A VMUG Response – Clearing the Air

A VMUG Response – Clearing the Air

January 12, 2017 2 By Eric Shanks

Many of you read my previous post about leaders being removed from VMUG for working for vendors that compete with VMware. My call to action was to get a response from VMUG about what was actually happening. I recently received a phone call from VMUG CEO Brad Tompkins to discuss what was actually happening and I’d like to pass on some information to clear the air.

VMUG Leader Status

To get started, yes some leaders were removed from leadership roles in their respective VMUG. And yes, some people will not be allowed to become a VMUG leader based on which company is their employer. What I would like to make clear is that this decision was not made to single out Nutanix. Most of the comments that I saw on twitter were focused on Nutanix employees who had been removed from their local VMUGs. While it’s true that Nutanix is one of these companies, they are not the only one so I want to make it clear that this was not directed solely at Nutanix. This was a decision focused on companies that compete directly with VMware’s products and comes down to a decision about business and competition.

The next logical question that comes to mind is, “Which companies are those that aren’t allowed to have employees as leaders?” Well, that is a good question but still not public knowledge. There is no such public list, but if you put your thinking cap on, you’ll probably come up with a few that might be on a list of competitors. Microsoft, Citrix, Turbonomics all sort of jump out in front in my mind but were not confirmed by Mr. Tompkins.

As the 2017 VMUG Leader Guidelines document states:

This leaves all companies subject to a review before any new leaders are added.

VMUG Independence

Mr. Tompkins made it very clear to me on the phone that the decisions that were made were NOT those of VMware but rather VMUG itself which is an independently run organization. This gave me some pause for a second because if it were really an independent organization, why would VMUG care at all about the competitors of VMware? Obviously, my questioning is very black and white here and I’m not naive enough to think that VMUG and VMware aren’t closely tied together. After another look at the VMUG description, I’ve come to grips with the reality that the group is about maximizing members use of VMware and partner’s solutions. This is difficult to do when you’re inadvertently furthering competitor’s solutions, so I can reconcile how the decision comes from an independent organization.

So where are we now?

I don’t feel much better about the situation now than I did before I spoke with Brad. I still feel sorry for the leaders who have dedicated time and effort into their local chapters and are no longer able to keep doing this. It’s not fair to them, or their members, but this isn’t really about “fair” is it? Business is business and thats the way it goes. I’m sure the leaders will land on their feet and maybe start their own independent group that could be about any technology. I’m also positive that Brad Tompkins didn’t like to have to explain to these leaders about the decision either. Brad knows these guys/girls and what commitments they’ve made to the VMUG organization. This was probably a difficult thing to do.

Do I fault VMUG? No. Am I sad that any of this has to go on at all? Yes I am.

I want to also make sure that I show some appreciation to Mr Tompkins for taking time out of his schedule to call a former leader and blogger to explain the situation. This was certainly not required on his part but I appreciate that the information was passed along for more transparency. I hope that you will also respect the fact that he did this whether you agree with the decisions that were made or not. At least the decision was owned, right or wrong and we can all move on with more pressing issues.

My site tends to focus on how to help users learn about technology or provide ideas about ways to build solutions. My goal is not to provide a fake news service for people. I’m hoping the pair of posts on my site have helped to clear up any misconceptions that might have been overheard over social media and I can get back to blogging about nerdy stuff.