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A Beginners Guide To SUGUK

I’m documenting this as a guide to anyone who has never attended a SUGUK and is wondering "What the heck goes on at those things?", and I’m hoping that by revealing the secrets of the inner SUGUK sanctum, more people may step forward and think "Hey,that sounds like the kinda thing I’d like to attend".
Anyway, on with the show….
Speakers at the event were Alex Pearce (Sharepoint MVP) and Mike Watson (SharePoint Mad Scientist) and around 30 people from all areas of Sharepoint knowledge and experience attended, the majority of which had never attended a SUGUK event before.
Mark Macrae (Intelligent Decisioning) kicked off welcoming all and introducing Alex Pearce as the 1st speaker.  Alexs current role is Learning Gateway and ICT Manager at Gt Barr School where he provides the Microsoft Learning Gateway to schools in the local area of Birmingham, UK. His main focus is SharePoint but he also works with all the products in the Microsoft Learning Gateway.
Alex presented his top 5 User Adoption tips & tricks – demonstrating techniques that he has used to make the kids & teachers of Great Barr School get into Sharepoint.  These techniques ranged from branding the site with the Gt Barr School look and feel, through to the use of light hearted surveys and custom lists.  Alex demonstrated all of these live in front of the audience and he managed to pull it off – not an easy task when the demo gremlins are in the air.  Q&A followed with a discussion around how to get users to adopt Sharepoint – a cracking idea was to get the Boss blogging and watch the rest of the organisation get on board 🙂
The meeting then broke about 19:30 for the obilgatory computer geek pizza buffet and (more unusually) Budweisier beer.  Much Sharepoint networking took place with everyone chatting to everyone in between bites of pizza and swags of Bud.
The second half kicked off at 20:00 and featured Mike Watson.  Mike specializes in deploying highly scalable, highly available SharePoint environments with an emphasis on new datacenter trends and technologies.  He was instrumental in planning and deploying Microsoft’s SAAS (Software as a Service) efforts including Microsoft Managed Services and Microsoft Online.
Mike was soon into a presentation that he’d given before and which had lasted more than 4 hours – his task was to compress it into a single hour as the Nottingham SharePint event was scheduled to take place as soon as he was done and he didn’t want to stand between 30 SharePoint people and the bar!  He did a cracking job making, what for some (SharePoint devs, designers and users in the main) is a tricky subject.
He talked us thorugh how deploying Sharepoint and not forgetting to scale out as required but not to forget that scaleing up has it’s place – less boxes to manage for example.
The SUGUK event wrapped up with a Q&A session where Sharepoint swagged (kindly donated by Penny Coventry – Sharepoint MVP) was awarded. 
The traditional end to any SUGUK is the SharePint event that follows and the 10th September was no different.  We all decamped to the Broad Oak pub on Strelley Main St and a few pints were shared and much Sharepoint networking took place.
We’re planning to hold these SUGUK meetings in Nottingham every couple of months or so and you can find out what we’re up to with the next one by signing up at the suguk website.  There’s no obligation to buy owt, or to post on the forum (lurk in the background if you like) or to attend meetings – all we ask is that if you’re planning to attend a meeting, please add your name to the the list – it lets us gauge how much pizza we need 🙂  We have plans in the pipeline for the next event (speakers, topics etc.) but we’d really like to know what you want to see – so get on the suguk website and post some suggestions – it’s your community – use it! 
Don’t keep it to yourself either, the community needs to continue to grow and continually expand, the more you put in the more you’ll get out.  Spread the word, bring your colleagues, tell them what you heard the next day at work,encourage them to come with you, SUGUK will be delighted to see you all.
You can follow Alex Pearce, Mike Watson, Penny Coventry, Mark Macrae and me on Twitter:
Alex Pearce @Alex_Pearce
Mke Watson @mikewat
Penny Coventry @pjcov
Mark Macrae @m_macrae
Wor Tony @WorTony
See you in the Twittersphere and the next Nottingham SUGUK event.
Wor Tony

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