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 🙂

 

London VMUG Meeting March 22 – a Rimmary

The agenda looked excellent for this meeting last week, and it did not disappoint! Apart from looking forward to the sessions, I was also looking forward to catching up with some community folks I’d not seen in a while. It was great to see Michelle Laverick in attendance, as well as catching up with Rynardt Spies, who is now with Rubrik and Matt Northam, now back at the VMware homestead. Ed Morgan conducted the Rubrik gold sponsorship presentation and braved the demo gods by conducting a demo without an offering. They revolted a little with a small part of his demo not working, but overall, it was a solid overview of Rubrik and its functionality.

Next came the VMware plenary session, VMC on AWS. I missed the start of it, so not sure of the presenters name, but he started out by admitting he didn’t know what plenary meant and had to look it up! There wasn’t anything new in the presentation in my view; the London datacenters have been announced previously, but it’s good to be reminded.

After the break I attended Dean Lewis’ 5.5 -> 6.5 upgrade, despite tweeting earlier in the week that Emad Younis had blogged about this very subject. Dean’s preso can be found here https://www.dropbox.com/s/8kysomlqprzu7hb/LonVMUG%20-%20upgrade%205.5%20to%206.5.pptx?dl=0 and contains some excellent advice, guidance and, best of all, the gotchas!

After lunch it was the silver sponsors sessions, as I’d not heard of Apstra, I opted to attend this one. They provide ‘intent based network management’, which all sounds rather jolly! Their AOS – Appstra Operating System – allows you build and operate data centre networks in minutes rather than months, allegedly. They work across all the major providers; Cisco, Juniper, Arista, Cumulus, etc. and they also provide preventative analytics. I would say their solution is definitely worth looking at for simplification of your DC network.

Next, I attended Kev Johnson’s GDPR presentation and it was REALLY informative – and funny too – and created a great dialogue between the audience. I’ve read some of the legislation but Kev summarised it really well and gave me lots to think about, both from a professional as well as a personal PoV. I’ll never remember the correct acronym now that Kev said this is what it stands for!

 

 

 

 

 

Saving the best ‘til last, during the closing remarks chair Simon Gallagher let us know about the exciting new venue for this year’s UK VMUG UsesrCon – The National Space Centre in Leicester!! An awesome nerdy location so put 12th (vCurry) and 13th December in your diaries now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onward for a few vBeers/vWines at the Old Bank of England pub and spending some quality chitchat time with Alaric Davies, Matt and Michelle – a fab end to a great day!

If you’re interested in submitting a session for London VMUG, please go to http://tinyurl.com.VMUG-CFP and remember there is never an uninteresting project! Next meeting is 14th June, so plenty of time to get your submission in.

Finally, for Chris Lewis’ VSAN session he had received some t-shirts, unfortunately by the time I got to them there were only small and 2XL left. Simon said they’d fit my horse, so thereby laid down a challenge, which I duly accepted, below is the outcome 🙂

London VMUG March 22, 2018 Meeting

Have just registered for the London VMUG meeting next week. The agenda is looking great, with diverse content applicable for any member, new or old, and with the usual emphasis on community content. Am very aware of Rubrik and Quest, but have never heard of Apstra, so looking forward to learning more about their network management solution.

MEETING AGENDA

 

You can register here.

I’m really excited to learn from Simon Gallagher what the venue will be for this year’s UK VMUG – I have an inkling from past conversations as to where it’s going to be held, but am looking forward to it being confirmed. You’ll have to be there to hear it!!

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!!

Does a Broader Church Impact the Congregation?

I had an interesting conversation with a long time VMUG member at yesterday’s London VMUG meeting. He’d not been to a meeting in a while and felt that some of the content and sponsors weren’t relevant, at least not to him in his role (specifically vSphere focused). In talking to one of the sponsors, BlueMedora, who operate on top of vRops – which this particular member doesn’t use – he said this highlighted the lack of relevance of a VMUG meeting for him.

I commented that perhaps VMware is becoming less relevant in today’s IT stack and he countered that with so many differing solutions, perhaps folks like him are looking at more niche type events.

However, on further cogitation I don’t believe that VMware is becoming less relevant per se, just that other options are becoming more prevalent. What I do think, however, is that whilst the VMware community is still strong and passionate, VMUG itself is, perhaps, becoming less relevant.

With the recent “VMUG Gate” issues surrounding Nutanix and then the communications debacle around the announcement of VMUG becoming part of Dell Technologies User Community, perhaps VMUG itself is at risk of demise due to trying to be a broader ‘church’? I recently spoke to one of my colleagues in the Nordic region about a decline in meeting attendance and with numbers on the low side in London too, especially considering Frank Denneman was on the agenda, maybe VMUG itself needs to adapt and morph to remain relevant?

Perhaps there needs to be different tracks for different interests; one for traditional ol’ vSphere-ites and one for the fanbois of all things new and shiny, and not necessarily just VMware?

Would love to hear other folks’ view on this post and hopefully it won’t blacklist me from a potential 2018 vExpert inclusion 😉

In closing, this tweet from last night’s Luxury vBeers reminded me that whilst there are corporate politics and bureaucracy, the community will always win through!