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Top Tips for Getting User Group Value

User groups are vying for the attention of storage managers, from the Association of Storage Networking Professionals (ASNP) to the Storage Networking User Groups (SNUGS) that are popping up across the U.S., as well as a plethora of vendor-specific groups. (See Storage User Groups Proliferate, SNIA Sponsors End User Group, and SNIA Seeks More Users.)

But getting maximum value out of a user group involves much more than just parking your derriere at the occasional meeting. Based on discussions with members and hangers-on, here's a list of key things to consider when getting involved:

Follow the money

With many groups heavily backed by specific vendors, users need to decide whether a group fits in with their best interests, according to Dan Tanner, president of the New England Chapter of the ASNP and founder of consulting firm ProgresSmart. "What you really want to do is look at the funding source of the organization and make your own determination about whether it is highly leveraged by a particular interest," he explains.

Don't make assumptions until you get the real information. A vendor's name doesn't necessarily imply support. "We have not been funded by Sun for years," adds Dave Shearer, chairman of the U.K.-based Sun User Group, which has around 300 members. "I think it's very important for the credibility [of the group]."

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