Have you attended a VMUG meeting yet? Do you know what a VMUG is? Well, my guess is that the majority of you reading this blog know what a VMUG is and you are probably a member in your area, or multiple areas. VMUG stands for VMware User Group. Here is the official definition and a little VMUG history lesson directly from their site:

Mission
The VMware User Group (VMUG) is an independent, global, customer-led organization, created maximize members’ use of VMware and partner solutions through knowledge sharing, training, collaboration, and events.

History
The independent global VMUG organization was officially launched in August of 2010. Prior to that point, VMUG chapters had operated locally with the support of VMware. These local groups grew rapidly – membership increased 234% in 2008-2009 alone. Because of this unparalleled growth, a decision was made to bring all of these chapters together under one global VMUG umbrella operating independently of VMware. The organization benefits the membership and VMware by:

*Ensuring a consistent and high quality experience for all VMUG members
*Providing a more effective interface between VMware and our customer base
*Creating a cohesive network of VMware customers and partners with a collective voice capable of impacting VMware products and services
*Establishing a support system and business model that allows the local VMUG leaders and VMware to move beyond tactical support into more strategic initiatives

In early 2010, a steering committee of VMUG chapter leaders was formed to chart the course for the launch and development of the global VMUG organization. From that steering committee, an inaugural volunteer Board of Directors was formed and the new global VMUG was launched to the membership at VMworld 2010. VMUG now has more than 65,000 individual members, an active online community, over 180 local chapters and 30+ regional events around the globe.

These meetings usually take place 1 a month or in some areas once a quarter it just depends on your area’s leader and the constituency. When I lived in Maryland, I was a member of the Maryland VMUG as well as the DC VMUG, both were great groups and we always had really great content and presenters. I’m now living in Arizona and am a member of the Phoenix VMUG, which is also very impressive. So if you are new to VMware and want to be involved, let’s go over some of the VMUG basics for you such as, how to become a member, what is VMUG Advantage and what you will learn should you attend.

How Do I Become a VMUG Member?
Becoming a VMUG Member is pretty straightforward, and doesn’t require any crazy fees or secret handshakes (that I know of). All you have to do is go the the VMUG website and sign up, that’s it. They will ask you for your first and last name, your title, company address and that’s about it. Once you fill out the form, you are an official VMUG member. There are great benefits to being a VMUG member, aside from the cool lanyard and pin you’ll pick up at your next VMUG meeting. Joining VMUG opens the door for access to many benefits including, but not limited to, the following:

An Online Community offering a network of more than 56,000 VMUG members
150 Local Chapters located across 32 countries
Access to 22+ Regional Conferences located throughout the world
VMUG VOICE, our bi-monthly electronic newsletter
Education all year ‘round through live and on-demand webcasts

Each year more and more VMware customers come to VMUG to connect and network with the more than 56,000 members of the VMware Community. As a VMUG member you can expect to:

Learn best practices and optimal use of VMware products
Get answers, advice, tips and suggestions from experts
Discover new ideas and gain insight about Virtual Infrastructure
Receive timely information about new VMware products
Network with other technical professionals across the globe

Enjoy access to events, networking and educational opportunities with this free membership.

There you have it, make sure you go out today and sign up to become a VMUG Member. Once you have filled out the form and you have gained membership, you will next need to go and find what your local VMUG group is, when and where they meet. To do this you simply head over to the VMware Communities VMUG page and click on the “Join a Group” tab and it will prompt you to log in with your shiny new VMUG log on credentials. Once you are in you simply find the VMUG group in your area, it is separated by region and then within each region you will find cities and smaller areas that will fit your locale.

What Is VMUG Advantage?
VMUG Advantage is a paid VMUG membership that offers a few more perks that your complimentary VMUG membership. Is it necessary to have an Advantage membership? Well, that depends on the person. I do not have an Advantage membership becuase I do not see the value in it, not to discount it, there is value if you are looking to take certifications exams, training and if you are looking to buy VMware Workstation or Fusion. Here is a breakdown of the VMUG Advantage benefits I gathered from the website:

    1-Year Free Subscription: All Access eLearning Courses
    Access a year of over 20 VMware eLearning Courses, including vCenter Configuration Manager, VMware Site Recovery Manager, vSphere What’s New (V4), and vSphere Manage Availability. These courses allow you to learn from your desk or even on your home PC. This is your opportunity to receive VMware education 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A $750 value.

    VMware Training: Direct-Delivered Instructor-Led Courses by VMware
    Gain the knowledge and skills required to utilize your VMware tools to their fullest functionality. By leveraging VMware Education delivered by expert instructors, you will gain deeper product insight and real-world best practices on how to track performance and event data, create complex alerts, run diagnostics, and issue control actions from a single remote console. VMware Education Services provides several options that allow you to cost- effectively support your most critical business needs. A 20% discount.

    VMware Certification Exams
    VMware offers world-class certifications to validate and distinguish the technical competencies and expertise needed to install, manage, deploy and support VMware software. Recognized by the industry, VMware certifications are available for three different skill levels on the current version of our software. Whether you are advancing your current position or looking for new opportunities, to be competitive in today’s IT job market, you will want to develop and demonstrate your technical expertise in virtual infrastructure. A 20% discoutnt

    Discount on an Admission to VMworld 2012
    August 27-August 30, San Francisco
    October 16-18, Barcelona

    More than 300 in-depth sessions and labs, a packed agenda of meetings and events, and hundreds of exhibits will showcase the latest advances in virtualization and cloud infrastructure technology. Thousands of IT innovators, practitioners, executives and technology providers will come away with the insight and tools they need to drive unprecedented business results. A $100 discount.

    VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Software Licenses
    VMware Workstation 8—recognized for its broad operating system support, rich user experience, comprehensive feature set, and high performance. VMware Fusion 3—now 35% faster and including all of the software tools you need to switch to Mac. A 30% discount

If those discounts are attractive to you, then I would say go for it and upgrade your account to a VMUG Advantage account. If not, the complimentary account is more than enough and you don’t miss out on any of the sessions or events put on by VMUG.

What To Expect at a VMUG Event
VMUG events offer an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the hottest tech companies today as they present their offering and partnership with VMware. Most if not all of the companies that attend as a vendor or presenter have an incredible 3rd party product offering that makes your virtualization experience that much better and most of the time easier too. At one of the VMUGs that I attended there was an entire room dedicated to vendors, it was akin to a mini Solutions Exchange floor. There were probably 30 companies all with booths touting their product and giving demos. This was a really great opportunity to network with companies and individuals as well as learning about the newest products on the market. There is a very tight agenda at each VMUG, it usually kicks off with a keynote address from the main sponsor of the event. There is always food involved! Most of the time it is a light continental breakfast followed by snacks and then a full hot lunch, the food has always been good. At times there are live labs on site where you can test drive new technology. At my last VMUG, EMC was a major sponsor so they had their lab set up to where you could test drive their storage solutions, it was very informative.

Take this opportunity, if you haven’t already, to go and register for a VMUG account (complimentary or Advantage) and get involved with your local VMUG, and if you are visiting another area, participate with their VMUG as well. There are always volunteer opportunities, whether it’s a speaking opportunity or lab set up, it just depends on what the VMUG group has going. If you want to learn as much as you can about VMware virtualization or be an active part of the virtualization community, joining a VMUG is a can’t miss opportunity.

Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

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