Mike Nelson is an Architect at Secura Insurance.
Tell us a little about your background with VMware:
Well, I’ve been doing IT for over 24 years – I’ve been in it a long time! I started out when things were very simple and rudimentary: We used big floppy disks and did a lot of data entry, worked on big mainframes, things like that. I actually got into virtualization in early 2000 and VMware in 2006, looking at it trying to figure out how it would work for the company I was working for at the time. When we got to the point of moving away from physical and trying the new concept of virtualization I got hooked immediately. I studied relentlessly, and went to whatever VMUG sessions I could find. Meetings were sometimes two hours away, but it was so much fun, such a cool technology.
How did you get involved in VMUG?
What I remember about my first VMUG meeting was the passion of the people there – they were as passionate as I was and I found that exciting. I didn’t know the community existed. Conversations just flowed, I was hooked. I met the leader and started going to all of the meetings and helping out where I could. It wasn’t long before he asked me to co-lead the group with him. Wisconsin VMUG is a large group, so we have 4 leaders. Our meetings are larger than typical, around 100-150 depending on location. We run what is called a round robin; we go between 3 different geographic meeting locations in our state. Our users are positioned throughout the area, and this enables everyone to get to a meeting on a regular basis. Many will travel to the other meetings as well.
Tell me about the Wisconsin UserCon:
We are a SUPERCON – we have over 500 attendees – and have maintained attendance of over 500 for the last 2 years. More resources are invested, more educational sessions, more partners, and this year it will be better than ever! The event will be held May 25, 2017 at the Wisconsin Center.
Why is VMUG Important to You?
Primarily VMUG has my heart because of the user community and networking. Without VMUG, I would have never met the people I know today that share the same interests, the same curiosities, and also want to share the knowledge they have. I have learned so much and want to carry it through to share with other users. The VMUG organization and VMware both play a vital role, but it is the people that make the community. It’s about users, not about corporate presence … it’s about people helping people. People are at the heart of the VMUG community and I’m extremely vested in keeping it that way. As a local leader, I watch for any corporate bureaucracy that threatens our community.
Are you a VMUG Advantage Member?
I am a VMUG Advantage member. The access to the VMware software and licensing is invaluable. It more than pays for the subscription itself, especially if you have a home lab that you are running. I use it specifically for the labs – anyone can access the hands-on lab but you can go deeper with VMUG Advantage.
What is your life like outside of VMUG and VMware?
What life outside? I work with several different user groups, I am also a Microsoft MVP and a Citrix CTP. However, I do have some fun in working with drones. A friend of mine introduced me to it, I went and bought one and have been into it ever since. Every pilot has to face eventually losing one, I’ve damaged a few but haven’t lost one yet. I fly at baseball fields, parks, but prefer wide open areas near water — if you throw ballast on the landing gear you can land on the water. My sons enjoy doing it with me.