Dell Storage Forum and the emergence of a new community

A goal we had for the Dell Storage Forum was to bring together all users of Dell Storage – whether they use PowerVault, EqualLogic, or Compellent, into one Dell Storage community. For me, one of the biggest take-aways from the Forum was the emergence of a visible, coherent community.

Community Definition

One sociological definition of community
  holds that the following things are required to call a group of people a community:

  1. Place: Territorial or place community can be seen as where people have something in common
  2. Interest: In interest or ‘elective’ communities people share a common characteristic other than place
  3. Communion: a sense of attachment to a place, group or idea

Here’s why I think we can see a Dell Storage community now:

  1. Place: There are many places online where the community gathers: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, the Dell Tech Center, etc. Individuals who knew each other from these “places” were able to meet in real life in Orlando for the Dell Storage Forum.
  2. Interest: Folk who elect to become part of this community are interested in challenges people have managing information, and how Dell Storage products can be used to help overcome those challenges. People in the community include Dell employees and executives, customers, partners and analysts. They also are people who have varied technical backgrounds – from engineers to salespeople to implementers to marketeers. Dell Storage Forum 2011 Tweet Up

    I love this image from the DSF tweetup. You see bloggers, influencers, partners, and execs in the shot.

  3. Members from all different areas of the storage community landscape, coming together at one event to talk about community issues. 
  4. Communion: I think after #dellfs11 there is an attachment to Dell Fluid Data Architecture.

The Virtual Era is Fluid - Dell Storage Forum 2011 #DellSF11

Where do we go now?

And now we come to the question and answer section of this blog post. 😉

I know what I’m hoping to see – the emergence of real community of practices (CoPs). Here’s Etienne Wegner’s definition of communities of practice:

Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

How do we start connecting people to create these C0Ps within our storage community? Do some of these already CoPs exist? How do we strengthen them, so we are all interacting regularly to help each other learn all of the elements that are required to manage information?

And what should we do when our CoPs have conflicts? Communities are not idyllic – there are boundaries that are constantly evolving. Especially in technical communities full of highly motivated, passionate, creative, intelligent people. Bonds that seem immutable can shift and change. How do we use this sort of passionate conflict to strengthen community bonds?

I’ve been connecting with the internal Dell folks who work on Dell object storage, and I’ll start blogging about that technology very soon. I’m happy to bring this internal CoP external for anyone who is interested in joining in that conversation.

What ideas do you have?

About the Author: Gina Rosenthal