UK VMUG Nov 2011 Review

A few weeks ago I attended the first ever UK based VMUG at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. Put together by the same folks who arrange the London VMUG events, it was a great day out and obviously a lot of hard work had been put in by Jane, Alaric, Simon , Stuart and Martyn. I know they had put the best part of 6 months into arranging it, so a lot of effort. By staging the event in the Midlands and involving other VMUGs from the UK, including the North of England, Scotland and Ireland there were over 300 attendees.

I travelled up the night before and just about made it in time for a pre-show vCurry being held at the Museum. This gave a good chance to catch up with various tweeps, since I figured (and I think it panned out) that people wouldn’t hang around too long after the main event the next day, like they normally do at the London VUMG, with longer journeys home.

There were also more sponsors than the London events and with involvement from the Official VMUG organisation there was even a posh looking programme to accompany the day’s events. How things have come one since I attended my first London VMUG about 3 years ago!

The event centered around the main area below with the keynotes from the stage at the front and vendors around the outside. This was accompanied by breakout sessions in rooms off to the sides. The only downside of the day was the lack of WIFI or 3G access since we were a couple of floors down, but thanks to the distribution of some BT OpenZone cards it was possible to stay reasonably well connected.

I had volunteered to assist Alan Renouf with a PowerCLI lab he had put together, which took place at the back of the main room.

We turned this into a drop by area for questions about PowerCLI and PowerShell as well. While the lab proved pretty popular, the best part was taking people’s questions and showing them how PowerCLI and PowerShell might help them out in their jobs. It was quite surprising to find that there were many questions such as ‘What are they?’, ‘What can I do with them?’ and ‘How much do they cost?’ - and a lot assuming I was a VMware employee! A lot of these conversations spurned off into Alan sitting them down, demonstrating some coding and often writing a script for them to take away.

I managed to get away to a couple of the sessions and in particular enjoyed Julian Wood’s session on upgrading to vSphere 5, which was really well attended. One of the other most intriguing parts of the day was a mock VCDX panel organised by Simon Gallager. This was an opportunity for people to practise defending a vSphere design (with a lot of onlookers for extra pressure!). You’ll notice that Duncan Epping was helping with this so the volunteers were grilled, but also received excellent feedback. The PowerCLI drop by area was positioned right next to this while it was going on and I know a number of people found the experience really useful when I talked to them as they walked away from it.

I really enjoyed the day as a Community Booth Babe and now know how draining it is being on a stand all day (you can probably tell from my dishevelled look below!). The best thing for me was answering people’s PowerCLI and PowerShell questions, really kept me on my toes. The highlight being one guy who was driving into work every Saturday, carrying out a few tasks inside a VM, powering it off, taking a clone, powering it back on and then driving home - I showed  him how he could schedule this with a script and get his Saturday back :-)

Hopefully the team will arrange another UK centered VMUG next year after the success of this one. In the meantime, details have just been published of the next London VMUG on January 26th. I highly recommend you attend this.

To round things off I made my way home in very ecological style with a lift from an ex-colleague and and his awesome company vehicle :-)