Last October, I received a phone call from my manager. Guy Havelick was going to retire at the end of 2012 and someone was needed to take over Guy’s work with the Large User Group. She wanted to know if I was interested.
The answer was an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes!”
I’m sure many of you have heard about “The LUG”. The IBM i Large User Group is an organization – a user group - of IBM i clients that have a significant use of i in their production environment. The LUG consists of about 100 companies; I can’t tell you who they are as membership is confidential information, but if you saw the list of companies, you would recognize many (maybe all) of them.
The Large User Group is independent of IBM and IBM is not involved in the membership process. IBM does support the LUG by participation in the meetings, planning the meeting agenda, addressing the requirements opened by the LUG members, supporting a website that LUG members have access to, among other things.
The LUG meets three times each year, with all of the meetings in Rochester, Minn. The next LUG meeting is the week of February 4th. Yes – a meeting in Rochester in WINTER! That itself is a strong statement of the commitment to the i by this organization – clients from all over the world want to come to Rochester in the middle of winter for a user group meeting!
Each LUG meeting has a theme – typically the meeting will focus on a technical topic – such as systems management, performance or virtualization. Sometimes the meeting focuses on application development topics. But these meetings are much more than educational presentations – they are a collaboration between IBM and the LUG. Throughout all the meetings, IBM works together with the LUG to share trends and directions and future plans and to address questions and requirements the LUG has regarding IBM i and the related products they use. The LUG also puts together their view of the future in terms of a strategy and what they need from IBM looking forward. Of course, all LUG member companies must have non-disclosure agreements in place as a condition of their membership.
One of the major benefits of the meetings in Rochester is access to the IBM i development team. During LUG meetings, IBM developers give formal presentations, hold breakout discussions, give demos on the latest products, and have side meetings with the LUG members to discuss whatever topics are important to them. It’s this access to the development team that many LUG members value.
The Large User Group is always looking for companies to join the organization; they have a public Internet site at http://www.the-lug.com/. That website explains the membership requirements and expectations of a LUG member.
I do want to mention that the LUG is not the only organization that the IBM i team has a collaborative relationship with. Similar types of interactions occur with the COMMON Advisory Council, the COMMON Europe Advisory Council, and the ISV Advisory Council. Steve Will has written about the Advisory Councils – Requirements and Strategy in his You and i blog.
It’s very exciting to work closely with the largest IBM i enterprises in the world and I’m quite honored to have been asked to take on this role.