Dell Storage Forum and the emergence of a new community

Posted by gminks in community building | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A goal we had for the Dell Storage Forum was to bring together all users of Dell Storage – whether they use PowerVault, EqualLogic, or Compellent, into one Dell Storage community. For me, one of the biggest take-aways from the  Forum was the emergence of a visible, coherent community.

Community Definition

One sociological definition of community[1. Smith, M. A. (2002). community – a review of the theory. the encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved June 21, 2011, from http://www.infed.org/community/community.htm] holds that the following things are required to call a group of people a community:

  1. Place: Territorial or place community can be seen as where people have something in common
  2. Interest: In interest or ‘elective’ communities people share a common characteristic other than place
  3. Communion: a sense of attachment to a place, group or idea

Here’s why I think we can see a Dell Storage community now:

    1. Place: There are many places online where the community gathers: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, the Dell Tech Center, etc. Individuals who knew each other from these “places” were able to meet in real life in Orlando for the Dell Storage Forum.
    2. Interest: Folk who elect to become part of this community are interested in challenges people have managing information, and how Dell Storage products can be used to help overcome those challenges. People in the community include Dell employees and executives, customers, partners and analysts. They also are people who have varied technical backgrounds – from engineers to salespeople to implementers to marketeers.

      I love this image from the DSF tweetup. You see bloggers, influencers, partners, and execs in the shot. Members from all different areas of the storage community landscape, coming together at one event to talk about community issues.
      Dell Storage Forum 2011 Tweet Up

    3. Communion: I think after #dellsf11 there is an attachment to Dell Fluid Data architecture
      The Virtual Era is Fluid - Dell Storage Forum 2011 #DellSF11

    Where do we go now?

    And now we come to the question and answer section of this blog post. 😉

    I know what I’m hoping to see – the emergence of real community of practices (CoPs). Here’s Etienne Wegner’s definition of communities of practice [2. Wegner, E. (n.d.). Communities of practice. Etienne Wegner. Retrieved June 21, 2011, from http://www.ewenger.com/theory/] :

    Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

    How do we start connecting people to create these C0Ps within our storage community? Do some of these already CoPs exist? How do we strengthen them, so we are all interacting regularly to help each other master all of the elements that are required to manage information?

    And what should  we do when our CoPs have conflicts? Communities are not idyllic – there are boundaries that are constantly evolving. Especially in technical communities full of highly motivated, passionate, creative, intelligent people. Bonds that seem immutable can shift and change. How do we use this sort of passionate conflict to strengthen community bonds?

    I’ve been connecting with the internal Dell folks who work on Dell object storage, and I’ll start blogging about that technology very soon. I’m happy to bring this internal CoP external for anyone who is interested in joining in that conversation.

    What ideas do you have?

    References

    4 Responses to Dell Storage Forum and the emergence of a new community

    1. Ravikanth says:

      Great thoughts! In my opinion, these efforts need to be global. For example, Dell storage forum should move around to places such as India. In India, we have large number of technology user groups. These groups meet regularly and share knowledge. In fact, we have been hosting one of these groups (Bangalore IT Pro) at Dell India. This provides a great opportunity to showcase Dell products and listen to what these end users (sys admins & IT staff) have to say about our products.

      Also, most of the tech chats and webcasts hosted by delltechcenter should also consider other time zones. These events today, predominantly, happen in US time zone.

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