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NUI--Be a Part of It

Articles and Tips: tip

David Heath
President, Sydney Novell Users Group

01 Jun 2002

I'd like to ask a rhetorical question. What is the core component of your computing infrastructure? Is it the servers? The desktop PCs? Your database? Perhaps even the users.

My own suggestion is two-fold: the core component is a combination of the NOS and the directory. When considering the best support structure for your infrastructure, it is wisest to base it fundamentally on this same component--the NOS + directory. In our case, we know and love eDirectory and NetWare--the greatest products known to man or computer!

Within this environment, it is easy to choose front-line support. It comes from your reseller or a contracted support group, backed by Novell's own excellent support team. However, these people are typically focussed on two specific aspects of support:

  • Making it work the first time

  • Fixing identifiable problems

These people are much less efficient at the more vague problems, ones that have no specific description and no specific answer. Questions like: "If I upgrade product X to the latest version, what other upgrades will I need to make to products Q, Y, and Z?"

Sure there are "sales" answers, such as "upgrade everything-here's my quote!" Or even some seat-of-the-pants technical answers, such as "it should be fine, just upgrade whatever breaks."

So, how do we address such problems without being inflicted with either of these 'solutions?' I'd like to re-introduce an old concept--the Users' Group.

Back in the (good old) days of the one-vendor site where things that moved were operators and things that didn't were painted blue, we all joined the appropriate user group. There was DECUS, Common, or even the Wang user group.

We liked to think that these groups held some sway over our anointed supplier (particularly true in the case of DECUS) and we all felt good about the camaraderie of fellow users. But the real reason behind the users groups was that they were the only place we could get good support-we needed them!

The users groups provided us with professionally produced publications and a real source of information about the system we had purchased, from people who were blazing a train ahead of us.

Nowadays, things are a little different, and there are three major reasons why user groups are on the decline. Whereas we once joined a single user group to service all our needs, a multitude of specific groups now address single facets of our computer environments. Additionally, vendors are very willing to offer high quality support at competitive prices. Also, the Web has made it easy to distribute information and updates (bug-fixes to you and me) to all users.

Which takes me back to where I started. By understanding which components form the core of your infrastructure, you can quickly identify where your support requirements should be focussed and also how to deal with those vague questions. Join Novell Users International. It's as simple as that!

What NUI Is About

NUI is the organization of Novell users. There are over 200 local groups throughout the world, approximately one half of which are located in North America. Generally they meet monthly with presentations on a variety of topics--Novell-based products and third-party products.

But the key benefit of membership is the other members. You will meet and mingle with your peers-people who have seen the same problems and issues that you're experiencing; people from technical and management backgrounds.

Every group I've meet or been part of has an active "Q&A" session, where members raise problems, issues or concerns in front of the other members. Often they're solved right there in the room, without the need for expensive support incident lodgement.

The benefits are clear. To quote from the NUI Web site:

"Bring up-to-date, relevant, technical resources from Novell departments such as Technical Services, Consulting, and Education, to NUI members. Often, these resources are specially prepared for NUI and not available to any other group.

"Allow NUI members to have direct contact with technical experts from Novell and Novell's Vendor Partners.

"Help IT professionals work more efficiently in complex, multi-platform network environments.

"Provide NUI members with education and certification opportunities. These opportunities are available at significant savings and offer study programs that are created and presented by experts that developed the technology.

"NUI has evolved from the need for IT professionals to have an organization that keeps them abreast of the technological advances that occur on a near-daily basis. New technology brings both opportunities and challenges. To help maximize the former and minimize the latter, NUI offers educational, networking and social events that help its members manage their careers and reap the benefits that come with being a trained professional in this highly specialized and complex field. NUI members receive?

"Access to an extensive online library of technical resources that are regularly prepared and updated by Novell engineers, Novell partner engineers, independent consultants, and other NUI members.

"Comprehensive career management resources including a searchable Novell Career Center (hosted by NUI and powered by ); links to external, industry specific job banks; online Q&A sessions with human resource experts; and a searchable library of career management articles.

"Opportunities to network with other industry professionals on a regular basis at local meetings and via the Internet in the NUI community chat room and forums.

"In addition, as a benefit of membership, you'll receive the popular magazine Novell Connection. This contains a wealth of product reviews on new releases from Novell along with occasional material on third-party products and regular columns for the network professional."

So, how do you join NUI? Just visit the Web site at and choose the membership area. From the "Local NUI" page, locate your nearest group and contact the listed e-mail address-it's as easy as that! They'd love to have you aboard, and you'll begin to reap the benefits almost immediately.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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