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Walking back to the oVirt booth at the Red Hat Summit Tuesday after grabbing some lunch, I noticed the giant lit-up sphere above the booth was no longer lit; among the seven other stands in the Red Hat Developer's Lounge, ours was the only one not shining.

It seemed to be our week for trouble at the oVirt booth. A misplaced shipment meant our tchotchkes and community t-shirts were lost.

We were also sharing our space with the brand-new Project Atomic. I was afraid in the hubbub that oVirt would be drowned out in the noise that inevitably comes when a cool project like Atomic gets launched. Plus, Atomic did have its t-shirts and stickers, so that was even more competition for peoples' attention. All we had to hand out at the booth were our fliers and my winning smile.

Well, at least we had the fliers.

You might think this post-Summit write up is setting up to be a litany of excuses for why oVirt wasn't well represented at the show this week, but as it turned out that wasn't the case.

The hundreds of visitors to the oVirt stand fell into two categories: users and fans of oVirt who wanted to know more about product specifics and get their questions answered, and a much larger group of folks who wanted to find out more about oVirt in general. Of this second group, it was about a fifty-fifty split between people who had never heard of oVirt at all and those who knew that it existed but wanted to learn more.

I had great talks with a lot of people. The experienced oVirt users remarked on several occasions how much easier oVirt was to install and configure these days, as opposed to earlier versions, which was immediately gratifying because that's something the engineering team has been working on for recent versions. Knowing that their efforts have been noticed is good. Some of the questions were beyond my ability answer, and I found myself handing out my business cards quite a bit, making sure that folks would circle their questions back to me and I could get the connected to the community members who would know exactly how to help them.

Over and over, I was reminded how strong oVirt's community is, with people telling me their stories about how they'd gotten help on our mailing lists or on our IRC channel.

For the people who weren't as familiar with oVirt, I found myself giving them the five-minute overview many, many times. This wasn't tedious because I often got the payoff: that light in their eyes when they realized that they could get a production-ready virtual datacenter manager free of charge. For the people using VMware now, this light was especially bright.

Virtual machine management is a key piece of IT right now, and there are a lot of people looking to get started or get away from proprietary solutions. oVirt may indeed be the answer to the problems they are trying to resolve.

Eventually our lighted booth sphere was repaired and the box of tchotchkes was located and things logistically settled in the oVirt booth. But we hardly even noticed... We were too busy having great conversations with all the folks stopping by.

About the author

Brian Proffitt is a Manager within Red Hat's Open Source Program Office, focusing on content generation, community metrics, and special projects. Brian's experience with community management includes knowledge of community onboarding, community health, and business alignment. Prior to joining Red Hat in 2014, he was a technology journalist with a focus on Linux and open source, and the author of 22 consumer technology books. 

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