In 2012, Internap embraced social media as a way to engage with the community of customers and buyers of IT Infrastructure. As part of the next step in our evolution, Internap is working to be more engaged with the local user groups and development communities. As part of my new role as Internap’s Hosting Evangelist, I’ll be attending events to talk with the people who are using the types of infrastructure we provide to build awesome applications and generally do cool stuff.

While our Enterprise Sales teams are selling to CIOs, VPs, Directors and other “business” titles, it’s usually the IT Manager, the Developer, or the Operations teams that are actually using our services, whether it’s Colocation, IP, Content Delivery Network (CDN), and especially Hosting.

To this end, I’ll be writing up a periodic highlight of some local communities and events. I’ll start with the various user groups in the greater Atlanta area and highlight some of their activities and interests. If you are a customer of Internap and use any of the software or programming languages highlighted here, I encourage you to visit these groups or similar groups in your local area.

Python User Group – Jan 10, 2013
During a previous job, I worked as a sysadmin supporting Python developers. So I picked up just enough Python to install and validate the functionality of Python and various requested modules.

The PyATL User Group is a group of developers (and enthusiasts) who use the Python programming language, so the presentations are focused around developer themes. During this month’s meetup, presenters talked about Tox, which is a tool to help create and manage virtualenv environments to isolate code for testing, and Sphinx, which is a documentation engine using reStructuredText (a simple markup language).

There is also a PyLadies group that is open to women-only and a Jam Session meetup where coders can get together more informally and work on projects, ask questions, and share tips and tricks.

MongoDB User Group – Jan 11, 2013
10Gen, the company that develops and supports MongoDB, held its monthly “office hours” meeting at the Roam Atlanta coworking space. Since I don’t have much hands-on experience with MongoDB (yet), I attended to ask questions about the type of hosting infrastructure typically used in a MongoDB cluster, and what kind of hardware resources – or lackthereof – usually present bottlenecks and scaling challenges. Other attendees were developers who had specific questions around some of their projects, as well as socializing with a little bit of shop talk.

OpenStack User Group – Jan 17, 2013
Internap deployed an OpenStack-based cloud in 2011, so this was definitely one group I wanted to attend. The Atlanta OpenStack user group has a smaller attendance than some groups, so they conduct it a little more informally than larger user groups. The organizer, Doug Hellman, gave a presentation on Ceilometer, which is a usage collection service that presents usage data into a centralized data store for billing systems to retrieve and use for invoicing. This represents one of the challenges companies face when deploying public clouds. Collecting usage data for on-demand services that are calculated in hours (rather than flat monthly fees) requires considerable development work. This project aims to reduce that level of effort and present the usage data in a way that can be integrated with a billing and invoicing system.

Drupal Coffee Club – Jan 22, 2013
This is probably one of my personal favorites. I’ve been using Drupal for various small projects for a while, and while I rarely make it to the monthly Atlanta Drupal User Group meetups, I try to attend the Drupal Coffee Club as much as possible. Like the PyATL Jam Sessions, this is where Drupal users (novices and experts and anywhere in between) can get together and talk about their projects, ask for assistance, and socialize over some yummy coffee and baked goods.

WordPress User Group – Jan 23, 2013
Finally, Russell Fair presented at the WordPress User Group on the topic of Photoblogging. For those running WordPress as a website/content management system and are looking to post galleries of photos online (but without using third-party photo-hosting services), this was a great introduction to the various plugins and themes that support this activity.

If you currently work with, or are interested in any of these (or similar) technologies, Atlanta has a large number of user groups that are wonderful opportunities to learn new software, techniques, and to meet other people in the community. Next month, I plan to visit these groups and a few new ones, such as the Web Performance Meetup Group.

Do you have a user group that you recommend I visit? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet your recommendation to @andrewboring.