The road to presenting at the North East VMUG – Community Special

I am on my way home from my first North East VMUG (@NorthEastVMUG).  It is not my first VMUG.  Work allowing, I have been a regular attendee to the London VMUG (@LonVMUG) for the last few years.  This time would be different though.  This time I was presenting a session for the first time.

What is VMUG?

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.  There are numerous VMUG meetings around the world, so there is more than likely one near you!

Where did this crazy idea all start?

It all started as a simple conversation whilst working alongside former London VMUG leader Alaric Davies in January 2017 that got me thinking that, after 18 years in the industry, I may have something interesting to talk about.  So, I then started to think about what I could present about.  I immediately got #WritersBlock but I didn’t feel any pressure because I hadn’t voiced my desire to speak to anyone else.

This is just got real…

Then, in April 2017,  both Kyle Jenner and Alan Burns (who are a part of the NorthEastVMUG Leadership team), approached me to come and present at their next VMUG in June.

I had initially met both Kyle and Alan at the start of VMworld 2016 (Barcelona) at the #vRockstar networking event and ran into them on multiple occasions over the course of VMworld.  We have continued to stay in contact via social media and through the community based VMware #vExpert program.

It didn’t take to long for me to think about it before I said yes, but then it suddenly hit me.  Whilst I am OK at presenting, I normally get asked to talk about a particular topic for a customer, but both Kyle and Alan just said “we’re flexible about what you present as long as it is relevant.  Just make it interesting!” #NoPressureThen. Then a new conundrum presented itself, could I actually come up with something “interesting” to talk about for 40 mins?

The Idea

Whilst not important/relevant for this article, the basic premise of the session was to highlight that, over the last few years, I have seen vRealize Orchestrator is woefully underutilised as a product unless it’s coupled with vRealize Automation.  In my view, considering its relatively small footprint, the fact it is essentially free (with VMware vCenter) and with all of the plugins and capabilities, it should really be an integral part of any VMware Admins toolkit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no vRealize Orchestrator expert, I know the basics, but that also gave me an incentive to learn more about it.

Best laid plans…

Flash forward six weeks and June had come around a lot sooner than expected.  Whilst I had the topic in my head, I still hadn’t started my presentation or sorted out any of the demo’s.  Now it was time to get my thoughts down on paper and to start putting something together.  I spent a few hours most evenings and at least a day each weekend constructing a slide deck and preparing various demo’s.  From a demo perspective, I wanted to show what you could achieve with a little bit of effort with vRO and how you should be thinking of creating a workflow library.  The demo creation didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked but that’s a whole different blog post that I may write.

Final Preparations

June 21st came very quickly and I packed my overnight bag and headed north on the train to Newcastle.  I spent the train ride and, after a quick walk around Newcastle, the evening in the hotel making finishing touches to and walking through my presentation.  After all it wouldn’t be a VMUG without finalising your slide deck the night before.  Luckily, as I was actually staying at the venue, I managed to confirm my demo environment would work through the hotel wi-fi.  The nerves kicked in about 00:00 that night (thanks to being woken by the local student wildlife) and I didn’t get back to sleep until about 0230.  I was up again at 0800 to do some last minute tweaks and a last run through before the event.

The Day of the Event

Unlike the London VMUG, registration for the NEVMUG kicked off mid-morning, so I checked out of the hotel and headed on over to the conference room around 11:00.  Vendors were still setting up their wares but the room was well laid out with plenty of chairs for the 50+ registered attendees.

Luckily I was the first person to be speak, so after the obligatory introduction from the NEVMUG team, I was called up to speak.  The nerves from the night before didn’t have time to surface before I was in the swing of it and was quickly going through my slide deck.  Luckily the demo gods were (mostly) smiling on me that morning so everything went relatively smoothly and I managed to get through my slide deck just outside the allotted time.

Final Thoughts

Firstly, thank you to the guys at the North East VMUG having me and allowing me to speak.  The community and vendor speakers were all interesting.  The event was well worth the travel and it was well organised by the team. The venue was nice, the food was good and the free bar (for those who drink) was a nice touch!

Reflecting on the presentation has given me lots to think about, especially on my presentation style, the content (both quality and number of slides).  I think my session was generally well received but there is always room for improvement.

How can I support my local VMUG?

You can start to support you local VMUG just by showing up to an event near you, then let it go from there.  For information on events near you go to the VMUG Calender.

In the UK, follow @LonVMUG, @NorthEastVMUG, @swukvmug and @NWEnglandVMUG on twitter to find out more information!

If you would like to more information on how to become a VMUG member, goto the VMUG Membership Page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.