Opening The Kimono – Local VMware User Group Thoughts
When VMware sent out the results of who was accepted to speak at a session at their upcoming VMworld conference, I watched the twitterverse and noticed a lot of sad pandas who didn’t get accepted. I was involved with two submissions that were both rejected, so I’m definitely a part of that group. I’m a bit surprised at the massive amount of complaints (gripes, frowny faces, whatever you want to call them). I thought it was obvious that a small number of sessions are going to get accepted – this is just simple math.
There are some murmors of setting up some sort of “unconference” for the rejected session speakers. I’m not a huge fan of this idea, as it seems sort of like a sour grapes thing and there are plenty of other outlets available (props to the vBrownBag). But, hey, whatever floats everyone’s boat.
One comment made by Duncan Epping caught my eye, basically pushing energy into the VMUG as an outlet for those who wanted to speak. While I understand that a VMUG meeting doesn’t have the power of draw that a VMworld session does, I salute this idea.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a general undercurrent of negativity towards the VMUG when it comes to value proposition and quality of material. As someone who is directly involved with one (Chicago), I wanted to clear the air a bit on some misconceptions.
Please keep in mind that these are my opinions on the user group and do not reflect the opinions of other groups, nor the VMUG organization. I’m just leveraging my ability to use my own personal blog as a soap box.
Control Over Content
One thing I hear often is that the VMUG mothership beams down decisions on content to the local VMUG group. I’ve never experienced this, and frankly our Chicago team works very hard to secure the talent, venue, meals, and sponsors who come to our meetings. VMUG HQ provides some PowerPoint framework, a workspace, and other great levels of support (our VMUG team is awesome!), but has never touched our local meeting agenda. It’s up to us to ensure the content is of high quality, is relevant to our audience, and is technical in nature.
A great live demo from Xangati at our VDI focused meeting
Historically, we strongly encourage technical presentations from our members and VMware customers, in the form of live demonstrations, real world use cases, and expert panels. Our sponsors who present are technical folks who understand the product from the seat of someone who uses it, and many of our best spots are filled with live lab environments where our members can see and touch the product. It is never a 45 minute lecture on marketing garbage (and if it ever started down that path, we’d not invite that sponsor back and spread the word to other groups).
Rising Rockstar Eric Shanks delivers a great real world discussion on his use of SRM at the Chicago VMUG
Quality of Content
I saw mentions of some VMUGs that just have vendor sales pitches and a movie? What the heck is that about? I don’t typically pay that much attention to other groups (I figure it’s their business to do as they see fit, not mine), although I do try to make the Indy Demo Days conference when possible.
Realistically, if that’s truly the case (and the members want real content), it’s time to step up and fix it. Your local VMUG is only as strong as the leadership team running it. Like the old saying goes, “put up or shut up”.
I think Adam Eckerle actually said it best in a twitter conversation:
I’ve been involved in running the Chicago VMUG for about a year now, and can honestly say it is a ton of work getting to evangelize something you believe in. However, the reward is making great connections with local peers who want to talk shop, along with driving your local group into a positive and effective position to help spread education. If you want to speak about a topic and didn’t get a session at VMworld, this is a great alternative.
I’m a bit harsh in this particular post against the nay sayers, but hey – I’m passionate about the VMUG message, and think it’s a tad rude to insult the entire system over a few alleged bad eggs. Looking forward to the comments below – I approve pretty much any comment that isn’t spam or a pointless flame.