This week was a really popular week for user group meetings. First off was the Unified Communications Virtual User Group. I actually presented OCS Response Groups. I have to admit, I am not the greatest online presenter so my apologies to those on the call. I get more nervous doing online presentation than in person. Weird. Going virtual for these types of things is a strange occurrence to me as the really value of user groups is the interaction so this was more of a webinar type feel to it. Which is fine, but still not quite the same if you know what I mean.
Next meeting I attended was the Pacific North West UC Doers. Time to celebrate the Exchange 2010 launch. It was an interesting meeting with Yesim Koman from the Exchange product group presenting Exchange IRM - RMS integration. This was an in person meeting held on the Microsoft Redmond Campus. There was a good mix of people from different companies attending. Plenty of swag for those that attended including software, t-shirts and webcams donated by a couple of the different Microsoft sales and marketing groups. UC Doers is a free User Group that receives strong support from Microsoft, partners and regular customer attendees. Look for meeting announcements on my blog for the next quarterly meeting. Thanks to Josh Maher for organizing and hanging in there with the group.
Lastly was the Pacific North West Chapter of the International Nortel Networks User Association. This is something quite different to the other user groups I attended early in the week and was a well-attended event by end users, Nortel and other vendors. This was my first time at a Nortel User Group meeting. It was great to see so many folks working together from different arms of industry and government trying to help each other. This was their annual Christmas get together so I am guessing a little less formal than a regular meeting but everyone was warm and welcoming and I thoroughly enjoyed attending. The Nortel User group chapters are going through some particularly challenging times since the Avaya acquisition. Hopefully this doesn’t end up an amalgamation of Avaya and Nortel user groups just yet as there is still plenty of support for Nortel among customers concerned about where the product lines and support is headed.
I have a unique opportunity in my job that attending user group meetings is beneficial to my position and it also helps me to keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry. Whether you work in the telecom or network sector there is more than likely an end user group out there for you. Since I have worked in the IT industry I have been to Cisco, Linux, Microsoft and Nortel user groups and all had something to offer. It really doesn’t take much effort to attend one of these meetings so I encourage everyone to get out there, network and support your local user groups.