Brisbane VMUG – BNEVMUG at The Movies – August 2018

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The August 2018 edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting is a purely social event, with a members-only screening of Mission: Impossible – Fallout. It will be held on Friday 3rd August at the Elizabeth Picture Theatre in Elizabeth Street. This special social event is sponsored by VMware. There’ll be pizza and refreshments from 5:00 pm with the screening starting at 6:00 pm. Parking at the Wintergarden will be validated by the cinema. Be sure to reserve your seat now as seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Brisbane VMUG – May 2018

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The May edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Tuesday 29th May at Toobirds Bistro and Bar (127 Creek Street, Brisbane) from 4 – 6:00pm. It’s sponsored by Lenovo and promises to be a top afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

Lenovo have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about their work with vSAN. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

NetApp United – Happy To Be Part Of The Team

 

NetApp recently announced the 2018 list of NetApp United members and I’m happy to see I’m on the list. If you’re not familiar with the NetApp United program, it’s “NetApp’s global influencer program. Founded in 2017, NetApp United is a community of 140+ individuals united by their passion for great technology and the desire to share their expertise with the world”. One of the nice things about it is the focus on inclusiveness, community and knowledge sharing. I’m doing a lot more with NetApp than I have in the past and I’m really looking forward to the year ahead from both the NetApp United perspective and the broader NetApp view. You can read the announcement here and view the list of members. Chan also did a nice little write-up you can read here. And while United isn’t a football team, I will leave you with this great quote from the inimitable Eric Cantona – “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea“.

VMware – vExpert 2018

I’m very happy to have been listed as a vExpert for 2018. This is the sixth time that they’ve forgotten to delete my name from the list (literally never getting tired of that joke). Read about it here, and more news about this year’s programme is coming shortly. Thanks again to Corey Romero and the rest of the VMware Social Media & Community Team for making this kind of thing happen. And thanks also to the vExpert community for being, well, such a great community to be part of.

Brisbane VMUG – February 2018

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The February edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Thursday 8th February at the Dell EMC office (Level 11, 345 Queen Street) from 4 – 6pm. The first meeting of the year is sponsored by Dell EMC and promises to be a top afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • VMware Ready System – Infrastructure as a Service built on Dell EMC VxRack SDDC hyper-converged infrastructure
  • Pivotal Ready System – Platform as a Service / Container as a Service built on Dell EMC VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure
  • Q&A
  • Pizza and refreshments.

Dell EMC have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about their fully integrated hybrid cloud offering aligned across Dell Technologies. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

VMUG – It Feels Mostly Good

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I’ve been one of the co-leaders of the Brisbane VMUG chapter for around 2.5 years now. We recently welcomed a new leader to the team and it’s given me the opportunity to participate in knowledge sharing with him, along with working through what is and isn’t working. The idea of this post isn’t to whine about stuff, or criticize anyone, but rather to gather my thoughts and tell you all about what’s good and bad. You might even have some ideas on how to make it better.

 

The Premise

According to their website, “the VMware User Group (VMUG) is an independent, global, customer-led organization, created to maximize members’ use of VMware and partner solutions through knowledge sharing, training, collaboration, and events”. VMUG is pretty careful about being viewed as independent from VMware, and they have staff and support folk who don’t work for VMware. They have a board and by-laws and all that good stuff. But at its core it’s a group that is focused on things that matter to VMware. I think it’s a good idea to bring people together with a common interest and feed them more knowledge relating to that common interest, particularly within the framework of an independent, customer-led group. That’s why model train clubs are popular (I imagine). The idea is that geographic areas with any sort of significant enthusiasm for VMware-related stuff can start their own chapter and get support from VMUG HQ.

 

The People

The people are what makes VMUG work. Without a bunch of people volunteering their time as leaders, and without a bunch of people attending VMUG meetings, there would simply be no VMUG. It would instead be VMware marketing trying to organise product pitches to semi-interested users.

 

The Sponsors

Without the sponsors, there wouldn’t be a lot going on at the VMUG meetings either. Every meeting would potentially just involve the VMUG leaders and / or a VMware representative talking about whatever the popular go-to-market thing is that quarter. Sponsors also bring a bit extra to the table in terms of technical content and some funding for pizza and vBeers at the event.

 

So What’s Broken?

From my very limited view of the world, there are a few issues with the model right now. Note that these are not necessarily problems that VMUG can easily fix, and I think they’ve been caused by a shift in the market rather than any wrong doing on behalf of VMUG.

 

Sponsors Want A Return

In Brisbane we get anywhere between 20 – 50 people showing up to our meetings (held every 2-3 months). It depends a lot on the content, the location, and the vendor(s) sponsoring (and whether they’ve done their own promotion). VMUG HQ suggests that the meeting be held in a neutral location (i.e. not a vendor’s office) to encourage participation from a wide range of folks. Our experience, however, has been that there aren’t a lot of community halls or the like in a central location in Brisbane that we can hire for a reasonable price. The places that do exist don’t always like it when you bring your own beverages along, or they’re a little ways away from the nearest watering hole (this is hard to imagine in Brisbane, I know). One alternative is to hire a hotel conference room or some space at a pub. These places can cost between a few hundred to a thousand dollars, and some expect a minimum bar spend as well. The problem then is that these spaces aren’t always in secluded areas, so you’ve got the sounds of punters at the bar to contend with while you’re trying to talk about blueprints in vRA.

The other problem is that sponsors often don’t see the value in putting down $2K when they’re getting 20 people through the door. It doesn’t matter that they’ll happily spend the same amount at a steak restaurant for a bunch of executives from a key client. The fact is that they don’t see a bunch of scruffy nerds as a good investment. As a result of this reluctance to pay for venues, we’ve had to hold meetings at our employers premises. This makes the sponsors happy as they have to stump up less cash, but then sometimes draws the ire of folks inside VMware. Yes, I was once told that we should be holding our meeting somewhere neutral so other partners would feel free to come along. I understand this in theory, but it came from someone who hadn’t been to an event in as long as I can remember. I’m not bitter though.

 

VMUG Attendees Want To See Something Interesting

Attendees are taking an hour or two of their time to come to these meetings. Sure, they might get some pizza of reasonable quality, but they want to get some value out of their time investment too. They don’t want the sponsor to just lob up and pitch their latest marketing slide. They want to hear something about how the sponsor can help them solve their problem in an interesting way that is related to how they use VMware products. They’d like to see a demo. They also want to talk to their peers about what they’re doing and the problems they’re having. Note, however, that they may not want to talk about this stuff in front of the group, or during the meeting because they’re shy, or don’t want to disrupt the flow of the presentation. Some people just aren’t into talking about this stuff in front of a group of strangers. Some of the best conversations I’ve witnessed have been after the main presentations are finished.

 

VMUG Leaders Don’t Like Logistics

As part of being a VMUG leader, it’s on me to organise sponsors, find a suitable venue, write up the agenda, and run the meeting, all while trying to keep the attendees, VMware and the sponsors happy and engaged. I knew all of this before I signed on as a volunteer, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy some of the logistics of the role. I’ve had people complain about the venue from time to time (because not everyone’s going to be happy). I’ve also had sponsors turn up to the meeting and tell me their budget was already fixed so they couldn’t afford to pay for the pizza. They told me this at the meeting, mind you, not beforehand. I guess some people have a different definition of the word sponsor.

Event management (as anyone who does it in real life already knows) is a real pain in the backside, and it’s hard to pull off. I’m definitely not terribly adept at it, and I learn something new every meeting. It’s like organising a dinner party for a bunch of strangers every few months, and wondering if you’ll be popular enough for them to show up (even though they’ve all said they’ll come along). Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I like to remind people that I do this for free, so from time to time you’ll very much be getting what you pay for.

 

Not Everyone Is In The U.S.

This one is a bit hard to explain, particularly to people who live in the U.S., but not everyone works at the scale that key markets do in the U.S. As a result of this, we don’t always get 400 people lobbing up to a meeting, and can’t always get multiple sponsors to pitch in thousands of dollars for giveaways, venues and so forth. I’m not suggesting that anyone’s been critical of us for this, but sometimes it feels like VMUG is geared up to operate well in a certain part of the world, and it is sometimes confusing for them when it’s not the same elsewhere.

 

So Why Do It?

I’ve been involved off and on in our local VMUG for some time now, and I’m a massive fan of groups that get together to talk about common interests. But just like special interest groups on Facebook, there are going to be people that annoy you. And just like being a volunteer for some sporting club in your local community, it will sometimes feel like it’s a thankless task at best.

But there’s so much that can be gained from these types of organisations. And there’s so much to gain from giving back to the community. The opportunity to share knowledge with your peers, to hear about how other people are doing things in their environment, the chance to network with vendors and VMware and provide feedback on their products and solutions is priceless. Heck, we have our very own VCDX who is always volunteering his time to come and talk to people (travel schedule permitting). And there’s usually pizza. Whilst I think that some of the recent downturn in attendance numbers has been due to a shift in market interest (the Nutanix and AWS groups are pretty well attended locally), there’s still a great opportunity to get value out of VMUG. You are not alone when it comes to your experiences with VMware products, and I think it’s nice to have the opportunity to share these experiences with the backing of an organization like VMUG. It’s also nice to know that there’s a global organization of people (both leaders and members) who are enthusiastic participants in VMUG and are working towards a common purpose.

Now, if anyone has suggestions on how we can do the venue and logistics better (we’re trying something different for the next meeting), how we can get sponsors to better understand the value proposition of community engagement, and how we can get more people interested and actually turning up to meetings, feel free to reach out. We’re also very keen to get more customer involvement, either via leadership or content presentation, so please let us know if that’s something you’d like to explore further as well.

 

Brisbane VMUG – November 2017

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The November edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Thursday 30th November at the Toobirds Bistro and Bar (127 Creek Street, Brisbane) from 4 – 6:30pm. It’s sponsored by HyTrust and NetApp and promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the jam-packed agenda:

  • Refreshments and drinks
  • VMUG Intro (by me)
  • VMware Presentation: vRealize Lifecycle Manager (Michael Francis, VCDX #42)
  • HyTrust Presentation: Regain Control of the Cloud (Kevin Middleton)
  • NetApp Presentation: What’s new @ NetApp? SolidFire, HCI & an irrational love of VVols
  • Skills and Career Progression (Claire O’Dwyer, Sydney VMUG Leader and Recruitment Specialist with FTS Resourcing)
  • Q&A
  • Refreshments and drinks

HyTrust and NetApp have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session. I’m really looking forward to hearing about HyTrust’s take on protecting virtualised cloud infrastructure and virtual workloads. I’m also interested to hear more about NetApp’s HCI offering, what’s happening with SolidFire and their VVols integration. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Brisbane VMUG – September 2017

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The September edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Thursday 21st September at the Telstra Building (Level 4, 275 George Street, Brisbane City) from 16:00 – 18:00. It’s sponsored by Telstra and Rubrik and promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • Introduction and VMUG News
  • VMworld US News
  • Telstra Cloud Gateway and Virtual Storage Overview
  • Rubrik v4.0 Overview and VMware Integration

This will be followed by vBeers at Cicada from 17:30 – 18:30.

Rubrik and Telstra have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about what they’re up to. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Brisbane VMUG Higher Education SIG – August 2017

 

The next Brisbane VMUG Higher Education Special Interest Group (SIG) will be meeting on Thursday, August 31, 2017 from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (UTC+10:00). This is an opportunity for folks running VMware products in a higher education context to get together and talk about their experiences.

The line up is currently:

  • QUT: vRealize and costing
  • Griffith: CI/CD Pipelines
  • VMware: vSphere Roadmap

The event will be held at the VMware Brisbane office:
Level 17
324 Queen Street
Brisbane, 4000

You can find out more by contacting Duncan Dickinson on 07 3735 9618 or d.dickinson@griffith.edu.au. Registration and further information can be found on the VMUG site.

VMware – VMworld 2017 – See you in Vegas

 

This is a quick post to let my loyal readers know that I’ll be heading to VMware’s annual conference (VMworld) this year in Las Vegas. This will be my third VMworld. I’m looking forward to catching up with some old friends and meeting some new ones. If you haven’t registered yet but feel like that’s something you might want to do – the registration page is here. To get a feel for what’s on offer, you can check out information about the VMworld 2017 sessions here. The Content Catalog [sic] will be on-line in mid-July. Yes, no, that’s just how they spell catalogue. You can read the FAQ here.

Big thanks to Corey at VMware for organising the blogger pass. I’ll also be publicly thanking some other folks when I have some more logistics locked in. Incidentally, if any companies want to chip in for my flights I’m sure I can arrange some kind of exposure in return – just let me know. Keep an eye out for me at the conference and surrounding events and don’t be afraid to come and say hi (if you need a visual – I look like Wolverine would if he let himself go).