’ll catch up with all the usual members, not just because there’s another great agenda put together by the volunteer leaders, but also because I’ll be there with my new client, Runecast, who is a silver sponsor.

They’ve just returned from an awesome 2 UserCons down in Australia. Runecast Analyzer received a great reception ‘down under’ and my twitter stream was alight at silly o’clock in the mornings due to copious amounts of tweets! Runecast is also sponsoring the German and UK UserCons in June and November, as well Silicon Valley and Indianapolis in the US.

For those readers unaware or unfamiliar with Runecast Analyzer, it is a proactive VMware vSphere management solution that installs as an OVA format virtual appliance. Runecast Analyzer uses current VMware Knowledge Base articles and Runecast’s expertise to analyze the virtual infrastructure and expose potential issues and best practice violations, before they cause major outages.

I’ve been extremely excited by the reception that both the team and their solution has been receiving recently. From talking with potential partners, interviewing customers for case studies and reading blogs by many leading industry luminaries, such as Duncan Epping, Cormac Hogan and Vladan Seget, it is clear that Runecast Analyzer is a ‘must have’ in any VMware vSphere environment, plus if you’re a vExpert, you get an NFR for free!

Check out the agenda below to see timings for the day, and hope to see you in London next week!

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Robot Wars, Internet Community and Going Autonomic!

Having always been a Robot Wars fan, I’ve been riveted to my TV on a Sunday evening now that it’s finally back on our screens after a 12 year hiatus. What makes it even more compelling viewing is the fact that one of the robots, Storm2, is sponsored by VMware and one of the team is from VMware, Ed Hoppitt. Unfortunately, they were defeated last Sunday, but the show was great viewing and spotted a few fleeting shots of Joe Baguley! Ed was wearing a Cloud Native Apps t-shirt in one of his interviews, so a good bit of branding! What was also interesting to me was the interview with one of the judges, Dr Lucy Rogers, when she spoke of the camaraderie between the teams and how the Internet has created a great community. Dr Lucy recommended, “Get involved, get online.” She also mentioned the Internet allows discussions to take place anywhere in the world. Which reminded me of the great community that I am part of – we’re all here for each other when needed, even if we work for competing vendors (caveat: as with most generalisations, they’re generally true, but there are some exceptions to this rule, as observed at times on Twitter 🙂 ). You can view episode 4 of Robot Wars here on BBC iPlayer.

Speaking of competing vendors, I found the news this week that VMTurbo has changed its name to Turbonomic fascinating. I worked with them a few years ago (2012-2013) to assist in raising awareness and creating demand in the UK. Although I’ve not personally used their product, I’ve seen it in action and spoken to many customers that rely on it on a daily basis. Plus, I believe their patented economic scheduling engine to be very innovative. I’ve always seen it more as a complement to VMware, but many view it as a competitor to vROps. There are overlaps, of course. However, in my opinion, the main area of competition is not specifically technology, but more budget. If $$ are limited, organisations are not necessarily going to purchase both solutions.

I think a name change has been on the cards for a while but hats off to the marketing team in executing a pretty smooth transition to the new name and the new messaging. My only critique is the new logo, but only from a nit-picky and possibly subjective perspective. When you have a list of sponsors of an event listed – with the same sized real-estate for each logo – the smaller the width of the name, the more prominent a logo looks. Given the length of the new logo, Turbonomic will not be as visible in the first instance. As this example from the Gold sponsorship list from VMworld demonstrates, but guess you could argue the green “on” is pretty prominent!

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Since Eric Wright joined VMTurbo, oops, Turbonomic, I’ve witnessed their commitment to the community develop considerably. They also have an online community forum, Green Circle.

Turbonomic has gone from being intelligent workload management, to a software-defined control platform, to now being an Autonomic Platform. I wish them continued success under the new brand!

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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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Why I’m not going to VMworld this year

I’ve been a regular attendee at VMworld either in US or Europe since the very first one in 2004. I missed 2005 but have been every year since to one or the other and sometimes both. In the majority of cases I was there with a client, so doing booth duty and having my expenses paid by them. I didn’t have client sponsorship during the 10th anniversary year, 2013 and, as it was a special year, funded myself – with the grateful thanks of a pass from VMUG. It was a very memorable event for many reasons for me, one of which was meeting with the ‘brains the size of planets’ leadership team at PernixData and, of course, John Troyer was still heading up the vExpert/Community team. I attended just Barcelona last year – again under my ‘own steam’ – and, to be honest, I felt there was something missing, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then today, I read this post from Eric Siebert and it kind of fell into place for me why VMworld is no longer a “must attend” for me. When someone of the technical calibre like Eric is compelled to write such a researched post on the bands of not just VMworld, but other tech conferences in our space, it hit home that VMworld is now just too big and too impersonal. Really? You care so much about the bands and why VMware isn’t spending more money on a recognisable name? I think that’s just sad. The money shouldn’t be spent on big band names – that’s not what this conference is about. It’s about informing, educating, sharing. That’s why Troyer originally set up the vExpert program. That too has morphed into something different with his departure. Maybe I don’t like change? Maybe I don’t value VMware, VMworld and vExpert as I used to because I’VE changed? Who knows…. But change happens and it should happen for the better, not worse. Call me ‘bah humbug’ if you like, but in talking to a couple of other VMworld vets, I know I’m not alone in my thinking. VMworld is now a ‘grown up’ conference, it’s no longer a bunch of techies networking. No, it’s now about what band is playing – or not as in the case of Eric’s post.

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