The change with VMUG you might have noticed and why it’s even cooler than you think…
If you go to any of the larger VMUG events (UserCon’s / SuperCon’s / etc.) this year you might have noticed a few changes. The VMware and sponsor content are still as engaging as ever but the community tracks have changed and in a very positive way. Community tracks are normally very popular but are often limited to where the community speaker is located. This means a community speaker in the mid-west often would only speak at a few events in the region due to travel costs. Years past this often-left great community sessions being silo’d to certain regions but this year is different. If you attend a larger event this year you most likely will see community speakers from all over the country now speaking at your regional event bringing engaging community content to your region. So, let me explain how and why this is happening.
Earlier this year VMUG did a call for content asking community members to submit session ideas and abstracts to help build up a library of community sessions. This library is then used by leaders of the local groups to request topics and speaks at the UserCon’s / SuperCon’s in their area. If the speaker is available VMUG then covers the cost of travel and the hotel for that community speaker, this is new in 2018 for community speakers. Now since VMUG doesn’t have unlimited funds the money did have to come from somewhere and that was some of the discretionary funds for each group to spend at the UserCon / SuperCon. While these events still have home labs and other goodies to giveaway at the end of the day this change really effected the general gifts attendees got when they walked in. This is a pretty big change for VMUG and this change wasn’t done by the VMUG team, the local leaders or even the Board - it was done by you, the members.
The member community has communicated back to VMUG through multiple channels (Twitter, leaders calls, community forums and surveys) that you wanted more technical content, more community speakers and less marketing fluff and the VMUG team is there to help make that happen and I think they scored a home run on this one. So, in the end, this means as general attendees we might see less USB charging cables and T-Shirts for everyone at these larger events in favor of more community content. VMUG is about community and education and I don’t think there is a better way to enable more community content than this. As a community speaker myself I will be attending two events outside my home region to speak at different events something that would have never happened without this change for 2018. And in talking with several speakers in the community they echoed the same thoughts.
“It’s fantastic that VMUG has started to invest (by picking up expenses) more into community content for their events, especially the UserCons. This should show that VMUG is committed to keeping the “User” in the user group.” – Jon Hildebrand.
"I am really happy that VMUG is giving the VMUG leaders the flexibility to invite community speakers. I'm especially happy of VMUG undertaking the big job of doing a Public Call for Papers, which opens up opportunities for presenters all over the world who may not be able to travel as part of their job, or whose primary job is not technical marketing.” – Ariel Sanchez Mora
So, please enjoy many of these new community sessions at your regional events, talk with and engage these community speakers that you might only know from social media. This is truly a positive change for the entire VMUG community and one driven by you the members.
Brian Kirsch M.Ed.
VMUG Voice Contributor