by Christopher Kusek (PKGuild)
What exactly is this whole VMware vExpert Program and what does it mean to me?! I know that’s what you are asking, because you probably did a search of “VMware vExpert” and turned up this VMware vExpert FAQ Page, or some of these great details outlined in the vExpert Directory.
But if you haven’t read those pages, or you want a little context on exactly what the VMware vExpert Program is all about, it is extremely similar to the acclaimed Microsoft MVP Program, the EMC Elect Program, and even the rarely heard of Citrix Technology Professionals Program! Essentially, this is an award based upon your contributions to society, community, industry. Going above and beyond simply ‘doing your job’. That about sums it up!
What makes the VMware vExpert Program so special
The VMware vExpert Community is very much just that, a community of likeminded professionals who come together for the betterment of society as a whole. It may all sound sort of altruistic but there is no more accurate depiction of the truth than that. The community is filled with people who work tirelessly to help others, who are seen as and sought after as the experts in the industry, many of which feel they don’t deserve the accolade and others who work so diligently to ensure that their impact on those around them eclipses any benefits that may be derived from the mention. The vExperts are the authors, bloggers, podcasters, troubleshooters, helpers, friends and family which makes VMware and Virtualization such a prevalent thread it has been transforming the industry ever since its inception.
A few of the benefits ‘granted’ to the members of the vExpert community are
- Public recognition of the vExpert award with a certificate, gift, permission to display a logo, and inclusion in any public vExpert listing
- Access to a private vExpert community of your peers
- Free subscription to conference session materials on VMworld.com
- Access to exclusive events, beta programs, software licenses, and other exclusive opportunities to participate in activities with VMware. vExperts do not represent VMware and are not required to participate in any activities
But those are just the *published* benefits, here are some of the unpublished yet fully realized by members of the vExpert Community
- Priority Access to Private Betas
- Blogger Early Access Programs (Including Deep Dive Webinars with Product Teams)
- Influencer Day and Product Launch Briefings (Be on the inside track with the analysts and product launch embargoes)
- Focus Groups with SMB and Partners
- Special Opportunities presented by Partners such as Tintri, Symantec, EMC, Trainsignal, Tech Field Day, and more!
- And a particular favorite of many, private vExpert only CTO Party and Briefings with the Office of the CTO and Steve Herrod at VMworld
But it doesn’t stop there. Some of the extra benefits realized not by all, but by many as the form of opportunities tend to be
- Special Access to Guest Blogging spots on VMTN and other blogportunities
- Community Roundtable Podcast speaking opportunities and special guest access
- VMware Press opportunities to be a Tech Reviewer or Author (They’re always looking for talent, and check the vExpert pool often)
- Other Press sources opportunities to write and review (Sybex, Video training houses, tech blogs, Windows IT Pro, Speaking Gigs, etc)
- … The opportunities are seemingly endless!
What exactly are the paths to being a vExpert
Since this is the non-definitive guide after all I can only go on what we know from the 2012 Calendar year which could possibly change. But instituted as part of this cycle was a growth of the vExpert selection criteria to differing paths of Experts; Evangelist, Customer, Partner.
The Evangelist Path includes book authors, bloggers, tool builders, public speakers, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others with the leverage of a personal public platform to reach many people. Employees of VMware can also apply via the Evangelist path.
The Customer Path is for internal evangelists and community leaders from VMware customer organizations. They have contributed to success stories, customer references, or public interviews and talks, or were active community contributors, such as VMUG leaders.
Partner (VMware Partner Network)
The VPN Path is for employees of our partner companies who lead with passion and by example, who are committed to continuous learning and to making their technical knowledge and expertise available to many. This can take shape of event participation, video, IP generation, as well as public speaking engagements.
What about the selection criteria for the vExpert Program
First let me start out by displaying what are a few caveats and considerations before I get too deeply into selection criteria.
- The vExpert award is based on contributions during the past calendar year. Activities earlier than the past calendar year are not considered in the awards and should not be entered on the application form.
- You can use the application form to apply for yourself, and an invitation form to invite others to apply. Everyone is strongly encouraged to apply.
- The vExpert designation is not a popularity contest. Multiple invitations or recommendations are not considered as a criteria for the award, so please do not ask multiple people to fill in the invitation form for you.
- The vExpert designation is given to an individual, not to a company. Your contributions could have been a part of your corporate activities, but your individual contribution should be clear and noted in your application.
- Designation duration is for one year. Existing vExperts are not guaranteed a renewal and are evaluated each year along with other nominees.A committee of VMware employees chooses the recipients of the vExpert designation.
- You must be 18 years old to be eligible for the award.
Now that we have that out of the way, here are some of the types of things they’d look for on the application in years gone past (for what would be the Evangelist path, As details of Customer/Partner and other evolutions for 2013 come about, I’ll be sure to discuss that as it comes…)
Contributions and Activities to materials such as:
- Blogs (Blog posts you’ve written re:VMware/Virtualization, and contributions you’ve made to other blogs)
- Other Writing (Newsletters, Books, Whitepapers, Articles, KB Articles, Tutorials, Guides, etc)
- Multimedia (Podcasts, Videos, Interviews…)
- Events and Speaking (Organized events, spoke at them, involvement, etc)
- Online Communities (IT Forums you’ve contributed, participated in and been involved in)
- Tools and Resources (Tools you’ve created, collected, contributed to, resources and guides you’ve created, collections, etc)
- VMware Programs (Councils, Partnerships, Betas and other kinds of contributions)
- Actions and activities having gone above and beyond (self explanatory)
For a little more context and details about what each of these lines might be asking for (this is dated) refer to this link for the 2011 Application
The vExpert Program seems amazing and I work in Virtualization but I’ll wait until next year
This is for all of you out there who have said that, or some similar version of events. I know who you are, I’ve spoken with you a number of times. You contribute greatly within the community, internally at a customer, or extensively through the Partner organization. You’re familiar with the vExpert program but you say ‘eh, I’ll deal with that next year’. If this were like a certification deciding to take action NEXT month or NEXT quarter wouldn’t be such a big deal, but this isn’t a Certification. The VMware vExpert Program is a year-long designation based upon your actions for a calendar year. So what does that mean? By not being nominated or choosing to self-nominate yourself when the window of nomination opens, you are costing yourself on the opportunity for an additional 365 days. It’s not to say that ALL those who submit are accepted because they are not, but if you’ve got what it takes and you’re a super star in your own right I cannot for the life of me justify you NOT applying.
Some people like to equate the VMware vExpert to a Certification and will often say “Eh, I’m not changing jobs any time soon, so I don’t see why I should do this”. Yes, certainly like getting a VCP won’t make much of a different to an admin for life but an active Administrator who becomes a vExpert can gain that insight, that knowledge (and getting license keys for testing and all the worlds access never hurts!)
So if I leave you with nothing, I’d like you to take to heart a few tidbits and action items and I’ll share my own experience here
- It doesn’t hurt to apply or self-nominate into the program. If you’re unknown to the populace at large sometimes the first person to knock on that door and shine a light on your accomplishments has to be you, this isn’t about ego (Especially if you’ve accomplished all of the things you share in your contributions)
- This is first and foremost a community, not a ‘corporate charter designated by a policy driven figurehead with stringent metrics to follow’ So what I mean there is, if things don’t go as fast as you want them to be, it is not as though this is an SLA you are paying for; But we’re all in this together so lending a helping hand is never discouraged
- Get involved. Even if you’re objective is not to one day earn the designation of VMware vExpert. Our community is only as strong as its weakest link and as we all grow and become educated we continue to prosper together
- Even if you sit silent on the sidelines, get to know the vExpert’s in the community and more precisely YOUR community. These people didn’t become vExperts for nothing, they’re glad to help, spread the tech love and cherish and grow those around them
A few words from a silent cat
I’ve been a vExpert for as long as there has been a program (Technically not the FIRST year because I missed the submission deadline, but I digress) and every single year I sit back and look at the nomination form which asks countless questions about what your contributions were for the previous calendar year. (Submissions are usually a few months into the year, so remembering back to December let alone the previous January can be a chore!) Every single year I look back and say, “Well, crap I don’t think I did anything, how can I justify or deserve being a vExpert for this year” and then it all starts to settle in. In past years there’d be a request for your TOP blog posts or TOP cited reference points (limited to 2 or 3) and at first I thought ‘how am I going to find even 1 let alone 3!’ which then turns into “Ooops…. I did 20-30 things in the previous year, how am I going to pare THAT down!” This is surprisingly a common problem within the vExpert Community of Evangelists. Before the VMware vExpert program came to be, and long before it had broken out the Evangelist designation…. We were all evangelists in our own right. It wasn’t our job to do this, we didn’t do this because we were trying to achieve or accomplish some targeted ‘goal’, We saw problems in the world which either needed to be solved or we solved and wanted to share our experiences. We saw great things happening and wanted to make sure everyone around us was able to benefit. We don’t do it because we have to, We even don’t exactly do it because we WANT to. We do it because we are vExperts. We are Evangelists. We are community. I think nothing speaks more truer to that than the VMware vExpert program having doubled year over year of number of members accepted into its ranks, and I know we look forward to that number continuing to grow with other passionate and dedicated individuals like ourselves to make Technology, this Community and the World a better place.