My ramblings about all things technical

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Why you should attend VMworld 2018

VMworld has something for everyone from those just learning about virtualisation to those who have been part of the industry for a number of years and are looking to those in depth sessions and discussions with the evangelists and guru’s of VMware plethora of offerings and solutions. If you haven’t yet booked your place then let me list some of the reasons I think you should attend as they are the reasons I try to attend every year:

  • On the Sunday of VMworld US the vBrownbag crew along with the VMUnderground crew are again running opening acts and then the VMUnderground party in the Evening (keep an eye out for tickets as these sell out very fast). The opening acts are always well attended and if you are a vExpert then it is a brilliant way to meet many others and if you are not then you can come and get motivated to submit by Ariel Sanchez. I blogged about my attending and being on a panel last year in my day 1 recap posting here (I’m the nerd in the blue VCDX shirt in the picture).


  • My next reason is about the community again but this time the ability to network with like minded individuals at the bloggers tables, fellow vExperts, fellow VCDX at the VCDX townhall on the Saturday before VMworld and all those I hope to meet over lunch and at the vBrownbag TechTalks who are working in collaboration with the VMTN team to run the infamous TechTalks. If you have never heard of the TechTalks then a brief overview is below:
    • Tech Talks originated at VMworld 2012 where they provided an opportunity for community members, whose presentation submissions were not accepted into the main catalogue, to present the core of  a topic.  #TechTalks are a ten minute presentation by a community member for the benefit of the community. Since almost everyone working in technology has solved problems and learned something almost everyone could present a #TechTalk.  The format can be a slide deck or simply talking, they are usually about how to solve a problem or get the most out of a product. The TechTalk is captured on video and published on the vBrownBag YouTube channel.
    • If the conference Internet connection allows, the talk is also live streamed from the show.
    • #TechTalks are for community members to reach other community members, any topic that will help other people is good.  The one thing that TechTalks are not is an opportunity to present the corporate slide deck about a great product you would like us to buy.  #TechTalks are about up skilling and education, the only marketing should be from the TechTalk sponsors who help make the whole thing happen.
  • Next are the breakout sessions, group discussions and expert panels. The content catalog is packed with amazing sessions by some of the biggest names in the industry and those up and coming in the industry. I’m personally really looking forward to all of the VMware Cloud on AWS sessions as it bridges my existing knowledge and interest in VMware with my exponentially growing interest in AWS. The sessions are also recorded so if you can’t make it to a sessions due to a conflict then by registering for VMworld you get access to all the recorded sessions after the conference for you to watch in your own time.
  • My next reason are the VMware Hands-On Labs which cover all VMware technologies and allow you to play with the latest releases and offerings not just from VMware but also VMware partners. Alike to the sessions the hands on labs are available after the conference but I would recommend going to a few that really interest you (again I’ve allocated some walk trough’s of the VMConAWS solution) and then you can do the remaining ones after the conference. If however you really want to hit the labs hard then I know they normally give a free pass to next years VMworld to the top few people who have completed the most labs.
  • The solution exchange is my next reason as this is the perfect opportunity to speak to those vendors who are offering the latest solution that might save your business and team loads of money and or time and this is the perfect opportunity to speak to that vendor who might be offering the solution that will fix the issues your company is experiencing and take that knowledge back to your company and impress your management with how you’ve found a great solution and to prove that your going to VMworld was worth it and that they should send you again next year. I would be remise if I didn’t encourage you to go speak to Dell EMC and hear about their amazing offerings all the way through the stack as well as pre-packaged and validated solutions for SMB’s all the way to large enterprises.
  • If you are looking to obtain that next VMware certification or want to speak to the certification team about the performance of your latest VCAP-Deploy exam then there are loads of  VMware Certification opportunities. You can also book reduce cost exams at VMworld which I have personally never decided to do but loads of the community swear by it and due to the reduced cost it means if you unfortunately don’t make it then it isn’t that much of a dent to your pocket and lets you scope out the exam to better prepare for next time.
  • Last is the parties and due to the conferences being in Vegas and Barcelona you can imagine the amount of them there are and the amount of meet ups after the parties that happen.  There are parties for everyone so if you are looking for a chilled drinks evening then there are loads of opportunities for that and if you want to party all night (save some sleep to be able to attend the conference) then there are plenty of those as well. If you haven;t got a ticket to VMUnderground on Sunday then the Welcome Reception kicks off the conference experience with food, drinks, and networking in the Solutions Exchange. There are normally loads of announcements about the parties closer to the time so keep an eye out on social media as the parties fill up fast and remember the strip is big so unless you plan to uber it then getting to three parties in a night might not be possible. The VMworld party finishes off the conference on Wednesday night.

If you are looking to attend then sign up here  and make sure to come find me and say hi as well as I encourage you to attend the TechTalks which are due to be added to the content catalog very soon.




VCDX Spotlight – It’s Me =0)

So I promised Mark Brookfield that if I managed to get an illustrious VCDX number I would let him do a VCDX Spotlight on me. So he formulated the following questions and I answered them as below:

1. Wow… what a journey. You’ve come a long way, but you’ve finally made it. You are VCDX # 205, congratulations! How do you feel?

I’m in utter disbelief at the moment and keep looking at the email to ensure I haven’t misread it somehow. I think it will sink in over the next few days but when you’ve been aiming for something for so long and sometimes wonder if you’ll ever be good enough to obtain it, it’s crazy to get the number.

2. You’ve made no secret of the fact that you didn’t make the grade the first time around. What would you say you did differently for your second attempt?

Quite a few things. I’ve mentioned some of them in my blog posting about my second attempt but the main ones were:

· To start earlier so I didn’t burn out and could also find time to spend with my young family.

· Not stop preparing even after submitting.

· Leaving nothing in the tank.

· Taking a week’s annual leave before the defence (last time I worked the day before and day after my defence).

· More experience in front of demanding customers. My current project certainly gave me confidence that I belonged in that defence room and my panelists were my peers.

3. After you initial rejection, did you feel like quitting? If so, what motivated you to try again?

Oh absolutely and as I told to Josh Odgers after one of our mock sessions I actually thought about giving up on virtualisation totally and doing a new job. The failure is really really hard to take and I agree somewhat when people say it isn’t life or death but after putting in so much time and sacrificing so much it’s hard to then not make the grade and know you may have to do as much if not more than you did last time.

I think I had a few motivations, my wife was very supportive and is a massive blessing in my life with her belief in me and looking after our daughter when I’m locked away in my study. The motivation to not know myself as the person who failed the VCDX and gave up, how can I tell me daughter to not give up trying if I don’t live like that myself? Also wanting to better myself and complete what I had started.

4. In some circles, certification is regarded as a waste of time. What makes the VCDX so special?

Believe it or not I somewhat agree it is a waste of time if you don’t do it for the right reasons. One of the questions I ask in my VCDX spotlights is about what has changed and more often than not people lives haven’t changed dramatically and some haven’t changed at all. I use all my certifications to force myself to learn new things as I’m actually naturally quite a lazy person who needs to be pushed. Like I said in my VCDX blog posting I know there’s people who spent 40 hours on their designs, submitted and passed first time and credit to those people but I wanted to learn as much as possible along the way so that I could truly say and agree it was about the journey.

The VCDX is special as it isn’t about regurgitating information or sadly in some circles is open to people using cheat sheets. The VCDX is about building a design that is worthy of the defence but the true test is explain that design to a panel who know when you are faking it and who also want to know why you didn’t choose other options and if you did what would be the impacts of that. Real world customers change their minds all the time and sometimes architects just accept what is told or given to them by customers rather than challenging them and trying to work out what is best for them. The VCDX teaches you this. Also with just over 200 people with it globally it shows you that it takes a lot of effort to be at that level to achieve it.

5. The road to even submitting a defence is long and arduous; I myself recently failed the VCAP5-DCD. What advice would you give to others who may be struggling?

So I failed the VCAP-DCD the first time as well and failed my VCAP4-DCA twice so don’t feel bad about failing. Learn where you were weak and try again. It’s a cliché but it’s true that it is about the journey and you have to take failures as a lesson, regroup and go at it again. One of the first things I mention in my VCDX posting is about starting early and setting a timeline of when you want to defend. Also for those who fail the VCDX the first time I know it’s painful but there are some big names who failed first time (I’m not meaning me here) and are now double VCDX’s.

6. Where to now? Kick back with a beer or onto something else?

So a bit of a break but I did make a loose plan than when I passed this defence I would maybe look at going for double VCDX and submitting a version of my current vRA design. This won’t be until next year and I might do a joint submission with a friend but at present I actually need to learn some vSphere 6 and vRA 7 as I have to pay the bills and new technology is what allows me to do that. I’m also starting a VCP6-CMA series on the vBrownbag so will be spending some of my now freed up time there and I have a second clone on the way in April next year so I’m certain that will keep me busy.

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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?


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VCDX Preparation Special

On Thursday the 22nd May the EMEA #vBrownbag which I co-host weekly, ran a VCDX Special with Rene Van Den Bedem (VCDX 133) , Craig KilbornBobby Stampfle and I. The special was an expansion of the London VMUG lightning talk that both Craig and I did on the 15th of May. The #vBrownbag session was recorded (after some early audio problems which meant we had to restart it) and the recording of the session is embedded below.

The session proved a major success and we may run another one as the amount of questions we received during and have been receiving post the session is really positive.


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VMworld US Day 1

Now that the dust has started to settle on day 1 of VMworld US 2013 let’s have a look at what was announced, what seems to have been missed from the keynote that I felt are a few major improvements/fixes in vSphere/vCloud 5.5 and all the other important releases coming from the conference. *disclaimer* I am not at VMworld US so this is my take from across the Atlantic.

The day started with the keynote form VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. I’m not going to detail a minute by minute commentary on it as I think the blog postings I will be mentioning below cover everything you need to know and you can watch the keynote for yourself clip_image001 Also Scott Lowe has done a brilliant live blogging of the keynote here.

I was fortunate enough to again be invited to an early access blogger program by VMware almost two months ago around all the announcements that were due to come out at VMworld. It has been really hard as a consultant to not mention it to customers especially the changes/rebuild of SSO. I did have a few blog postings in the works on the announcements but felt I could not do them justice so left it for better people and I was right in doing this I think as Chris Wahl has done an amazing nine part series on all the announcements which I think are a great overview of all the new features and changes and would have destroyed mine:

As I mentioned one of the big changes in vSphere 5.5 that I felt should have been mentioned in the keynote and would have probably got a loud cheer from the crowd was the massive changes to SSO. The SSO service has been almost totally rebuilt and when I was on the early access blogger webinars everyone breathed a sigh of relief as the SSO in vSphere 5.1 was not a simple thing to install especially seeing as it was recommended to break up all the individual components. This has now changed and it is recommended that they are all kept on one machine. Below is the recommended layout now for the vCenter Server design.


Kendrick Coleman also gave a great overview of it from 30k feet here . For me the real improvement is the simple steps to setup SSO now which are:

1. Accept License agreement (EULA)

2. Prerequisite check summary

3. Edit default port number 7444 (if necessary)

4. Select Deployment placement

5. Provide Administrator@vSphere.local password

6. Provide a site name or select a previous site name

7. Edit destination directory (if necessary)

8. Summary

9. Installation Complete

I’m one of the hosts of the EMEA vBrownbag and all of the US Brownbag and a few of the APAC vBrownbag team are out at VMworld US doing the very popular Tech Talks. The Tech Talks are 10 to 15 minute presentations by members of the VMware community on topics of their choice, almost like a mini #vBrownBag. They are being streamed live by the vBrownbag guys and are being recorded for people like me to watch them when you can. The schedule for the Tech Talks can be found here. Make sure you watch the stream live and give the guys the support they deserve as all of these presentations are from the community.

Talking about the vBrownbag crew one of the main culprits Nick Marshall has released alongside Scott Lowe, Forbes Guthrie, Matt Liebowitz and Josh Atwell (another vBrownbag host) the next instalment of the Mastering VMware vSphere book for vSphere 5.5. A massive congratulations to Nick on this project and for being asked and doing such an awesome job whilst still helping out on the vBrownbag. Nick has detailed the announcement on here blog here.

One of the biggest announcements from the keynote was the release of VMware NSX, as Forbes Guthrie said I’m waiting for NSXi clip_image003 but until that day the below are some of the highlights of the new feature and I would highly encourage you to read Chris Wahl’s detailing of the feature from above.

NSX Highlights:

  • VMware NSX is a next-generation network virtualization solution
  • Provide the key functions of network virtualization: decouple, reproduce, and automate
  • NSX will support any hypervisor, any CMP, any network hardware
    • vSphere, KVM, and Xen are currently supported
    • CMPs currently supported are OpenStack, CloudStack, and vCAC/VCD
  • NSX optimized for vSphere leverages the platform’s enhanced functionality

High-level View of VMware NSX Architecture:


VMware NSX Controllers:

  • Designed with a distributed, scale-out architecture.
    • Minimum of 3 controllers for an NSX controller cluster.
    • NSX optimized for vSphere scales to 5 controllers.
  • NSX controllers run a common code base in different form factors.
    • Controllers run as infrastructure/service VMs in NSX optimized for vSphere.
    • Controllers run as physical appliances in multi-hypervisor environments.
  • Controller functions optimized in each delivery option.

VMware NSX Virtual Switches:

  • NSX uses programmable virtual switches on the hypervisors
  • In NSX optimized for vSphere, NSX leverages:
    • the vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS)
    • the UW (Userworld) Agent for communications with NSX controllers
  • In multi-hypervisor environments, NSX uses:
    • Open vSwitch for KVM and Xen
    • NSX vSwitch (an in-kernel virtual switch) for ESXi

VMware NSX Gateways:

  • The gateways are the “on ramp/off ramp” into or out of logical networks
  • Both L2 (bridging) and L3 (routing) gateway functionality available
  • Basic functionality the same regardless of delivery option
    • NSX optimized for vSphere leverages NSX Edge (derived from vCNS Edge)
    • In multi-hypervisor environments, gateways are physical appliances leveraging a scale-out architecture

VMware have also posted the What’s New pdf for vSphere 5.5 which gives you a very good overview of all the new features and services here

VMware have released a new VMware certification called the VMware Certified Associate for those people looking to get into the IT industry. Unlike the VCP there is no required training but there are free eLearning courses available for people to skill up for the exam. These do look like a good starter for people thinking of learning the basics of virtualization and in my opinion would be great for high school students thinking of going into IT and virtualization after high school.

Well that is what caught my attention from day 1 of VMworld US. I’m looking forward to more information coming out and to getting my hands on all the new vSphere 5.5 tools.


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Presenters wanted for the EMEA #vBrownbag

The EMEA vBrownbag team are currently looking for presenters to present on the EMEA #vBrownbag which is run live every Tuesday at 7PM GMT/BST. Currently we are covering several tracks which include:

-VCP5-DT exam blueprint objectives

-VCP5-IaaS exam blueprint objectives

– VCAP5–CID exam blueprint objectives

-VCAP5-CIA exam blueprint objectives

– Anything related to VMware or would interest VMware focused IT people. These can be VMUG presentations or even prep for a conference

If you are interested in presenting then please fill in the form here:

Also please spread the word about the podcast and that we are always looking for presenters.


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2013 vExpert Award.

So Utterly Honoured!

I recognise this is a bit late to the news but due to being on a client site all of last week I have only managed to get this posting up now.

Last week I was humbled and honoured to have been awarded the VMware vExpert 2013 designation and my third time of being chosen as one. For those who don’t know what this means and think it is just another certification I have done (I admit I do sit a large amount of exams) below is a brief description of the award and what it is for:

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.

I’m super pleased to have been selected again and also really pleased for my fellow Xtravirt colleagues Darren Woollard, Sean Duffy, Ather Beg and Paul Davey for also being selected this year. That’s almost a fifth of the whole company that are VMware vExperts!

What did you do last year to get it?

As the vExpert designation is given for the work you did in the previous year, when people ask how they can become one or what did I do to be selected it is always around half a year behind what people should have been trying do to be in contention to be selected. For me I did some of the following:

–  VMware Communities Moderator

–  Co-hosts of the EMEA vBrownbag podcast

–  Presented at the London VMUG in January and July

–  Blog often from this blog on VMware matters and announcements. Specifically around VMware exams and study resources for the exams

–  Beta tester of numerous VMware products

–  Active member of the VMware Communities

–  Active member of the London VMUG

–  Was an active member of the vExpert community and collected and posted all the vExpert Spotlight postings

I did all these things I love doing them and I’m passionate about the technology not because I wanted to become a vExpert though and I would recommend doing it for the right reasons and not because you want to get something out of it.

Massive Thanks

A massive amount of thanks to John Troyer and his team who run the vExpert program and for feeling I was worthy of the designation. Also congratulations to all the other 2013 vExperts!! There are a number of newcomers and as many returning vExperts so it is great to share this designation with so many passionate and amazingly friendly people.

Also for those who may have missed it both Tintri and Trainsignal have already done great promotions for the 2013 vExperts which is always a nice perk of being part of the group.


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EMEA #vBrownbag VCAP5 Presentation

Last night on the EMEA vBrownbag’s that I co-host I presented my London VMUG Presentation around the VCAP5 exams, the resources I used for them and my experiences. We had the largest turnout yet for it which is great and very promising for future sessions where hopefully the numbers will keep on growing. I have uploaded the recording to Vimeo and embedded it below. Also all the resources covered in the session and more are listed on my blog page here

EMEA vBrownbag with Gregg Robertson Covering VCAP5 Study Materials and Experiences from EMEA vBrownbag on Vimeo.



EMEA #vBrownbag

vBrownBagLogo-150x150That’s right, after having spoken to the infamous APAC and US vBrownbag teams at VMworld and via the VMware vExpert communities Arjan Timmerman and I have thrown our hats into the ring and have asked to borrow the guys vBrownbag’s and show the world that the EMEA VMware guru’s are the some of the best in the world.

We are looking to start doing them within the next few weeks and need all the VMware talent in EMEA to put their hands up and come present and for everyone to join the calls/webinars and contribute. We are looking to possibly follow two different tracks so as to not repeat what the APAC and US guys have done and so will be looking for people to present on objectives in the VCP5-IaaS and VCP5-DT exam blueprints. You can do any of the objectives so if you want to do the last objective for the IaaS then first come first served/booked.

We are thinking of doing it every fortnight on a Tuesday starting on the 23rd of October although if there is a very good amount of interest which I trust there will be then we can make it a weekly occurrence. We are currently looking to do it at 7PM GMT to allow everyone in Europe the time to get home.Please spread the word and lets show the VMware community the talent EMEA has to offer. You can register here for the webinars

We have created a Google form for people to start putting in their interest and what they want to talk about here.

Gregg and Arjan