Mike Laverick has been actively promoting this initiative during his presentations at recent VMUG meetings, as well as VMUG HQ supporting it with a page on vmug.com, and also covering it in a recent VMUG Voice newsletter.

It’s such an important element to supporting our members in feeling at ease to present in front of their peers.  One could argue presenting in front of peers is an easier task than presenting to, perhaps, a board of directors.  But there is, I think, an underlying concern that a peer group might be more critical.  However, I can attest to the fact that the peer group of the VMUG community is a totally supportive, non-critical group – honest!

We considered a long time ago at the London VMUG about hiring a professional presentation trainer to run a side-session for those that wanted to improve or hone their presentation skills.  But given the complexities of organizing this and then finding the right type of trainer, it got sidelined……  However, the #feedforward initiative is so much more relevant in my view.  It’s not presentation skills per se that count, it’s about content and delivery and having the confidence to present that in front of peeps.  I remember doing a presentation skills course many moons ago and one key takeaway for me, when watching the before and after videos, was if you feel comfortable with your presentation content, you naturally present well and confidently.  My example was being given a presentation of a technical nature that I had 10 minutes to learn prior to presenting it and then presenting ‘off the cuff’ about my horse.  Guess which one was the better? 🙂

So anyone that is looking to present at a forthcoming London VMUG and wishes to have a #feedforward session with either one of the committee or a fellow member, ping me and I’ll gladly do what I can to facilitate.


vExpert 2014

I’m enormously proud to be returning to this illustrious group for my 4th year.  As the announcement mentions, it is not a technical certification or a measure of VMware expertise, but recognition of those engaged with the community.

For me, having worked in the VMware sphere (pun intended!) since 2003 – first as an employee and then from 2005 as a consultant – the VMware community is totally unique.  I am proud to be a co-leader of the London VMUG and UK VMUG and, of the 754 2014 vExperts, I can guarantee you I’m the least technical.  However, I love how technology – both VMware’s and the ecosystem’s – solves copious business problems, whilst also creating some too! In the words of Mike Laverick I am a techknowledgist, i.e. I know a lot about technology but I’m not technical.  I enjoy helping our members increase their knowledge and network by attending our meetings and also continuing to learn myself, both from VMware and the sponsors.

It is great to see the female contingent increase this year, I believe there were 5 of us in 2013 and I make it 10 11 or 2014.  Super to see my friend, Susan Gudenkauf, included this year.   The 10 11 I see on the list are: (updated 7th April thanks to Shane Williford for pointing out I missed out Melissa Palmer)

Susan Gudenkauf, Liselotte Foverskov, Laurent Malhoit, Suzan Pickett, Rebecca Fitzhugh, Erin Banks, Jodi Shely, Stacy Carter, Bonnie Bauder, Melissa Palmer and moi.  If I’ve missed someone, then please do let me know.

I’m also proud of how many London VMUG members are vExperts, I make it 40 and whilst some have left these shores or indeed have set up their own VMUG regional groups, they’re still regular attendees and are still on the members list.  Am sure I’ve missed someone, so please let me know:

Ather Beg, Jeremy Bowman, Steve Bruck, Barry Coombs, Paul Davey, Simon Davies, Alaric Davies, Damian Davis, Chris Dearden, Sean Duffy, Simon Eady, Ricky El-Qasem, Alex Galbraith, Simon Gallagher, Tim Gleed, Simon Greaves, Ed Grigson, Seb Hakiel, Ray Heffer, Tom Howarth, Duncan James, Craig Kilborn, Chris Kranz, Mike Laverick, Simon Long, Sam McGeown, Stu McHugh, Paul McSharry, Jonathan Medd, David Owen, Michael Poore, Alan Renouf, me, Gregg Robertson, Simon Seagrave, Rynardt Spies, Martyn Storey, Stuart Thompson, Julian Wood and last, but not least, Darren Woollard – whew!  (I considered hyperlinking all these names to their twitter handles, but decided I didn’t have that much time 🙂 )

I feel honoured to be listed in amongst these amazingly smart peeps and, as I tweeted the other day, I wonder if Diane and Mendel ever envisaged what they created would lead to such an awesome user community?

London VMUG 25th April – a Rimmary

As ever, we had a great meeting at the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry last Thursday, 25th April.  In his usual endearing style our chair, Alaric Davies, kicked off proceedings and, as usual, asked for a show of hands for first timers. Interestingly as ever, about a fifth of the attendees were vNoobies. It’s encouraging to see many new faces, as well as our stalwart members.

 We had a great selection of sponsors, VMTurbo as Gold, Nimble Storage and Veeam as Silver and for the first time, Atlantis Computing was our lab sponsor.   Being on the organising committee it’s hard to attend many sessions, but I can categorically state the best session of the day in terms of member feedback and tweets was Greg Ferro on his “Don’t Do Virtual Networking, Do Cloud Networking” presentation – engaging, thought provoking and somewhat controversial by all accounts!! With Hans De Leenheer from Veeam tweeting:




Kudos indeed to Greg and to London VMUG too!

We were well represented by VMware as usual, with sessions on vCAC, Horizon, SDN and Robbie Jerrom presenting a Puppet Primer. Also a big thanks to our community presenters; Barry Coatsworth, Gregg Robertson & Darren Woollard, Lee Harris and our very own Stu Thompson.

We had a couple of overseas guests too, demonstrating the draw that London VMUG has in the wider community;  Shane Williford from Kansas City, Missouri and Javier Larrea from the Spanish VMUG it was great to host you in London.

As always, many thanks to our sponsors – we can’t do these meetings without you! Mark your diary for our next meeting – July 4th, same time, same place 🙂 Don’t forget presos will be available on box.net/londonug.

I’ll also be at the VMware Forum in Wembley this Thursday 2nd May, staffing the VMUG booth, stop by and say ‘Hi’.

UK VMUG – November 15th, 2012

Yesterday was the second annual UK National VMware User Conference that we, the London VMUG Steering Committee (Alaric Davies, Stuart ThompsonSimon Gallagher and me) had the pleasure of staging for our members, new and old alike, at the National Motorcycle Museum.  This  year we had 496 registrations with 396 attendees, making this the most successful official VMUG outside of North America.  The vRockstars in attendance made it, according to many tweets, like a mini-VMworld!  We had Joe Baguley, Duncan Epping, Frank Denneman, Mike Laverick, Alan Renouf, William Lam, Cormac Hogan, Hugo Phan, Aiden Dagleish and Matt Steiner from VMware, we had Darren Woollard, Julian Wood, Jonathan Medd, Chris Dearden, Ricky El-Qasem and Tom Howarth from the community. And of course, we have our VIP keynote speaker, Mr Scott Lowe!

In his opening remarks, Alaric asked for tweets to register appreciation at #ukvmugyay and for things that could be improved at #ukvmugboo, suffice it to say there were only a few boo’s, one from Simon Long because we had to cut short a coffee break 🙂

The team from VMUG HQ in Chicago helped us to stage this awesome event and we, of course, couldn’t do these events without our sponsors and we appreciate their support and commitment to VMUGs.



L-R Julian Wood, Mike Laverick, Duncan Epping, Martyn Storey, William Lam, Alan Renouf, Scott Lowe, Lee Dillworth, Frank Denneman

The venue did us proud this year with a very solid wifi network, for both attendees and sponsors, and the catering was definitely a few notches above what I endured at VMworld Barcelona 🙂

One of the highlights of the event was the community area on the raised balcony at the back of the sponsors hall.  We had some great interactions with attendees along with our vRockstars.  Another subtle, but well received, addition was the Twitterboards around the sponsors hall, great idea from fellow committee member Simon Gallagher!!  Simon also was the driving force behind the Mock VCDX session, which I was pleased to take part in (well, have my picture taken anyway!)

Scott Lowe’s closing keynote was a thought provoking, inspiring, end to an amazing day.

You can find slides from the day at box.net/londonug, visit it regularly for updated presentation uploads.

The next London VMUG is January 24th, 2013, put that date in your diary NOW!

To see what you missed from the day, the agenda can be seen here 🙂

L – R : Stuart Thompson, Alaric Davies, Scott Lowe, Simon Gallagher, Jane Rimmer