This year’s event topped all previous events; we had a record number of attendees, a fantastic line up of VMware, community and sponsor speakers and, thanks to our London VMUG sponsors of 2015, 4 x VMworld trips as prize give-aways to 4 lucky end-user attendees! And, as always, we kicked off proceedings with the vCurry the night before with the entertaining vQuiz. Many thanks to vCloud Air for sponsoring the evening!
We start planning the national event as soon as the last one ends really, so preparation had begun early in 2015, but things really got underway in July when we started having monthly, then weekly, planning calls. Joe Baguley is always the first port of call to secure his time as our keynote speaker. Joe has supported us since our inception and, as always, provided an entertaining, informative and education keynote. Next we invited John Troyer as our closing keynote speaker – when asked during the event why he’d travelled all the way to join us, he replied, “Because Jane asked me to!” John’s closing keynote and Joe’s opening keynote were very reflective of one another, and, as John observed, were the ‘bookends’ of the event. We were also very privileged to have North American guest community members Josh Atwell and Eric Wright to join us and deliver great presentations, as well as host side sessions. These side sessions are always well-received – AKA ‘birds of a feather’ sessions – they give members the opportunity to share knowledge and is a further learning opportunity. Not only did Josh and Eric hosts a side session, so did Joe – Ask the CTO anything – what a great opportunity for members to meet with Joe. His ex-teaching assistant from Imperial College, AKA Christos Karamanolis, CTO Storage and the father of VSAN, was also in attendance – how lucky are we to have two prominent VMware CTOs at our event?! I unfortunately did not make it to Christos and Lee Dilworth’s session but reading the tweets afterwards, it was an amazing deep dive session, extremely well received by the audience.
We are very grateful to our sponsors, without them we cannot hold these events and maintain them as free for members. I personally visited all of them during the afternoon to ensure they were having a good event and all of them said they’d had great conversations and some returning ones commented on it was even better than last year. For me, as the leader with responsibility for our sponsors, the recipe for a successful event is simple – happy members + happy sponsors = success. Many of them gave away some awesome prizes and their presentations also form part of the speaking program.
You may not be aware, but we had 19 abstract submissions for 12 speaking slots, as a leadership team we have to review all of them and select the ones we feel will be best received by our members. It’s a tough job, but for sponsors that field a well known speaker, and/or have a customer speaker and who’s abstract highlights an educational/informative/topic not just a product session, get preference. It will be interesting to see from the session surveys what our members thought of the sponsor sessions.
Mike Laverick conducted his annual VMworld Swag bag prize draw – this year in support of CodeClub a charity focused on providing facilities for children to learn to code – and the lucky winner, Sean Killen, was stood right by us as we drew the winning ticket during lunchtime, it wasn’t a fix, honest!
We also had the support of some long-term London VMUG community members who also presented AND hosted a side session, namely Ricky El Qasem, Sam McGeown, Michael Poore, Jonathan Medd and Alec Dunn. I’d also like to thank Frank Buechsel who has previously supported us in his GSS role and is now with a vendor. And without our supporting VMware speakers, it wouldn’t be a VMUG event would it? So, many thanks to all but especially our long-term supporters such as Mike Laverick, Lee Dilworth, Paudie O’Riordan, Dave Hill and Robbie Jerrom.
The day concluded with closing remarks from our chair, Alaric, and the obligatory prize giving – we had the vendor supported Passport to Prizes, vendor giveaways from PernixData, Dell Software and Bitdefender and then the BIGGIE! We had 2 VMworld Las Vegas trips (pass, flight and hotel) and 2 VMworld Barcelona trips (pass, flight and hotel) to give away. Steve, our trusted NMM AV man played the drum roll, Emily from VMUG plugged in her laptop and had a great random selector program that all added to the suspense and our four lucky winners included two long term London VMUG members, Simon Davies and Martin Leggatt! Delighted for all 4 winners – well done chaps!
A final “thank you” must of course go to the VMUG HQ team, specifically Emily and Michelle, who supported us so admirably behind the scenes and on the day.
It’s always great to read the twitter stream on the day and afterwards, to see what others thought of the day, search #UKVMUG.
Presentations can be found at here and we recorded all the community sessions in the Britannia Suite, as well as Mike Laverick’s VMworld debrief and Spencer Pitts’ EUC sessions in the Kirkmichael Suite. These will be uploaded next week to our YouTube Channel, so check them out there soon.
At the time of writing, I’ve seen some great blogs already been posted, you can review them below:
The 2016 UserCon will take place 17th November, again at the National Motorcycle Museum and the next London VMUG meeting will be 21st January at our new home, TechUK, details soon to be posted on vmug.com.
Of course, I can’t finish this post without mentioning 3 out of the 4 committee members’ decisions to step down. It was pure coincidence that circumstances led us to take the same decision at the same time but announcing it at the UK UserCon gave us the opportunity to let the broader membership know that they can apply to be on the committee to support our remaining committee member, Simon. For those interested, the application survey is here and will close at midnight Thursday 26th November. Al, Stu and I are still on board until after January’s London VMUG meeting to ensure a smooth transition and to help the new committee understand the full implications of the time and effort it takes to be a VMUG leader.
I can honestly say it’s been a fab 5 years, very rewarding and thank you for the experience. I will probably write a post about my experience once the new committee is formed – stay tuned!