vExpert and an end of an era

Today, Feb 12, 2021, I am proud to announce my 11th consecutive year of being awarded the vExpert designation.

Yesterday the official announcement came out from Corey at VMware and my Twitter feed couldn’t keep up with all the #vExpert posts. I’m immensely honoured and humbled to receive the award again but also for the many friends in the community that liked my tweet, over 60 of you at the current count, thank you!

The VMware community truly is unique, I can’t count how many great folks I’ve met through it over the years and how much help and support I’ve received from it and them.

One of the advantages of being a VMUG leader was the opportunity to meet all the executives – many of whom I already knew from my time at VMware – but will always remember meeting Pat back in 2012 at the vExpert party in San Francisco. It was his first VMworld and vExpert party as VMware CEO and I was determined to let him know about the London VMUG and our community and how welcome he’d always be to visit (never happened unfortunately!) My co-leader Simon Gallagher took this picture of me accosting Pat! He doesn’t look too impressed, does he?!

Every year Pat would attend the vExpert parties and VMUG leader lunches and ALWAYS took the time to speak to as many people that he could. As his VMUG farewell video expresses, so many selfies, high fives and hugs!

Here’s one of my many selfies with him at the 2015 VMUG leader lunch – he looks slightly happier to be in my company in this picture!

Today marks the day Pat departs as VMware CEO and – although he never made it to a UK or London VMUG! – it’s a sad day for us, but I want to wish him well for his return to Intel now as their leader and to say “Thanks Pat” for being a CEO that truly recognises and understands the power of community. Au revoir Pat!

VMworld – other virtual events are available

This post follows on from one I wrote at the start of lockdown https://www.rimmergram.com/2020/04/virtual-events-a-rimmary/

During lockdown and the pandemic, I’ve attended a number of virtual events – ranging from using Zoom to a full-blown conference ‘type’ platform. My experience of all of them vary considerably but my overall thought is that you really get out of these events what you put into them, despite how good (or bad) the platform is. What I mean by this is that if you attended an IRL conference or event, and you hadn’t organised your schedule in advance or set up meetings, you’d end up wandering the halls aimlessly. Likewise, if you’ve not done your research about the focus of the event and which sessions you can dip in and out of, you might miss something important to you and/or your job role.

I admit it is harder to stay focused and engaged just looking at your computer screen, but if you’re dis-engaged then you’re going to miss out big time!

One of the first virtual events I attended was the London VMUG back in April. It was held over Zoom but was still a very interactive event and having been in lockdown for over a month, boy was it good to see some familiar faces! Just given my passion for all things VMUG, I’d rate this event a nine out of ten.

The next one was the UK Citrix User Group (UKCUG). Their first attempt at a virtual event was first on Go To Meeting, when they realised they had an attendee limitation, they switched to Zoom, but that caused a bit of a kerfuffle in getting everyone logged in but then proceeded OK but was not a great experience over all as everyone was unprepared for the interruption. However, their event outsourcer then instigated a virtual event platform and I’ve now attended two on this virtual platform, which is a great platform from CrowdComms that allows for great interaction and is a solid platform. Their autumn meeting was held just the other week and I’d rate the overall experience as an eight out of ten.

I simultaneously attended another virtual event during the CUG, it was an NHS virtual event that one of my clients, Droplet Computing, sponsored. Well, the platform was shocking! During the event I tweeted the organisers to tell them to look at another platform (CrowdComms in fact) and their response was at least an understanding they needed to change! When delegates can’t login in to sessions they want to attend, when the sound quality is poor, when presentations don’t display, it makes for a very bad experience. My rating is a harsh, but fair, one out of ten for this event.

However, I’ve saved the best to last……. VMworld. Wow! I can only imagine the hard work and effort that went on behind the scenes to make this online event so slick, so professional, so effortless. Kudos to the whole team that staged this event. The platform – despite my shitty internet – never went down, the quality was just superb. Also, being able to have a ‘private’ concert in my own home by John Legend was awesome! I couldn’t fault it, so it gets a ten out of ten.

I long for the day when we can have face to face events again, but in the meantime, if you’re looking to stage an online event, please use VMworld as your benchmark – anything less and you’ll be letting your audience/delegates down.

Stay safe and well my friends!

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!

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!!

vExpert Podcast with Define Tomorrow

I was delighted to be invited to join the Define Tomorrow podcast with some other recently anointed vExperts. Was great chatting to them on this podcast hosted by Megan (@BizTechMeg). We were joined by:

Barry Coombes (@VirtualisedReal)

Ben Evans (@benevans101)

Mike Orth (HCIdiver)

Paul Wynne (VDIallStar)

Simon Eady (@simoneady) and

Gareth Edwards (GarethEdwards86)

Talking with everyone reminded me just how fab and diverse the vExpert community is. A number of us on the podcast have been vExperts for 9 years or more and some newbies. We discussed what being a vExpert means to us, how to get involved – of course I suggested speaking at your local VMUG – and what tips we could impart for new applicants.

Newly minted vExpert Mike Orth gave a great tip for future vExpert applications – keep a track of what you’ve done in the past year and try to measure the value of your actions so that when the time comes to produce your application you’ve got it all documented without trying to remember what you’ve achieved.

Barry ended the call by asking what will be talking about on this podcast in ten years time? Some suggested cloud, some thought IoT, others security, AI or Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality. Am sure it will be all the above, but in ten years time there’ll be tech that we’ve not even thought of today in my opinion. However, personally I predict me NOT being a vExpert as I’ll hopefully be retired then!

That’s a brief summary and I hope you enjoy listening to this community podcast!