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!

UK VMUG Virtual UserCon – November 24, 2020

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged….. Although work carries on as usual – I’ve always worked from home since setting up hiviz-marketing – nothing has inspired me to put ‘pen to paper’!

With the first ever virtual UserCon in the UK coming up, however, I did want to quickly blog about this important event and the agenda.

As ever, the committee has come up with a fab line up of speakers and subject matter experts for your continued learning and enjoyment! It’s great to see that even being a virtual event, the keynote will be delivered, as usual, by VMware EMEA CTO, Joe Baguley, entitled VMware 2021 and Beyond, that starts at 09.20.

This year’s closing keynote is to be delivered by Mr. EUC himself, Brian Madden at 15.40, but no title on the agenda, so intrigued as to what Brian will be discussing.

As always, there are sponsor sessions, along with a couple of ten minute tech talks interspersed during the day as well as a gamut of VMware presos, delivered by the likes of Cormac Hogan, Robbie Jerrom, Matt Coppinger, Katherine Skilling and more!

Make sure you register here to secure your spot! The agenda can be found here too. I’ve already registered, but not yet had info on joining the virtual event, but look forward to seeing everyone on the 24th!

 

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!

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.

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!!