LUG Looks to Grow Membership
June 1, 2022 Alex Woodie
If you work at a large IBM i shop and are interested in having more of a say in the direction of the platform, then you might be interested in joining the influential Large User Group (LUG). And as luck would have it, the group, which is meeting in Rochester next week for the first time in three years, has several openings in its rolls and is looking for new members.
LUG got its start back in 1994, when IT executives from six big AS/400 shops got together at a COMMON conference and realized they had a common set of needs defined in part by the size and sophistication of their IT operation. The group was formally formed soon after, and ever since, it has been collecting the specific set of requirements of its membership and submitting requests for enhancements directly to IBM.
LUG members typically have very large and complex operations, and they often use the latest technologies. For example, about 95 percent of LUG members use external storage, as well as VIOS, the AIX-based storage virtualization software, LUG board member “Dutch” tells IT Jungle, and most of LUG members have at least 80 LPARs. Collectively, LUG members are managing 185 million CPWs. In short, these are big, big systems–but due to privacy concerns of its members, we don’t know the names of the companies that are members of the LUG.
IBM often develops new products or features at the request of the LUG. The Db2 Mirror offering, which delivers active-active continuous availability between two IBM i systems, is one example of a LUG requirement being translated into a product, according to Dutch.
“Two years before they announced Db2 Mirror, the LUG had working group session with IBM,” he says. “We were able to provide them feedback on what we thought was good about what they were doing and what we thought needed change. It’s a very symbiotic relationships between LUG and IBM and our ability to make sure that they’re making things we want to buy.”
The LUG regularly polls its members to get a sense for what sorts of new features and functions they would like to see from IBM. By doing its homework before submitting its requirements and figuring out what its membership wants, it increases the odds that IBM will approve the development project.
Not every LUG request gets rubber stamped by IBM, but having the LUG behind it does help the cause, explains LUG board member “Dave.”
“We still get some scrutiny, but not necessarily because we’re LUG,” Dave says. “It’s more ‘Here’s how many CPW, here’s how much of the system of this we’re using, and here’s why we need this in our business.’”
LUG bylaws state that full membership is 115 organizations, a number that reflects the practical needs of running meetings and keeping them productive. Currently the group has about two dozen vacancies, which the LUG is open to filling.
“We’re around 90 [members],” Dave said. “There are opportunities out there if somebody wanted to join or put their name in, we could absolutely evaluate them.”
Not every company can be a LUG member. There are certain requirements that must be met, and the LUG is free to accept or deny any application. The LUG membership application, which you can find at this link, states that a LUG member must have at least 30 IBM i licenses (or cores) on not more than three Power Enterprise servers, or have at least 60 IBM i licenses (or cores) on at least 12 scale-out Power servers.
There are also software characteristics that can factor into a decision on whether to approve a LUG membership application. For example, if there are a significant number of partitions and servers being managed; the presence of high availability and disaster recovery infrastructure; and the adoption of newer technologies.
Then there’s the wildcard factor: Potential ways that a prospective member may benefit the LUG. “What can you do for LUG?” Dutch says. “We know what LUG can do for you. But tell us what you’re going to bring to the table?”
LUG members are greatly anticipating next week’s meeting at the IBM lab in Rochester, Minnesota, which is the first in-person meeting since the start of COVID. The group continued to meet virtually throughout the pandemic, but it just wasn’t the same.
“It’s going to give us another big push of momentum to keep it going,” Dave said. “While it was virtual, for us it wasn’t quite the same. We just didn’t have that great face-to-face time and we’re really optimistic and looking forward to this session to get back to face to face and really start collaborating again with IBM.”
Next week’s meetings will bring a heavy dose of IBM i 7.5 and the Power10 servers. The big strategic topic slated for discussion is systems administration, with smaller discussion around security and storage topics. There is a high likelihood that some nuts-and-bolt type discussions about product delivery timelines could veer into discussion about possible future development projects.
“We’re going to be asking questing that are going to be relevant to, ‘Hey, if I put some type of schedule out there, are we going to be able to stick to this? Or where are we with this I/O adapter, and did that replace this I/O adapter?’” Dave says. “I wouldn’t say we’re bringing a message to the meeting per se, as much as it is, in the interactions during the meeting — that we get the data we need in order to run our shops.”
You can inquire about LUG membership at the LUG website www.the-lug.com.