Monday, July 26, 2010

IBM i local user groups go to back to school

I recently returned from the a day-long conference hosted by the Ocean User Group of Southern California. As is the case at most of the volunteer driven events, it was well run by a core group of dedicated volunteers. Ocean and other local user groups are always looking for a few extra volunteers. The user groups I have seen thrive have a good mix of new and old blood. Give your local user group a call or e-mail to see how you can help.

While the primary business purpose for my attendance, I suppose, is to find new customers, as a product manager at MKS I find these events to be a great chance to get in front of people in the Power Systems and IBM i community and see what they are really doing with the platform. We are continuing our participation in these conferences this fall and into next year. I'd encourage you to get out one to one of these when it comes to your area. They all offer something a different. Check out their agendas and speakers in detail before you choose the one that is right for you. These conferences are a great opportunity to improve job skills and find out what other companies are doing. If you have never been to one of these, now might just be the time to start. To see a list of conferences MKS will be at, see our conference calendar at http://www.mks.com/resources/mksevents/tradeshows. By the way, there are also a few non-IBM i shows here also.

One trend that I have noticed with conferences run by local user groups is the move from hotels to university campus settings this year. The recent Ocean conference was held at National University in Costa Mesa, California. Recent Detroit-area Mitec conference run by Southeast Michigan iSeries User Group and the Toronto User Group for Power Conference were also held in university settings. In talking to the organizers, this allows these groups to significant lower their conference fees. For example, one hotel was charging up to $3.50 for soft drink with a 35% surcharge on top of that alone, when you adding up the food and other incidentals the costs can be rather significant. And you thought room service was expensive. Plus there was a nice sense of bonding as some of us stayed around at the end of the day and helped clean up.

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