2021. What an interesting year. With the world turned upside down by a pandemic that seemingly had its sights set on...
HPE NonStop Community – adapting to change; embracing the virtual world!
To say that the NonStop community is going through a period untested in living memory has to be an understatement. The NonStop community has been an association, a society, yes, a community (but you can call it what you like) that thrived on networking to better understand NonStop product roadmaps as well as the plans of many members of the NonStop vendor community. The global pandemic however has brought with it a total rethink of the way we network and as such, there is every indication that returning to past models may take two or even three years.
Already, the event calendar on the Connect-Community web site is a pretty barren place. A quick scan of what is likely to take place for the remainder of 2020 shows just three partner webinars together with the NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC). The three partner webinars replaces what had been planned as a pre-TBC partner event along the lines of what happened in the past when ITUG Summits were at their height, but now, there’s little other choice when it comes to pre-briefing the all-important vendor community.
As for the TBC itself, now renamed The NonStop All Digital Experience, it seemed that going virtual was inevitable. Despite the best efforts of the Connect organization and the HPE NonStop team, ultimately few other options were available. This is the highlight of the year for the NonStop community, attracting a growing global participation from all four corners of the planet. But not to be this year! Then again, look for a lot of innovative options being offered – everything from hearing presentations in your region, your time zone and in your language!
Unfortunately and yes, sad to report, this year’s OzTUG has followed the equally as sad news that came from GTUG last month by officially cancelling this much-loved event. If you missed the news coming out of HPE Australia, “This event will not be held this year; the expectation is that customers will attend the Connect event in November.”
On the other hand, checking through NonStop vendor updates as posted to various social media channels, there is a number of them that are aggressively turning to webinars – think TIC, IR, XYPRO and more. It is almost as if the NonStop community is adapting to this rethink of the way we all interact with each other.
The good news is that travel budgets are down (will they ever come back is now the question) and yet, as attuned as we have become to checking our favorite social media channels, it’s still just not the same. Like many of you there we had plans in place to travel in 2021. For Pyalla, it meant a return to Australia and New Zealand with the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and partners as well as the chance to see family once again. But again, like so many of you, it’s still all about stay-in-place, self-isolate, practice distancing and yes, “wash your hands!”
There were a couple of virtual events or meetings that were run in place of traditional RUG meetings. Held through the summer months they attracted varying numbers of participants. It was all a new experience for many of them but for those who had participated in the HPE Discover Virtual Experience in June, there was some familiarity with the process. If you missed reading the latest issue of The Connection, you might have missed this summary, Reflections on a Virtual Users’ Group provided by Bill Honaker:
To summarize what I heard, the consensus was ‘definitely better than no meeting’. Of course, presenters need to learn and do a few things differently, perhaps leaving more time for Q&A. Everyone seemed to agree that virtual would never replace an in-person event from a networking and socializing standpoint, but that was expected. Some suggested that sessions be set aside as sort of a ‘birds of a feather’ session. For a first-time event of this sort, it was felt that Connect did a marvelous job.
The NonStop community is clearly adapting to changes brought upon us all by the presence of a global pandemic. Reluctantly, we are also making plans to work from home for the foreseeable future with many enterprises going so far as to say that any return to an office-centric workstyle is not in the plans (for the business). Perhaps even more reluctantly, we are dashing off to the pub after work for a quick drink that for the most part, sees us sitting alone, outside and bent over our smartphones.
However, it is clear that we are all adapting to, and indeed beginning to embrace, this virtual world we now find ourselves in – the manner in which we are willing to open a window for GotTo Meetings, Skype, ZOOM and the likes is a measure of how far we have come in such a short time.
For decades, the NonStop community was defined by its major events even as local RUG meetings helped cement relationships created at summits. Today, all that introductory small talk and chitchat about where we live, who we work for and what we like to do is readily available via our many profile statements on social media channels. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Is this something about which we cringe, holding second thoughts about what we say?
I am not so sure that the negativity that may arise offsets the powerful advantages that come from being able to participate in any and all events no matter where they are held or in what time zone. After all, did we really like spending all those hours cramped in airline seats chewing peanuts? I don’t think so. See you at The NonStop All Digital Experience and check out my presentations!