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The Search for User Group Enlightenment

11:50 AM -- In an ideal world, vendor involvement in user groups would be minimal and storage managers would have plenty of time to meet up and share the dirt with their peers. Sadly, none of us inhabits this IT Nirvana, where paybacks grow with storage capacity and downtime is in abundance.

At a time when budgets are being swallowed up by compliance and litigation demands, the fact is that firms cannot spare the thousands or even hundreds of dollars to get involved in user groups. (See Storage User Groups Proliferate and SNIA Seeks More Users.)

If users want to enjoy the benefits of free user group membership (and the occasional glass of wine), then vendors are the likely source of that largesse.

"The only way that we would have been able to undertake this effort is if we have a vendor-supported model," explains Ron Durbin, director of StorageNetworking.org, which oversees the network of Storage Networking User Groups (SNUGs). Vendor sponsorship, he adds, enables the SNUGs to offer free membership to storage managers.

Then there is the time aspect. How many storage managers do you know that have more time on their hands now than they did five years ago? Attending group meetings, even locally, is getting harder and harder for execs who are lucky to get home before their kids go to bed.

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