Matt That IT Guy

Racking And Stacking In A Cloud-Based World


Pittsburgh & the vCommunity

Last week I had the opportunity and privilege to present at the Pittsburgh VMUG. In true vCommunity fashion though, there was a lot more going on than just the VMUG. I had to say, Pittsburgh does things right – I was there for two nights and it was non-stop work, networking, and learning.

First off, there was a VMware TAM (Technical Account Manager) Customer Roundtable. I won’t go into too much detail as most of my readers likely don’t have a TAM (but you should!). What I saw there blew me away. The local team, along with the SMEs who came in for the event, were able to answer and assist customers with many of their problems and needs. What really stood out to me was how often customers were engaging each other. Questions around architecture, or why specific decisions were made were going back and forth. Congrats to the local VMware team for creating and fostering such a great community.


Being the master planners that they are, the Pittsburgh Little Hack group also planned their first Big Hack. Given the overlapping (but not exclusive) interests and skill sets between the TCR attendees and Little Hack attendees, a large number of TAM customers were represented.

Team Terraformer
Team Terraformer at the Pittsburgh Little Hack – note the delicious treats on the table 🙂

For those unfamiliar with the project, it is designed to be a place where you can show up, join a team, have some food and drink, and learn. I was lucky enough to be teamed up with Dan Barr and Doug DeFrank. Dan happened to have an AWS account we could use, and the awesome folks at Expedient were very generous with giving all teams access to their vCloud Director environment. Over the course of ~4 hours, Dan explained Git terminology to us, we troubleshot a Terraform / vCloud Director issue and then proceeded to write a script which would connect to vCD, create a vApp, and create two VMs in that vApp. Dan was able to get similar going. Pretty good considering none of us had every touched Terraform before!

Part of the fun was troubleshooting. I mentioned that we had an issue with Terraform and vCD. Thanks to another attendee, we found out after about an hour of troubleshooting, that the version of Terraform we were using had been released about 6 hours prior. As soon as we rolled back to .11 from .12, we were up and running.

The event was well attended, and we had some fantastic guests and judges. You can find out more about the events at


The Pittsburgh VMUG UserCon was the next day and was made all the better by the previous day. There were many familiar faces, some of which I had only met the day before. Having the LittleHack the night before was a genius idea; it is definitely something that I think many other communities could benefit from. vBrownbag was also there recording some interviews, so be on the lookout for those.

Presenting at the PGHVMUGThe UserCon itself had a ton of great sessions and fantastic speakers. I won’t dive into the specifics, but there were some great insights during the Q&A panel at lunch. The topic was focused on what concerns customers have with regards to moving to the cloud. The common points which seemed to keep cropping up were lack of skills, concern around cost/value, and security. A lot of these reflect what I have seen elsewhere, which indicates that lots of folks are in the same boat. These sessions are where I see so much value in User Groups – they provide a safe place for people to ask questions without being judged. Attendees are there to learn, and a large part of that requires that they be open with what they do and don’t know.


Folks who know me, or read this blog have probably noticed that I have severely cut back on my blogging. In my last post, I brought to light some personal issues that I am dealing with. Frankly, I will be dealing with this for a long time to come. But this visit to Pittsburgh was exactly what I needed. It was great to be back out participating, helping, and learning.

The TAM Roundtable was fantastic because I was able to see a whole new set of users, their challenges, and what their goals are. At the Little Hack, I was able to help our team write a Terraform script. Although “simple”, it was a fantastic experience considering none of us had ever used it before. Lastly, the VMUG UserCon was just what I needed – I was able to share my experiences during my session, connect with new folks, and hopefully inspire some attendees to get more involved with the vCommunity.

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