TechTip: User Groups Fill Education and Networking Gaps

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Throughout the U.S. and around the world, user groups offer another source of IBM i expertise and community membership.


Ever been faced with a programming, systems-management, or other technical problem that your own expertise can't solve and that IBM docs or your favorite online forum doesn't address? It may be that help is available from other IBM i professionals in your area.


Active user groups exist in many areas of the U.S., as well as internationally, and can provide you with additional sources of information, training, and moral support. Some are focused on specific areas of IBM i computing; others are more general. Some require dues payment, others payments for attending specific events, and still others have no fees associated with them at all. User meetings can vary from quarterly get-togethers to monthly meetings to annual conferences. Other services often include newsletters, software libraries, technical support, and social events.


There are several user-group organizations affiliated with IBM. One of the most germane to the IBM i specifically is COMMON's list of user groups, which usually meet monthly and provide a wide range of speakers, presentations, discussion groups, and opportunities for professional interactions with peers at other enterprises. Additional IBM i-specific U.S. user-group listings are available at the AS/400 Journal Web site, grouped by state. Also available are lists of groups affiliated with COMMON Europe, COMMON International, iSUC Japan, the Large User Group (IBM i users at the 100 largest U.S. companies), and the Toronto Users Group.


IBM also offers independent user group contact info on various Web pages for all its platforms. IBM's listing of Information Management user groups provides links to U.S. and international user groups specializing in DB2, enterprise content management, Cognos, Informix, and general database use. The Power Systems Community page provides contacts with user groups that focus on Power Systems usage under any supported OS (e.g., IBM i, AIX, Linux). The developerWorks user-group page offers user group listings specializing in information management, Java, Linux, Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, and XML tools. There's also a developerWorks twitter feed service. The Rational User Community provides a specific point of convergence for consumers of IBM's Rational products and includes a listing of public wikis on Rational topics. The IBM Business Analytics Users' Groups page lists user groups whose locus is business intelligence.


The International Retail User Group specializes in IBM platform users in the retail industry. The Global WebSphere Community focuses on WebSphere use, as does U.K.-based WebSphere User Group U.K.


Whatever your needs for additional information or for connecting with peers at other IBM i enterprises, there are user groups available in most U.S. states and many international locations. User groups are always looking for new members interested in expanding their networking opportunities in the global IBM i community.


Potential and actual members of user groups can comment on their user group experiences, or bring readers' attention to other user groups not mentioned here at the MC Press Online forums page.