TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCDX Spotlight: Thomas Brown

Name: Thomas Brown

Twitter Handle: @thombrown

Blog URL: http://www.thomas-brown.com

Current Employer: Varrow

VCDX #: 187


How did you get into using VMware?

I started out as a help desk intern at a civil engineering company in college. As I proved myself capable, the systems admins at the company Josh Atwell (@Josh_Atwell), Brandon Sabol (@bmsabol) and Jamey Westmoreland taught me a bit about VI3 and I fell in love with the technology. I started trying to learn as much as I could about it while I was there. Unfortunately the economy hurt that civil engineering company quite a bit and I moved on to greener pastures that didn’t involve VMware as much as I would have liked. I eventually went to work with Brandon and Jamey again as a Systems Administrator at another company where I really tried to focus on VMware vSphere. At this company they also introduced me to this cool technology called VMware View. I saw the huge benefits that VDI gave to the business and combined with my end user facing background, I saw this as a great intersection of two passions of mine: end user support and VMware virtualization. From there I moved to Varrow who is a VAR in the Carolinas where I narrowed my focus on implementing and designing VMware View and vSphere technologies. I was surrounded by brilliant people at Varrow who are always willing to invest time in others. These co-workers at Varrow significantly grew my abilities and pushed me to pursue excellence.


What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I really wanted to push myself and prove to myself that I could do it. It’s such a great process that really validates your architecture skills. Being one of the first few VCDX-DT’s was an added bonus J


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

I passed my first VCP in 2011 but when I really started focusing on the VCDX and told my boss I was going to pursue it was in January 2014. At that time I already had the VCAP-DTD I think. So I’d say about a year and a half from first VCAP to VCDX.


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

DO IT. It’s not an easy process but you learn SO much throughout the process. I now look at projects more holistically than before. Don’t worry about the outcome as much, just focus on the experience you are gaining along the journey.


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

I would do more mock defences and do them earlier. I actually had to go through the defence process twice before I passed. The first time around, I was told to wait to do mocks until after your design was accepted. In my opinion, this was bad advice because after my design was accepted, I started doing mocks and found holes in my design which I believe contributed to me failing my first time. Once you submit that design document, there is only so much you can explain during your defence. Do mocks before you submit to ensure that the design is solid.


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

Varrow strongly encourages us to pursue certifications and grow professionally so they were very pleased with the news. All of my co-workers have been very supportive and congratulatory of the certification as well. I would say it was absolutely worth the effort. Personally, it validated my skill set and boosted my confidence after not passing the first time. Professionally, I feel like I am able to offer a more holistic solution for our customers and the certification gives me instant credibility.


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VCDX Spotlight: Todd Simmons

Name: Todd Simmons

Twitter Handle: @trainingrev

Blog URL: http://nsxinsight.wordpress.com

Current Employer : VMware

VCDX #: 184


How did you get into using VMware?

Worked for Collective Technologies who partnered with Dell to deliver Infrastructure Consolidation Readiness Assessments – the goal was to help customers consolidate old hardware onto new Dell servers running VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.


What made you decide to do the VCDX?

True story, I did it on a dare. See https://nsxinsight.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/preparing-for-the-vcdx-defense-panel-time-requirements/


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

10-weeks. See https://nsxinsight.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/preparing-for-the-vcdx-defense-panel-time-requirements/


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

When someone tells me that they are going to pursue the VCDX accreditation my immediate response is, Go for it! You can do it! Today is a great time to defend, there is a lot of support for VCDX candidates. This is not a task I would advise you to go at alone however. I secured a mentor from VMware, immediately established a VCDX Success Study Group, participated in several VCDX Mock Study sessions, and had 11 colleagues peer review my work.


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

Nothing. Honestly. After being a consultant for 15-years and working with VMware products for the last 8-years (including attending 686.75 hours of VMware training) I was well prepared.


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

 

First thing you do after you become a VCDX is sleep :) .I pulled far too many all-nighters preparing for the VCDX. I guess I could tell you that my company was incredibly excited about my achievement, but since I was self-employed, the reality is I gave myself a pat on the back. Was it worth it? Absolutely! I met a lot of great people during the journey that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.


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VCDX Spotlight: Andrew Brydon

Name: Andrew Brydon

Twitter Handle: @sidbrydon

Blog URL: http://sidbrydon.wordpress.com

Current Employer: Telstra

VCDX #: 139


How did you get into using VMware?

It was about eight years ago, I was working in a Datacenter in Scotland and customer was using ESX to run their infrastructure. I got an initial insight into VMotion and once I saw that I was hooked. I started working more and more with VMware, when I got to Australia in web companies, large financial organisations and now the main telco.

Working with VMware has given me a chance to work across all areas of infrastructure and with a large number of applications and has really expanded my architecture skills.


What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I actually met Frank Fan in one of my roles and three of us talked about his experience and we decided we should go ahead and do the VCAP exams and then try for VCDX, if the right project came up. Harsha Hosur and I successfully defended last July.


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

I had updated to VCP 5 in 2012, so it took a couple of years, mind you my second son was born and I put things on hold for a while, so in the end I was successful in just over two years, sitting (my second) panel defence in July 2014.


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

Be prepared to be patient, it is a long term project. Also make sure you get your family to understand how hard you will have to work, on top of your job, I talk about this in my youtube video. Above all get advice from good people, I was lucky enough to have Josh Odgers as my mentor.


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

I would have not sat the first defence, I was not ready, although it did give me good insight into what it is like, I should have listened to my instinct and waited.

I would also definitely have had more practice presenting. Ironically I now present multiple times a week as part of my new role, and if you are not used to it, it will definitely affect your nerves!

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

Actually the response was pretty amazing, I am the only VCDX in the company, my managers were really responsive and I feel it has really helped. I also spend a lot of time working with VMware and it always helps to have a VCDX in the conversation.


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VMware Knowledge Nuggets – Percentage of Host Resources Admission Control

As started and introduced in my introductory posting around the VMware Knowledge Nuggets I am posting compact VMware knowledge nuggets which I hope will show people some unknown features or things they need to think about around choosing features and maybe even get some good discussions going via the comments section.

 

Using Percentage Based Admission Control and the usage of das.vmMemoryMinMB and das.vmCpuMinMHz.

This discussion stemmed  from the twitter discussion I had with Ed Grigson a few weeks back as mentioned in my first posting (albeit a tangent off of it) . I commented that even if you use percentage based admission control it is still a good idea to configure the das.vmMemoryMinMB and das.vmCpuMinMHz advanced settings to provide a better idea when HA is doing the math for admission control and prevent overcommitment with a specified minimal amount of resources for each virtual machine.

 

Rather than re-cover what has been done and explained so well,  the following two postings from Duncan Epping and Josh Odgers respectively cover it perfectly

 

Using das.vmmemoryminmb with Percentage Based admission control

Example Architectural Decision – VMware HA – Percentage of Cluster resources reserved for HA

 

Certainly something to keep in mind when doing designs and even something that you may determine is good to add to your existing environment. Although remember that admission control is not about resource management as described really well by Duncan Epping in his article here. Funnily enough I think a discussion I had with Duncan at the 2011 Europe VMworld around a customer using reservations with percentage based admission control for resource management caused him to create the posting.


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#vBrownbag #VCDX Series Follow Up

As people may or may not be aware the EMEA vBrownbag of which I am a co-host have been doing a VCDX series covering a number of topics around the VCDX and preparations for attempting it. We have done three sessions and all three recordings are below:

Next week we will have John Arrasjid and Mark Gabryjelski continuing the delivery of additional infrastructure architecture design advice and recommendations from a recent presentation John delivered at the Singapore vForum where he stated all three sessions of the presentation were full.

Also a special shout out and thanks to Rene van Den Bedem aka VCDX133 for co-hosting with me and supplying so many questions as well as answers on the VCDX Panel session. Go check out his VCDX series of postings if you want some of the best VCDX material available.

Koala can't believe it - Over VCDX 50 postings Still maintains a day job and wife?

Gregg


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#VCDX Mentor Rallying Call

First off let me give you a bit of background as it does apply to this posting and my reason as to me posting this.

As you may or may not be aware the VCDX certification team decided to remind people of the current policy (even though it seems some people only have heard about it recently) that VCDX panellists are not allowed to help potential candidates with reviews, mocks or mentoring. For this I have had numerous heated discussions with Chris Colotti who I must apologise to as my frustration at some of it he received and he is honestly trying to make it better and in actual fact my frustration is grossly misdirected.

rage

It is in fact directed at the lack of mentors who are willing to help grow the VCDX community and help out people who are at varying stages of the process. Now I do want to say there are  VCDX who are amazing at giving back ( good friend VCDX133 is one of these but there are MANY like him who have also been doing it for years) but like I know this community has proven so many times before I am asking current VCDX to give back even if you didn’t have it during your preparations and am sending out a rallying call to all VCDX to become a mentor.

mentoring

There are currently 186 VCDX holders with some even being double VCDX, but at my last count there are only 32 people listed on the VCDX directory who are open to being a mentor for those looking to obtain this illustrious  certification. Yet there are at my last count 53 people listed as panellists and this is where I am asking current VCDX to think about becoming a mentor. Disclaimer I am fully aware VCDX holders also have full time jobs, family and it is something you have to realistically be honest if you have the time to help that person you are mentoring to help them think about their design and open their mind to see their design in a whole new holistic way /Disclaimer

matrix

I was asked by Chris that when I get my VCDX will I try help build the VCDX community and I certainly will by not becoming a panellist (if I was asked, although at present they are trying to keep it to VMware employees) and becoming a mentor to help people looking to obtain the accreditation. Now there have been a few blog postings about the fact that just because you got the VCDX it doesn’t mean you’ll get that promotion or mean you’ll instantly get an architect role which I think is really valid but the amount I have learnt and continue to learn in my second attempt at the VCDX is certainly preparing me in my role as a senior consultant and on other projects as an architect (Ray come join Xtravirt and I’m sure we have architect roles for a double VCDX Smile ). Also from the number of people i have spoken to who have been mentors or helped people with reviews that have said it has helped them become a better architect it really can be a win win situation.

So if there are any VCDX reading this or you know of a VCDX who isn’t listed as a mentor nor a panellist then please think about becoming a mentor/get them to think about being a mentor and let us disprove those who say the VCDX can’t have a large community structure around it like Matt Cowger rightly feels it should.

vcdx mentor

Lastly Chris is talking about a “cool off” period for those who don’t want to be a panellist anymore and would rather give back to the community and be a mentor to keep the community strong. So keep an eye/ear out for that if you do want to answer my battle cry and be a mentor.

Gregg


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Win 3 vSphere Home Labs from VMTurbo

5.1(250x250)As part of the release of VMTurbo’s Operations Manager v5.1 product they are giving away not one not two but three home labs to winners (one each) who sign up for their 5.1 release in-depth webinar on the 19th of February! I was fortunate enough to join a bloggers webinar about the announcement which I will be posting a blog posting about soon. But I bet if you are like me you want to know the specs of the home labs! Well here it is:

  • Intel NUC with Intel Core i5-4250U
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (2x8G) 204-Pin DDR3 Memory
  • SAMSUNG 840 EVO 250GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive
  • Synology DS415+ Diskless System DiskStation 4-Bay NAS
  • 2x Dell 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Hard Drive
  • Cisco SG300-10 10-port Gigabit Managed Switch
  • Rosewill 7ft. Cat 6 Network Cable

I could certainly do with that in my home lab  and if you aren’t a customer of VMTurbo and you want a free 30-day trial then sign up here.

Gregg

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