TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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#AWS : Solutions Architect Associate Achievement Unlocked

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This morning I sat the AWS: SAA exam and I’m pleased to say I passed it Smile.I used a plethora of resources to prepare for the exam as I have to admit that I underestimated the exam a month ago and thought I would just need a general knowledge of the features and was getting full marks on the acloud.guru practice exams but failed it by ~ 3% percent. I’m not going to list all the resources I used in my preparation as I have already listed them on my blog under my AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Study Resources page. All of the resources listed were really really good and I would highly recommend not just doing the CBT training but also do the labs and spend time using the free tier to go thorough all the features and learn what they can and can’t do. The exam is made up of sixty questions and the blueprint lists the split of the different domains as per the below table:

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As you can see from the breakdown the exam is largely about designing a highly available, cost-efficient, fault tolerant scalable system. The questions in the exam varied from relatively straight forward ones where you just had to know what a solution or service provided to more complex ones where a scenario was portrayed in the question and you had to define which 2-3 answers together enabled them to achieve their requirements. Based on my score I am taking it that the ones that required multiple answers didn’t give partial scores if you got one wrong which is akin to a lot of other IT exams so you certainly have to focus on your answers as I found even with eliminating answers I knew were wrong I was still left with a very close alternative.

For the study resources I would recommend watching the vBrownbag series as well as the CBT’s and doing lab work as there were certainly a few things mentioned in there that were directly helpful in the exam. It’s also really great in my opinion to hear about bits from others in the community using the technology.

Good luck if you are preparing for the exam, I’m tempted to keep the momentum going and now do the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam.

Gregg


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Why you should attend VMworld US

VMworld US is just around the corner (58 days to be exact) and I have been graciously allocated a bloggers pass for the conference and given backing from my company Dell EMC to attend. This will be my sixth time attending and my third time attending the US one. 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 is Partner Exchange and TAM day where VMware partners can attend exclusive sessions talking about everything from future roadmaps for all of VMware product lines but also new solutions VMware are looking to release. The sessions are always extremely interesting and from my experience are the best chance to speak to the “rockstars” who evangelise and breath the various solutions. If you aren’t a partner or are looking  for something community driven then the vBrownbag crew along with the VMUnderground crew are again running opening acts and then the VMUnderground party in the Evening (unfortunately the party tickets are now sold out). I will be attending opening acts and have actually submitted a panel idea that I hope will be accepted.

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  • 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 now live and it 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 conference being in Vegas 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, the venue hasn’t been announced as far as I’ve seen but he bands have been and teenage Gregg is super excited about it as  Blink 182 and Bleachers will be performing. Last years aprty at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was really fun and fall out boy were awesome in my opinion

If you are looking to attend then sign up here https://reg.rainfocus.com/flow/vmware/vmworldus17/reg/account?src=so_590b899c53598&cid=70134000001K6I4 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.

Gregg


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My First VMware Certification #vExpert NSX

The VMware vExpert NSX program is running a community blog series and this post is about my first VMware certification.

Why did you decide to take your first test and what was your motivation?

I had been allocated to look after the VMware 3.5 estate of my old company and decided that trying to pass the VCP3.5 was the best way for me to learn VMware. I followed this up with the VCP4 which had been released around the same time in quick succession to help me learn what was coming in the next version.

What was your journey for the first test?

The VCP3.5 was my first one but due to me doing the VCP4 almost immediately after the journey actually merged covering both which I blogged about on my blog here https://thesaffageek.co.uk/2009/12/02/vmware-certified-professional-vsphere-passed/ . VMware was very new to me then but the community was in it’s relative infancy in 2009 and twitter had a small but hard-core group that I loved being a part of and learning from some of the famous pioneers like Scott Lowe, Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman to name but a few. My preparing for the exam started off my interest and now continued link to writing up the study resources (Part 1 and Part 2 ) I used for the exams which became very popular and actually led me to getting my first vExpert the year after.

Were you nervous, how did you study?

I was very nervous as I actually mentioned in my posting for VCP4 as the technology was very new to me as I had up until that point been a Microsoft fan boy having done the MCP’s and MCSE’s and virtualisation plus what it could do was in it’s infancy (at least in my opinion then) . How i studied for it had been covered in the blog postings I mentioned earlier around the VCP4 (Part 1 and Part 2 ) and the methods I followed then I still follow largely today around using multiple techniques to learnt he material such as books, podcasts, CBT and good old lab time. I also had much more time then to read blogs announcing the latest features or what people were having issues with and how they fixed them. This interest in learning what issues people had and how they fixed them as well as trying to help people with issues drew me into the VMware communities and which led me to become Master status and being asked to become a VMware communities moderator.

How did it benefit your career as well as your community?

Immense amounts as just reading the posting around my passing the VCP4 reminds me how much I’ve learnt over the time from doing those exams as a junior IT Technician freshly “off the boat” from South Africa to a Cloud Practice Solution Lead and VCDX #205. The community involvement was what really got me excited and I made some great vFriends whom I am still very friendly with as well as countless others from VMUG’s to VMworld’s to Twitter to the communities to now being part of the vBrownbag crew that I learnt so much from in the early days. The VMware community was amazing then and even though some people have moved onto other things that ethos is still around and is something I personally try give back to the community.

Knowing what you know today, what are some of the pain points in this certification that you can share with your audience?

It varies based on the level of the VMware certification you are going for. For the VCP it is now much easier to learn about the technology as there is a sheer abundance of resources out there to learn from whereas the amount in the 3.5 days was much less although the suite of products and amount of features were much less then so I think it balances out somewhat. As with any certification it is about spending the time understanding it and for me as I’ve mentioned before I sometimes find different methods of learning it helps explain it better as sometimes reading page after page of a book can make you lose focus but a video by the vBrownbag where you hear it from someone in the community can keep your interest much more and maybe even explain it in terms you would have never thought of.

 

If you are going for the VCP6 then why not have a look at my study resources page and good luck on the journey. If you told me in those VCP3.5 days that I would be a VCDX doing enterprise level work like I am now I would have never believed you. Also with so many paths such as NV,DTM and CMA the amount of amazing technology you can learn to advance you career never mind the integrations with Openstack, AWS and Azure it’s still an exciting time to being doing virtualisation.

Gregg


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VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.1 on the #vBrownbag

Last night I decided an hour before the planned time for the first vBrownbag VCAP6-DCV Design Objectives series to pull together a presentation and take on the objective. Jason Grierson had partly put his hand up for the objective but was unable to complete his before last night but agreed to join me on the broadcast and it worked out a life saver.Unfortunately due to some very poor hotel Wi-Fi I had some issues getting my presentation to show on the broadcast and so Jason stepped in to go over the parts he had done for the objective and did an unbelievable job and then I presented mine afterwards so we managed to have two VCDX’s covering the one objective so hopefully it brings extra value. My presentation from the broadcast is below

The recording of the session is also below

 

Gregg


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#VMworld Day 0

As is customary, VMworld US starts on Sunday with the Partner Exchange events as well as an opportunity for people to register and receive their VMworld badge, bag and initial swag.

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This year I am attending as part of the vBrownbag crew and so Sunday is a big day for us as we run Opening Acts with the VMUnderground crew. This year we have also included the vBrisket crew for a nice BBQ (Braai) for lunch. The panels were very well attended and there was really good audience participation. You can watch all of the Opening Acts on the vBrownbag YouTube channel.

vBrisket was amazing with some seriously nice food where I got to chat to a number of people I only know from the twitterverse and talk some VCDX with Rebecca Fitzhugh, Mike Burkhart and Brett Guarino after thier recent VCDX attempts (NDA retaining)

I then attended the VMworld Solutions Exchange for the Welcome party sponsored by Accenture  and had an amazing preview of the work VMware can do with Business Critical Apps by Niran Chen. Make sure you go by and see the demo near the VMware booth. We also had a nerdy #beVCDX picture showing 7 VCDX among the 5 of us (seeing as Niran and Augustin are double VCDX’s). I the picture is @NiranEC @sammcgeown @amalanco @iam_andysmith and I.

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The VMunderground party was hosted at the nine fine irishmen bar in the NYNY casino and as per usual it was the best best party for Sunday evening (sorry VMUG I am making assumptions here)

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I ended the day not too late due to some jetlag and also needing to be spritely for the VMVillage where the vBrownbag Techtalks are being run where we live stream them as well as record them for uploading to the vBrownbag YouTube channel.

Gregg


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Join Me At VMworld US 2016

VMworld 2016

Yet again I am honoured to have been given a bloggers pass to VMworld US due to my vExpert work but more importantly the vBrownbag TechTalks and opening acts that the vBrownbag crew will be running in the hang space.

VMworld is always an exciting conference to go to and 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 is Partner Exchange and TAM day where VMware partners can attend exclusive sessions talking about everything from future roadmaps for all of VMware product lines but also new solutions VMware are looking to release. The sessions are always extremely interesting and from my experience are the best chance to speak to the “rockstars” who evangelise and breath the various solutions. If you aren’t a partner or are looking for something less formal than PEX then the vBrownbag crew along with the vBrisket and VMUnderground crew are running opening acts with vBrisket for lunch and VMUnderground party at the end of the day. Opening acts has gained popularity with each year and the level of panels as well as those attending has also kept on increasing. The schedule for the day is:
    • 10:45am – The doors open
    • 11:00am – Panel Session 1
    • 12:00pm – Panel Session 2
    • 1:00pm – BBQ lunch by vBrisket
    • 2:00pm – Panel Session 3
    • 3:00pm – Panel Session 4
    • 4:00pm – Fin.
  • Also if you live in the US and want to do a road trip to VMworld then the vBrisket team are doing a road trip, you can see all the details here: http://www.vbrisket.com/vbrisket-bus-tour-to-vmworld-2016/.

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  • My second reason for attending is networking. I know it should be sessions or HOL but the ability to network with like-minded people and make relationships with people doing cutting edge work with the latest technologies has proved so beneficial to me in the past. The ability to network can be done in several places and at several parties but the best place IMO has to be the hangspace where you can sit at the bloggers table or speak to the VMware communities team as well as (and most importantly) listen and watch the vBrownbag 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.
  • Anyone can watch the TechTalks and there are almost always a crowd of the biggest names in the industry,VCDX, vExperts and top 50 vBloggers either watching the TechTalks, Chatting amongst themselves nearby or writing up blogs and uploading videos to their blogs from the bloggers table. The community is very welcoming so please do come say hi and I promise if i am there I’ll try not be grumpy 🙂
  • Next are the sessions. The VMworld Schedule Builder opened yesterday and within 3 hours a whole bunch were fully booked just to show the sheer interest of people to listen to some of the biggest names talking about the biggest technologies such as Duncan Epping of Yellow-Bricks.com fame talking about “A day in the life of a VSAN IO”. The sessions are always engaging and cover technical depth from beginners all the way to veterans so there is always something to learn. 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.
  • Next reason are the hands on labs. the labs cover all technologies and not just from VMware but also partners including the EMC Federation. The labs allow you a brilliant way of working your way through using the latest solutions and technologies so if your boss is wondering what NSX is and if it will fit your companies requirements you can do several labs on it and then can not only help your company understand it’s benefits having gone to sessions around NSX but also know how to do tasks inside NSX due to the labs.

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  • Next is the solutions exchange which is firstly an amazing place to talk to all the top vendors and companies working within the virtualisation arena and secondly to maybe even win yourself a few prizes from the plethora of competitions all the stands are running constantly. I personally love walking around the solutions exchange after grabbing some food so that you can listen to all the vendors explain why their solution is the best fit for you and get in some much-needed sustenance as you will be walking A LOT at the conference.
  • Lastly are the parties, these are normally amazing and seeing as the conference is in Las Vegas the locations are likely to be unbelievable. The parties vary in craziness so you can attend mellow drinks or full or parties in clubs it is entirely up to you. Apart from the VMUnderground party the Welcome Reception kicks off the conference experience with food, drinks, and networking in the Solutions Exchange. The always energetic Welcome Reception is a great way to reconnect with old friends, network, share ideas, and get to know our inviting community of VMware customers, experts, and partners. The parties have only just started getting announced but you can see which ones have been announced on Hans’ blog here. The VMworld party finishes off the conference on Wednesday night and is hosted at the legendary Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the band has been announced and despite what some old farts say about the band selected I can’t wait to listen to Fall Out Boy!!

Hopefully i will see you at the conference and as I stated do come by the hang space and say hello, I will be wearing a vBrownbag shirt with my name and twitter handle on so I should be easy to locate and identify.

 

Gregg


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I CANT BELIEVE MY VMWORLD SUBMISSION WASN’T ACCEPTED!!

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Your VMworld submission wasn’t accepted and now you are wondering how can you give back to the community or prove to the boss that your coming to VMworld is also about showing your knowledge and skills to the community. Well the vBrownbag TechTalks are the place where you can fulfill this desire (I would be remiss to not mention you should also be participating in your local VMUG) .

The vBrownbag TechTalks have been growing in popularity every year and our sessions in the hang space of VMworld US and EU are always a great way to hear ten minute sessions from some of the biggest names in the industry but even better people climbing the ranks who have great content to share. The vBrownbag crew describe the TechTalks as “presentations by community members at an industry conference. They originated with our friend’s sessions not being accepted for the main conference catalog. We know we want to learn from the community so we arranged an alternative forum. TechTalks are limited to ten minutes; they deliver the very core of an idea. Keeping presentations short also means we can do a lot of sessions in a day. Most TechTalks use a slide deck, some use a whiteboard and a few brave souls do live demonstrations. TechTalks are delivered to a small live audience at the conference and then posted to YouTube.”

If you want to see what some of the sessions were like last year then you can watch them on the vBrownbag channel here . The signup form is open and normally fills fairly quickly so why not put your name down to present, it’s a great way to practice presenting and can be used as part of your proof of why you should be selected as a vExpert in 2017.

I will be attending VMworld US to help the vBrownbag crew so come by and say hi and watch some of the sessions at least if you aren’t submitting to present.

Gregg