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.

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/

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!

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 15.54.29

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.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 15.56.39

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

CmrviekXgAADH3k

 

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!