VMUG Virtual Event
This past January VMUG put on its first online forum, the VMUG Virtual Event, attended by an estimated 4,100 plus people. I managed to catch a few presentations and drift in and out of the virtual vendor and common spaces throughout the day.
Paul Strong’s keynote was well done and ran twice, both at the start and end of the event. The format was typical of an On24 event, with slides, Q&A and video made available as resizable elements in the browser. It was nice to have separate video and slides rather than the sometimes practice of trying to combine the two.
A presentation that stood out was “Upgrading & Mastering VMware vSphere 5.5″ by Nick Marshall of VMware. Nick delved into just the right depth of technical detail and managed to make things interesting. He also deftly delivered some demos that managed to avoid Murphy’s Law.
The Exhibit Hall held the virtual vendor booths where about two dozen vendors participated. Event goers could engage in a text chat with vendor reps or access documents and videos. To me this area seemed to have the most room for improvement. While convenient for collecting information from many vendors at once, the experience was unsatisfying. I wonder if it’s possible to have a Google hangout type experience instead of a text chat. The idea being that it might replicate the exhibition feeling from events like VMworld. Perhaps straying from the traditional model would make things better. Maybe take advantage of the digital medium to offer hands-on-labs and interactive demos.
The format of the event ended up being quite flexible. If available you could watch a presentation live or go back later and view the recording. This was much like having a collection of webinars at your disposal. Participating in the group chat in the communities lounge was an interesting experience as well. I thought that some extra structure around the chats might encourage more participation. For instance dedicating time to specific topics could replicate the VMworld group discussion experience.
All in all the VMUG Virtual Event was well executed. I think that as long as the VMUG folk drive out those improvements this event has every chance at becoming a successful annual event.