Every now and then I realize how lucky I am to be part of this community of peers sharing a common passion for what can be (in a very simplistic way) referred to as “virtualization technology”; last November 12th, on a train back to Rome after the conclusion on VMUG Italy’s 2015 UserCon, I had once again such an epiphany. I was very tired after a long two days in Milan spent preparing and running the conference I have helped to organize together with my VMUGIT friends, but I was also very happy and proud for the awesome result we (as a community) obtained.

The outcome is here for you (not me) to judge: 274 attendees, 18 sponsors/exhibitors, 3 keynotes, 15 breakout sessions and one closing panel featuring some of the most influential leaders and visionaries in the IT industry. One of the aspects I am particularly satisfied with is that this time (our third one) the VMUGIT UserCon has become a true international event: most of sessions were delivered in English by prominent speakers coming from Europe and the US specifically to present at our conference. We also had Brad Tompkins (the VMUG International CEO) and Massimiliano Mortillaro from the Czech Republic VMUG as our welcome guests. The Italian UserCon may not be one of the biggest in terms of attendance, but for sure it can now be acknowledged as one of the leading international community events in terms of quality of content presented. This doesn’t come by chance but thanks to the hard work of all the people involved (the VMUGIT Board, the VMUG International Team, VMware itself and, last but not least, partners and sponsors).

And now, as I don’t want to risk being too self-celebratory, let me give you a very brief recap of the event. The conference was kicked off by our Leader, Piergiorgio Spagnolatti (aka “PJ”) who welcomed the attendees, highlighted the role of local VMUGs and how they can support the professional development of VMware Users and finally gave everybody a hint of what the rest of the day would have reserved to the audience.

 

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PJ was seamlessly followed by Mariano Maluf, the President of VMUG International who flew from Atlanta to give an inspirational Keynote about how VMUG is a true Community of Practice in our industry where Leaders and Members become catalysts for IT innovation. The second half of his speech had his roots in Mariano’s backgound as a Coca Cola’s IT executive as he clearly explained what change is in the IT industry and how IT professionals should embrace and ride it. I think Mariano’s session really set the pace and mood for a great UserCon.

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The second General Session was presented by Duncan Epping, who’s now a regular speaker at our UserCon. It is widely known that Duncan is (among many other things) a strong supporter and evangelist of Virtual SAN (VSAN for short), VMware’s Software Defined Storage solution. He brought us an updated version of a session he presented at VMworld 2015, presenting the main features of the solution, its use cases, its evolution and a glimpse of what is coming next. As always is a pleasure to have Duncan with us and hear him present with genuine enthusiasm!

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Lee Dilworth was on the podium for the last General Session: Lee is a Principal Systems Engineer with VMware in the EMEA HQ and he has a great experience and a strong focus on DRBC technologies. I had the pleasure to see him present at a few VMworlds in the past and I was particularly glad he accepted our invitation. He gave a presentation on the latest version of VMware Site Recovery Manager and the recent enhancements of this very solid product, one every organization should implement to protect themselves from infrastucture disasters!

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In between these “all hands” sessions, the event featured five blocks of 3 parallel breakout sessions; it would take to long to list all of them but it is worth to mention at least some of the International Speakers. The “Jewels of the Crown” where three of the most influential personalities of the Storage Industry:

  • Vaughn Stewart from Pure Storage gave a “myth busting” session on “All Flash Storage”
  • Calvin Zito from Hewlett Packard Enterprise explained what vVols are and how they can be implemented with 3Par technologies (with a demo)
  • Chad Sakac from EMC gave a very dense presentation on Software Defined Storage, Hyper-Converged solutions and Cloud Native Apps

Other speakers worth to mention (I hope I will be forgiven by those I am not listing here for brevity) where Lukas Lundell from Nutanix, Frank Brix Pedersen from Pernix Data, Andy Cary, Andrea Siviero and PierGiorgio Malusardi from VMware. I’d also like to mention our friend Alan Civita who presented his experience in SKY UK comparing their vRealize Automation and OpenStack implementations.

The day wrapped with a closing panel, moderated by PJ Spagnolatti and Enrico Signoretti with Chad Sakac, Duncan Epping, Vaughn Stewart, Calvin Zito and Lukas Lundell exchanging opinions on the current state of Storage Technologies and making predictions on the future of the industry. I personally loved the panel and I hope that in the future we can have more of these sessions as this kind of non-scripted, spontaneous interaction really brings value to the audience.

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Finally, thank you to the sponsors and the attendees. This event happened thanks to you!!

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One last important thing is that also this year all the sessions have been recorded and will be made available online in a few weeks. So, if you could not attend the UserCon, if you want to re-live the experience or if you want to see that session you could not follow because you were sitting in another one… well, be patient and follow the @vmugit Twitter account. We’ll share the news as soon as #vmugitrewind will be ready for consumption. In the meanwhile there is some content (still valid) from the previous two editions on our YouTube channel to keep you busy.

Stay tuned for more VMUGIT awesomeness in 2016, we’ll dare to surprise you!

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