Today, VMware announced the vExpert class of 2020 and as per usual this generated lots of social media buzz as well as the now customary backlashes that have to do with non selections and exclusions. For me, it’s my 9th year in the program and while things are very different for me compared to when I first started as a vExpert, the essence of the program is something that still resonates strongly with me. I basically would not be where I am now with the vExpert program. For all its perceived faults and larger and larger numbers I believe it offers value to both VMware and those that are in the program.

I looked back on my blog posts over the past nine years since my first vExpert in 2012 and I thought it would be interesting to quote parts in this post as a lot of the comments I have made are still very much relevant today. It’s also interesting to look back and some of the general themes around the program as I have evolved in my career with the it. What I’ll do is link to the posts and then draw out a quote from each one… interestingly enough the post titles and quotes speak for themselves in terms of my overall attitude to the program

As I went through this process, I reflected on a lot of Tweets that I saw since the emails went out from perennial vExperts to those who where first time vExperts… it all means something different to everyone and no one has the right to devalue that… for any reason!

vExpert 2012 – My Journey in Virtualization so far…

Being awarded a vExpert for 2012 is a great honour and being part of a special group of industry peers is very satisfying for someone who has come full circle when it comes to my journey with Virtualization. One of the unique aspects of this award is that it’s not tied to a certification…which is a good thing for me

vExpert 2013

The VMware community is unbelievably strong and it’s safe to say that over the past 12 months I’ve made a lot of new friends and been involved in lots of special forums and events as well as being continually amazed by the power of virutalization by way of delivering VMware products and services to clients and being able to get hands on with upcoming product releases.

vExpert 2015: Passion and Community

There are now over 1000 vExperts worldwide and while I have questioned the swelling of the vExpert numbers over the past couple of years I believe that the community is as strong as ever and the nomination/vetting process undertaken by the team at VMware ensures all those that get the badge…earn it. There are tens of thousands VMware IT Professionals worldwide…to be 1 of 1000 is very unique!

vExpert VMworld Reception and Program Thoughts

We should not feel guilty about receiving these gifts but we must also understand that they do come with a small price…However the fact that we are passionate and all get off on technology means that in accepting these gifts we are doing exactly what the program is designed for…that is to help promote VMware and their partners…and in turn great tech!

vExpert’s of 2017 – Listen Up! It’s about the Advocacy

Once you have the title it’s important to understand that there is a responsibility associated with it…it’s not just about the free gear though as I have stated before you should accept that as a perk of being part of the program and you shouldn’t feel like a “vendor whore” for accepting that shirt or coffee mug. Going back to responsibility, what I mean by that is that you should wear the badge proudly…understand that you have taken the time to apply/reapply for the award because you believed yourself worth of filling the selection criteria and use the award as a stepping stone to improve on the activities that got you there the year before.

vExpert 2018 – The Value Remains!

That is to say that while many established vExpert’s assume entry there are a number of people that desire entry. This is an important indicator on the strength of the program and the continued high regard the vExpert program should still be held in.  It’s easy to criticise from the inside, however that can’t be allowed to tarnish the reputation of program externally.

vExpert 2019 – Why The vCommunity is Still Important to me.

In additional to that, as I work in the vendor space these days and help with an advocacy program of our own…I’ve come to realise the importance that grass roots communities play in the overall health of vendors. When you take your eye off the rank and file, the coal face…whatever you want to call it…there is a danger that your brand will suffer. That is to say, never underestimate the power of the vCommunity as major influences.

Final Thought:

As you can see from the above blog post titles and content quotes… Journey, Passion, Community, Advocacy, Value, Importance… I feel like these are the essence of a successful influencer and advocacy program such as the vExpert Program. Yes it has grown and yes not everyone still believes in it, but at it’s core there is a purpose to it. Advocacy programs are tough to manage and tough to keep relevant. VMware are doing the best they can to balance numbers with quality. They have established sub-programs and are now looking to extend them in 2020 and make them more meaningful. As mentioned in the first paragraph… I owe a lot to this program and i’m glad to remain an active contributor and member.