Were you to have been asked that question some years ago, the answer most likely would have bee “I’m not sure”....
Local NonStop Users’ Groups –
They go by many names:
‘Regional User Groups’ (RUGs) ‘Local Chapters’, or the old standard ‘TUG’ (a diminutive of the old international group ITUG). Whatever you like to call them, there are a lot of them. (You can find a list of them all here: http://www.connect‑community.org/chapters/)
One person who supports a RUG stated: “The RUG [events] take on different personalities, based on the various organizers. SunTUG boasts golf and sunshine! DUST meets four times a year, which I believe takes the prize for frequency.” Next month in London, the eBITUG is scheduled, a pan-European event with a stunning location for the evening reception, on the top floors of the Shard in London. In fact, there are 2 RUG meetings scheduled in April, three in May, and one (N2TUG) even squeezed in to early June prior to the HPE Discover event.
It’s true that they are mostly run by local volunteers, and because of that, their success varies over time due to various reasons – work conflicts, burnout, retirement all come to mind. But we’re continuing to see some old dormant groups get revived, and some new groups pop up, as new volunteers discover a great way to build their local networks. I can vouch for the fact that it’s one thing that makes it worth the time spent each year by the RUG leaders. It brings together all of the local companies that are connected simply because they use, or support, NonStop-based solutions. And in our relatively ‘small world’ of people, it gives us a chance to touch base with those we’ve known for years, if not decades. We get to hear what new things are going on at other NonStop customer sites. If, like me, you’re in the business of providing consulting services, you get a chance to remind the locals who’s around to help.
Why do the sponsors support them? And exactly how do they? I can’t speak for all of the local groups, as I haven’t attended them. But in the case of N2TUG, we have a great group of loyal supporting sponsors. They take the time to fly into the little airport up the street from me (Dallas/Fort Worth) and spend a couple of nights in a hotel. They bring a few trinkets to give away, and usually a nice door prize or two. And better yet, they get up in front of the group and give their company’s message. Oh, and by the way, they pay for the privilege, which makes it possible for us to fund meeting space, food and beverages, and some kind of evening entertainment that helps entice the local users to come. In recent years, we’ve used draws such as a Jimmy Buffett concert, a Texas Rangers’ baseball game, a night at the Improv, and a Mystery Dinner Theatre to help make the event a memorable one that (hopefully) helps the attendees remember those sponsors throughout the year. One year we even had the honor of a speech by Jimmy Treybig, Tandem’s founder. (He’s still as Excitin’ as ever!) And other local groups have learned from that and invited him to speak for them, too.
Jim Knudsen of IR shared: “I do see value in the RUGs from a Vendors’ standpoint since you can see many customers in a single setting. The problem with large companies is their staff are spread all over the country so it isn’t always possible to see the correct person or group within an organization.”
Many of the sponsors spend a lot of their time traveling in order to support a lot of events. And if you’ve done any travel for business, you know that’s not a task that can ever be called ‘enviable!’ The RUG leaders really appreciate them!
Why does HPE support RUGs? Once upon a time when the NonStop brand was owned by Tandem, a local Liaison was assigned to a RUG, and could spend some of their work time helping to make the local meetings happen (at least in the US). Usually, the meetings were held in the local Tandem office. These days, however, Diane, the Liaison to N2TUG, helps me with the job of planning our events mostly on her own time. On the day of the meeting, she’s able to attend and bring along others to help, because there are a lot of her customers there. It’s my observation that the local attendees see this and attach a high value to it, since many of them don’t often see the NonStop division employees on a regular basis like they did a long time back. And I’ve often witnessed HPE folks putting users together with sponsors to address an issue or need that they have.
What’s in it for the attendees? While there is a really great event held annually in the Bay Area (Connect’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp), time away from work, travel costs and attendance fees keep a lot of people from attending that event. The local meetings give people the chance to keep up with the latest changes in the world of NonStop, and the only investment is a day away from the office and a few gallons of gas. In the case of N2TUG, we work really hard to keep other costs out of the picture. I get a lot of very positive feedback from the attendees, and given how busy they are in their work, the fact that they take that time tells me that the event is valuable to them.
So the next time you read of an event somewhere near you, look into it. I can vouch for the fact that you’ll hear a lot about the new and exciting changes occurring on the NonStop platform, from people (and companies) that have had a chance to try them out. You’ll get a live demo or two during the day, from HPE or from one of our great sponsors. If like me you’ve been around NonStop systems for more than a year or two, you’re very likely to run into someone you haven’t seen in a while. If you’re new to NonStop, you’ll get to see that there’s a bunch of people passionate about what HPE calls ‘the best software platform on the planet’.
Oh, and if you are going to be somewhere close to D/FW airport on June 1st of this year, RSVP to N2TUG and come join us at the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine. Our 2017 event, “Mission: Virtual, Lone Star Style”, lets you network surrounded by a Virtualized version of Texas under one roof. And we think you’ll find it very worth your while!