A Letter to the Veeam Vanguards

In 2000 one of my closest friends was getting married, so he and I went to NYC for a boys weekend. While we were there, we had a party and I made many friends for life and even met my future wife. The minute I got home from that trip, I sat down at my desk and wrote a letter to all my new friends. Unfortunately that letter was lost or otherwise destroyed (I’m looking at you Eric) and with the exception of notes to my son, rarely have I felt compelled to write a similar letter since. Until today.

I’ve been home from my first Veeam Vanguard Summit for about 24 hours now. I had to wait to pen this for two reasons. First, if I penned it immediately when I got home, I may end up married to a number of Vanguards and that’s not right or legal. Secondly, without 12 hours of sleep it would have read “Veeam Vangoiui7ioe79etgjl o87rnngdufi…”

I was pretty excited when I received my email in February acknowledging that I’d been accepted into the Veeam Vanguard program. When we first got together I was struck by the lack of pressure. There were little expectations of promoting the brand or pressure to produce content. The message that I heard was, ‘we want to share with you and in return we’d like your frank feedback’. To be honest, at first I was skeptical and was thinking there was some BS. I was wrong.

The year continues and there are periodic calls and webinars, some cool opportunities and early access to info. Some good, fun chatter on Slack should have tuned me in a little more as to what was to come.

For the Veeam Vanguard summit, we went to Prague. Now, if I stopped here and just shared my thanks, it would have been an experience of a lifetime. Before I move on though, just a few words about Prague. I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a more magical city. The architecture is beyond amazing, the people welcoming, the food delicious and the beer plentiful. Anyone considering going, should stop considering and just start saving your pennies. Prague should be at the top of most bucket lists and I truly hope that I get to visit again in the future.

But we weren’t there to sightsee, this was after all a tech program. I expect to share thoughts about the content specifics from the Summit in the future, so I won’t spend time diving into that here. What I will share about this event is that I’ve never seen such candor from a vendor. Any vendor will tell you about what’s awesome in their products and there was definitely that, but the folks at Veeam also told us where things still need work. We got to see behind the curtains on where things are going. That’s pretty cool and again, if we stopped there, I’d still be appreciative. What really made the product discussions special though, is that our feedback was actively solicited and I know for a fact that feedback will makes it’s way back into the product roadmap and development. Seriously, when can you, as a user, sit down with the head of Development for a billion dollar company, tell them your thoughts and concerns, then watch them hand that feedback directly to their teams? I now know the answer.

A most thoughtful gift, to cap a most amazing trip

For experiences like this, ranking and coming up with what’s “the best” is an exercise in futility. One of the things that make this program the most special and what was the most warming and touching part of this experience was the people. I’ve been involved in other programs, information exchanges, educational programs and the like for years. Only once before (luckily earlier this year, I’m blessed) have I ever experienced such camaraderie. From the Veeam-ers who made the event happen, to the Vanguards who participated, I’m so very great full to have met you. As I told one of the SVP’s at our amazing final event at Staropramen Brewery, I’ve never felt so welcomed into a community and god willing, I’ll get to pay that forward in the future.

To Anton, Rick, Cade, Spiteri and the rest of the technical teams, the content was amazing. Thank you for letting us share our feedback on it. Bring on v10!

To the rest of the Veeam team, Aubrey, Rin, Chelsea, Kirsten, and anyone I may have forgotten, thank you for your support. An extra big thank you to Nikola; what an amazing event you helped put together. I really look forward to working with you again in the future.

Finally, to my fellow Vanguards, thank you for the camaraderie, friendship, laughs and welcoming.

To all of you, it was an amazing adventure. Until I see you next, Cheers!

PS. While they weren’t there, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my boss and employer. If I didn’t work for a such a fantastic person and organization, I wouldn’t be able to have experiences like this where I can learn, share and re-energize. You’re the best!