My ramblings about all things technical

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vExpert 2016 Truly Honoured

The 2016 vExpert announcements have been made and for the sixth year in a row I have been honoured with the designation. If you don’t know what the vExpert is here is the definition from the vExpert site:

The VMware vExpert Award is given to individuals who have significantly contributed to the community of VMware users over the past year. vExperts are book authors, bloggers, VMUG leaders, tool builders, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others. These vExperts have gone above and beyond their day jobs to share their technical expertise and communicate the value of VMware and virtualization to their colleagues and community.

A massive thanks to Corey and the rest of his team for selecting me, it is an amazing honour Open-mouthed smile. Also a massive congratulations to all the other people selected especially all the ones from the London VMUG and my vBrownbag brothers and sisters. You can see the list of the other vExpert 20162 awardees on the list here


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VCAP6-CMA Design Study Resources

A very quick posting around the creation of my new VCAP6-CMA Design study resources page now that the beta exam has been released. As I have done in the past for the VCP5 and VCAP5-DCV exams, I have started building a list of resources I will be using for the beta and if I don’t make the mark then the GA exam for the VCAP6-CMA design. If you feel I’ve missed any resources please do let me know as these pages seem to be very popular and so everyone can benefit with top class resources.

For those signed up for the beta, good luck!



VCAP6 Design Beta Exams Released

A very quick posting around the release of the VCAP6 design beta exams. I know the internal VMware round was happening this week and now they have opened the design beta exams for the DTM,CMA and DCV . make sure you register for the one you want most first as the validation can take a bit of time and you can only do one authorisation at a time it seems. Here’s hoping the VCAP6 beta exams go better that the VCP6 beta exams did.



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VCDX Advice

The Love Guru - VCDX is achieveableSince my obtaining of my VCDX I’ve been humbled that some people have asked me for advice around aiming for the VCDX. So I thought I would ask as many VCDX as I could (and who would be willing to respond) to send me some VCDX advice one liners. If you are a VCDX and wish to add to the list then please let me know as I’d love to have a one liner (or a few like some people have done) from every single VCDX added to this posting. So below are all the one liners sent to me so far:

John Arrasjid VCDX #1 : “Those pursuing the VCDX program benefit from dedicated time each day to strengthen their weak areas, fully understand their design, and anticipate questions. By doing this & mock defenses, they set themselves up for success.”

John Arrasjid VCDX #1 : “Although challenging to achieve, the benefits of the VCDX certification is recognized in the industry. Your design, tech, operational, troubleshooting, & presentation skills are all important to VCDX and design success.”

Jason Boche VCDX #34 : “VCDX certification is a multi-step journey. The defense ties all together. Preparation and confidence yields success. Exhibit confidence, but not to a fault. Successful design has a key listening component.”

Andrea Mauro VCDX #35 : “You can pass or fail your VCDX defense. But the most important aspect is the journey itself. And you can improve yourself”

Chris Colotti VCDX #37  : “Do Your Best….and Forget the Rest” — Tony Horton :)

Magnus Andersson VCDX #56  : “A great learning experience no matter the end result.”

Michael Webster VCDX #66 : “Know what you don’t know”

Hugo Phan VCDX #75 : “Fail to plan? Then plan to fail, preparation is key.”

James Charter VCDX #106 : “Be honest with yourself on your strengths and weaknesses; use this opportunity to push yourself and focus on improving your weaknesses, it will make you a better architect”

Mike Tellinghuisen VCDX #111 : “Aim to be finished with everything 1 month before submission and try to get peer reviews of your design – you’ll be surprised at what a fresh set of eyes will pick up and it will ensure you have time to make any necessary changes.”

Jon Kohler VCDX #116 : “VCDX is just as much about the journey as it is about the outcome. You’ll likely find that learning the design methodologies as well as the defense preparation/presentation strategies will be extremely valuable whether you achieve the certification or not”

Rene van den Bedem VCDX 2xVCDX#133/NPX#8 : “Start with the Conceptual Model, then the Logical Design, Physical Design and Risks, finishing off with the Supporting documentation.”

Rene van den Bedem VCDX 2xVCDX#133/NPX#8 : “Consume technology to extract business value.”

Harsha Hosur VCDX #135 : “ Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Pursue excellence; success will find its way to you. “

Safouh Kharrat VCDX #136 :  “Give yourself enough preparation time before submitting your VCDX application and if you couldn’t make it, don’t give up! Use the feedback to improve your design and go for it again.”

Joe Clarke VCDX #138 : “Read. The. Blueprint. Again. :)

Niran Even-Chen VCDX #142  : “Manage your time right during this journey, taking a breath between sprints is important. I’m saying that because I’ve seen folks with excellent designs get to the finish line burnt and exhausted and they don’t pass”

Joseph Griffiths VCDX #143 : “Pace yourself delaying three months will not kill you. Detail everything on your design.”

Jason Shiplett VCDX #183  : “Do your homework. If you come into the design process without having prepared well, you put yourself at a severe disadvantage.”

Jason Shiplett VCDX #183 : “ Stick with it. There will be times in the process when you want to give up – I know I did. Tenacity is the key.”

Jayson Block VCDX #186 : “Know your limits, it’s okay to have them. When reaching for the clouds, don’t get trapped in the fog. Demonstrate you have a methodology and are confident in your approach.”

Thomas Brown VCDX #187 : “Do mock defences before you submit so you find the holes in your design while you still have the ability to fix them. “

Yves Sandfort VCDX #203 :  “Go top down or fail. The Conceptual is your sketch of your dream house, the logical is your architects raw drawing, physical is what you build the house from.”

Gregg Robertson VCDX #205 : “ If I can do it anyone can do it with enough work and sacrifice. Always ask yourself “Do I want it more than X” and you’ll be amazed how much time you find to get it done “

Jason Grierson VCDX #206 : “Motivation is key, you are running a marathon not a 100m dash. Pace yourself and believe you will make it to the finish line.”

Andy Smith VCDX #208 : “Focus on the blueprint and how your design maps to that blueprint and your customer’s requirements.”

Konrad Clapa VCDX #211 : “Understand every single decision you made! If you put it in the design know why.”

Niels Hagoort VCDX  #212 :”Do take all the VCDX clichés into account, but make sure you follow your own path in getting to the level of comfort in yourself and your design to successfully apply and defend”


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VCDX Spotlight: Niels Hagoort

Name: Niels Hagoort

Twitter Handle: @NHagoort

Blog URL:

Current Employer: YaWorks

VCDX #: 212

How did you get into using VMware?

I was working at an ISP back in the days. One day we decided to create a platform for customer to host VPS (Virtual Private Servers). I did the VI3.5 course and obtained the VCP3 certification. So that project was actually my first experience with VMware. After that, I was pretty much hooked and became an instant fan of virtualization and VMware in specific!

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I wanted to know if I could do it. I’ve spoken to several Dutch VCDX holders, and was curious to see if I got what it take to become VCDX. Next to that, it does look really sweet on your CV because it still is a pretty exclusive certification. J

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

Well, I actually took almost half a year ‘off’ between getting both VCAP’s and beginning with my VCDX application. So I guess, all in all, it took me a year after deciding I wanted to give it a shot.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

I would like to say to them to take all the known VCDX clichés into account, but do pave your own path to VCDX. Believe in your own approach to actually apply for it. Do not get ‘scared’ of by some of the stories dwelling around on the internet. If you have questions about VCDX, reach out to a mentor / current holder. Another important one; set realistic targets for yourself and stick to it!

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

Not that much I guess… Knowing what I know now (having experienced an actual defense), I would have definitely gone for it earlier on that I did.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

So life does go on, but it was definitely worth it!! Although the VCDX track is there to verify you as an architect, I did learn a lot during my journey. All in all, it made me a better architect than I was before.

My employer, my customers and people around me were over the moon with the result, as was I. It was also very cool to see all the good vibes from the VMware community on me passing the defense!

It is a little bit harder to explain what VCDX beholds to people not familiar with it, but the part that it still is a very exclusive certification to have is very well received and instantly respected.

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VCDX Spotlight – Konrad Clapa

Name: Konrad Clapa

Twitter Handle: @clapa_konrad

Current Employer: AtoS

VCDX #: 211

How did you get into using VMware?

I first learned about VMware at University doing an internship in Spain as a Systems Technician. I was very much into networking and I got amazed what possibilities virtualization could bring and I made me to make a change in my future career. I decided to do my thesis on Servers Virtualization. No one was really interested in it at that timeJ.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I haven’t really planned to do VCDX. I always found VMware exams very challenging comparing to other Vendors. Having VCP certificate few years ago was an achievement. When I did my first VCAP I understood I can actually do more, but still did not think about VCDX as an achievable goal. There were less than 200 people in the world with that accreditation! When I got my second VCAP I thought, “OK, let’s do it”.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

Well there are 2 things actually. One is the time I needed to get proper experience and second is the time to prepare and pass all exams. I believe you really need to have Enterprise experience to pass VCDX as it is not only about technology. Thankfully, I always worked with big customers in Atos so it was a natural process for me. I believe it took me minimum 2 year to pass all the exams. But I would not be able to make it if I did not get the hands-on experience in the first place.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

There are few things. First, stop thinking that there is any limit to what you can achieve. Second, take small steps. Third, understand that VCDX is not only about technology. Fourth, know EVERYTHING about you designs. Fifth, do mock exams with people that can really challenge you.

Last but not the least, find a Mentor.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I will not lie. VCDX journey took part of my private life away and you really need to take it into account. I did and I actually took some weeks of holidays just to concentrate only on VCDX. However, I would not really do anything differently. I took every opportunity to prepare and learn about the program. We had lot of on-line mock exams with my peer Krzysztof – invaluable. I also prepared myself mentally for the exam and possible result. I wanted to pass it in first attempt but I thought if I don’t then I am not there yet. It allowed me to accept both scenarios and get confidence.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

Getting my application accepted was already a big achievement for me so I really felt like on a cloud nine! When I got a phone call from my peer in the morning saying ‘results are out, I passed!’. I set in front of my laptop, browsed my mails and found out that I was VCDX #211! That was a day I had champagne for breakfast! (Btw. I was on my annual leave at that timeJ).

I still think that VCDX is not as recognizable as it should be. We did get a lot of recognition from colleagues that understand what VCDX is but I guess it will take some more time for people to understand the real value. So was it worth? – yes definitely! The thing that I was most happy about was that I did stand in from of the panellist and I did defend my own design! I would definitely do it again just for this experience!

Btw. I would like to thank Krzysztof Hermanowski for all the time spent late evenings doing mock exams. Artur Krzywdzinski and Magnus Andersson for all the useful tips I got. AtoS colleagues for all the support. Also all guys from the Study group.

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Finally I made it to a #UKVMUG

Yesterday I finally made it to my first #UKVMUG. They have been running for five years but each time they have happened I’ve been unable to attend either due to having attended VMworld so also attending UKVMUG would be pushing my luck or I couldn’t motivate a day not billing time to a customer. This year I didn’t attend any VMworld’s so made sure I booked out the day to attend and I’m really glad I did.

My day started a bit later than most attendees as I had to drop off my daughter at nursery as it opened and then drive the 93 miles to the Birmingham motorcycle museum where the UKVMUG was being held. I unfortunately missed the keynote by EMEA CTO Joe Bagueley as well as my mention alongside colleague Sam McGeown for our achieving of our VCDX’s and the award of shirts until our vouchers for the official VCDX shirts come through.  Thanks to Alaric and the rest of the UKVMUG crew for printing this for me =0)

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I then spoke to quite a few fellow London VMUG attendees as well as peers from twitter and was very very appreciative of all the VCDX congratulations from so many of them.

I then attended a discussion by Zerto all around their offering and what has been released in their new version. A really great product and very interesting alternative to VMware SRM and vSphere Replication.

I then attended a session by two current and one ex Xtravirt employees around finding the silver lining in vCAC/vRA projects and the sharing of their war stories. Certainly some really great advice from the guys and the most important bit of advice around integrating tests and error reporting into your vCO/vRO workflows from the beginning.


It was then lunch time where again I spoke to a number of current and ex colleagues as well as fellow London VMUG regulars as well as fellow vBrownbag host (albeit he is on a sabbatical from it at present) Josh Atwell. Mike Laverick then did his swag bag raffle that he does every year in aid of charity which this year had raised £470 and the winner was Sean Killen.


After some talking shop with some vendors I made my way to the “VMware’s Virtual SAN: A technical Deep Dive and Product Roadmap buy Christos Karamanolis and Lee Dilworth. the session was very interesting and Christos certainly gave in-depth explanations around VSAN, I just wish they had spent more time on the roadmap and new features in the releases due in Q1 next year.


Next was a session by Frank Buechsel who is one of my fellow EMEA vBrownbag co-hosts who presented all around vRealize Automation-Lessons Learned. To say Frank didn’t sound like a big fan of vRA and the sheer complexity of getting a production setup working (tell me about it I’ve spent the last year of my life doing this) would be an understatement and I actually asked him at the end if he had anything nice to say about vRA which he did say it is a brilliant product but the errors are far too vague and the start-up and shutdown orders of a distributed installation are a nightmare.

Doing the closing keynote was then the illustrious John Troyer. It was a brilliant keynote all around how to try architect your IT career and how you need to keep learning new skills as the skills you have now will most likely be replaced/redundant in less than ten years. Poor John did seem to be suffering from a cold and jet lag but gave great advice. It was also great to hear a mention of the vBrownbag in his discussion. Thanks for that John :)


Then it was the aptly named “The Red Wedding” ( G.o.T SPOLIER ALERT!! ) section of the day where Jane Rimmer, Alaric and Stuart all announced they would be stepping down as leaders of the London VMUG and UKVMUG after 25 years of service between them to allocate more time to their jobs and hobbies. These three have been amazing in building the community and dedicating so much of their time to the user group. Simon Gallagher hasn’t stepped down so that’s one consolation from it.If you think you could dedicate the time and are interested in becoming a leader then there is a survey available to complete as part of the process. this closes next Thursday so get your interest in ASAP.

Last but not least Pietro Piutti was generous enough to bring me over a few bottles of beer from the only certified trappist brewery in Rome. Not sure about the eucalyptus they add but man it was good. Not a Westvleteren 8 but it still got 4.75 out of 5 on untappd :D


It was a brilliant day and I certainly will be aiming to attend again next year even though I plan to attend the US VMworld next year also.




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