I was fortunate enough to be selected into the Veeam Vanguard program earlier this year, and it is still something that holds a lot of meaning to me personally. I’ve touched on it very briefly in the past, but I wanted to share some insight into what makes this program so valuable.
First off, the Veeam Vanguard program is aimed at advocates for their products, which is fair enough. Veeam employees cannot be part of the program, and in at least two cases now, Vanguards have made the transition to Veeam employees, and thus have had to relinquish their Vanguard status. There are currently about 50 of us, which creates a nice team-like environment where we almost all know each other by sight.
So, what does being part of the program get you? Well, there is swag, and it is really nice stuff. I ended up with a few excellent quality shirts, a moleskin notebook, a couple of hoodies, an awesome backpack that I have used heavily since I received it, and a Yeti tumbler that I think I have used literally almost every day since I received it. So yes, there is swag, but honestly, that shouldn’t be incentive or drive to get into the program.
What else has the program delivered to me? Earlier this year, Veeam invited the Vanguards to London to take part in a) ‘first batch of folks outside of Veeam’ training b) a special ‘Vanguard Day’ that included a lot of NDA stuff and c) their VeeamOn London event. This trip was a blast – Veeam covered airfare, hotel, and most food & transportation costs. The training was for their newly minted VMCE-A certification, and it was awesome to be a part of the early students group. I still try to look through those notes regularly to keep the info fresh, as it is definitely a certification I would love to go for.
So yes, the trip to London was awesome in all regards. It was my first time to Europe, and all though the schedule was jam packed with Veeam goodness (which didn’t leave much time for me to do the tourist thing), the value obtained from it was beyond words. Going to this really cemented my thoughts on what the most valuable aspect of this program is: the people. This isn’t just the other Vanguards, but also the Veeam Evangelist team.
Although not all the Vanguards could make it, most of us did. It was phenomenal to meet these other Vanguards. A handful of them I had met before (mainly at VMWorld 2015, which was a catalyst to me), while others I have ‘known online’ via Twitter, Slack, or their blogs. Being able to physically shake hands, share thoughts via spoken words, and generally have an awesome time, was where the real value comes in. The Vanguards are made up of a real mixed bag of folks (consultants, partners, customers, etc.) from all sorts of environments (SMB, MSPs, Partners, Enterprise). Being able to pick brains, share stories, and just have conversations with them was awesome.
Along those lines, the evangelist team takes this program seriously. The openness that they show to us is something unparalleled. In exchange for that openness, they expect it back from us. They want to hear our thoughts, the good and the bad, and they listen. It is definitely a two-way street, and there is a lot of trust involved, and because of that, you get a program like this that succeeds.
A few days ago, Rick Vanover (who heads up the program for Veeam) tweeted out that details about upcomining nominations will be released soon. Something that I only noticed after the fact was how excited a lot of us existing Vanguards were in promoting that tweet – not so much because we are hoping to get back in (and believe me, we are), but because we are trying to spread the word. Veeam strives to get the very best people into this program, and as members, we want to see that happen.
THE BEST PROGRAM EVER! Seriously people, Veeam is awesome, and so is being a Vanguard! https://t.co/vIZU6JtI8w
— Tim Smith (@tsmith_co) November 3, 2016
This program has allowed me to go from folks who I may only know via Twitter or the like, to folks who I now consider friends. That, in a nutshell, is why the Vanguard program is such a valuable program to me.