The VMware User’s Group (VMUG) takes advantage of the annual VMworld conference as its best opportunity to gain new members. The non-profit group, which became an independent entity in 2010, counts about 125,000 members throughout the world.
“VMware started in 1998, and people naturally started coming together and talking about the technology,” said Brad Tompkins, CEO of VMUG. VMware ran the organization until 2010. Since then it’s become a very robust community with online forums and about 40 in-person events per year: six in Europe, three in the Asia Pacific region, and the rest in North America.
Membership in VMUG is free. The group makes its money by selling sponsorships for its in-person events. “We will have 25 to 50 vendors at these events,” said Tompkins. “VMware has created an ecosystem that’s wide with partners.” While the vendors pay to participate, the members get to attend nearly all of these events for free. In addition to keynotes and sessions, they have opportunities for instructor-moderated training.
VMUG also produces about 100 free webinars per year. And it acts as a portal for online groups. “We provide community sites on our website,” said Tompkins. “Some of that is geographic. Others are product specific. NSX has over 22,000 people in that community. It is protected behind our user name and password. But again, our community is free.”
In addition, the group does offer a $200-per-year membership for those people who want an in-depth product evaluation experience. With this upgraded membership, they also receive up to a 35 percent discount off VMware’s training courses. “We have over 7,500 members that take advantage of that,” said Tompkins. “It also provides another revenue stream for us.”