Tech volunteering – why do it?

I was at a horse show this weekend where they had this sign up on the wall of the secretary’s office:

“Volunteers are not paid. Not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”

 This got me thinking about the aspects of volunteering I’m involved in our industry and the reasons behind why any of us volunteer.

Personally, I am involved in VMUG and WhatMatrix. As a VMUG member I am no longer a leader, but still volunteer my time in some ‘behind the scenes’ aspects, such as speaking, helping local groups secure sponsors and being on the committee for the new board selection process.

I’m also a community board member of WhatMatrix. If you’ve not heard of – or used – WhatMatrix, you don’t know what you’re missing! WhatMatrix is the independent technology comparison and analysis site. The site is the first crowdsourced-powered IT comparison community and all involved are volunteers, from the board to the category owners and contributors.

There are other communities, such as Spiceworks, “a professional network for the Information Technology industry”. Many people contribute to the Spiceworks community, while as an organization Spiceworks’ revenues are in excess of $91M. So even when an organization is making money, volunteers are still willing to contribute – for nothing.

I remember at London VMUG the chair presenting a slide for VMUG Advantage and declaring he wasn’t a sales person for VMUG or VMware, but that the deal you get from VMUG Advantage is well worth the investment. Sometimes there is a fine line between being a volunteer versus being seen as a mouthpiece for the technology you’re involved with. As long as your involvement is for the benefit of the community then you’re going to get a buzz from being involved. There is the aspect of ‘paying it forward’ by being involved and, of course, it raises one’s own visibility. I think we all want to be involved for the betterment of technology use versus being a particular vendor fanboi.

So, if you were considering being a volunteer in tech, I’d encourage it. The rewards are different for being a volunteer in a charity aspect, but the tech community is a great one and one that needs continued volunteers to – perhaps – keep the vendors honest too!

Being a community volunteer can yield a higher profile, but the biggest benefit for me has been observing my involvement being seen as a contributing factor to others’ career progression and success. Recently a tweet was posted about my VMUG involvement to encourage a VMUG member to apply for vExpert status:

For me, this epitomises the “priceless” part of the original quote in this post 🙂

 

Double Whammy Good News – Rural Broadband and vExpert Recognition

For those of you that have followed my crusade to acquire broadband for my rural hamlet, I wanted to share this exciting update!

A couple of colleagues highlighted this BBC article to me a few weeks back, London VMUG Chairman Simon Gallagher being one of them. All I can say to you Simon is, THANK YOU.

After a Twitter dialogue with EE’s customer service, they weren’t sure of their signal strength in my area so suggested I spoke to their team who could check. Long story short, they said I was right on the edge – how did they know me so well?! The edge of the signal strength I mean 🙂

They recommended ordering their router, but not the ‘shoe box’ antenna, to first determine if we could receive a decent enough signal. It was duly dispatched and arrived the following day. Installation is so simple; literally plug it into a power socket. The signal strength was OK, but placing it in the loft provided a boost, so there it remains. On average I’m getting download speeds in the region of 30Mbps and uploads of around 3Mbps – so acceptable and WAY better than my satellite broadband. I did wonder if the ‘shoe box’ antenna would provide a boost, so spoke to the antenna peeps that EE use. They said I’m getting pretty good speeds for my area and that the antenna would provide no additional signal, so not to bother. Great, a £100 saved! The cost of EE is comparable to my satellite, both £60 per month. However, I was restricted to 40GB/month on the satellite, but given I couldn’t stream anything, that wasn’t an issue! With EE I get 200GB for £60, but that is a special offer, so am hoping they won’t up the costs after the term of the contract ends.

I can now use VoIP and find that of all the options – Skype, WebEx, Go-to-Meeting, etc. – Zoom is by far the best service, highly recommend it! I’ve also subscribed to Netflix and have just binge watched The Crown. As one of my other friends that recommended looking at the EE service said the other day, “Dead chuffed for you Rimmer that you’ve finally got the Internet!” Yes, dear reader, I am now a 21st century digital citizen!

I do believe this solution to be a ‘stop gap’ though, as Superfast Berkshire has informed me that Gigaclear has been awarded the contract to provide FTTH to rural communities. Looking at Gigaclear’s website it would appear we’re scheduled to receive this sometime in 2019, so fingers crossed. I wonder what it would be like to have 100Mbps…

Then to top it all off, I’m so proud to be awarded vExpert status for the 8th year running! Wasn’t sure I’d done enough last year to be accepted again, but am humbled and delighted to retain my status. Thanks to Luciano Patrao for this logo on the vExpert Slack channel:

And finally, thank you to James Kilby for answering my question on the vExpert slack channel about how to upload an avatar to your vExpert directory profile. He recommended Gravatar and would appear it’s the only way to upload a profile pic on the new vExpert portal.

Mystery, Intrigue and CSR

So, the mystery is how on earth are we now in March and I’ve not blogged since November?! Well, that’s easy to answer, have been soooo busy with a new client. And that’s the intrigue, they’re coming out of stealth at Cloud Field Day on 5 April, so can’t share that bit yet – they’re the ones listed as “secret company” 🙂 Now, to the corporate social responsibility part of this blog. I’ve just spoken to one of their customers today for a case study and supporting quote for the launch press release and it opened my eyes even more to the power of this technology.

While many companies endeavor to be cognizant of CSR, it’s often hard, particularly for a start up to focus on this, beyond compliance and statutory requirements at least. However, when your technology enables customers to deliver considerable CSR when deploying technology is really powerful. Imagine delivering a SaaS-type model where there is no Internet connectivity, yet being able to provide productivity applications and then sync when the Internet is available? There are many remote regions that don’t have connectivity, such as war-torn areas. There are facilities that actively remove connectivity to the outside world and yet people residing in these facilities are looking to better themselves, perhaps through online education. Imagine being able to deliver these users the same experience as those in the connected world and making them an equal ‘digital citizen’? That’s a real CSR tick in the box in my opinion.

I am so excited about this new client and the possibilities their technology will deliver but have to remain shtum for the time being. It’s been a real pleasure working with Stephen Foskett and his team to prepare for the unveiling on 5 April. Having observed other companies’ success since coming out of stealth at Tech Field day events, I know we’re in very good company, Zerto and Nutanix to name but two. Stephen is well known in our industry and watching previous live streams of vendor discussions I also know it’s a very slick operation and will give my client an inordinate amount of coverage through the delegates social media activity, both during and after the event. The delegate list is a very strong one and good to see a couple of London VMUG members participating, namely Michelle Laverick and Chris Porter and a previous London VMUG presenter too in the guise of Chris Evans!

The team asked me if I’d attend the event, which I would LOVE to go out to the Valley again as not been for a couple of years. However, I do have my other passion to take care of – no, not my other clients, well yes I do……. but for those that know me well, it’s my horses, of course 🙂

Am also cognizant that I may well be using the vExpert URL shortener for the last time with this post 🙁 vExpert announcements are due out this Friday and while I still play a part in the VMware community around VMUGs, my involvement has not been as strong as in previous years. Thus, I won’t be surprised – but still disappointed – if I’m not selected a vExpert for 2018. I am very proud of having been one continuously since 2011 and being part of the community is a very important part of my professional life, so fingers crossed…. Good luck to all nominees!!

Top Virtualization Blogs 2017 Nominations Open

 

Eric Siebert has opened his nominations for this year’s top blogs. He has, again, included a Female Bloggers category, as he did last year. Unfortunately, last year there were hardly any entrants (two to be precise; me and Melissa aka vMiss) and so Eric cancelled the category, as explained in this tweet:

The cancellation of the category led to some rather harsh commentary, in my opinion. The comment in Gina’s post – “Besides the fact that he could only think of two lady bloggers to include in his annual list, this statement: We need to cultivate more female bloggers just rubbed me the wrong way” – is incorrect in my view. Eric could think of many more than two I’m sure, and his comment was most sincere and meant in a very supportive way, but if you don’t nominate your blog won’t be listed – simples!

Therefore, I hope this year there will be no such discussions and that all the vLadies out there will submit nominations for their blogs.

As with anything like this, you have to ‘be in it to win it’. So, if you have a blog, whatever your gender, then please nominate yourself, here are the categories:

  • Favorite New Blog– Blog must have been started in 2016
  • Favorite Storage Blog– Must have greater than 50% posts as storage related
  • Favorite Independent Blogger– Must not work for VMware or a Technology Partner (i.e. EMC, Dell, IBM, Unitrends, etc.), basically this means customers, resellers and integrators only.
  • Favorite Scripting/Automation Blog– Must have greater than 50% posts as scripting/automation related
  • Favorite Non-English Blog– Must be primarily published in a non-English language
  • Favorite Podcast– Easy one, you must have a podcast
  • Favorite Female Blogger– Special recognition for women in tech, must be a female blogger
  • Favorite News/Information Site– Any site that primarily publishes news and information and is not really a blog

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

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!

lonvmugagenda