First - if you know you want to apply to the VMware vExpert program go here: https://vexpert.vmware.com/ You only have until June 20th before applications close again - Don’t Delay.
If you may be unsure if you should apply, not feel confident you will make it, or just want more information about the program before applying; Keep reading.
What is the VMware vExpert Program?
Quoted from the front page of the vExpert site:
The VMware vExpert program is VMware’s global evangelism and advocacy program. The program is designed to put VMware’s marketing resources towards your > advocacy efforts. Promotion of your articles, exposure at our global events, co-op advertising, traffic analysis, and early access to beta programs and > VMware’s roadmap. The awards are for individuals, not companies, and last for one year. Employees of both customers and partners can receive the awards…
So, what does that mean for you? Simply put this is VMware’s global customer (and partner) advocacy program. Meaning if you love working with, teaching, or just discussing VMware solutions this group is probably for you, but even if you are newer to the VMware community, you should give it some thought. When you awarded membership, it is for one year (If you join in the 2nd round of applications like are open now your year still ‘expires’ at the same time those that join the program during the 1st round) and is awarded to you, not the company you work for so even if you change jobs during that year you are still a member. Every vExpert re-applies every year.
The program consists of the general vExpert group and then also has a list of sub-programs dedicated to a particular collection of VMware solutions. These sub-programs are run by the internal business groups at VMware, so you really get connected to the people behind the products. As of this year there are 7 sub programs, 6 of those are focused on certain solution stacks and they are, NSX, EUC, HCX, Cloud Management, Security, and Cloud Provider. The 7th group is a dedicated group of vExpert members called vExpert Pro, who help spreading the word about the program and act as mentors within the program, especially to those joining for the first time.
Most Importantly - the vExpert program is a place where you can share and gain knowledge from like-minded professionals globally It’s like having access to VIP room of the VMware and VMUG communities that is even more hyper focused on sharing knowledge.
Who can join the vExpert program?
Probably You. Seriously though, vExpert members come from all aspects of IT life. Customers, Partners and even VMware employees of all experience levels are eligible. The only real two requirements that I know of are:
- Apply - You can’t get in if you don’t apply to get in.
- Be active in the VMware community - We have Bloggers, podcasters, a lot of Twitter users, YouTube video makers and more. All contributing to the #vCommunity in their own way.
What the vExpert Program is not
- A certification - this program is not a certification of any time. The VCA, VCP, VCAP, VCDX certifications are 100% a separate thing and the vExpert program doesn’t “fast track” or change any requirements for those. On the plus side, this means there are no tests.
- A Sales Driven program focused on getting you to buy their products. As a matter of fact, you get quite the list of free stuff - more on that later
- A replacement for VMware Support - While most vExperts are willing to share their knowledge and answer questions they are not a part of the program to troubleshoot your environment.
- A requirement to blog daily (or weekly) - You can look at this blog if you need proof, I am far from a regular blogger but I do find other ways to interact with the community as well. Everyone understands that everyone has day-jobs and other responsibilities and any ribbing you may get for not sharing in some way for a while is all in good fun.
What you get out of it
The first thing you may have heard about is the free licensing for home lab user, and it’s true. With your membership to the program you get 1-year keys for use in YOUR home lab. We don’t get ALL the software, but I’d say we get 99% of what people run in lab environments. Examples include vSphere, Workstation/Fusion, Horizon, vRealize Suite and many more. The only note I have is, there are only a few people running the vExpert program and they have to coordinate with many VMware teams to generate HUNDREDS of licenses at this point so please be patient. You likely won’t have them Day 1, but you will get them.
- There are also quite a few other software vendors that have NFR/Lab licensing for vExperts, this list is ever changing so I’m not going to list any of the current vendors here. It will just be a surprise once you are in!
The other big thing you get is less tangible but honestly could be even more beneficial - Access to network with an amazing group of knowledgeable people. My first year in the program I didn’t really have a functional lab to use any licensing - but this alone brought me back for year two (and three).
The vCommunity is a unique online community. Full of people willing to help each other and share knowledge to anyone that asks. The vExpert program is kind of like getting into the VIP room for the community. Everyone had to apply meaning that they are all AT LEAST as interested in sharing and learning as you are.
To access this community, besides using #vExpert on twitter, you gain access to the vExpert Slack. Within the Slack there are many, many channels of various topics. Channels dedicated to products like vRA, sharing blog posts, and talking home labs to name a few. Then if you eventually make it into one of the sub-programs like vExpert Cloud Management you can access to a private channel for you do talk with your fellow sub-program members.
You will also get access to attend a lot of vExpert only webinars. You will get product demos and technical dives from VMware employees and other vendors. These are technical reviews, not sales pitches. You may even get the chance to be a part of pre-release briefings for products designed to help you have your blog articles/videos/etc. ready for the embargo date.
The program can also help get your content out to a wider audience. Not only can you share your content on the vExpert slack, but your public profile also contains a link to your website, and VMware may even share your blog out on one of the “blogs.vmware.com” sections. As an example, here is the latest ‘Blog Digest’ for the vExpert Cloud Management sub-program: https://t.co/ga0E2OnUex?amp=1
This last one is a bit up in the air this year with everything going on, some VMWorld related items
Entrance into a dedicated vExpert party - a chance to unwind after a long day of sessions, meet people you may have only talked to virtually, and of course have fun. I sadly have not managed to make one of these since joining the vExpert group, but I understand Pat Gelsinger has even stopped by to meet the group in the past.
Some special SWAG from VMware and the vExpert team - a token of application for being there, and making this community what it is. Just remember to sign up ahead of time so they have the right amount.
Special SWAG from some vendors - Each year there are a handful vendors will have some special swag for vExperts, you may have to register ahead of time or it may just be first come, first serve but you will probably need to trade your contact information for like with all other swag; choose wisely.
A chance at a free full conference pass to VMWorld? Again not 100% sure since this year is a bit different, but yeah maybe. Each year (at least the past 2 years I have been in the program so far) the vExpert group gets a few “Blogger Passes” to VMWorld. Anyone in the vExpert program can apply, but you are expected to blog or share content in some way about your experience so keep that in mind. This also doesn’t cover travel to the conference so if you don’t think you (or your company) can spare the Hotel and Flight cost it would be kind to leave the applications to those that know they can make it out.
Lastly, you get out what you put into it. This group can be a huge source of information for you to further develop your career with. It’s not a certification, like I mentioned before, but think of it as self-training and improvement for your day job. Having the acceptance letter might not get you raise or fancy new title, but most employers, I would imagine, respond favorably when employees show they are willing to learn and improve themselves.
Still not convinced or need help applying?
Good News! There is a special vExpert Group just for this situation. The vExpert PRO group I mentioned before. Again, this group is made up of dedicated members for the vExpert community that want to help spread the word about this program. They go through a secondary application to join this group to show that they can help answer questions you may have about joining. You can find the entire group either here: https://vexpert.vmware.com/directory/pro or by hopping over to Twitter and either reaching out to @vExpertPro and/or using the #vExpertPro hashtag. Of course; you can also reach out to me at @vYooper on Twitter and I will do my best to answer your question or get you connected to someone that can.