POWER > Trends > Collaboration

The Voice of the Community

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Illustration by Mark McGinnis

User groups play a unique role in the awareness of IBM Power Systems* and the clients that use the technology. They are forums for exchanging information, learning from IBM and fellow users, and exploring how technology improves business operations.

Many Power Systems user groups allow clients to gain knowledge and promote networking. Some are sponsored by IBM and others are independent groups. Each user group enables clients to listen, learn and participate in the vibrant community of Power Systems users.

Whether you need to improve your own understanding of the platform or are interested in seeing IBM make innovations that will help your company achieve its strategic goals, there’s a user group to suit your aims and ambitions. Here’s an overview of four of the larger user groups that provide client benefits.

AIX VUG

For more then 10 years, the AIX* Virtual User Group (VUG) has endeavored to educate customers on Power Systems and show them how to get more out of the platform. Anyone is welcome to join the VUG, which meets monlthy. Each webinar features presentations by IBMers on topics chosen from customer requests, new product announcements, new features and functions, or anything else the community would be interested in. Performance-related presentations as well as tricks and tips webinars are always a big draw, says Joe Armstrong, an IBM client technical specialist for POWER*, who has organized the webinars since 2007.

“The user groups help us understand how clients are using our products, and that also helps us better understand the marketplace.”
—Dawn May, IBM program manager for the LUG

Popular past sessions include Allyn Walsh and Chuck Graham on single foot I/O virtualization; Jeff Stuecheli on the POWER9* chip; Gareth Coates on tricks of the POWER masters; Alfred Freudenberg on SAP HANA and Power Systems; and Gary Andrews on gaining the competitive edge with Linux* on POWER. “People keep coming because they get to hear smart people share their knowledge,” Armstrong explains.

The Linux technology-focused webinars have been especially well attended and have received great ratings from attendees. “You never know what’s going to click with people,” Armstrong says.

The growth of the VUG is testament to Armstrong’s ability to pick topics of interest to users. When he took over as the VUG organizer in 2007, the distribution list included 60 people and only a couple dozen attended the webinars. The VUG distribution list has expanded to 6,200 people and each webinar now boasts 500-800 attendees.

Webinars are usually held on the last Thursday of the month beginning at 10 a.m. CDT. Attendees are mostly from the U.S., but AIX users from Canada, India, the U.K. and Australia are on the distribution list, too. Presentations are geared toward the technical users and many administrators and engineers attend. Each webinar is recorded and posted on YouTube following the session. The VUG wiki lists upcoming and past presentations with links to materials and YouTube, and explains how to get on the distribution list.

Attendees often comment that the presentations provide great education for free. Not every IBM customer can make it to IBM Edge or IBM Technical University, but they can make it to a 90-minute webinar once a month. “If those attending the webinars can do their jobs better, then their managers should be happier and the business should be happier, Armstrong says. “If the clients stay IBM clients, then it’s a win-win.”

IBM i Large User Group

The IBM i Large User Group (LUG) was launched in 1994 by a small number of clients who wanted to communicate the needs of large users of the AS/400. Today, the LUG focuses on improving the Power Systems platform for enterprises that have a large production workload that runs on IBM i. While the LUG is organized independently of IBM, it maintains a close working relationship with the company, says Dawn May, IBM program manager for the LUG.

Companies wishing to join the LUG must meet membership requirements and be approved by the board of directors. LUG membership, which is confidential, consists of about 100 companies.

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at savage.shirley@comcast.net.


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