You can imagine that the time of the top executives at VMware merits extreme value at their own VMworld conference. And that’s why finding Paul Maritz, Steve Herrod, and incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger at a luncheon for the VMware User Group leadership so spectacular. This event is held for leaders (who are all volunteers who have day jobs) across the globe to spend a little face time together to collaborate, discuss, and have a good meal. In addition to this, the aforementioned VMware executives provide some words of wisdom on road map, vision, and history, along with spending a good chunk of time simply asking for feedback and providing open and direct answers.
The VMUG group peppers the C-level team with questions
This year’s VMUG Leader Lunch introduced a new element in that Maritz will no longer officially be apart of our family (his words), and is passing along stewardship to Gelsinger, who takes over the position at the beginning of September. It was clear that although this will be a difficult torch to pass, he is comfortable in who is receiving it. Maritz has always made a point to emphasize a mantra of “do good things, the right way”.
Thousands of VMUG “green out” shirts were handed out to show our strength at the conference
A lot of attention was given to the fact that VMware not only asks for input and feedback on their public decisions, but also acts on them. Indeed, Maritz directly related the vRAM change to the user community’s input, and expressed that a lot of time was spent gathering the data to make an informed decision, and ultimately remove this unpopular licensing scheme. I recall last year’s Leader lunch where the VMUG community gave some very harsh and blunt feedback; message received, it seems.
The mission of the VMware User Group is to provide a platform where users can collaborate on challenges and success stories as it relates to virtualization. While being focused on VMware at the core, the organization also empowers the local groups to discuss virtualization as a whole, as often many different technologies and solutions all revolve and interact with one another. The Chicago VMUG group, for example, had a full day discussion on VDI a few meetings ago, and included experts who could answer questions on Citrix and Microsoft products for a “proven practices” discussion with our expert panel.
While it’s true that meetings can include sponsored content, the VMUG organization does a great job at helping push paying vendors and partners into providing user driven content of a technical nature. Sessions that revolve around user experience, that can be backed by folks who have “lived the solution” and are there to answer questions about it, are often the most successful by far. Because the user group is full of such a technical audience, most marketing and sales driven discussions are usually a turn off, and I’ve seen a shift of realization occur on the vendor side to respond to that.
For example, Tintri (disclaimer: I write for their blog as a guest) let’s their customers do nearly all of the talking, with many sessions being lead by John Walsh from Northwestern University, who has leveraged their technology in some powerful ways. It’s a strong statement to have someone who paid money for your product want to evangelize it, as VMware has long since been aware of and encourages. I’m including a link to the presentation done at Tech Field Day below as an example.
I’ve been a member of the VMUG for just over 4 years now, and have finished my first year as a Leader of the Chicago VMUG. The support, policy changes, and advancement of the VMUG organization has been quick paced and on target for providing users (the core of our purpose) with better meetings, more content, and greater exposure to experts and industry bloggers. I’m really looking forward to a strong close of the 2012 year with the Chicago VMUG user conference (register here if you’re nearby), and all of the new offerings we will bring to the table in 2013.