[Talk] A template for monthly meetings/talks. COMMENTS PLEASE

Steve Jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Fri Jan 16 18:58:11 EST 2004

This is an idea I've had for an 'endless' set of Meeting topics,
hopefully perpetually relevant and interesting always to enough people.

It can also be translated into events at all branches, not necessarily

I am soliciting you all for comment & improvements :-) Particularly on
topics and vendors.
Those who respond only to me, I will summarise and quote in a few days.


PS:  If it goes reasonably well, we could probably run joint sessions
with people like SAGE & ACS, especially in smaller branches like Tassie,
NT, ACT, [Adelaide & Perth?]

Concept: 'The Best Of XXXX'.

Where XXX can be: an OS, a database, disk & storage, backups,
networking, printing, web service, Firewalls, Auditing, Logging & Log
Analysis, Billing, Authentication systems. Customer support, operations,
desktop services, software distribution, config mgt, release mgt,
Rollout and Upgrades, Load Balancing, Clustering, Failover sites,
desktop support, helpdesk, Problem Tracking systems, DNS, e-mail, IDS,
Security [& it's many subdomains] ...

Please Suggest a better title!!!

[[I started thinking of 'Best Practices', but the term is soooo

Format A: A Vendor + min. TWO customers.  Total 1hour talk, 15min
general ques., then chat or compare/contrast time.

Requirements: Reporting on real-world installations considered 'best
example' by Vendor.  Customers MUST address problems and limitations,
and perhaps their 'druthers'. The Vendor would 'top and tail' the
customer presentations - introduce their area, define what THEY mean by
'best' [the quantitative criteria used], they sorts of problems the
client has had to address, and a brief overview of what is special about
their product in this area.  Then a wrap-up, 5 min MAX of 'blue-sky'
and/or marketing, then 15 min of questions and compare/contrast.  The
moderator has to be RUTHLESS or dictatorial :-)


Format B: Two to Three vendors plus one or two customers each.  All
addressing the same topic - say (Disk) Storage, and emphasising how the
are better and different and how their customers benefit and their
product niche.  Time: Hmmmm....  10-15 min per site description.

Requirements: Real-world reporting.  QUANTITATIVE results [eg. Purchase
cost is $150/Gb, install $10/Gb and maint $5/Gb/pa]


Meetings could be the 'usual' evenings, OR the Canberra mini-conference
model of 4 or so hours in one event.  This allows for a theme [say 'Best
of Linux'] and multiple Vendors to strut their stuff and heckle one


Having prepared and presented ONE event, a Vendor could re-present it
multiple times - either as a roadshow, or by recreating it with local
tech staff and local clients at each location. [Or not giving it in some

Video recordings are your friend :-) 
Like David Conran's SAGE recordings, you can quickly establish a useful
library - a useful member benefit [member only access]


One great format for _members_ is to have multiple vendors presenting
real solutions ON THE SAME PROGRAM.  They may not like it, but like
'election debates', they really do allow purchasers the ability to
compare and contrast and ask difficult questions.  Smaller vendors
looking for market share should be especially  keen to take on the
incumbents :-)


The hook for the vendors is a very targeted audience and the ability to
show off their product to best effect and market a highly targeted
specialist audience.  If these talks became mandatory for vendors, that
would be brilliant.

They also can promote it on their _internal_ client and staff e-mail
lists as a very special technical/marketing opportunity [and certainly
the first few _will_ be by invitation only].

Vendors in cities like Sydney and Melbourne may also be happy/encouraged
to run the event multiple times in several different locations [like
their offices, at a Uni, in the CBD]  Gives both their clients and
prospects and AUUG members more options and would increase the total
audience. If you got sophisticated, the client presentations could be
videoed the first time [content, not production values are important to
us] to save them the trouble of having to be absent from work a great


AUUG benefits by having real-world and technical material [what we've
always done par excellence] - and each branch/venue does not have to
rediscover it for themselves.  Branch committee would have 'base-line'
good material available.  AND they could run additional meetings on
other, local, topics if they wanted.

AUUG also benefits by having non-members [the internal client list of
vendors] coming along.  As part of the meetings, everyone present could
be asked to go on an 'AUUG interest' list => we get to market to more


AUUG members get to hear the latest on what THAT REALLY WORKS.
Not everyone will be interested in every topic, but that's how it is.
Maybe people will get into the habit


An initial vendor list:

O/S Vendors:
- SUN, HP, IBM, Apple

Linux Vendors
- RH, Debian, Suse/Novell, ???

Disk Storage
- EMCC, NetApp, IBM?, Storage Technologies

Tape & Backup Systems
- StorTech, NetApp, ???

Database and Software vendors?
- multiple

[And this is where the self-renewing aspect comes


Where to from here??

Approach those companies listed above [the current Big Vendors] with the
format and invite them to present.

A reasonable target is: A full twelve month schedule prepared in a
months' time and the first vendor prezzie in two months :-)


Who to ACT?
First the list and the Exec need to kick this around for a few days.

Then SOMEONE has to approach SUN/HP/IBM/Apple to create presentations.

Another SOMEONE has to co-ordinate the events and mail-outs,
and the exec to make sure it all happens.

The marketing/publicity machine then needs to kick-in [thanks Gordon]


Renewing the 'Never-Ending Story':
Seems like we need a list of vendors, topics and event locations on the
website, and a way for people to post suggestions/improvements.

A YEARLY jam session [January or post Winter conference] to allow people
to review the previous years' events, propose new topics and delete old
ones.  Select what the priorities are for the coming year.  No more than
a days' talkfest.  Does not need an elected committee - those
self-selecting to come are a good initial group.  If it gets too big,
then split it into subgroups of 8-10 who go into huddles and report back
on their 'top 5' or 'top 10'.


Assessing the success/impact of the Events.

Hmmmm.  What you don't measure, you can't manage.  
But you don't have to measure completely to improve it.

Have to build in a 'Now we'll stop' criteria.
Have to allow experiments such as expensive local advertising [like a
full-page Advert of supplement in the Canberra Times] and see if they
produce a reasonable effect.


What have I missed?
Got to be lots.....
Do we need the events written up & published?  Website only?
Do we need the content 'rated' or 'reviewed' [5/10 etc] So we know who
to invite back...

Steve Jenkin, Unix Sys Admin
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

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