TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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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.

7 VCDX

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)

vmunderground

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


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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 https://blogs.vmware.com/education/2016/02/new-vcap6-beta-exams-now-available.html . 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.

 

Gregg


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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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VCP6-CMA track on the EMEA #vBrownbag

Now that my VCDX defence is over and hopefully I’ve done enough to be awarded an illustrious number I can pick up my old responsibilities for the EMEA vBrownbag of which I am one of the hosts and decided that the VCP6-CMA track would be a great one to do.

african children dancing - Lets learn Some vRA goodness

We are going to be going through the blueprint in order so that it is easy to follow and watch as well if you are subscribed to the iTunes feed. So starting next week Tuesday at 7pm GMT (Clocks have changed in Europe so this is GMT not BST) we will be doing objective 1 and it is being covered by one of the co-hosts of the vBrownbag, Frank Buechsel. You can register for the series and future vBrownbag EMEA sessions via the following link https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8540909933274906113 and can also subscribe to the vBrownbag YouTube channel.

 

If you are interested in covering an objective on the vBrownbag then please get touch as we are always looking for presenters.

 

Gregg


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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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vExpert 2015 – Honoured

Late yesterday (well in the UK it was late) the 2015 vExpert list was released. I am truly honoured to have obtained it for the fifth year running (2011-2015).

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.

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

–  Co-host of the vBrownbag VMworld TechTalks and the Opening Acts.

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

–  Beta tester of numerous VMware products

–  Active member of the VMware Communities

–  Active member of the London VMUG

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 Corey Romero and his team who run the vExpert program and for feeling I was worthy of the designation. Also congratulations to all the other  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.

 Xtravirt Taking the Lions Share

Lastly I would like to congratulate all my Xtravirt colleagues who obtained the vExpert designation this year for a total of twelve of us namely:

  • Curtis Brown
  • Jason Meers
  • Jim Griffiths
  • Jonathan Medd
  • Michael Poore
  • Michael Rudloff
  • Paul Davey
  • Sam McGeown
  • Sean Duffy
  • Simon Eady
  • Steve Dunne
  • Me Smile

Even though we sadly had Darren Woollard, Seb Hakiel and Ather Beg all decide to try something new we still kept out high numbers and for a company of under 50 people with under thirty being consultants this is certainly something i’m impressed with and proud to be a part of and should earn us the highest percentage per number of employees accolade again. If you want to join Xtravirt and work with 12 vExperts doing cutting edge virtualisation work then drop me a dm on twitter on @greggrobertson5 and I can put you in contact with the right people.

Gregg


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VCDX Defences 2015

A very quick posting to alert people that the defence dates additional to PEX for 2015 have been released.

https://communities.vmware.com/thread/494802

Defences will be held simultaneously at Frimley (UK), Palo Alto (US) and Singapore (Asia) in June and October with more dates possibly created if there is additional demand.

I am personally looking at doing my second attempt for the June defences in Frimley and listed all the resources I’m using for my second attempt which I have been making my way through since late November 2014.

The EMEA #vBrownbag are also running a VCDX series which should be beneficial for those people thinking of defending or just wanting to know more about the certification.

Good luck to all of those looking to defend this year and let me know if you are defending as there is a VCDX study group running already for PEX and one slowly starting for the June defences.

Gregg


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EMEA #vBrownbag VCDX Series

Let me first wish everyone reading this a very successful 2015, I have a substantial amount of things I’m planning to do/accomplish this year and one of these is to get my VCDX and so this series is certainly going to help with this.

As the name alludes to, the EMEA vBrownbag of which I am one of the three hosts is going to be starting a VCDX series all around the VCDX to try help people along every section of the journey to obtaining the certification. I know all the things I am looking to get out of the series but despite me wanting to make it focus just on the things I want to do/know I wanted to get out a posting asking people what they would like us to cover. As I’m sure you are aware there are NDA’s attached to the certification but I am certain we can keep to these and have cleared this idea with the powers that be within VMware who are happy for us to do and will be participating at points also. Below are the rough plans for the series which we can run as long as there is content and people are interested. If you can please write in the comments section what you would like to see then we can start getting the ball rolling.

EMEA vBrownbag VCDX Series

  • January 20th (Confirmed) – VCDX Q&A Panel

A panel of a number of current VCDX and the VMware VCDX program manager where those burning questions you have about the VCDX can be asked. People need to come with questions for this.

  • February 10th (Tentative) – VCDX Design Scenario Mock Panel

We will do one or even two VCDX Design Scenario Mock Panels where a pre-agreed volunteer will do a VCDX Design Scenario Mock with a set panel just like the real defence and then will analyse what the panelists feel they did right and wrong.

  • February 17th (Confirmed) – What is required in a VCDX submission?

For this the name describes it all. We will go through what is required in a VCDX submission by following the VCDX blueprint and showing the depth and breadth of documentation that you should be submitting to be invited to defend your VCDX design.

  • March 3rd (Confirmed)  –The Art of IT Infrastructure Design -Part 1

The authors of The Art of IT Infrastructure Design book will be covering their new book and what it entails and how it is a valuable resource for those looking to obtain the VCDX.

  • March 10th (Confirmed)  –The Art of IT Infrastructure Design -Part 2

The authors of The Art of IT Infrastructure Design book will be covering their new book and what it entails and how it is a valuable resource for those looking to obtain the VCDX.

  • March 17th ( Confirmed) – VCDX Bootcamp Session with John Arrasjid, Mostafa Khalil, Chris McCain, and Mark Gabryjelski 

A VCDX Bootcamp session will be run by John Arrasjid, Mostafa Khalil, Chris McCain, and Mark Gabryjelski.

As I said this is to help those thinking about doing the VCDX or even those who are already on the path towards it to get the information and knowledge they are looking for so let us know your thoughts on the tentative schedule and what other things you would like to see. Also don’t forget you can sign up for the EMEA #vBrownbag via this link.

Lastly a shameless plug of if anyone is interested in knowing all the resources I’m personally going through for my second VCDX attempt you can see them here.

Gregg