Spend a little to save a lot: Why a $200 VMUG membership is a bargain

A VMUG Advantage membership will run you about $200, but according to one expert, the membership pays for itself in no time.

Subscribing to paid technical memberships, such the VMUG Advantage, is not exactly on the top of most people's lists for how to spend their own money. So it is important to ask, "What are the monetary benefits of a technical membership?" And I decided that the cost of the VMUG Advantage was well worth it.

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The annual cost for a VMware User Group Advantage membership is $200 for individuals or $180 for individuals who are part of a larger corporate package. Granted, $200 is not a lot of money anymore, although I did consider spending it on replacing my 16-year-old, beat up snowboard instead. Without really investigating the “What's in it for me?” value, I made the spontaneous choice to pay the VMUG Advantage membership fee. After several months as a member, I think I made a wise choice.

The perks of a VMUG Advantage membership
Anyone can get a free VMUG membership, but the Advantage-level membership provides additional benefits. Is it really worth forgoing a new snowboard? If you were to use all of the VMUG Advantage-level benefits, you could save up to $1,700 per year. Here is a summary of a few of them, along with the potential savings:

  • One-year subscription to all-access eLearning courses from VMware. Purchasing a subscription to VMware's all-access eLearning costs $500 if you aren't a VMUG Advantage member. As a VMUG member, you get access to all this training, saving you $300, when you factor in the $200 VMUG membership. The training doesn’t count toward a certification, but it can help you quickly and easily learn more about VMware's products and how to better manage a virtual environment. The eLearning courses have taught me about tools I never knew existed.
  • VMware-delivered classes at a 20% discount. According to VMware's training site, the most popular paid training course as of July 2012 is VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [5.0]. This course costs $2,796. Thus, a 20% discount saves you about $560. This is a substantial savings, whether the training money comes out of your pocket or that of your employer (in which case it could make a good selling point for setting up a corporate VMUG account).
  • VMware certification exams at a 20% discount. VMware Certified Professional 5 exams currently cost $225. A 20% discount on the exam will save you about $45. But, right now, VMUG Advantage is offering a promotion through the month of August. If you sign up before August 31, 2012, you get a free VCP 5 exam voucher. That alone will pay for the cost of membership. So, if you are planning to take the exam, join VMUG.
  • VCP exam retake from Global Knowledge. I hope you won't need this cost savings, but in case you don't pass your VCP exam, you can save another $225.
  • A $100 discount on VMworld admission. If you are planning to go to VMworld, a VMUG Advantage membership will save you $100. If you already have the money to attend VMworld in San Francisco or Barcelona for a weeklong trip, a $100 savings is probably not going to sway you into buying the Advantage membership. Still, it may be another selling point if your boss is footing the bill for your trip to Fisherman's Wharf or Gaudi Park and the Picasso Museum.
  • Fusion and Workstation license at a 30% discount. VMware Fusion costs around $49 and Workstation is $199. Thus, you can save about $14 and $59, respectively. Not a huge savings, but a nice bonus.

VMUG Advantage membership really is a bargain. Even if you only use one or two of the perks, you can easily earn your money back each year.

Additionally, the monthly VMUG Voice email newsletter subscription is a benefit that cannot be measured in dollars, but I have found it useful, nonetheless. True, I am just as swamped with email as the next person, but VMUG email messages are informative and helpful. They keep me up to date on webcasts and local VMUG events, which are also a great source of information.

To stay current, sometimes you have to spend a little money -- in this case $200, which is an average night on the town, two lift tickets at a ski area or a cheap snowboard. All of the benefits of a VMUG Advantage membership provide a real return on your investment. Just the subscription to the all-access eLearning is easily worth the price of membership. I highly recommend you join VMUG and spring for the Advantage membership.

Now, how can I get through another year with this beat-up snowboard?

This was first published in August 2012

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