POWER > Trends > Collaboration

The Voice of the Community

Augmented Reality Research
Illustration by Mark McGinnis

LUG members travel to Rochester, Minnesota, three times each year for meetings that last four and a half days. The LUG has two key deliverables, one strategic and the other more tactical.

The January meeting focuses on strategy. The LUG presents members’ strategic requirements for the next several years to IBM. These strategic requirements are culled from ongoing discussions of work groups, which meet to collect the forward-looking needs of the large users. The IBM i development team collaborates with the LUG on the strategic needs.

The LUG is also interested in tactical needs, called requirements. These requirements, which can be submitted by any LUG member, are generally short-term changes needed to help the IBM i and POWER platform better meet business needs. These can be part of the IBM i OS, the POWER hardware or related software or firmware. “From an IBM perspective, the LUG helps us with client satisfaction because we are delivering the function that our clients are asking for,” May explains.

“It’s really important to see other ways that people are doing things, maybe ways that you hadn’t considered.”
—Jeff Carey, COMMON president

One example of a key requirement that came from the LUG and the COMMON Americas and Europe advisory councils was delivered in IBM i 7.2. These groups requested major changes to how IBM i managed and accounted for temporary storage usage. IBM was able to accommodate the request, which satisfied many clients. LUG membership requires a nondisclosure agreement with IBM. This allows the company to share insights and future plans with LUG members. It also allows IBM to have a dialogue with clients to hear any concerns while the projects are still in the development phase, May says. This is important as LUG members represent a good portion of the world’s business and depend on IBM i, she notes. It also helps the IBM i development team, which is keen to deliver the features and functions that are valuable to clients.

As IBM’s liaison with LUG, May plans and hosts the LUG meetings. She also works with the LUG and COMMON Americas and Europe advisory councils to guide IBM products and services. “The user groups help us understand how clients are using our products, and that also helps us better understand the marketplace,” she adds.

COMMON

Chicago-based COMMON, which is the largest Power Systems user group in the world, is an association dedicated to serving small and medium-sized users and helping individuals further their careers. Although the association focuses on IBM i, it does covers all of the Power Systems offerings.

COMMON holds its Annual Meeting and Exposition each spring, which features more than 300 educational sessions as well as networking opportunities and vendor exhibits. A smaller conference is held in the autumn. The association offers online content and virtual conferences throughout the year.

“COMMON focuses on what you need to solve your business problems, today,” says Jeff Carey, COMMON’s current president. Attendees hear from experts inside and outside of IBM and their own peers to gain insight into how they are solving problems that might be similar to their own. “COMMON features not only IBM’s take on solving problems, but also what people are actually doing, which might be different from what IBM suggests,” he says.

It’s those suggestions heard at the many in-person events that provide value for COMMON members. The association’s many networking and professional sessions are geared to help each individual attendee. Carey attended his first COMMON annual meeting 25 years ago when he was new to systems work. He was impressed with the opportunity to compare his knowledge with his peers. That experience kept him coming back.

Eventually he became a regular speaker at COMMON events. His involvement increased when he was nominated to the board of directors in 2006. He’s served on the board for the past nine out of 10 years. He became president at the 2016 annual meeting.

COMMON’s professional staff handles the day-to-day work. However, it’s still very much a volunteer organization. “There is no barrier for anyone to become part of the organization. All you have to do is raise your hand,” Carey says. The organization is constantly seeing new faces and getting new ideas, which help it grow, he notes.

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


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