TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCAP6-CMA Design achievement unlocked

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This morning on my second attempt I passed the VCAP6-CMA Design exam. For those that aren’t sure what the exam is it is the VMware Certified Advance Professional –Cloud Management & Automation Design exam. The exam is a 3 hour exam where you have to answer 23 questions consisting of a variable number of drag and drop as well as Visio style question all around vRA 6.2 design.

I’m not going to break any NDA’s around the exam so please don’t ask. What I will do however is list here what resources I found helped me the best to pass the exam this time around and will add these resources if they are not there already to my VCAP6-CMA Design study resources page and also give advice keeping to the NDA that I feel would have possibly helped me pass the first time.

  • The VMware Cloud Automation: Design and Deploy Fast Track course is really great and certainly fills in any gaps in your knowledge that you might have. I was fortunate to be able to do it due to having access from my work white labelled as VMware PSO. The course is good but if you have been doing enterprise level vRA designs for a number of years like I have it can be very slow at points!!
  • The the vRealize Automation Reference Architecture from VMware was brilliant when i started learning vRA and it is still true. One word of advice is to not only spend time learning vRA components which are obviously important but also what supporting technologies are required for certain functions and capabilities to be possible (NSX, vRB, Endpoints, vSphere etc etc) .
  • Remember the exam is currently based on vRA 6.2 so all those fancy features you get in vRA 7.x aren’t possible during the exam so you need to know how it was done previous to those features if possible at all. A great resource I used to remind myself how it was done in vRA 6.2 was to  read the reference architecture i listed above.
  • This ones a biggie and i used two different resources for it, it is the various roles in vRA and what permissions each gives you. Sam McGeown’s mindmaps were the first I used as well as Grant Orchards mindmaps. Knowing what each role does and what permissions it gives is extremely important and maps directly to VCAP6-CMA objective 4.2. Remember a good design is all about giving the least privileges possible.
  • This one I didn’t expect to have to learn as much about and ties into point number two, I read the NSX Design Guide as design objective 3.5 mentions NSX but the amount of NSX knowledge needed for the exam was certainly much more than I expected so for my second attempt i made sure I was prepared.
  • This is part of the study resources for the exam but the amount of application services weightage amazed me so make sure you have read and fully understand all the capabilities and requirements of vRealize Application Services.
  • Last one that is weighted more than I expected is machine extensibility which ties in objective 8.2.

The exam is certainly worded strangely and one bit of advice that i stumbled across during my second exam is that if the text in the question seems to be a repeat of an earlier one and the options to build it don’t match then try click the wide option for the question text and it might bring up the correct text for the question. Good luck if you are planning to take the exam and for me it’s now onto prep for my VCDX6-CMA defence in just over a week.

Gregg

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VCDX Spotlight: Byron Schaller

Name: Byron Schaller

Twitter Handle: @byronschaller

Blog URL: vbyron.com

Current Employer: RoundTower Technologies

VCDX #: 231

How did you get into using VMware?

I started with VMware Workstation in 2000 when I was writing code for a living. I started working with ESX in 2005 with version 2.5.1. VMware products became my main focus with the release of VI3.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

This is complicated. Mostly the challenge and to prove I could. In seeking validation, I ended up gaining far more. I’m easily twice the architect now compared to when I started.

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

I completed my VCAP-DCD in February 2014. I guess I was passively preparing from that point until I began in earnest writing my design in May of this year (2016). I submitted in July and worked on my deck from the day I submitted until 2 days before I defended in September. In all I probably spent 200 hours this summer between writing, revising, and raw study.

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

Three points:

1. Get a mentor.

2. Get a study group of people you respect and trust. Mine was fantastic and I’m sure we will be friends post VCDX for a long, long time.

3. Understand your use case. What the workloads you are running on your clusters actually do for the business matters. Understanding the business impact of the applications leads to justifying design decisions. If you design an infrastructure for it’s own sake without taking this into account, I’m almost sure you will fail the defence.

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

I would have used a real use customer design. Mine was entirely fictional. The upside is I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only folks to pass on the first attempt with an entirely fictional design and without working with a partner(s).

The downside is that it made the process significantly harder. I had to make up all my performance and sizing data and make it feel real. That was very hard, and I still think I could have done a better job of it. If I had those numbers collected, because they were real, it would have saved me significant time.

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

My goals around learning include knocking out all 5 AWS certs by the end of the year and then starting on my VCDX-NV.

My company has been pretty great about everything, however with Rene (VCDX #133) as my boss I would expect no less.

In the end was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

The friends I gained and the skills I cultivated were well worth the effort. Without a doubt the VCDX journey changes you in ways few things can.

Byron


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#VMworld Day 1

Yesterday was the official first day of VMworld for those that are not partners. The day started for me with a bit of breakfast at the conference with Rene van den Bedem (VCDX133) after which we made our way to the bloggers area which had already started to fill up with bloggers and those deciding to not venture into the keynote hall but rather watch the keynote on the big screens in the VMVillage.

I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow analysis of the keynote but would rather recommend you  watch the keynote recording here. Some highlights from the keynote for me were:

  • 23,500 attendees (I wonder if cheaper hotel rooms helped this number)
  • 21 alumnus get lifetime passes for them and their spouses
  • By 2021 June 29th 3:57 the enterprise with be 50/50 in the cloud
  • By 2030 52% of all workloads will be public cloud.
  • Tech Vendors are #1 for embracing the Cloud.
  • The Cross Cloud Architecture was announced. You can see the whitepaper for the Cloud Foundation here
  • VMware Cloud Foundation as a Service first partnership is with IBM
  • A pet hate of mine that both Pat Gelsigner and a number of others used on premise. As Smeagol would say

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After the keynote the #vBrownbag TechTalks kicked off with the vExpert Daily and ran almost continuously for the rest of the day with a new session every 15-20 minutes to finish up with us having streamed and recorded 20 sessions which we are very pleased with. You can see all the recordings on our YouTube channel here.

I also snuck out during the day to pick up some exclusive #vExpert Swag like the VMworld Survival Kit from Cohesity with was a Timbuk2 bag with a portable charger, usb stick, water bottle and multi charger cables. A very good idea by their marketing, so much so they are having to mail a whole bunch as they ran out by lunchtime.

We finished the last vBrownbag near 5pm after which I made my way back to my room to drop off my bag then went early to the VMware Code Hackathon. I purposely didn’t bring a laptop so that i could just watch without showing my lack of programming knowledge but i still managed to have loads of brilliant conversations and numerous discussions around the VCDX Study/Mock group I run for those realistically looking to obtain the VCDX. The hackathon was a great success and certainly linked up like-minded people where everyone could learn and make connections whilst having some nice food and drinks.

Today the vBrownbag TechTalks continue from 11am PST. You can watch the live stream here and as per usual they will be recorded and uploaded as quickly as we can upload them.

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight – Kiran Reid

Name: Kiran Reid

Twitter Handle: Apollokre1d

Current Employer: Bank Of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ LTD

VCDX #: 225

How did you get into using VMware?

I started back in 2009 when my previous employer started a large datacentre consolidation project. I quickly did my VCP to ensure I was the main resource on the project.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I really wanted to further my knowledge after doing the VCAPs. What I liked about the VCDX program is it makes you stronger in so many different technology areas.

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

About 13 months once I had passed the VCAP’s.

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

Try and enjoy the whole experience, especially the defence. When you stand in front of that panel it is an amazing feeling thinking about where you were when you started the journey and where you are now.

We always find excuses not to do things, for instance, my current employer has strict polices preventing us from emailing stuff out of the bank which meant I had to recreate all of the design documentation at home as well as fund the entire process myself, but this was important so I did not let any of that get in the way.

If your excuse is “you’re too busy” consider this… my mentor has three children all under the age of 6 but still woke up at 5am twice a week (due to the time difference) once my defence was accepted to help get me ready. He did all this while working on his own second VCDX certification and working full-time for VMware… If he found the time we all can 🙂

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

For someone not from a consulting background I should’ve practiced the design scenarios a little earlier on in the process.

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

This has been one of the best experiences in my career and I am really grateful to the VCDX program and community. After a short break I am very much looking forward to completing the VCDX-NV track and helping others achieve their numbers.


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VCDX Spotlight –Ron Wedel

Name: Ron Wedel

Twitter Handle: FD_Hauza

VCDX #: 227

How did you get into using VMware?

The company I was employed with in 2007/2008 wanted to implement ESXi. We only had two four node clusters with shared storage. That company sent me to the vSphere 3.5 ICM class. My instructor in that class John Krueger was so passionate about the technology that it rubbed off on me.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

My current director pushes his staff to stay current with advanced certificates. After I passed my DCA & DCD it seemed like a natural progression. I also enjoy the challenge of something like this.

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

I wrote my first outline for my design in April 2015, so about 15 months total. This includes my three defences, I failed the first two.

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

Read the blueprint, find a mentor, find a study group and read the blueprint. This journey can be accomplished alone depending on your knowledge and job roles, but with an ever growing community why risk it? Be prepared to sacrifice a fair amount of your personal time. I wrote the bulk of my design during the summer, and was unable to attend many things. Also, make sure your family is prepared to support you. My kids didn’t really understand why I had to disappear into my office for 2 hours at random points during the day for mocks with my study group.

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

I probably wouldn’t have submitted for the October 2015 defences. I was very unprepared. Also increasing my T-Skills, I was a bit short on storage and that showed very much in my first defence.

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

It’s feels amazing to get this weight off my shoulders after 15 months. I honestly did not realize how much it stressed me out until it was over. My company was extremely supportive of the whole process and was excited for my success. I would say yes, it was worth it. I learned more about the entire infrastructure stack than I ever thought. In addition, I’ve made some good friends via study groups.


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VCDX Spotlight – Lior Kamrat

Name: Lior Kamrat

Twitter Handle: @LiorKamrat

Blog URL: http://imallvirtual.com

Current Employer: Microsoft

VCDX #: 230

How did you get into using VMware?

I’ve started from the early versions of GSX and Workstation 5.

Back then when all the virtualization stuff was new I felt that this is a game changer. At first, it was just for fun but later it helped me a lot during my career.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

Personal achievement and career opportunities. When I started to be more active in the vCommunity and saw all the other VCDXs getting recognition and becoming “virtualization smarter”, I just knew I wanted that.

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

From the first VCAP cert which was DCA until now, it took 3.5 years.

The VCDX process itself took me around 2 years.

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

I have a few advises but if I can minimize it to two it will leave your ego outside the door and the second one is you should truly be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to learn from your peers.

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

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t change anything except of my time management in the preparation for the first defence. I wrote an entire post just on this topic alone.

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

Well, since I am working for Microsoft know when really cares about it 🙂 . No one really knew what it’s like to be on your VCDX journey.

It was worth it big time. It is a great feeling to know you didn’t break under the entire thing. I am excited to see how this can be leveraged.


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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