Chris Koppe is now in his third month of presidency of the Connect user group, but he's clocking in many years of volunteering on behalf of HP customers including the 3000 community. Koppe, who's been involved with Connect since the group's days as the Encompass enterprise user group, looks to the 3000 as his own foundation.
"It's where my roots are," he said when we talked after the user group had named its 2010 officers and explored this year's goals. User group work has given him about 20 hours weekly of extra duties, something he's managing along with the life of being a dad and directing Speedware's marketing operations. But he considers the user group as a means to illuminate the 3000's future.
"I was always trying to be the torchbearer for the 3000 community during those transitions," he said, reflecting on the middle of last decade and the Interex demise. Koppe got approached by Encompass president Kristi Browder while he was still on the Interex board, as Encompass reached out to connect with the 3000 crowd. The Connect group is reaching for more 3000 leadership for next year, too. Steve Davidek, who's still managing a 3000 for a Nevada municipality, is the president-in-waiting for 2011.
CONNECT SELECTS its presidents one year in advance, when the board chooses its vice-president. Koppe explained that the presidency is a three-year experience: one as VP, another in the office, then a third as past president.
Davidek, he said, is well-known for his advocacy committee work in the final years of Interex, having pushed for customer survey programs to speak to HP. Surveys have been a primary means for advocacy for all of these user groups. An HP-UX customer survey is underway now at the Connect site. Koppe believes HP processes user group communiques differently than other customers'.
"The community has a larger voice to HP," by speaking as a group, he said. "User group customers tend to be more passionate." He added that he has his own passion for the community of HP users, including the 3000 customer who will remain on the system indefinitely. But he knows the direct advocacy for these customers comes from another group.
"OpenMPE is carrying the homesteading advocacy torch these days," he said. "Our social network creates a place for people to engage, and we have an MPE community page that acts as a meeting place." Speedware's Nick Fortin has been a sparkplug at that Web location, and Koppe talked it up during last year's e3000 Community Meet.
As for the HP-UX customers, newly arrived from their 3000 experience, Connect has plans for their services already in motion. A January Webcast from HP was a highlight of the HP-UX Month for Connect. While Connect already has committees for OpenVMS and NonStop, HP's Unix does have one -- yet. "I wouldn't be surprised if one develops during this year," he said.
Connect has goals for 2010 that go beyond staying healthy financially (it's in good shape, Koppe said) and keeping the tradition of in-person meetings alive with new events and the HP Technology Forum & Expo. The group wants to establish five new chapters this year to add to its 36 in place, as well as create newsletters delivered online that are targeted at its distinct memberships.
Connect operates on the glue that every member uses HP gear. While the members look at HP-UX as if it's an open system, the group needs to balance services for mixed and specialized environments. The HP enterprise badge on gear and solutions brings it together.
"I think that in order for us to remain relevant as an organization, you need to be able to serve our mission: to be the association of HP's enterprise customers," he said. "Whether you use enterprise storage products, the Unix or Windows platform, blade servers, security or networking products, our goal is to be the user community that supports those particular segements of HP's product line. In many respects user groups become the home of the users of the older technologies. This is where the OpenVMS and NonStop communities congregate. We have programs that we're developing to replicate that formula with HP-UX."