vCommunity – “What does ‘insert your employer’ gain from you participating?”

As you may be aware there is a multitude of vendor community advocacy programs, for example, VMware vExperts, Veeam Vanguards, Cisco Champions and Microsoft MVPs to name a few. Some of you reading this might be part of one or more these programs or interested to learn more about them. This post is not intended to detail what is required to join/participate in these programs. This post is intended to help answer the inevitable question from your employer :

“What does <insert your employer’s company> gain from you participating/attending/presenting at these programs?”.

To answer that question I need to explain the what being part of the vendor Community programs entails.

As it currently stands I am an active member of the following vendor community programs :

VMware vExpert (https://vexpert.vmware.com/)

This is a large community/advocacy program with about 1,800 members worldwide. This is my 2nd year as a VMware vExpert. Some of the benefits are access to licenses for a wide arrange of products (for lab use only), access to special vExpert only briefings from the VMware product teams. I also have access to a support forum that boasts a worldwide collective group of experts/professionals where ideas/problems can be shared and help offered. As part of the program I have talked at the Italian VMware User Conference and on the back of this presentation, and was asked to present at the recent German VMware User Conference. These event costs are covered by the larger VMware User Group, and the only cost to my employer is my time away.

Veeam Vanguard https://www.veeam.com/vanguard.html

As Scotland’s only Veeam Vanguard for the past 5 years, and the member of a group only 80 members worldwide. The Veeam Vanguard program gives me, and by way of association, my employer privileged access (at times direct access) to Veeam’s Product team. This access allows us to gain valuable insight into Veeam’s product/feature roadmap, with the ability to feedback on these. As with the VMware vExpet program, we also have access to a worldwide collective group of experts/professionals that can offer up access to networking/support opportunities that would otherwise cost, in time or money, to acquire. Veeam also provide opportunities to attend either their Global conference (VeeamOn https://www.veeam.com/veeamon) or Vanguard specific events. I have been fortunate enough to have attended VeeamOn 2015 (Las Vegas) , VeeamOn 2017 (New Orleans) as well as Vanguard events in London (2016) and Prague (2018). Again as with the VMUG opportunituies, these conferences are normally funded by Veeam, and the only cost to my employer is my time away, usually 5 days. They also provide members with Veeam Vanguard branded items, like hoodies/rucksacks etc, which you may see me wearing from time to time.

Scottish VMUG Coomunity

I am also an active member of the Scottish Coomunity, as evident by this blog post and recent presentation around mental health in IT at the April event. 🙂

So how did I come to be included in these communities?

Well simply put I have followed one of the employer’s values to the letter “sharing knowledge is the real power”. I actively shared content on social media, mainly via twitter, and blogon my own site (www.cragdoo.co.uk) as well as this website (www.scottishvmug.com).

I also help run the UK Veeam User Group (www.veeamug.uk), and I present community sessions at various VMware/Veeam events.

Collectively this is referred to the vCommunity.

And so back to the original question

“What does <insert your employer’s company>  gain from your participating in these programs or attending/presenting at these events?”

  • Community-based troubleshooting which is often faster/smarter, and much much cheaper than support
  • Access to internal teams to discuss problems/design ideas

It’s important to point out that the blog posts and presentations are not directly promoting any of <insert your employer’s company> products. It is not me standing in front of <insert your employer’s company> banners talking about <insert your employer’s company> products. These are after all community programs, which mean no direct selling of company products. That does not mean I can’t talk about <insert your employer’s company> while networking with my peers while attending these conferences or events. It also doesn’t mean I can’t give away
<insert your employer’s company> branded marketing material at the events either.

The real benefit to <insert your employer’s company>  is my personal development. By participating in these events, I as an engineer, gain more knowledge, contacts and experience which can only benefit <insert your employer’s company> in the long run. These opportunities provide me with a chance to grow, expand, bring new ideas and ultimately allow me to better myself, which in turn hopefully helps my immediate team and the wider company.

Let me end on an example

My team have been discussing automation and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) for some time. One of the Veeam Global Technologists at Veeam, Anthony Spiteri,  recently blogged about this very subject https://anthonyspiteri.net/infrastructure-as-code-vs-restful-apis-terraform-and-everything-in-between/. In his post Anthony talks about using Terraform. Having read his blog I decided to investigate what it would take to use Terraform to provision a VM to a VMware cluster. Using my cloud lab, a benefit of the VMware vExpert program, I was able to run test code against my vSphere cluster. While doing so I ran into some issues, so knowing that one of the Scottish VMUG community members, Colin did a blog post about this a couple of months back, I reached out. One of the Scottish VMUG leaders got in contact to say they use Terraform at their business and spent the next 1-2 hours helping me with my questions etc. No cost to my employer, other than a couple of hours of my time. In the end, I now have valuable experience about the product, that could/should help my employer in decision making around IaC in the future.

I felt I needed to get this post out as there were 2 ways the vCommunity involvement could be looked at by employers a) genuine “fill me in” about these programs or b) “why should we be affording you these opportunities” . I’ve tried to cover both in this post.

I hope you can see that while this is not about directly making <insert your employer’s company> ££££ it is none the less *extremely* valuable to <insert your employer’s company>.

There’s no denying these advocacy programs can be invaluable for your own career, but just as important to your <insert your employer’s company> benefit

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