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RUGs rare now, but Houston holds on

The regional users group (RUG) once stood as high outposts of the 3000 community. Many dotted the world's landscape, at least through North America and Europe.

But with the demise of HP's 3000 interest, as well as the 2004-2005 implosion of Interex, the RUG is now rare as a wild buffalo herd. Many of the 3000 RUGs became multi-platform meeting posts, then died out once the Internet grew strong and deep. (Unix users, after all, were out on the Internet long before any other platform in significant numbers).

But one RUG is still strong enough to mount a yearly conference. The Greater Houston RUG is organizing its International MPE/iX Conference for this fall. A recent fall of the Indiana Users group brought discussion about RUG fortunes into the open. (Yeah, on the Internet.)

Steve Davidek, a new member of the Encompass User Group board of directors, reports the user group wants to help struggling Local User Groups (LUGs) of Encompass survive. Encompass has been working to gather in the volunteer resources from Interex — and a lot of 3000 users made up that muscle.

Now that I’ve been elected to the Encompass Board, one of our goals this year is to try and grow the local user group community.  I find it interesting that the many of the Encompass LUGS are struggling just as much as the Interex RUGS did.

If there are any “RUGS” that are looking for help and support, I would be willing to be the first point of contact between the Encompass staff and the Rug leadership. In fact, I’m going to be attending the next Bay Area Local user group meeting this month.They are trying to get that group together again.  HP has been a big supporter of getting LUGS going across the country. 

Bay Area HP users once fostered one of the biggest and best RUGs. A legendary showdown over IMAGE performance in database administration went down at BARUG. The RUG once hosted an annual conference in Santa Cruz, along the California beaches, with outings at the local amusement park.

That's a long way from the 21st Century landscape. (more's the pity, since the BARUG conference exhibit area had a bodacious view of the beaches, surfers and swimwear. Something for everybody) But GHRUG can boast a fine bay in Kemah for its September conference, as well as the ample Gulf Coast shore just a half-hour away.

There's also 3000 talks and expertise, for those staying or going. That's because GHRUG is the last man standing in the RUG world — at least among groups that discuss the 3000. It's the logical destination to network: a verb that implies in-person contact as well as IP connections.