Announcement

Opening Acts: Double-clicking on the premise of words in IT Marketing

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I think the Opening Acts panels that we’ve hosted for the last few years as the daytime part of the VMunderground event might have become my favorite part of the day. One of the fun things we get to do with the community is decide the topics that we are going to host, and as usual, this year there were lots of great suggestions and lots of lively internal debate on which to choose.

One that stood out for me, for a number of reasons we’ll discuss, had to do with language, and specifically how marketing teams can use language in all sort of ways, both for good and for evil.

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In my experience, there are two kinds of ways that people get pedantic about language in our industry. First, there are the people who constantly correct people on the use of there/their/they’re (@millardjk), the people who lament the lack of an edit button on Twitter, and the people who freak out about the improper use of words whose spellings are close but whose meanings are completely different, like premise and premises (@ucs_dave).

The second kind of person, of which I admit to being one of, sees how the definitions of words and phrases can be deliberately and systematically changed over time. For me, this is a far worse offense, because it’s designed to deceive. Back in the day I wrote an entire blog post about this phenomena, and while it’s a much more devious use of language, it doesn’t seem to get the same level of scrutiny and scorn as the poor person who dares to use “premise” incorrectly.

In either case, language is a powerful thing, and how it’s used, where it’s used, and the patterns we create and reinforce can have a significant impact on perceptions and buying habits. If you are interested more in this idea, there’s a lot of great academic articles out there, but here’s one of my favorites.

Join us at Opening Acts to talk about language, buzzwords, bullshit, marketing and the power of words. This should be fun!

OpeningActs 2017—How Failing Made Me Better

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zero-UHave you ever been out socializing with your IT peers, and somehow the topic shifted to some data center horror story? Whether it’s the “zero U switch” that was only supposed to be temporary; or the accidental “rm –r /”; or that time you deleted the wrong LUN (raises hand, hangs head). We all have one or more in our collective history that we occasionally bring back out, dust off, and (hopefully) share to the amusement of all.

There are also those failures that you never bring up. You know, the ones that other folks call “RGEs” (Resume Generating Events). The “cautionary tale.” The sort of thing that, in hindsight, you can’t imagine why you thought it would be a good idea.

And then there are the failures that you were sure would be successes: the exam you almost passed, the project you declined, the proposal—or VCDX defense—that you poured blood, sweat and tears into only to have it rejected.

Aside from “fail,” what should all of these things have in common? All should have been learning experiences.

With a nod to the old saw of “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” we present a group of panelists who have risen to personal and career success, not through a string of only positive achievements, but through reasoned risk-taking, occasional bad luck… and failures.

OpeningActs 2017—The Awkward Teenage Years of the VMware Community

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awkward-teenage-yearsOne idiom all IT professionals know to be true is “the one constant is change.” Nature adapts and changes over time. TV series shift over time. People come and go into your life. Enterprise IT is always chasing a more efficient and simple solution.

As we humans mature from childhood into adolescence, many changes occur. We get bigger and our internal systems change. Our interests change. We struggle to find purpose. Our friend groups change, sometimes turning friends into enemies and enemies into friends. The IT industry and the companies within it also go through similar growing pains.

Another common idiom that seems to ring true in multiple facets of life is “it takes a village to raise a child.” In the IT industry, most companies start with only one or two products and very few of them can make it from startup to self-sustaining (or a marriage to another company) without a system of support around it. This system is usually composed of other vendors, customer advocates, and third-party industry “watchers” who help to promote interesting products/concepts.

As these companies mature their one or two initial products, they almost always find an inflection point where they find the need to diversify their portfolio in order to remain competitive and maintain the growth they experienced before. This often leads to changes in interest and a struggle to find new purpose (often referred to as a pivot). Sometimes these pivots create friction with their old partners and friends. Sometimes they draw closer to and create partnerships with old enemies.

VMware appears to be in the midst of this awkward adolescence-like growth phase. They’re creating a bunch of new products far from the core hypervisor. Their primarily purpose is now cloud and management technologies. They’re directly competing with companies that have ridden in the wake of VMware’s success (see: Veeam, Cisco, every storage vendor). They’re even creating significant partnerships with old enemies like AWS.

The community is also being affected. Newer technologies that VMware isn’t reacting to quickly enough (e.g. containers) are drawing people away from the VMware community. This is causing a reduced focus in the ecosystem sponsors on organizations like VMUG and the myriad of VMworld community events, causing struggles to find sponsors to keep VMware-focused events afloat.

This is a topic hitting us directly at VMunderground and vBrownBag, so we decided to have an open discussion during Opening Acts. One of our panels will be dedicated to discussing how the industry matures and how technology, ecosystems, and communities are affected when vendors mature or move from innovation to sustaining.

Opening Acts 2016 Panel Lineups

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We’re pleased to announce the Opening Acts 2016 panel lineups!

Location: Liberty Loft meeting space at NYNY casino, Sunday August 28th. You can find a map to the Loft here. Ticket details are available here.

Note: Opening Acts is completely free, but we’d like folks to reserve a spot so we can monitor the space’s available capacity.

Careers (11am)

I imagine that we’ve all asked ourselves, “Where do I take my career from here? How do I prepare for the next step? What, exactly, do I want to do?” In this panel, we’ll discuss these topics as well as acting professionally on social media even when you’re in competition with other folks in technology, tips on how to cope with imposter syndrome, and how to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

 

New Age / Next Generation IT (12pm)

Technology is changing. “Virtualize all the things!” was the refrain from past years, but emerging technologies and solutions such as containers and their orchestration, network virtualization, and cloud-native applications are quickly altering how we approach IT. In this panel we’ll discuss these topics, and explore ideas on what’s next.

 

vBrisket Lunch (1pm)

Great BBQ’d food and casual technology conversations with peers.

 

Storage & Hyper-converged (2pm)

Storage is and will continue to be a hot topic. The market is crowded with storage startups and incumbents, and it’s easy to get lost in the noise. This panel will explore the pros & cons of various storage technologies (traditional, hybrid, all-flash) and hyper-convergence.

 

Automation/Orchestration/DevOps (3pm)

Managing an IT environment at scale can be challenging. We’re all human and make mistakes that often lead to not being able to meet the demanding needs of technology consumers. We’ll explore various methods of automating IT configuration management, new ways for IT to interact and cooperate with software development, and adopting new concepts such as infrastructure as code.

#VMunderground, #OpeningActs, and #vBrisket Ticket Release

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Eventbrite is all setup.  The schedule is set.  Here’s what you need to know.

We’ve combined the ticketing process for VMunderground, Opening Acts, and the vBrisket lunch at Opening Acts into a single process.  Tickets for all events will be available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-events-at-vmworld-2016-us-tickets-26600043446.  (If you want the vBrisket VMworld Bus Tour, you want to head over here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vbrisket-vmworld-bus-tour-tickets-25211421039)

Go ahead and head on over to our Eventbrite now to review the FAQs.

Here’s the big part, everyone has been waiting for: Tickets will become available at 2:00 pm PDT/2100 UTC on 28-July 2016.  No time is ideal for all parties, so we tried to pick the best time for the majority of timezones.  Put it on your calendar.  Setup an alert on your phone.  Tell the family (work or personal) you have an important commitment at that time.

As a reminder:

  • VMunderground will be charging $25.
  • vBrisket (lunch at Opening Acts) will be $5.
  • Opening Acts will remain completely free, but we still want get a count ahead of time, so please pick up a reservation even if you’re just planning on Opening Acts.

All are limited due to budget and venue restrictions, so be ready at release time!

UPDATE: The first big rush is past, and there are still tickets left as of 1800h PDT. If you don’t have a ticket, it’s worth the click to see what’s available…

Introducing #VMunderground Community Supporter

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For many years we’ve heard from VARs and smaller vendors who are interested in supporting VMunderground.  For a variety of reasons, we’ve not been able to make that happen.  But this year is different…

We’re happy to announce a limited time offer to become a VMunderground Community Supporter.

It’s a lower cost option, but will provide you a few tickets and recognition on our sponsorship signage and tweets.

If you’re a VAR or small business and want an official/unofficial presence at VMworld (even if you don’t have a booth), you now have a great option.  We even made it easy for everyone, just fill out the form and swipe your credit card over here: https://squareup.com/store/vmunderground.  But time is short, so get there quickly if you want to join us in Vegas!

VMunderground, 2016 Edition

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At long last, here’s the details for VMworld 2016’s Warm-up Party as a Service. (TL;DR, see the bolded items, but I think you’ll want to read the rest anyways).

WHAT: A pre-VMworld US party

WHY: To get old and new friends together to kick-off the week in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere to set the week off right

Now, before we get into it, we want to preface our announcement with a little bit of background. Finding sponsors this year was hard. With US presidential elections, Brexit, a massive vendor acquisition/merger, and a cooling off of the VC and IPO markets, vendors don’t seem to have a lot of money to spend. That has affected our plans. Some of you will not be happy, but this is better than nothing. Hopefully you’ll agree. If not, remember that we’re just a bunch of introverted nerds wanting to get together to support the community.

On to the plans….

This year, VMunderground will be held August 28th, 2016. For those not keeping score, that’s exactly 5 years after our last round in Las Vegas (August 28th, 2011). And this happens to be the 10th VMunderground. Needless to say, nostalgia weighed heavy on the group this year, so we decided to aim for sacred VMunderground…well…ground.

WHERE: Nine Fine Irishmen, in New York, New York Hotel & Casino

Now, those who attended the party 5 years ago may be saying: “I don’t remember Nine Fine Irishmen being as big as City View was last year.” If you said that, you’d be correct. While we did have great plans for making this venue work with the much bigger attendance numbers, circumstances (see the preface paragraph) led to the venue being the right size after all.

WHO: 550 of our Sponsors and VMworld compatriots

Of course, timing is everything, and this reduced buyout of the venue has left us in a bit of bind with a double whammy.

WHEN: August 28th, 7-10 p.m.

Yes. That is the same time as the Inaugural VMUG Member Party. We have been talking to VMUG for months now trying to coordinate as best we can, but this was unavoidable. We’re excited to see them launch their own event and wish them the best of luck with it. I’m sure we’ll both have enough attendees given the size of VMworld.

HOW: Tickets.  Yes…tickets.

Given the reduced size of the venue, paid tickets will be required to get in the door at the beginning of the party. We will be opening up an Eventbrite page to acquire tickets soon, so keep an eye/ear/Tweetstream open for more details very soon. We’re going to do a single process for Opening Acts, vBrisket, and VMunderground to make it as streamlined as possible. Be prepared:

  • VMunderground will be charging $25 (see preface paragraph).
  • vBrisket (lunch at Opening Acts) will have a $5 charge to their expenses.
  • Opening Acts will remain completely free if you can resist the BBQ smell, but we still want get a count ahead of time, so please pick up a reservation even if you’re just planning on Opening Acts. We won’t restrict Opening Acts to only registered attendees, though.

Not the plans were were hoping for, but think of it this way: where else are you going to get a full BBQ lunch sandwiched in-between 4 hours of learning from your peers AND 3 hours of food and drink with the VMworld “who’s who” for only $30?

See you in Las Vegas!!