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New Year - New SolarWinds User Groups

Community Manager

Let’s begin with a personal invitation to each and everyone one of you to join us in 2019 for one of our SolarWinds User Groups (SWUG). This year, we’re traveling to Atlanta, Seattle, New York, and Chicago. For 2019, like years past, it’s all about building bridges, tearing down walls, expanding communications, and fostering the best community in IT. The 2019 SWUGs will feature two days of sessions, including keynotes from SolarWinds executives, Head Geeks, and others, open spaces for attendee-led meetings, community-requested sessions, multiple topic-centric tracks, interactive sessions, and much, much more.

You may ask yourself why SolarWinds has made these changes. Well, it’s largely in result to our previous attendees’ feedback. You asked for more technical deep-dive sessions, more interactive sessions, more how-to sessions, and more interaction with the attendees in the room – and we heard you. If you’re taking time out of your busy schedule to be a part of an event, then it’s our job to make this event as informative and educational as possible.

If you’ve attended a SWUG in the past, you know that we have always packed the day with content, but it just wasn’t enough. Therefore, we’ve gone to two days. We also realize that not every session resonates with every person. With that in mind, we’re relying on you, the community, to tell us more about the sessions you want. You get to direct our track-based content. Our concentration is to make the sessions and content more diverse and community-driven.

Why Attend a SWUG?

The short answer is that it’s over 16 hours of educational content provided by SolarWinds professionals for free. That’s what you see on paper, but what you get by attending this in-person event is so much more. What we’re offering in a SWUG is opportunity: opportunity to speak with SolarWinds staff about the software, opportunity to interact with other IT professionals in your area of expertise, opportunity to influence the future direction of solutions in your environment, and opportunity to customize your experience and the content to your needs.

The thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about being part of the SWUG journey over the last few years is meeting the community. Although I’ve been with SolarWinds for a few years now, I haven’t forgotten my roots—as part of the community of users who utilized SolarWinds solutions to do my job better. My favorite interaction was always someone who brought up their manager or their co-worker and, together, we helped show them how we could help fix that one problem that’s been a pain point for some time. The power of SWUG is in a room full of other professionals to answer your questions. Although each environment is different, many of the problems we encounter have some level of commonality. At a SWUG, you are surrounded by hundreds of people whose role is like yours—in essence, a community.

The Evolution of SWUG

The super power of the THWACK® community is – and always has been – the diversity of its members. That diversity, coupled with everyone’s different IT specialties, makes for an engaging and, frequently, entertaining place to spend your time. In 2015, we began with an experiment: what would happen if we brought some THWACK members and some SolarWinds staff into a room and got them to interact with each other in real life? It seemed like a success. Like all scientists, we expanded on our hypothesis and tested it again.

This little experiment became the SolarWinds User Group, or SWUG. In 2016, we traveled to nine locations around these United States doing the same experiment. For a period of a half a day, we got everyone together and spoke with them about monitoring things better with SolarWinds. And what’s the purpose of having excellent monitoring? Finding the root cause quickly, helping you diagnose issues rapidly, which is key to giving you your weekends back.

SWUG_Dallas.jpg

Taking our cue from the scientific method, we took our results, analyzed what we found, and determined the next steps for our experimentation. In 2017, we moved from half-days to full days and extended the reach—both in scope and in locations. We traveled all over the world, meeting people who ranged in title from monitoring professionals, to network engineers, to systems administrators, to security professionals, and more. Building relationships among the community has been my favorite part of being with SolarWinds. Meeting more people and hearing your stories has been a highlight of my career.

In 2018, we scaled up once again and visited eleven cities around the world, hosting SWUGs to get to know the community better. One thing that we realized in our whirlwind tour over the last four years was that high technology people actually like talking to other high technology people. The THWACK community is more than just an online community, it is a community in the truest sense—made up of individuals, each with their own experiences, skills, and knowledge.

SWUG_London01.jpgSWUG_London02.jpg

In previous years, we’ve heard that we weren’t talking enough about this or we skipped that other thing entirely. Much of that was because we didn’t have the time. The next logical step was to get more of the community together and tailor the content to your requests.

It’s now 2019, and it’s time to take the results of the last four years, refine our hypothesis, and test it again. This year, we will be moving to two days of content with more people, more sessions, more interaction, and more—basically—everything.

SWUG 2019 by the numbers:

  • 0 conference badges required
  • 4 cities
  • 2 days
  • 3 tracks per day
  • 16+ hours of community-driven, educational content
  • 100+ IT professionals
  • and you

Register now to join me and other SolarWinds professionals in a city near you for a great 2019.

46 Comments

Definitely looking forward to a two day swug!

MVP
MVP

Yes, designerfx​, I am also looking forward to a week long SWUG... Wait, what?

MVP
MVP

Loving the pics from the UK SWUG, let's hope we see a UK Date booked real soon

wluther  noted. KMSigma  what will it take to do this? Make it rain!

Community Manager
Community Manager

No pressure, right?

Wishing my employer would allow me to attend . . .

Community Manager
Community Manager

Shame about your company compliance requirements.  We'd love to have you at one of these events.  I'm curious though, since it's an educational and training event, does that make a difference?

Level 11

When do you hope to post the City and Dates?  Come to Chicago We Have Deep Dish Pizza

Community Manager
Community Manager

Already done for all the sites this year.  Here's Chicago's registration page: Chicago, Illinois: October 23-24, 2019

It's designed to prevent a vendor from influencing a purchasing decision.  For example, several years ago our hospital had a house cleaning of everything that had some product name on it.  Columbia sweaters, Pharma prescription pads, mugs, pens, everything.  And it was right.  Constantly being exposed to one vendor's products on internal tools was likely influencing decisions to continue purchasing from that vendor.

Similarly we're not allowed to accept travel or meals or gifts or training or materials (books or hardware or software) from vendors as gifts or signs of appreciation.  Solely to keep us squeaky clean, above boards in all things, and impartial as possible when making purchasing decisions.

Community Manager
Community Manager

Are they of the same stance for tools you already have and making sure you're getting those most of out of your investment?

They are on top of actions or gifts that may be interpreted as possibly intended to influence purchasing decisions.

Level 15

What the SWUG....   No Orlando?

MVP
MVP

Do you have the same 2 day intentions for London this year?

Community Manager
Community Manager

We'll be in Orlando for Microsoft Ignite and will have a plan to do a "mini-SWUG" (just the evening one night during the conference for attendees).  The same applies for San Francisco and San Diego for VMworld and Cisco Live.

But the short answer is no.  The two-day event will only be in the four cities mentioned in the first paragraph of the post.

Community Manager
Community Manager

Not at this time, however, as I alluded to in the post, SWUG is a scientific experiment.  If we determine that we need more data points to refine these tests, there's no telling where we could go.  I'm voting for SWUG Mykonos!

Level 11

Ohh Mykonos - we could order this stuff

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MVP
MVP

KMSigma​ I think someone may have swapped the keys around on your keyboard, or maybe auto correct had a hiccup... It seems like you accidentally spelled Texas with an extra "Chicago" in it...

Community Manager
Community Manager

Thanks wluther​.  I'll check my autocorrect.

There are many things I like about Chicago, but primarily it's the mild winters.

Yep - definitely autocorrecting.

Level 15

I missed the Phoenix one last year by one week. My wife attended a conference there the following week and I tagged along.

Level 13

Locked in the basement again this year.  We never get to go anywhere.

Level 13

We have the same problem where I work.  The same restrictions, but for additional reasons of this being government.

Level 15

ok, Maybe next year.   At least I will get to see you all at the Mini....  #mSWUG  coining that right now... 

Community Manager
Community Manager

Rats.  Question from another guy that was "in the basement": Do you have a red Swingline stapler?

Level 11

He is working on his TCP reports

Level 11

Why no Arizona this year?

Community Manager
Community Manager

Do you mean TPS?  Or maybe TCP/IP/PS reports?

Yeah... come in on Saturday

Can't wait to get to at least one of these. The travel time is worth it!

MVP
MVP

I have attended a couple of SWUGs and can confirm the benefits of being able to meet up with other users, discuss issues with SolarWinds directly, etc.

One of the downsides though was the feeling that it was over too soon. SolarWinds has a number of modules and typically there was a focus on "here is what is new in NPM and SAM". The extended schedule allows for a wider range of topics and the separate tracks will allow the attendees to focus on something they might find more relevant. Of course, the downside to having a bigger event is that it cannot be done as often.

I think the value of SWUG's goes beyond measure. It is truly awesome to not just learn new things, but also discuss everything with folks who know it. As an MVP, it's even more of a bonus to be able to go to these events. I enjoy it so much that I may fly to a second one, just so I can go to more than one (and see everyone) - whether or not I can justify the travel. This is truly a community unlike any other - and I've been a part of plenty.  That being said, I feel like it sits somewhere between the concept of vendor-specific 100% professional stuff (cisco live, etc) and 100% fun focused things like Penny-Arcade Expo. It's just...in the middle, for lack of a better explanation.

I'll acknowledge it's tough on solarwinds resources, but I also just wish there were more options than there are. I know it's one small company trying to do one giant event, multiple times. I don't know what the answer is to that.

MVP
MVP

Having been to all of the SWUG's SolarWinds has held in London, the growth both in terms of attendance and content makes this an annual pilgrimage for many people. OK, the UK is not the biggest geographically, but seeing people travel from far and wide to attend proves what attendance brings. That the events are truly run as user groups in the sense that the content is designed to inform, teach and allow attendees to apply learnt knowledge in their real world work lives. These are not run as sales commercials and this is a big factor in ensuring that people get a lot of benefit.

If you haven't attended a SWUG before, make the effort to do so, you, your SolarWinds installations and your employer will all gain from doing so.

Level 14

Yep, thought it looked familiar and yes, there I am in the middle(ish). 

My SWUG experience as a presenter in Chicago 2017 and just an attendee in 2018 were both great. The most valuable thing is the conversations that the presentations trigger among attendees. You have people with a myriad of experiences novices ask questions that experts have not thought of before and experts know tricks that help novices avoid pitfalls. The atmosphere has truly been one of a shared experience all in service of our employers when using SolarWinds' products. The presentations are always timely and there is something for everyone at all levels.

I am excited to see the events go to two days. It can provide even more opportunity for meaningful content and dialog.

“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” - attributed to Henry Ford. There is no manager who doesn’t want highly skilled specialists on their team.

Hiring an experienced employee trained by someone else is not less expensive than training employees yourself. An employee you don't invest in will never feel loyal and devoted to your company. They will be much more likely to leave than employees in whom you’ve invested time and money. When they leave, you’ll have to go looking for a replacement – hoping the next one doesn’t leave as well. Training and professional development is something you should invest heavily in.

The Benefits of Investing in Employee Training and Development

1. A Competitive Advantage Over Other Companies - Competition for talent is growing. Offering an employee development program as part of your perks and benefits is a good way to attract candidates to your organization rather than your competitors. Even if your companies business is not IT it is heavily dependent upon it. Investing in the things and people that make your IT infrastructure agile, dependable, and robust is a competitive advantage.

2. Increased Employee Loyalty - When a company invests in employee training and development, employees feel valued and appreciated. This makes them more loyal, and the more loyal your employees are, the more likely they are to both stay and to refer skilled friends and colleagues to work at the company. Plus, loyal employees are more engaged and motivated and require less supervision. You made the investment in SolarWinds products you should be investing in the people who support its operation in your IT infrastructure.

3. Decreased Turnover - Employee replacement can cost a company between six and nine months of the departed employee’s salary. Aside from the direct financial losses, a high turnover rate also affects the company’s market position, profitability, and revenue. By training employees and investing in their career development, you can make them feel valued by your organization. This will lead to longer employee tenures and less turnover. Your company only needs to invest in the travel expenses for you to attend a SWUG. The event itself is free.

4. Flexibility - Training and development programs can make a company more flexible in the market. When your employees are well trained, they are better able to respond to changes in the market, which ensures company success in the long term. Again, even if your business isn't IT having your IT personnel well trained allows them to be very agile in response to ever changing business needs.

The balance between more SWUGs and fewer but longer events is tough, but by focusing in on major travel hubs I hope that more of our fabulous Thwack Community can attend and SolarWinds can afford to send even more internal experts to each event.

I look forward to meeting some of you in 2019.

Level 10

Do I understand that right? For 2019 only SWUG's in US planned? None in APAC or Europe?

Community Manager
Community Manager

Since we went with the two-day format, we chose to go to a more regional approach.  That doesn't preclude an European or APAC site being added to the schedule, but at the moment, these are the only ones that we've committed.  If we add any additional locations this year, we'll be adding them with plenty of time to arrange any necessary travel.

MVP
MVP

It’s not uncommon for an EMEA SWUG to be announced later on in the year but we will have to see if it follows the new 2-day format or not. Watch this space, I know I will be!

Level 14

A London one again would be great (1 or 2 day).  There were certainly enough people interested with over 150 in attendance.  The photos at the top of this discussion showing lots of people (#2 and #3)  in the big room are from London.

Level 9

Any plans on coming to Denver in the near future? I know Federal is coming to Colorado Springs for a trade show but it'd be nice to have a SWUG here in Denver that's just for us "regular" guys.

Level 7

Can you share the info about the 'mini-SWUG' in Orlando, San Francisco and San Diego?

Community Manager
Community Manager

I wish I could share more, but we are still in the planning stages for all three industry events.  The plan is to host an evening with food & drink during one of the nights of the show.  The events will be published as soon as details are locked down.

Level 7

Thanks! I thought I saw the one for Orlando occurring in June through an email but can't seem to find it any more. Let me know if something was sent / published so I can share with my leadership team and get approval for my team to attend

Level 12

Well said Mark Roberts, Agreed.

And I would like to add; I strongly believe that the 1 Day SWUG is a good Investment of Time to share our SolarWinds Monitoring and Report, etc Experiences with the SolarWinds Head Geeks Team and other THWACK Members.

But will we be able to afford 2 Days?

(It was good to see the London SWUG 2018 Pictures on this Post).

Level 8

no Texas?!??

Community Manager
Community Manager

Sadly, no, not this year, but there's always THWACKcamp.  Registration is now open for everyone, wherever you are.  Even if you are on the International Space Station though the lag might be a little rough. 🙂

Level 7

My odds of attending are much better if you were to do something in CALIFORNIA.  Any thoughts on that for the future?  Thanks guys!  - N

Community Manager
Community Manager

We're currently in 2020 planning, so I'll take that request back with me to the drawing board.  What part of Cali?

About the Author
Kevin's first computer was the family TI-99/4A. He's learned computing the best way possible: by fixing his own broken machines. He was a SolarWinds customer for nearly 10 years before joining the company. He's worked the range of IT jobs: from the 3-person consultancy to the international law firm. Along the way, he's become a SolarWinds advocate and evangelist of monitoring glory. His passions include shooting archery, blacksmithing, playing D&D, and helping IT professionals leave at a reasonable time each and every day.