WebSphere User Group 23 march

WebSphere User Group 23rd March 2011

I was really looking forward to the WebSphere User Group – I haven’t been immersed in fellow WebSphere geeks for a while (other than Dave Hay) so It would be great to catch up with some other purple people. 3 of us from City went – as well as me, Anu my line manager (who is a portal/wcm guru) and Julia the “new girl” who is a WebSphere admin and is picking up all the *tech* we use.

The day was pretty full on with lots to do. Bedfont is a great location for these kinds of things, but it’s a pig to get to unless you drive there – which isn’t really an option for me where I live, but I managed to get there in one peace (thanks to Anu for giving me a lift half way).

The day kicked off at 9 with coffee and nibbles from about 8:30am. The great thing about it being in an IBM location is you always get reasonable coffee and bickies and there is plenty of it. After getting up at 4am I am in need of coffee.

Lots of good tracks – as the WebSphere Integration User Group (formally the MQ user group) were assisting there was plenty of good sessions. 2 WebSphere App server tracks, OSGi. WebSphere ESB, Deployment, Development, Customer Experience, Java SIG, MQ/MB, BPM and 2 Portal tracks (which is where I spent most of my day).

The 2 Portal dedicated  tracks were very good, with subjects ranging from case studies, to development, to use cases. The first of these sessions was around creating a social portal experience using Lotus Connections (ahh my new favourite WebSphere based product). Anu and I both took a lot away from this and Julia picked up a lot around the Connections and Portal side. I learnt something new about using a WebSphere cookie to redirect – so it was WIN all round.

At the coffee break I hooked up with my mentor and long suffering old boss Mr Bleddyn Williams and had a right good natter about Commerce, TAM and a million other things we used to do when I worked with him (it’s good to talk).

I then hit what sounded like the most boring session ever – “Class Loading and debugging Class Loader memory leaks in WAS”. I can hear you all yawning – stop – it was REALLY interesting. When you are doing a lot of in house development class loading issues can be a real pain in the bum. I am not a developer, but from an Admin point of view this session was really helpful. There was a class loading 101 and then a demo of some free tooling to assist with the diagnosis of CL issues. It was fantastic ..

There was a not bad lunch – although not quite enough of it. It seems that although there wasn’t as many people as I would have thought there was going to be (about a couple of hundred I guesstimate) – they were a hungry bunch (horde of locust) – and lunch disappeared VERY fast. the Lunch time hour was actually pretty good as I got to meet up with lots of WAS people I have been out of touch with for the past couple of years.

We then hit a great session on test driven development and then my good friend and fellow geek – Mr Dave Hay’s session on using the Google search appliance with Portal and WCM – which was absolutely brilliant – although we don’t use the google search appliance here – we do use a 3rd part search so it’s given us some good ideas about using search. It’s always good to catch up with Mr Hay .. I can geek away to my hearts content talking about as400 (iSeries, i5, systemi – it’s still a 400 to us), Commerce and other geeky goodness without being looked at like I have 3 heads.

At the end of the day beer and cake – although everyone disappeared pretty early. In fact the last people there were all the ISSL people the old Loti 🙂

Although the day was good .. these are things I think would have made it better

No Commerce Tracks AT ALL – come on WUG organisers, Commerce is a big thing, yes its a bit specialised but you could have squeezed in 1 or 2 commerce sessions. By having none you are excluding a big audience (until recently there were no Portal tracks either so good on you for doing these)

There were far too many IBM speakers – although the IBMers that did talk were great .. as it is a user group, I would have expected lots of BP’s, Customers etc. to be presenting.

Not enough social interaction – no #hashtag specified in the opening session. There were lots of people taking notes and tweeting, but no way to follow what they were doing.

Twitter ID’s on Name Badges – all conferences should have this now, so MANY people use twitter – give us a way to know who we all are 🙂

Not a real community built up around WebSphere unlike Lotus – Although the WUG has been going for 10 years and most people do know each other there isn’t the same sense of community – if there are community things out on the internet – they are not easy to find.

Please promote your community better – I have been a WebSphere person for almost 10 years and a Lotus person for only 2 – as the 2 communities are working more closely together and more and more of us are overlapping our skill set there must be a way to interact when we are away from User Groups – I am happy to help with this – contact me here.

All in all a good day .. but lets make WUG2012 a better one 🙂

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