vExpert Applications Open Monday!


 

The second round of applications open June 1st and close on June 20th, with the announcement of the awards on July 17th. There’ll be many social media posts about encouraging submissions with advice on what to focus your application on. I want to cover in this post my own personal experience and journey of being a vExpert for my tenth consecutive year. I hope you enjoy the read and find some tips or encouragement for your own submission.

Back in 2010 I become a leader of the London and UK VMUG. In 2011 an industry friend, Tom Howarth, suggested I apply to become a vExpert as the other members of the committee were designated vExperts for their contribution to the community. (Tom was one of the original first minted vExperts back in 2009 – it was a very select group back then of around only 300!) I hadn’t even contemplated applying, as I’m not super technical and only a mere Fusion user. But with Tom’s encouragement I submitted an application and, in doing so, realised how much time and effort I was contributing to the community in my role as a VMUG leader.

My application was successful as has been my subsequent 9 applications, culminating in this being my tenth consecutive year as a vExpert. No longer a VMUG leader, my contribution now isn’t as ‘visible’ as before, but I am still involved with VMUG as a member and supporter of my local group and the UK national yearly event. I have helped other groups secure sponsors, given my extensive network of vendor community contacts. I’ve also spoken at the national UK VMUG events. Whilst my contribution can never be technical, I’ve spoken about getting the most out of social media and also your own personal brand. Both subjects can certainly help in attaining the coveted vExpert accolade. And I’ve been on the selection committee for the VMUG Board of Director submissions.

As you can see, there are many ways to take part – it’s not just about technical blog posts. It’s about contributing and giving back to the VMware community. And the community is unique! I’ve been involved in other user groups and there is always a passion and dedication to the relevant technology. But I can honestly say the VMware community is unparalleled in its fervent commitment to the platform. Over the years I’ve made many contacts, some of which are now great friends. But what I’ve enjoyed most about ‘being involved’ is seeing the progression of some of those friends in their respective careers. Witnessing how being part of the VMware – and VMUG in particular – community has helped to elevate their visibility and resulted in fantastic career opportunities, some within VMware itself.

My involvement with VMware started back in 2002 when I joined as VMware EMEA’s Marketing Director. My involvement now is very much on the ‘periphery’ but I still have that undiluted passion and dedication to the company and its solutions. Being recognised as a VMware vExpert is something I’m very proud of for many reasons, but the two main ones are: I’m one of a few female vExperts and possibly the least technical one!

As the program has grown exponentially since its inception in 2009, some have argued its ‘exclusivity’ has been diluted. But, firstly, it is NOT exclusive but inclusive and, secondly, to address those concerns VMware has instigated specialist tiers (the sub programs), including NSX and EUC. So, as ever, the community speaks and VMware listens and actions!!

So, what are you waiting for! Put your submission together and apply here:

https://vexpert.vmware.com/apply

If you’re in need of support or advice prior to applying, you can contact a vExpert PRO who will help and guide you. You can see a list of them here:

https://vexpert.vmware.com/directory/pro

Good luck!

Virtual Events – A Rimmary*

Wow, can’t believe I’ve not posted for sooooo long. I really have to feel compelled about a subject to write about it and, given the current situation we all find ourselves in, the necessity of holding events virtually has provided me with that momentum.

Let me start with the Citrix User Group UK meeting that was held on April 3rd. The content and meeting was great but there are some valuable lessons to be learnt from this event. In no way am I being critical, as the event is organised by volunteers – like all user groups are – and I personally know what commitment it takes to be one of those volunteers. However, I hope Neil et al don’t mind me sharing my thoughts, so that others may learn from the experience of moving from a physical to a virtual event at short notice. The Spring event was meant to be in Leeds on April 2nd but with the impending Covid-19 lockdown, the committee took the wise decision to move to a virtual event. There was another online event taking place on April 2nd (The VDI Performance Summit), so the CUGC UK was moved to April 3rd.

CUGC UK always stream their meetings via GoToWebinar anyways but they, unfortunately, were not aware that whilst their version would allow 1000 registrations only 100 attendees could join the call, and they had over 300 people registered with over 100 trying to login. So they switched to Zoom, posted the joining link and also emailed registrants. Neil then had to upgrade his version of Zoom (probably at his own cost, so I hope CUGC reimbursed him!) Unfortunately, we got ‘zoombombed’ rather inappropriately, so changed again to another secure link and we were off – albeit 40-odd minutes late. Everyone (including me, rather unusually) was very patient during this time but later I saw a couple of inappropriate, unsupportive comments on social media. That disappointed me, as people need to understand these are exceptional circumstances and need to remember the #BeKind movement!! But the meeting went really smoothly after the initial hiccups, with lots of good interaction and I really liked the side conversations going on via the EUC World CUGC Slack channel that had been made available to attendees.

From a sponsors’ perspective, there were actually more attendees attending this virtual meeting than there are usually IRL. The CUGC UK committee was sure to call out the support of the sponsors and recognise that without them even virtual meetings can’t take place!

As discussed above, the VDI Performance Summit took place on 2 April. I didn’t personally attend this, although I’ve listened to a couple of the presentations since that have been posted online. This event was more than just a meeting; it was a virtual event in the true nature of an event, with breakout sessions and interaction with the sponsors.

Liquidware Unplugged – my client Liquidware has been at the forefront of supporting their customers with the new work from home (#WFH) initiatives. They’ve developed lots of assets, including new reports in their Stratusphere UX solution, to aid work from home practices. They also launched a new webinar series called Liquidware Unplugged. Rather than the usual webinar format of death by PowerPoint, they hosted an interactive GoToWebinar where there was no .ppt, just a bunch of experts discussing challenges of work from home and answering questions from the participants. It was a format that seemed to be well received by the folks attending it:

London VMUG

VMUG HQ has provided its leaders with a Zoom account to host virtual meetings and today’s London VMUG went as smoothly – if not more so – than the usually well orchestrated and staged actual meetings held at TechUK. The Zoom platform, in my opinion, really is the best virtual meeting solution in the market currently. Yes, they’ve been lambasted for security issues, but those seem to have now been addressed.

Today’s meeting was well managed, with excellent content and speakers – sticking to the agenda and timings with military precision. The chat window was well utilised and monitored and the breaks in the agenda enabled old friends and colleagues to have a chat and catch up – just as they would at TechUK, it certainly didn’t match meeting IRL but it was a bloody good alternative! And, actually, at its peak had more attendees than a usual F-2-F meeting.

For me the outstanding presentation of the day was from Katherine Skilling of VMware. The title of her presentation was Finding My Way – Who am I and what can I offer and was about personal development. It attracted some great compliments on the chat window as well as on Twitter and, personally, I think a better title would have been Skilling Talking About Skilling Up! Or as Christian Mohn tweeted:

D

Duncan encouraged Katherine to submit her presentation for a VMworld session – which we all agreed she should do. And now the deadline for CFPs has been extended to May 15, she has no excuses not to!

The Rimmary Summary

A good event, whether F-2-F or virtual, is about 3 things, in my opinion:

  1. The organisation
  2. The content/speakers
  3. The participants/delegates

In the case of the London VMUG, the critical factor is the vCommunity. Duncan posted this note on the chat panel:

It is not disrespectful to other virtual events he’s attended, it is kudos to the London VMUG committee members, the content and speakers and the London VMUG community – you all rock!

I think virtual events are here to stay, not just for this year but also beyond the Covid-19 situation. They have a place right now for sure but I think there’s merit in their continuation for certain events in the future too. However, you really can’t beat F-2-F, whether that’s for events, meetings, coaching, or vBeers/vWine – and I look forward to seeing many of you IRL soon.

Stay safe and well everyone!

* A Rimmary is a word made up by me! It means a summary according to Rimmer.

Industry Awards

I’ve always been a proponent of industry awards. I can recollect my first awards ceremony representing Citrix back in the late nineties, the host was a relatively unknown Graham Norton, it was such an honour to receive the award on behalf of my company, customers and partners but also the creators of the products. In the software industry it is such an accolade for the developers to know that the software they are producing is award winning!

I always encourage my clients to enter appropriate awards and I aim to at least get them to be a finalist, winning is just icing on the cake. This year has been a really good year for my clients’ success in winning awards. Liquidware was a winner at both the US Best of VMworld awards and the European awards. The US BoVM awards are product focused and the European ones are focused on customer projects. FlexApp was the winner in the Digital Workspace Awards in August and DAS Group UK won the European Best Desktop Virtualisation and Mobility Project as well as being named Best in Show for their use of Liquidware’s Stratusphere UX solution. Liqudware was also a finalist in the Computing Technology Product Awards in the Digital Transformation Product category. However, the winners are selected by voting and as Red Hat won a LOT of the categories, I feel these awards are not so good to enter. If you’re a smaller company how do you gather enough votes to beat the bigger companies?

Last year, Droplet Computing won the UK Innovation and Entrepreneur award at the prestigious BCS and Computing awards. This year I entered them again but this time in the Emerging Technology category. It was a great moment at the awards ceremony to see the team collect this award. The only downside to them winning two years on the trot is they want me to attain a hat trick and secure a win in 2020!! No pressure then 😉

My tips for successful awards entries are to always write it from the value of the technology perspective; not just how the product works but why it delivers business value. Ensure you’re entering an appropriate category and have fully understood the entry criteria, plus, don’t use BS bingo, be succinct and write it so that the judges can garner very quickly what your submission is about and the uniqueness of the solution. You can read an in-depth blog here for further tips and tricks.

And remember: you gotta be in it to win it!

UK VMUG UserCon November 27th

I’m so excited to be attending – and presenting – at the forthcoming UK VMUG UserCon on 27 November, with the preceding evening being the vCurry, which I am also looking forward to. I missed the event last year, so am also super excited to see the new location at the National Space Centre.

As others have already blogged about, the vCommunity is a big part of the attraction to this annual event, as well as the awesome sessions the organisers have arranged. There will be the usual VMware glitterati there in the shape of Joe Baguley, Frank Denneman, Duncan Epping and Cormac Hogan, but there are some amazing community sessions too, check out the agenda here. The agenda lists two roundtable sessions, both to be held in Breakout 7, Rocket Tower. The first one is at 2.15pm with the second one at 3.00pm. I will be hosting a session at both times; the first one is on Personal Branding, so if you’re interested in how “Brand You” can impact your career, pop along to that. The second one is a demo of the community analysis site, WhatMatrix in conjunction with a couple of the community contributors. This session is an absolute MUST ATTEND if you’re responsible for evaluating technology for your company. We’ll focus on a VMware comparison so you can see how the site works and the type of output you can obtain – all for free!

And, of course, the whole event couldn’t take place free for attendees without the sponsors, so please do make sure you go check them out.

Finally, in advance of a fab event, I’d like to thank Simon Gallagher, Dave Simpson, Linda Smith and Chris Dearden for carrying on the mantle of being the organising committee. I know how much hard work and heart ache goes into organising this annual event – I take my hat of to you all!

Looking forward to seeing many of you in less than two weeks!!

Rimmer’s Quest for Broadband Continues!

For many years, over 16 in fact, I’ve been waiting for broadband at my property. Not superfast you understand, just bog standard plain ol’ broadband. When we first moved here, the only ‘broadband’ option was Home Highway from BT (aka ISDN). After a couple of years, BT removed the service saying ‘everyone can now access broadband’. As you may recall from my previous ramblings, we’re 11km from the exchange and that broadband signal just can’t get that far down the copper before it fizzles into nowt.

I’ve been very vocal since Superfast Berkshire received £8M from the Government back in 2013 to bring broadband to this county. Unfortunately, they awarded the contract to BT who did not want to service the sparsely populated rural communities. So, Superfast Berkshire then awarded the rural contract to Gigaclear. As a specialist in providing broadband to rural areas, we were highly optimistic. Having signed up on their website about 18 months ago, it was encouraging to see them laying the fibre about ½ mile away from our lane on the main road earlier this year. 

Email correspondence with their delivery team revealed that the service should be live later in 2019 so we all waited with bated breath…….. Only to receive a letter earlier this month informing us that Network Rail were obstructing completion of the circuit as they would not allow Gigaclear to traverse a bridge they owned!

Due to this delay, BBC South got in touch with me again and further interviews with BBC South and BBC Radio Berkshire ensued on 10th and 12th September respectively. The reporter was at my house for over an hour on the 10th and then the interview was broadcast the next day on 11th September. You can view the (poor) recording here of the TV interview. Apologies for the poor quality but I recorded it off the TV with my iPhone as I was away horse riding in the New Forest when it was broadcast! Am sure there was an easier (and better) way to record it, but as it didn’t stay on iPlayer for too long I wanted to save it for posterity!

Despite having moved on from my satellite broadband to a mobile data network, I’m still paying a premium – around £60/month – as are my neighbours. FFS!! Fast speed Internet access is a utility in the 21st century and we are being deprived of it because Network Rail has its knickers in a twist about allowing a third party onto their land.  There are service ducts on their bridges for other utilities, so why obstruct Gigaclear?  The Government pledged to provide superfast broadband (which interestingly they state as being 24 MBPS – huh? that’s not fast IMHO!) to everyone in the UK. Yet one Government department (Network Rail) is obstructing another department (Gigaclear operating on behalf of Superfast Berkshire) from delivering this pledge.

I do appreciate the Government has a certain larger topic on its plate right now – no, I won’t bring myself to utter the “B” word – but really this is just another situation that highlights the current Government is not acting in the best interests of the population – at least not the small population of my rural community.

C’mon you jobsworths over at Network Rail – get ya finger out and complete the circuit so that we in my community can join the majority of you in the digital 21st century!!!