Want to hobnob with fellow storage folk? There are now not one--but two--organizations putting on regular regional user groups for storage professionals. Both groups have upcoming meetings, and are welcoming new members.
In the past year, StorageNetworking.org has helped foster the creation of nine storage networking user groups (SNUGs) in the U.S., and one in Canada. It will also help you form a SNUG if there isn't one in your area. StorageNetworking.org is loosely affiliated with the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).
Then, there's the Association of Storage Networking Professionals (ASNP), which ran its first user groups this past January. So far, the ASNP has started 14 chapters in the U.S., and is scheduling a second round of meetings for April. Membership is free to the first 1,000 members, and will cost $200 for members joining thereafter. The ASNP is a for-profit group with close ties to Storage World Conference organizers.
In the case of SNUGs, meeting formats vary by regional group, and may or may not include a vendor presentation, end-user presentation or a meal. One thing is a given though: Both SNUGs and ASNP meetings allow unstructured time for end users to talk--a "Member Chalk Talk" in ASNP parlance, or SNUG's "Open Forum."
Daniel Lewis, assistant director at the EHIT/Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, attended the first ASNP New York chapter meeting in January and called it "an invaluable networking opportunity." He's attended national storage conferences such as Storage Decisions, but they "don't give you many networking opportunities." With a user group, "you get to meet people right from your area."
In addition to networking and professional development, end-user councils may eventually gain enough clout to have some pull with suppliers, says Laurence Whittaker, founding member of the Toronto SNUG.