Community 2.0

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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.

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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.

 

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.

London VMUG July 9th – A Rimmary

Despite there being a tube strike and many people unable to make it, we had one of the best London VMUG meetings for a while.  We still had around 7 new member attendees and we were pleased to host fellow VMUG leader, Eric Lee, all the way from Kansas City.  Hey if Eric managed to make it all the way from the US, a tube strike wasn’t going to stop our hardcore members from making it either!

Our first keynote was from our gold sponsor Zerto, a long standing supporter of London VMUG and Chris Snell shared with the group how to build a perfect DR Solution.

 

We were lucky to have Frank Denneman as our keynote speaker.  As you all know, Frank is super super technical but technology was not the focus of his presentation.  Back at our January meeting Frank presented a keynote as his company, PernixData was our gold sponsor.  Following his session then were our 4 vFACTOR community speakers.  They shared with me they felt a little intimidated have to follow Frank.  In a conversation with Frank a few months later I shared this with him and, kudos to his humility, he stated he was surprised and so offered to share his journey on public speaking at a future London meeting.  So, thank you Frank for, in this instance, being a community speaker and sharing your experiences with our members, your time was much appreciated by us, the committee, and our members.

Alaric declared “miking up the new community speaker!”

Excellent point Frank!

 

We then had Ben Ward from VMware discussing complementing Citrix with the new Horizon View bundle and Ricky El Qasem and David Balharrie hosting an interactive vCD missing you already session.  After a quick break, we resumed with our two silver sponsors, Shavlik and Cumulus Networks discussing comprehensive patch management and modernizing VMware networking respectively.  Alongside these sessions, our lab sponsor Sumerian conducted hands on capacity planning for the SDDC sessions. As always, we can’t do these meetings with the generosity of our sponsors, so thanks to Zerto, Shavlik, Cumulus Networks and Sumerian.

The sponsor sessions were followed by 2 of our previous vFACTOR presenters, Alec Dunn and Chris Porter talking home labs and Ravello Systems. Great job guys, thanks for putting the “u” into VMUG!!

Unfortunately, I missed a lot of the afternoon sessions because I was on a reccy for a new home for us.  Yes, after over 7 years of being at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, they are closing their doors, so we need a new home for 2016 and beyond meetings.  After some intense research, I discovered TechUK – a trade association for UK technology – is based in London and have meeting facilities very similar to the LCC.  It is amazing to be able to find a venue in central London that isn’t an arm and a leg to hire and the great thing is VMware is a member of TechUK!  We are excited about our new home but sad to be leaving the LCC – Alaric in his closing remarks asked Agata from the Chambers to come and receive a round of applause for all her hard work and efforts in hosting our meetings for all these years – it was emosh!!  So our January meeting – 21st, put it in your diary – will be held at TechUK, 10 Saint Bride Street, just off Fleet Street.

We left early for a special vBeers event – superbly arranged by Alaric and Matt Northam and kindly sponsored by Nutanix, 10ZiG and Bitdefender.  It was perfect weather for sitting outside (albeit we were in the Bermondsey Industrial Estate!) drinking 9 different types of beer, noshing gourmet hotdogs – a perfect end to a perfect day.

Picture credit: Kimberly Delgado

Heading back to Waterloo was a synch, as the tube strike had finished and the roads were not too busy.

For all presentations please visit box.com/londonug, for pics of the day visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to keep abreast of all things London VMUG!

London VMUG Meeting April 23rd 2015 – a Rimmary

 

We had record-breaking registrations for this 2nd meeting of 2015, and attendees from across mainland Europe and the US!  The day before our meeting Enrico Signoretti held his TechUnplugged event, which I also attended.  It was an interesting format and storage focused, with a bit of containers and cloud chucked in for good measure.  I also had the pleasure of hearing Nigel Poulton speak for the first time – impressive delivery and content, very enlightening!

The focus of our meeting was primarily vSphere 6 but we too had a mixture of containers and cloud discussions.  Andy Jenkins provided an overall strategy keynote presentation after Alaric’s usual entertaining intro.  And the day was concluded with a panel discussion on vSphere.next where Joe Baguley joined us and, for me, provided the quote of the day: “It’s heritage, not legacy.”

Julian also gave his ‘warts and all’ presentation on vSphere 6 – which was extremely well attended and received. I attended Richard Munro’s preso on deploying vCloud Air from Kilimanjaro – whilst a very short video clip showed the actual deployment, it was a very inspiring presentation and the trip raised $250,000 for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, so well done Richard and the other 4 VMware team members.

Hans de Leenheer and Nigel recorded their InTechWeTrust podcast from the meeting, with long time London VMUG members Ed Grigson and Julian Wood as guests, as well as Stephen Foskett.  Was great to see Stephen attend and glad he enjoyed Alaric’s banter in his intro!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d purchased 5 of Barry Coomb’s and Peter van Oven’s new Mastering VMware Horizion 6 Book to give away as prizes, a regular VMUGer, Phil Morris, won one for asking a cracking question to the vSphere.next panel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a privilege to host a number of other VMUG leaders from Europe; Max from the Czech Republic, Arjan and Joep from the Netherlands and Andrea from Italy – thanks for joining us!

As always, we can’t do these meetings without our sponsors, and are extremely grateful to Cisco, Atlantis Computing and Nimble Storage for their sponsorship and support.  We also had Taupo Consulting (a Purely Computing company) sponsor vBeers in the evening, they were not only vGenerous with the beer sponsorship but also held a prize draw for an iPad, a free day’s consulting and a free vSphere health check, thanks guys!

All presentations can be found at box.net/londonug and put July 9th in your diary for our next meeting at the London Chamber of Commerce and keep an eye on vmug.com for agenda and registration nearer the time.

See you there!

 

hiviz-marketing is 10 years old!

When I decided to leave my role as Director EMEA Marketing at VMware in January 2005, I didn’t envision 10 years later that hiviz-marketing would still be going so strong!

I took the decision to “go down a gear” after having spent 2 years, as employee number 2 in Europe, building the VMware brand.  Flying all over Europe convincing partners and customers that virtualization was the way forward, building a team of local marketers and being part of a cult-like movement was invigorating, challenging and exhausting!  Having done much the same for the previous 5 ½ years at Citrix, it was time for a change.  Telling my EMEA VP that I was leaving was a bit like asking my husband for a divorce – we’d worked so closely both at VMware and previously at Citrix – it was very hard to leave him, my team and the company.  But the world of consulting beckoned and I was looking forward to spending more time with my family, dogs and horses (not necessarily in that order by the way!).  hiviz-marketing was born in February 2005 and by the end of that month I had secured my first two customers – Platform Computing and VirtualizeIT (that was subsequently sold to Virtustream).

I have been lucky, and privileged, to have worked with some amazing technology and some fantastic people.  My criteria for working with clients is 3-fold; 1. I have to believe in the technology, 2.  I have to like the people and 3. They can’t compete with another client – as a “me, myself and I” business I can never have conflicts of interest or anyone questioning my integrity.  The thing I love about what I do is that I continue to learn; when working for one company you sometimes get sucked into the corporate culture that involves drinking the kool-aid, along with the bureaucracy and politics.  In my role, I ensure I don’t get involved in that and remain objective.  By working with different companies and technology I get a much more holistic view of our industry and can offer advice and guidance with objectivity; versus the subjective view you generally get when being an employee.

The companies I work/have worked with have primarily been US start-ups entering the EMEA market and, mainly, within the VMware eco-system.  Many of them have gone on to be acquired (Vizioncore by Quest, then Dell, ScriptLogic by Quest,) some have disappeared off the radar (PanoLogic) and some continue to disrupt and provide immense value to their customer base (Liquidware Labs, Nutanix, PernixData).  I’ve witnessed many technology movements and my role as a VMUG leader also provides me exposure to many new technologies that sponsor our meetings and annual user conference.  The other clear movement is the advancements made in storage during the past 10 years.  A techie friend said to me in the late “noughties” that he didn’t see longevity for companies like Atlantis as SSDs would negate the need for their solution, which goes to show there is space for differing solutions.

With a rear view mirror, many of the disruptive innovators in those early days are now major players, with billions of dollars in revenue.  VMware is obviously the main one.  Some people today think that VMware was an easy sale, a “no brainer”, but creating a market, changing mindsets of IT managers and CIOs is an uphill and a constant challenge.  Brian Madden recently wrote an article and claimed:

“The same is true for VMware in server virtualization in the early early-to-mid 2000s. …… This stuff was obvious, it was necessary, and it sold itself.”

I HAD to post a comment on this article because this is such a typical view of someone that wasn’t involved in the hard slog and just sees the results of a successful company and puts that success down to “an easy sell” – WRONG!  Looking in the review mirror, yes it’s obvious, yes it was needed, but it took a lot of technical, sales and marketing resource to make it so!

So entering into the next decade of hiviz-marketing, as a 10th anniversary present to me, myself and I, I’ve invested in a new website, please take a look and I hope you like it.

Finally, to all my clients, past, present and future, thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you – it’s been fun and I look forward to continuing to work with leading-edge, disruptive companies with the most amazing people!! I wonder what the next ten years will bring……….