What’s the next best thing to VMworld?

With my Twitter feed starting to go into warp factor 10 with VMworld tweets, there are many of us unable to/not going, for various reasons. For those of us lucky to be bestowed vExpert status, we’ll get access to the sessions post-VMworld, but what about others unable to attend?

Well, have I got news for you! Sign up to attend your closest VMUG UserCon, that’s what. With many of the distinguished speakers also presenting at UserCons after both VMworld SFO and VMworld BCN, you’ll get a similar ‘warm fuzzy feeling’, as well as some awesome content, along with some super prizes and swag, along with the great networking – it really is the next best thing and a whole lot cheaper, as it’s free to attend :-

As part of the UK VMUG UserCon committee, I’m going to share a little insight with you for our event in November. Firstly, the amazing vCurry returns the night before the UserCon, with the vCloud Air team sponsoring it again. My fellow committee member, the esteemed Stuart Thompson, is already planning this year’s vQuiz. So if you’re around the night before, when registering check the vCurry tick box and come along and join this fun, free event. Due to space limitations, though, please do only register if you absolutely able to make it – don’t take away the chance for one of your peers to attend by having a place allocated and then not using it – thank you!

Secondly, we will have 2 amazing keynote speakers. We’re thrilled to welcome back Joe Baguley, EMEA CTO, for the fifth year running as our opening keynote. Joe has been a tremendous supporter of the UK VMUG and our regional groups – as well as many other European groups – and has been with us since our very first UserCon in 2011, when his title was ‘just’ Chief Cloud Technologist! For our closing keynote, we’re honoured to announce John Troyer will be joining us. Since leaving VMware John has been continuing to create and promote community, with TechReckoning and continuing to attend VMworld and other leading industry events. I’m very much looking forward to hearing what John will share with us.

As always, we can’t hold these events free for members without the support of our sponsors. As we’re a little ways out from the event, none have yet been publicised but you can be sure of the continued support of the ‘usual suspects’ along with some interesting new kids on the block.

Finally, we’re planning something BIG in regards to prizes. Can’t share any more than that, other than to stand a chance of winning “it” you will have to be there to win, which means staying right til the end. But with such awesome content, why wouldn’t you want to?!

Although the official notification hasn’t yet gone out to members from VMUG HQ you can already register here, see you in November!

Why I’m not going to VMworld this year

I’ve been a regular attendee at VMworld either in US or Europe since the very first one in 2004. I missed 2005 but have been every year since to one or the other and sometimes both. In the majority of cases I was there with a client, so doing booth duty and having my expenses paid by them. I didn’t have client sponsorship during the 10th anniversary year, 2013 and, as it was a special year, funded myself – with the grateful thanks of a pass from VMUG. It was a very memorable event for many reasons for me, one of which was meeting with the ‘brains the size of planets’ leadership team at PernixData and, of course, John Troyer was still heading up the vExpert/Community team. I attended just Barcelona last year – again under my ‘own steam’ – and, to be honest, I felt there was something missing, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then today, I read this post from Eric Siebert and it kind of fell into place for me why VMworld is no longer a “must attend” for me. When someone of the technical calibre like Eric is compelled to write such a researched post on the bands of not just VMworld, but other tech conferences in our space, it hit home that VMworld is now just too big and too impersonal. Really? You care so much about the bands and why VMware isn’t spending more money on a recognisable name? I think that’s just sad. The money shouldn’t be spent on big band names – that’s not what this conference is about. It’s about informing, educating, sharing. That’s why Troyer originally set up the vExpert program. That too has morphed into something different with his departure. Maybe I don’t like change? Maybe I don’t value VMware, VMworld and vExpert as I used to because I’VE changed? Who knows…. But change happens and it should happen for the better, not worse. Call me ‘bah humbug’ if you like, but in talking to a couple of other VMworld vets, I know I’m not alone in my thinking. VMworld is now a ‘grown up’ conference, it’s no longer a bunch of techies networking. No, it’s now about what band is playing – or not as in the case of Eric’s post.

VMworld Day 2 Rimmary

With the Day 2 keynote traditionally being hosted by Steve Herrod, I think many of us were thinking who and what would replace him.  Well, it was not a disappointment!  The keynote was soooo much better than yesterday in terms of energy and the banter between Carl Eschenbach and Kit Colbert and then with our very own Joe Baguley was really enjoyable.  Although clearly rehearsed and scripted it seemed to flow and come across as reasonably natural, apart from the continuous use of each co-presenter’s name the WHOLE time, “yes Carl”, “really Kit”, “that’s right Joe” L Was great to see the presentations interspersed with funny movie clips.  Also funny to hear Carl offering 5 FREE vCenter Log Insight licenses, when I worked at VMware Carl was the VP of NA Sales and Joe joked you never hear a salesman giving anything away for free!

My fellow London VMUG member, Julian Wood, has written up a great overview of all the demos conducted during the keynote, you can read his blog here

After the keynotes I did my stint on the VMUG booth, encouraging all to join up – it’s also FREE!!   I then had a really nice lunch with Tom Howarth, it’s been a long time we’ve had a chance to catch up, so really enjoyed that Tom, thanks!

In the evening I went to the joint vExpert/VCDX party, where I met up with Carl and told him what a great job I thought he and Kit and Joe had accomplished with the keynote. I also had the chance to get my picture taken with Pat Gelsinger! Who I invited, as I did last year, to the London VMUG 🙂

Pat was so accommodating to many of us vExperts asking for a picture with him and I wondered if he felt it was odd that we all want a picture with him?  I’m sure that during his tenure at Intel and EMC he wasn’t bombarded by a bunch of geeks to have his picture taken! I personally think that because there is so much passion and enthusiasm for VMware within the user community, we all want to know the key people.  As always, I’d like to thank John Troyer and the whole VMware community team for making the vExpert community what it is, a collective of some really extraordinary people and for laying on the party for us.

Afterward, I went to the office of the CTO party where I met up with Paul Strong CTO of Global Field, who was our host, as well as bumping into Pat again.  I felt extremely privileged to be invited to this party, it was AMAZING.  It was held in the Old US Mint and each of the vaults had different things happening in them; scotch tasting, photo booth, pick and mix sweets and many other things.   We also had the chance to chat to Kit Colbert, and yet again have a vRockstar picture taken!

The food was great and then just as I was about to leave, Dr. Steve Herrod showed up!  I was with my fellow VMUG Leader, Liselotte Foverskov from Denmark and we had our picture taken with him and both invited him (also as we did last year!) to attend our UK and Danish VMUG User Conference.

Day 2 came to a close with a brief nightcap with some of my old Dutch colleagues from VMware, Jeremy van Doorn (of VMworld TV fame) and Marc Groetelaars.  Jeremy also advised me that the chat we’d had in the hangspace on day 1 was posted on VMworld TV, see it here!

VMware Expert 2013 – My journey and thoughts


In case you’ve not seen the Twitter stream on #vExpert 2013 awardees, the list is here: http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2013/05/vexpert-2013-awardees-announced.html

I’m honoured to be awarded the accolade of vExpert for the third year running.  I was originally nominated back in 2010 by Tom Howarth and Mike Laverick mainly for my contributions to the London VMUG.  As a volunteer co-leader and steering committee member (along with Alaric Davies, Stuart Thompson and Simon Gallagher) I spend a vast amount of my personal time ensuring the community has a great experience as a member of the London VMUG and, for our sins, we also arrange the UK National User Conference.  Anyone else involved in being a VMUG leader knows the amount of time it takes to not just stage the meetings, but to arrange speakers and sponsorship, liaise with VMUG HQ on the invites, keep the VMUG workspace updated with relevant content, posting the presentations, etc. etc.  So receiving the recognition of our efforts as VMUG leaders by being awarded the vExpert accolade means so much for me personally, perhaps more than most in the community.  Why?  Well, I’ve worked for and with VMware since the early 2000’s and, while I call myself a technologist (or as Mike likes to say techknowlogist!), I am not an uber-techie like, I’d say, the other 579 vExperts.  I’m also in another minority – female!  So combining these two minority factors makes me even more proud to be a vExpert 🙂

But, sadly, the negative comments are creeping into my vExpert Twitter stream this morning about higher numbers devaluing the program, changing the selection criteria, the comments go on.  For me the bottom line is this, if you don’t see the value, don’t nominate yourself.  This is about community and as the community grows it is logical that the number of vExperts should grow. The number of awardees this year is only 580, a very small percentage of the overall VMware customer base, let alone the user base.  Should the vExpert award change to reflect ‘competencies’ such as, in my case, a VMUG ‘badge’? Yes, I think probably this evolution would make sense.  But that is for John Troyer and VMware to decide, and I know they will listen to the community, but let’s make the comments constructive guys, not bitching and whingeing.

In conclusion, congrats to all the vExpert 2013 awardees, you will get out of this community what you put in.  This is still THE best community in my opinion in today’s tech world – enjoy!