VMware is a lucky technology company. Few companies, short of Apple, seem to have as fierce and vibrant a community as the one that surrounds VMware. VMworld 2012 was a remarkable time to spend with members of that community, in the realm of influencers and evangelists. No question, I was around a lot of very smart people. And it is fun to pick their brain and listen to their opinions about trends and directions of our industry. There is a fertile growth of tech bloggers and Twitterazzi that follow VMware and the virtualization community. I realize that many of these folks don’t exclusively focus on VMware, but on the trends of technology in general, but virtualization has become extremely large part of that community and a bulk of the talk.
One of my highlights of the week was attending the VMware User Group (VMUG) leaders lunch on Tuesday. This was another exceptional cross-section of the community, all of whom have rallied behind local user groups, learning opportunities, and devoted themselves to evangelizing the platform. But it was a fairly small group of people, around 100 or so. The highlight was hearing directly from CEO Paul Martiz, incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger and CTO Steve Herrod during the luncheon. All three took an opportunity to talk with the relatively small group about where we’ve come, where we’re going and then all three fielded questions from the leaders. Unscripted and completely off-the-cuff, these guys are impressive. Each one is a technologist in their own right and they challenged the group to continue to call them out if their business decisions don’t make sense in the community.
I attended my first VMworld in 2009, I believe, and I was largely oblivious to the community, although it was already growing. And it has exploded since that year. Not only are there formal events hosted by large, corporate sponsors during the week, the same blogging and Twitter community organizes their own unofficial events – like the VMunderground, #vodgeball tournament and others that even benefit charities with any proceeds raised.
And speaking of growth – the VMworld conference itself has grown to over 20,000 attendees. VMUG reported over 3,000 new members in the past year and I cannot count the number of new people who I follow both their blog and Twitter for news and tips about VMware. And its that community that I find myself a part of now – as a tech blogger. I still consider my contribution relatively small, but I’m inspired by what I see others doing for the benefit of the whole group.
In formal recognition of the contribution of many of these people, VMware introduced a designation a few years back – the vExpert – meant to honor those who have made a signifiant contribution to the community either evangelizing or contributing knowledge, time and wisdom to others in their circle of influence. I have met many of the vExperts and these are individuals who are passionate about technology, but down-to-earth enough to have a conversation with. Many of them ask me where we are in the virtualization story and what my stories are from the trenches. Some of these folks have helped significantly through the blog posts they have written with advice or best practices or with the gotchas they found before me. Its really quite remarkable to meet and get to talk to them.
But what would this post be without highlighting some of the most influential in these circles. These are the guys to follow in Twitter, the blogs to bookmark or subscribe and the influencers to listen to. I was lucky enough to meet many of these guys last week, either in passing or to talk with. Look them up. (The list is in no particular order…)
- @jtroyer – John Troyer, Social Media Evangelist for VMware – http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/
- @Mike_Laverick – Mike Laverick, vExpert & VMware Cloud Evangelist – http://www.mikelaverick.com
- @scott_lowe – Scott Lowe, vExpert & CTO of the vSpecialist team at EMC – http://blog.scottlowe.org
- @otherscottlowe – Scott Lowe, vExpert, independent author & blogger and TrainSignals trainer
- @NerdBlurt – Luigi Danakos, vExpert – http://www.nerdblurt.com/
- @jasemccarty – Jase McCarty, Sr. vSpecialist at EMC & vExpert – http://www.jasemccarty.com/blog/
- @cody_bunch – Cody Bunch, vExpert, author & Virtualization Guy at Rackspace – http://professionalvmware.com
- @mletschin – Michael Letschin, vExpert & Nexenta – http://thesolutionsarchitect.net/
- @geekazine – Jeffery Powers, vCaster – http://www.geekazine.com
- @ericsiebert – Eric Siebert, vExpert & HP blogger – http://vsphere-land.com
- @RuddyVCP – Kyle Ruddy, vExpert – http://www.thatcouldbeaproblem.com/
- @mjbrender – Matthew Brender, EMC – http://itechthereforeiam.com/
- @sixfootdad – Damian Karlson, Cloud guy at EMC and #vBrownBag teacher – http://damiankarlson.com
- @3cVguy – Justin Vashisht – http://www.3cVguy.com
- @plankers – Bob Plankers, The Lone SysAdmin – http://www.lonesysadmin.com
- @Bacon_Is_King – Gabriel Chapman, SE at Emulex – http://www.gabrielchapman.com
- @cswaters1 – Craig Waters, Australian VMUG leader
- @brent_quick – Brent Quick, vExpert & VMUG leader – http://brentquick.wordpress.com/
- @RickVanover – Rick Vanover, Veeam – http://rickvanover.com
- @m1kew1lson – Mike Wilson, VMUG Co-leader & HigherEd virtualization guy
- @rolltidega – Shawn Cannon, Technologist – http://www.shawncannon.com
- @rogerlund – Roger Lund, vExpert – http://vroger.com
- @da5is – Matt Davis, vExpert & EMC Certified Cloud Architect – http://da5is.com/
- @bknudtson – Brian Knudtson, vExpert, author & VMunderground guy – http://www.knudt.net/vblog
- @mattvogt – Matt Vogt, Nextera & a vExpert – http://blog.mattvogt.net
- @davidmdavis – David Davis, vExpert & VMware Evanglist at TrainSignals – http://www.vmwarevideos.com
- @chriswahl – Chris Wahl, vExpert, VMUG Leader, Data Center Engineer – http://wahlnetwork.com
- @stu – Stuart Miniman, vExpert & Analyst/Researcher at Wikibon – http://blogstu.wordpress.com
- @matthewnorwood – Matthew Norwood, Networking Aficionado – http://www.insearchoftech.com/
- @maishsk – Maish Saidel-Keesing, vExpert & Top 50 Virtualization Blogger – http://technodrone.blogspot.com/
- @metafarley – Marc Farley, Storage guy & blogger for StorSimple – http://www.dataontop.com
- @jasonboche – Jason Boche, vExpert & vEvangelist – http://boche.net/blog/
- @HPStorageGuy – Calvin Zito, vExpert & Social Media guy at HP Storage – http://www.hp.com/storage/blog
And, I have to have an honorable mention for Crystal Lowe and the Spousetivities program. My wife attended VMworld 2009 with me and met Crystal for the first round of Spousetivities. From there, Spousetitives grew into a much larger and corporately sponsored program for tech spouses who come with their signifiant other to conferences like VMworld. Crystal coordinates activities, tours and social events for spouses to do while their techie is away geeking it up. If you attend tech conferences, you need to look up @Spousetivies and visit the website at http://www.spousetivities.com for your spouse.
For those I missed on this list – VERY sorry. There are too many people in this community and I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Comment or tweet me and I’ll add you to the list. And most of all, thanks to all of these folks for their contributions to our community!