Thursday, September 15, 2011

Valuable Face Time!

Regional user group events continue to retain a strong following among the users of NonStop Servers and even though so much is happening across social media channels, there’s still no substitute for the face time that comes from participating in a gathering of your local community.

It is very apparent of late that the NonStop community is appreciating the information that is being posted to online forums, group discussions and blogs. Among the more volatile have been various threads on http://groups.yahoo.com/ (look for the group Tandem_Computers) as well as the discussions on the LinkedIn group, HP NonStop Tandem Professionals. If you haven’t been following either of these then you are definitely missing out on some highly entertaining and yet extremely informative exchanges among knowledgeable folks.

For more than four years I have been involved in providing content for a number of social media outlets. Some of these have been created after much thought and planning while others, purely on a whim. When recently someone suggested I was a fool for being as positive as I am on NonStop I created the group, Fools for NonStop and have been somewhat taken aback by the interest this group has generated – there’s definitely considerable buzz throughout the community. Membership climbed through 150 during the first two weeks and continues to attract new members on a daily basis.

However, it was one of the more recent discussions that caught my attention. A new member asked the group, “is this the real ITUG?” The responses have been light-hearted with someone suggesting perhaps we should consider calling this virtual community, VTUG – the Virtual Tandem User Group and mused that hopefully, there wasn’t a Venezuelan group who might take exception to the use of the acronym just as others were pleased that when the Scandinavians formed a NonStop user group, they elected to brand themselves, VNUG.

My own observation on this topic is that while I am among the more vocal when it comes to the value proposition of growing a virtual community, I am not all that keen to support the current vehicles we rely on – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogspot, etc. as a substitute or replacement for what has been so passionately supported for almost three decades. Finding time to meet face-to-face provides a valuable networking experience that is still unmatched in the virtual world. Yes, I tried Second Life for a short period, with the encouragement of some colleagues at IBM, but it was less than encouraging from my perspective.

User groups continue to hold events. There was a lot of enthusiasm generated by the recent OzTUG event held on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in the northern suburbs of Sydney, Australia. In a recent email broadcast from Dr. Michael Rossbach, there came news about how much he had enjoyed the 10th anniversary celebration put on by VNUG – still among my all-time favorite user community, worldwide. After all, anyone who has enjoyed the event on the ferry between Stockholm and Helsinki in the early weeks of winter can attest to, this is a boisterous and enthusiastic group!
Yes, the NonStop community continues to enjoy the face time that comes from real events. Next week, I will be off to India as a guest of HP to speak at the InNUG event and I am looking forward to that gathering – I have never been to India and yet, I have been in touch with many NonStop enthusiasts from that part of the world. In a few weeks’ time, CTUG will be having their major event and it continues to prove popular as well.

And while I am not clear as to what HP plans for 2012 when it comes to big-tent marketing events such as we saw this year at HP Discover in Las Vegas (and ignoring what may occur at HP Discover Vienna where the NonStop content will be marginal at best) this isn’t precluding the continuing support for NonStop users getting together in every corner of the globe. In fact, as early as it may at first appear, in his email update on VNUG, Dr. Rossbach laid out the timeframes and venue for a European event in 2012 building upon earlier plans the German user group, GTUG had been considering. “GTUG are working on a conference for HP-users during September, 2012 which we want to open up for an international attendance,” Dr. Rossbach explained. “We want to have you all (join us) in Dresden, Germany!”

I for one look forward to this as events tuned to the needs of the NonStop community continue to attract my attention as I am sure they do of anyone who continues to work with the NonStop Server platform. There’s a growing body of work developing in the virtual world, and the attraction social media offers in terms of immediacy and intimacy is something that attracts many within the NonStop community. However, as successful as this communication channel turns out to be, it really isn’t a VTUG – a virtual Tandem user group.

The attraction of joining with our peers, networking, hearing first-hand what others are doing, and having the opportunity to interact with senior members of the HP NonStop management team continue to remain as attractive as it has always been. And it’s certainly great to see as many user groups as active as they are around the globe – certainly, an assurance for many within the NonStop community who may be unsure of the strength of commitment to the NonStop Server platform.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can in the coming months. Yes, continue to follow your favorite online forums, group discussions and blogs but by all means, continue to support your local user community with just as much fervor … after all, it adds substance to what otherwise may be missed in your time spent in the virtual world.

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