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A VMUG Game of Thrones

For years, the independent New England VMware User Group has held large quarterly events for the VMware community in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire. Next month, the global VMware User Group will move in on its turf.

The first Boston VMware User Group meeting is scheduled for Sept. 20. Intentionally or not, the meeting will take place on a boat in Boston Harbor, less than a mile from the site of another famous maritime revolt, the Boston Tea Party. Now we have the Boston vParty.

Before 2010, each local VMUG operated on its own with VMware’s support. In August of that year, nearly all of the local VMUGs came together and formed a worldwide, independent-but-still-closely-aligned-with-VMware VMUG. The New England group remained on its own.

That decision appears to result from dissatisfaction with the global organization’s mission, particularly its VMware-centric approach. (One of its goals is “providing a more effective interface between VMware and our customer base.”)

The New England VMUG’s shift away from this approach has been apparent at recent meetings; this spring in Newport, R.I., for example, a speaker gave a full presentation on Microsoft remote desktop and application delivery technologies.

Less subtly, this summer the New England VMUG formed a new organization, the Virtualization Technology Users Group (VTUG), whose About Us page includes this telling line:

It is the role of VTUG to ensure that the Vendors and VARs provide our end users with quality content and not inundate us with “sales pitches.”

The VTUG also plans to hold a fall event closer to Boston, instead of the New England VMUG’s traditional fall location, Atkinson, N.H.

If the New England VMUG, the nascent VTUG and the new Boston branch are all able to flourish, it will only be good for the local virtualization community. You’ll have a place to go exclusively for VMware information, and you’ll have places to go for broader but equally important topics.

If the New England VMUG suffers, however, it will continue the trend of VMware’s consolidation of power in the market. Consultant and blogger Tom Howarth caused a stir in 2010 when he pointed out that 13 of the top 25 virtualization bloggers worked for either VMware or its parent company, EMC. And at VMworld 2012 in a few weeks, more than 90% of the sessions will have a VMware or EMC employee speaking.

It’s understandable that VMware wants to control the message customers receive, but there are plenty of fiercely loyal consultants and users who can do that job just as well as (if not better than) VMware’s own employees.

VMware and the global VMUG should encourage those voices, not compete against them.

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