2021. What an interesting year. With the world turned upside down by a pandemic that seemingly had its sights set on...
HPE dig deeper to provide virtual experiences for RUGs in 2020!
The future of RUG events in 2020 is unclear as one by one, events are either being postponed or cancelled. National and state and even city borders have been closed and there continue to be lockdowns around the world. The city of Melbourne, Australia – the country’s second largest city – has just resumed its lockdown of the city and surrounding metropolitan areas going so far as to have police guard access to government housing commission apartments. Europe is gradually opening borders, but to date it’s not allowing visitors from the US. Then again, our friends north of the border aren’t letting in US residents either.
The effect of the global pandemic has polarized society with entrenched camps on both sides of the pandemic line – wear masks or don’t wear masks; go the beach or stay at home; enjoy a beer with friends or maintain social distancing. For the NonStop community, where the culture places emphasis on networking, it’s proving an especially difficult time leading to RUG communities trying different models. For now, the GTUG sponsored pan-European NonStop HotSpot – Conference & Exhibition is still a go, but those planning on attending are watching to see if travel restrictions are lifted in time.
In the meantime, there have been a number of virtual events already held with perhaps the biggest event of all, the HPE Discover Virtual Experience, being the biggest of all. Traditionally, HPE Discover has seen light attendance from the NonStop community as many NonStop community members kept hold of their event budgets in order to make it to the annual NonStop Technical Boot Camp. However, with HPE Discover Virtual Experience being free and then continuing for many weeks with sessions able to be replayed at will, it should prove popular even for the most jaded of event attendees. Already, there have been 750,000 views of HPE CEO Antonio Neri’s keynote address – something that has exceeded even the wildest predictions of the organizers.
What HPE Discover Virtual Experience demonstrated was that with the right mix of content attendees would stay tuned in and for two days. As one source told NonStop Insider, there wasn’t a subject matter of importance to the HPE user community that wasn’t addressed in those two days. However, the question remains. What effect is the global pandemic having on RUGs and how will they look as we enter the “new normal?” Could we anticipate all RUG meetings going virtual at some point early in 2021 or will we be only too happy to return to more familiar gatherings as in former times?
RUG events have always been about maintaining the sense of community that comes with deploying NonStop. Whether this is about NonStop users looking for the next product coming from HPE or the NonStop vendors looking to expand their presence within the NonStop user community, the opportunity to hear from your peers has always been a strong point. It was a long time ago when I volunteered to start OzTUG, for instance (yes, it was back in 1988 as I recall), but the driving influence was to provide a forum for the community to discuss topics of importance to them as well as to hear what their peers were doing. Contrary to what some in Tandem Computers management initially thought, little conversation was given over to users talking to each other and comparing the price they paid for their systems never eventuated!
In the first update published in the February 2017 issue of NonStop Insider, we began with the words:
The presence of NonStop RUGs around the world is a very important aspect of NonStop networking – it’s where you will always here “breaking news!” Typically, RUG events cater for local priorities and the agendas developed for each event reflects the topics of interest to these local communities. Whether it’s a gathering in Scandinavia (my personal favorite), or a couple of hours spent exchanging the latest news on NonStop by the bay in Melbourne, Australia, or even simply fun times in Scottsdale, Arizona, the health of the NonStop community and it’s enthusiasm for all things NonStop are showcased whenever RUG events are held.
Little has changed since that update was published. When it comes to the enthusiasm for all things NonStop, the NonStop community is as energized as it has always been. We are now entering the summer months where RUG events have typically taken a brief hiatus. However, it looks like September will see a return to business as usual for RUG planners – easing of current lockdowns, hopefully, beginning to take effect.
Having said this, it’s not cast in stone at this point so events advertised for September need to be monitored closely. The ever popular CTUG event has now been rescheduled for May 20, 2021, with talk that it might become a virtual event and just a short time ago, we heard from NonStop product management that the Partner Technical Symposium has been cancelled with a program of three webinars in August, September and October taking its place. We do know the GTUG sponsored event will be going ahead just as we know that November’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp is still an active work in progress but all other events need to be monitored as to whether the current program of virtual events continues or there is a return to traditional RUG meetings happening in a city near you.