Category Archives: VMUG

vForum Australia 2017 Recap

Another year and another vForum has come and gone.  This has really become a stand out event for me on the local calendar.  For the Australia region this is the closest we can get to VMworld without actually going to VMworld.  This year vForum had returned back to the Sydney Convention Centre which has recently been rebuilt.  Unlike previous years the event had moved from a two day event to one.

My frame of reference for vForum is fairly small as this was only my second vForum Australia (Actually there was a vForum Roadshow in Melbourne a few years back too).  Without a doubt the biggest improvement made was the location.  Bring vForum to the centre of Sydney on Darling Harbour was a big win.  Hotels are plentiful and the views are amazing.

I arrived in Sydney from Melbourne the day before vForum.  My manager from Brisbane was down in Sydney on unrelated work so this was a good opportunity to catch up in person for a few drinks on George St (I can’t believe construction on the light rail is still happening on George St which I also recall from last years vForum).

While I had every intention on going, unfortunately I didn’t make VMDownUnderground this year, an event organised and run by the Sydney VMUG crew the night before vForum.  Last year’s VMDownUnderground was a  great event but I had used the opportunity to have dinner with fellow work colleagues on Darling Harbour.  Being Melbourne based and having most of my team in Sydney I don’t get this opportunity often.

This year I was not only representing myself and my organisation but also VMUG as the Melbourne Leader.  With the help of VMUG HQ and the vForum event planners the local VMUG Australia chapters pooled our time and resources to run a booth.  There were ~40 vendors on the showroom floor this year.  VMware and the event planners did a great job with vendor layout with all locations being great.  We, VMUG, were lucky enough to secure a prime location across from VMware in the centre of the showroom right next to the VMware charity water challenge.

While my day started off at 7 AM helping to setup and prepare the VMUG booth.  The official start of vForum Australia was the keynote at 9 AM with VMware COO Sanjay Poonen opening.  The attendance for the keynote was huge.  The entire keynote hall was almost completely full, a real great buzz to it.  The keynote sessions ran till just after 11 AM.  At which point a large proportion of attendees to the keynote left the event (or possibly went to the side events).  Though that didn’t deter from the atmosphere during the remainder of vForum.

Foot traffic around and to the VMUG booth was nothing short of amazing this year.  Having a Claw Machine full of plush toys at our booth I’m sure didn’t hurt either.  This was a huge success in drawing attendees to our booth.  Not only attendees but vendors and VMware staff were lining up for a game.  One of our original goals, as VMUG Australia, was to promote the upcoming Sydney and Melbourne UserCons but we quickly switched to brand awareness for VMUG.  I was amazed to find out so many people still hadn’t heard of VMUG!

vForum Australia ended with the after party at Hard Rock Cafe right next to the convention centre.  A great opportunity to wind down with friends and finally grab some food and drinks.  Compared to last year’s vForum party with Rouge Traders playing (whom I’m a big fan of).  Hard Rock was a slightly more subdue affair.  It did lead to a more intimate setting where you could have more meaningful conversations with people, so in that regards a success.

I still had a little bit left in me after Hard Rock.  So before calling it a night I headed back to my hotel to drop off my swag and have a shower before heading out for a few drinks and cocktails with some vForum friends at Palmer and Co.  A small underground bar set in a 1920s speakeasy style.

While I would have like to see vForum as a two day event, particularly with the addition of Transform Security and Empower Digital Workspace events running at the same time.  Whatever the format VMware and vForum always put on a great event for attendees.  I’m already looking forward to next year with catching up and meeting new people in the community.

Melbourne UserCon 2017 Wrap-Up

This year was a very special UserCon for myself.  This was my fifth out of six UserCons I’ve attended in Melbourne.  But it was special because it was my first as Melbourne VMUG Leader.  Co-Leader actually along with good friend Tyson Then who was also taking part, for the first time, as Leader.

It’s also the year that Melbourne VMUG founder, Craig Waters, has graciously decided to step down as leader and pass the baton onto, as he referred to on stage, ‘Fresh Meat’.  Standing next to Craig on the stage was Andrew Dauncey.  Andrew, having recently accepted a role with VMware, also used the opportunity to officially step aside as co-leader as well.  Both Craig and Andrew have been integral parts of the Melbourne VMUG team.  While they are both stepping aside as Leaders they have each pledged their continual support to the User Group and will continue to be involved in the steering committee.  While I can’t speak for Tyson, I think I can safely say we are both honoured to humbled to be filling their shoes and have the support of two, now former, great leaders of the group.

Getting back on track though.  Last week Melbourne held its sixth annual UserCon.  For the second year running we held the event at Melbourne’s Crown Promenade.  A great venue located in Soutbank in the heart of Melbourne.  The line up of speakers this year was nothing short of spectacular!  Following the VMUG Committee welcome from myself and Tyson, Duncan Epping opened as first Keynote speaker of the day.  Duncan gave a great session on his baby vSAN.  Right after Duncan followed Amy Lewis continuing the opening Keynote with a panel discussion.  The Panel was comprised of three VMUG committee members, Tyson Then, Craig Waters, and Justin Warren, along with Amy Lewis who chaired.  The Panel session was focused around career and building your brand and image.  Basically what Amy does best!

Throughout the day we had the regular goodness you come to expect from a UserCon, which included sessions from VMware and our Sponsors.  One of those sessions even included Emad Younis, Sr Tech Marketing Engineer from the VMware vCenter Team.  Where us Aussies like to differentiate and do things a little different at UserCons is support the community as much as possible.  We ran five community sessions throughout the day.  We had a huge submission response from the community to take part which made it difficult picking only five.  But as we have in the past, we the committee, picked based solely on most appealing Session Title and Abstract and not on the name of the speaker (which was obscured).  The final cut ended up being two internationals, Josh Atwell and Rebecca Fitzhugh, along with locals Grand Orchard, Claire O’Dwyer, and Arron Stebbing.

Alastair Cooke over in New Zealand was invited, and happily accepted, to once again represent the vBrownBag community along with Brett Johnson.  All community submissions that missed the cut where offered a short TechTalk session which ran throughout the day.  vBrownBag is an awesome community run by volunteers focused around education and learning through podcasts and TechTalk sessions.

The day end with two final sessions.  A Celebrity SuperStar Panel session chaired by fellow VMware local Greg Mulholland and panelled by Duncan Epping, Amy Lewis, Emad Younis, Alan Renouf, and William Lam.   The final closing Keynote of the day were by the awesome duo Alan Renouf and William Lam showing us some of their recent work on creating an SDDC lab with nothing more than a few scripts and a USB stick.  This was the standout session in my eyes and clearly many other attendees as seen by the vast majority who chose to stay for this last session of the day.

Towards the end of Alan and William’s session, drinks and food were brought out to the attendees.  Duncan even personally came on stage to served Alan and William some local beer while we waited for their SDDC to build (no pressure guys).

While I might be biased, as VMUG Leader, this was by far the best UserCon I have ever been part of.  We say it a lot but our community really is awesome.  I met attendees from all over Australia and even from New Zealand who came to be part of this event.  Everyone I spoke to was just amazingly supportive and I thank you all.  It makes all this hard work worthwhile.  To all our sponsors, particularly our Platinum sponsors Veeam and Zerto, a big thank you because without you we could never put on an event like this.  I’d also like to thank the Sydney VMUG team for their hard work during the coordination of our two UserCons.  Lastly I can’t end this post without a HUGE thank you to all the international guests who made the long trek from across the sea to be with us.

I look forward to seeing all of you, especially those I didn’t get an opportunity to meet on the day, at our future #vBeers and Quarterly meeting events and of course our next UserCon.


Melbourne VMUG 2016 – The Year That Was

So before I head back to work tomorrow to wrap up my year.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect back on the year that was with the Melbourne VMware User Group.  It was a big year for me with the Melbourne VMUG.  After years of just turning up to events I finally became a member of the committee team.  It’s been an awesome experience where I’ve met some great friends I might not have otherwise meet.

Melbourne VMUG kicked off its year, as with previous years, with its annual User Con in February.  For the first time in five years we had a venue change to the Crown Promenade.  It was a risky move but paid off. Hey, if VMworld can get away with having it in a casino so should we.  Support from the community on the venue change was overwhelmingly positive.  With ~350 attendees it was one of our biggest User Cons to date.  We had some great international guests with Chris Wahl and Keith Townsend.  The day rapped up with an after-drinks / vBeers party a short walk along the Yarra River across at the The Boatbuilders Yard.

We continued the year with three more quarterly meetings.  Each of them held at the Telstra Convention Centre and venue sponsored by Telstra themselves.  Having Telstra provide the venue facilities has been an absolute coup for VMUG.  The facilities are located in the heart of Melbourne CBD with easy access in and out for our community members.

The facilities provide us with two meeting rooms allowing us to run two side by side tracks during the quarterlys.  This has been another one of those surprisingly successful moves.  By running two tracks we have been able to provide more content to our community then we normally would otherwise.  At the end of each of the quarterlys we held vBeers paid for by the meeting’s sponsors at Trokia Bar, a small bar just across the road from the venue.

In between the User Con and the Quarterly meetings with also held separate vBeers events.  These were all held at Beer Deluxe at Federation Square in Melbourne CBD.  Unlike the Quarterly meeting vBeers these ones aren’t usually sponsored.  The settings for these vBeers have always been to provide a smaller more intimate environment to network with peers.

By using left over sponsor funds from the year Melbourne VMUG was able to sponsor the final vBeers of the year at Beer Deluxe.  This turned out to be one of the bigger vBeers MVMUG has held for some time.  It was also well supported by VMware with a number of their local SEs coming out to show support.  We even managed to get a few Sydneysiders to come out and show them how it’s done in Melbourne.

The Melbourne VMUG committee also got out and help sponsor VMUG at the Synology 2017 Conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre a few months back.  This was an invite request from Synology.  We pulled out the banners, and spruiked VMUG with flyers, pens, and t-shirts.  A great experience promoting our user group to a slightly different demographic of small business and storage enthusiasts.

We, the Melbourne VMUG committee, now switch to 2017 User Con planning with VMUG HQ.  We’ve already had a few meetings in and things are looking really good so far.   The same venue has been book at the Crown Promenade for the 23rd of March.  We’ve secured two keynote guests, which i think I can now safely say will be Duncan Epping and Amy Lewis, and we’re working towards a few more international guest to make this our best User Con to date.

Finally a big shout out to Melbourne VMUG committee this year.  The leaders Craig Waters, Andrew Dauncey, and Tyson Then, these guys have been the rock for MVUG throughout 2016.  They have also been great to lean on throughout the year for me.  Also not forgetting Justin Warren, Damien Calvert, and fellow 2016 committee newcomer Brett Johnson.  Not to mention VMware liaisons Ramon Valery, who has now moved over to Nimble storage, and his replacements Mo Jamal and Kev Gorman.  It’s been a massive year and look forward to working with you all next year.

Hope you all have a great New Year and look forward to seeing you at our User Con in 2017!