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!

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!!

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!

 

 

 

VeeamON Forum, London – a Rimmary

I’ve been fortunate to attend some interesting industry events recently and this was my very first VeeamON Forum. On entering the venue, prior to the keynotes starting, the first thing that hit me was the ‘buzz’, there was a really vibrant atmosphere. The first people I bumped into were 2 UKVMUG attendees, Craig Dalrymple and Nick Furnell. They were chatting with someone I’d conversed with for a long time over twitter and spoken to on Skype for a PernixData customer story, but never met. It was awesome to finally meet IRL Anthony Spiteri, in attendance all the way from Australia! Throughout the morning I met many more PernixPros, including Rasmus Haslund, Liselotte Foverskov, Olafur Helgi, Barry Coombs and Karel Novak.

The breadth of countries represented at this event in London is a testament to the strength of Veeam in its customer and partner base. I also bumped into a few European VMUG leaders, namely Fred Hofer, Joep Piscar and Javier Larrea. Veeam has its own evangelist/advocacy program called Veeam Vanguard and many of the aforementioned are also VeeamVanguards, who had their own meeting the day prior. After the morning keynotes, they were called together for an official photo, with the program owner Mr Rick Vanover!

 

IMG_8990

The keynotes were interesting and focused on Digital Transformation as the ‘theme’ and were well balanced in terms of content. It was interesting to hear about the floating, 100% virtualized datacenter from Richard Agnew in his Availability for the Modern Enterprise keynote. He also shared some impressive growth numbers for Veeam:

IMG_8961

His quote of the day, for me, was in talking about the shift in IT – that it is no longer the small organization scared of the large, it is the slow scared of the agile – he said “No CEO wants to be Uber’d.” 🙂

 

I found the IDC presentation informative with Archana Venkatraman, senior researcher for Storage and Datacenter at IDC. Key takeaways for me were IDC’s view of “thrivers and survivors”, along with the 1st platform being mainframe, the 2nd platform client/server and now the 3rd platform is really the Internet of Things. Archana also shared some interesting stats on priorities and spends:

IMG_8962 IMG_8963 IMG_8964 IMG_8965 IMG_8966 IMG_8967 IMG_8968

She summarized with data protection tools need to be agnostic and compatible with heterogeneous environments.

Next was the customer panel – always great to hear from the peeps ‘at the coal face’. The panel consisted of a diverse section of industries; transport, finance law and education. Bob Eadie trumped everyone with having been at Bedford School for 45 years, he said he arrived in 1971 at the same time as the first computer! His statement that IT is pupil-led in his school and that IT can make or break a student’s career was quite sobering.

Let the customers do the talking!

Let the customers do the talking!

I then enjoyed catching up over lunch with Julian Wood and Liselotte. I also bumped into Iain Radford of Telefonica, who I’d not seen since VMworld Barcelona a few years ago. He very kindly took this photo of me and Liselotte 🙂

 

IMG_8992

The VeeamOn Forum ‘vibe’ reminded me much of the early days of VMware customer and partner events; lots of people sharing their stories, with a good element of community and happy customers and partners. A really great event, thanks for having me Veeam!

Community 2.0

community_cropped

 

Community – it means different things to different people, particularly in our industry. But I like this definition the best: A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. I’ve recently become involved in a crowd-sourced community, WhatMatrix. The goal of WhatMatrix is to provide free comparisons to organizations based upon collaborative, expert input. Having been involved in the launch of this community, it is exciting to see people’s responses to the matrices – particularly when they don’t agree! But the sweet thing about WhatMatrix is the fact that this is exactly what underpins it; if you disagree and can assert the correct information, it will be updated.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 14.55.13

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 14.54.16

The value of this can, however, potentially be undermined or misconstrued if an expert contributor is associated with a vendor. It could be assumed that the expert might have a bias towards his or her own company’s solution. This train of thought got me thinking about other things in general. I think that experts, bloggers, industry contributors etc., whatever “nomenclature” you want to associate with this group of people, it all boils down to respect. If you can demonstrate that your opinion is factually based and be willing to change it if proven wrong, then you command the respect to be an ‘independent’ member of said community. Whilst I’ve always said if you’re an employee, you’re ‘always on’ as a representative for your company, you can still be a community contributor and employee. I’ve also seen experts move from being independent to working for a vendor only to discover their ‘perks’, such as NFRs etc. are removed from them, as owners of the programs to which they belong don’t like the competition having access to their software. Well, let me tell you, if you sell via a channel and your competition is that desperate to get a hold of your product, they will! Don’t penalize the expert for no longer being independent is my view.

But I digress…….. What does the future hold for our community within the virtualization and cloud space? I see many vendors creating their own select programs and really getting behind them to own, drive and, in most cases, fund them. For any user community to thrive the vendor has to take ownership early on, in conjunction and collaboration with the users. Big user groups, such as the VMware User Group, have become totally independent to be effective and are funded via vendor sponsorship. For more niche players and start ups, make the community what your ‘social unit’ needs it to be, not what you, as a vendor, want it to be. Other community programs, such as VMware’s vExpert accolade, become less meaningful, to some, as they grow. People want exclusivity to feel more valued it would seem. My view is that as the user base grows, the vExpert numbers will grow. But maybe it is time to create some kind of tiering? This point reminds me of being involved building the channel for Citrix and then VMware across EMEA in both companies’ early days. The innovative partners that first came on board and really invested wanted recognition as the partner base grew to include the ‘box shifters’, and so tiering was introduced; platinum, gold, silver, etc.

In summary, I think Community 2.0 will be more collaborative, potentially less exclusive but more ‘segmented’ and should continue to focus on the needs of the member first and foremost.