TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCDX Spotlight: Duncan Epping

Name: Duncan Epping

Twitter Handle: DuncanYB

Blog URL: http://www.yellow-bricks.com

Current Employer : VMware

VCDX #: 007

 

How did you get into using VMware?

I guess like many people… we were looking for a way to consolidate servers as we were growing out of our datacenter. Especially cooling was a huge problem for us so we needed to drastically lower the amount of iron in our datacenter. We explored several options but VMware was the only enterprise solution at that point. It proved to be the right decision, and that is also what was a huge change of direction in my career. Cause I changed from being a Windows admin to focusing purely on the virtual layer.

 

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

Well I worked for VMware already at that time. I was invited to take two early beta exams for VI3, which are now known as VCAP-DCA and DCD. Our group were literally the first group to take those exams. After about 6 months of waiting I finally found out that I passed those exams. When I was told I could do the VCDX Defense Panel I figured why not. Back then, and I was the first to actually take the exam (together with Richard Damoser who was in the room next to me), the process was slightly different though… You could say the early group did the beta defense.

 

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

From those beta exams to the defense itself probably 9 months in total. Funny thing is that in my case I heard 10 days before the defences were scheduled that I got a slot. Because I did not anticipated on it I didn’t have my docs ready. Although I heard it 10 days before, I only really had 4 days to complete the design as the panel of course needed to review and prep as well… on top of that I had a holiday with the family scheduled. So every night when my kids were in bed I was typing like a mad man. I guess I work best when under extreme pressure as the docs were accepted and the outcome of the defense was a pass 🙂

 

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

Don’t just talk about it, DO IT! If you want to become a VCDX you better start prepping today. It takes a lot of time to produce a proper set of documents and those documents are the key to success. Before you go to the defense make sure you know your design. I know many will think “hey I do know my design”, but go over it with a colleague. Let him question you… You will notice that some decisions were made “just because it is a best practice”, well that is not the right answer I can tell you that. Know why it is a best practice, know why it met you customer’s requirements. Know your design inside out!

 

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

Not much to be honest. I used two existing designs and merged these. I made sure I had constraints, assumptions, risks etc. There were politics involved in those projects and I made sure I exactly knew what drove some of the crazy design decisions in there.

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

When I took my defense we were at an “off-site” in San Francisco. The people who passed that week were all pulled up on stage during an “award dinner”. I can tell you that I felt really honoured receiving my VCDX plaque from the VP of Technical Service back then, Enis Konuk. Besides that, how cool is it to be up on stage with people like Mostafa Khalil, Kamau Wanguhu and John Arrasjid.

See pic in the below blog post, first 8 VCDX’s

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2009/05/15/vcdx-award-dinner/

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All Things Virtual 26

 

As you would expect there has been loads of news about the release of vSphere 5 and all the new features. A large amount of it early on and all over the VMware communities and the vExpert community has been about the vRAM licencing model.

  • Last week Wednesday the rumours that VMware were going to make changes to the licencing model came true. A massive amount of people blogged about it and VMware also posted a blog posting about it. So seeing as they did such a great job of it and to save me repeating what has already been covered, here is the official VMware blog posting about the changes as well as a brilliant posting from fellow vExpert Eric Siebert all about how VMware has a change of heart on licensing. From these two postings I think I’ve finally got my head around the new licencing model and how it will impact my environments.
  • William Lam the master of vMA and ESXCLI posted about the new features and enhancements in vSphere 5 for ESXCLI and some awesome tips and tricks for vMA 5. For my VCAP-DCA study preparations I’ve been forcing myself to try do as much of my daily job via the vMA and it really is an amazing tool and with the tricks William has listed you can do pretty much anything you want in your VMware environment with ease and on mass.
  • Scott Drummonds has written up a really great posting all about what he feels are the Top 10 Reasons to Upgrade to vSphere 5. This is a great list for anyone who needs to explain to their boss on management why they need to upgrade to vSphere 5 apart from the obvious eventual expiration of vSphere 4. There really are some amazing new features and enhancements that are going to make daily tasks so much easier and faster.
  • When you’ve convinced your boss and management that the upgrade to vSphere 5 is well worth their while and you’re planning on using auto deploy to create your ESXi hosts then Paul Richards’ (@eprich) posting all about 3 Design Considerations for Your vSphere 5 Auto Deploy Environment. These are really great tips and things that may seem obvious but are also easily forgotten or missed in your design planning.
  • Eric Sloof has done a brilliant list of all  the videos he has done for vSphere 5 from migrating to vSphere 5 to Storage DRS. Eric’s videos are always really great especially for someone like me who likes to see the actual steps and features before trying them out for myself. Duncan Epping has also done a list of all the vSphere 5 Coverage he has done since the announcement. These two are some of the best in the industry and their blogs are rightfully in the top ten VMware blogs in the world so the articles and videos they have created are some of the best you’ll find out there.
  • For those who are fortunate enough to have been approved to go to VMworld 2011 in Vegas this year or if you’re like me and will be tweeting and blogging about it all from the comfort of your desk then add your twitter handle to the VMworld 2011 Vegas twitter list and the bloggers list . I’ve already added my information and it makes sure your tweets and blog postings about VMworld are shown on the VMworld page and streams to make sure people can find and read your postings easily.
  • If you are going to VMworld for the first time this year then these tips for first time attendees and possibly anyone who hasn’t been for a while will be very helpful. The tips came about from a discussion on the vExpert community from a fellow vExpert asking for tips seeing as he was attending for the first time. Christopher Kusek listed all the responses that were given to Bilal Hashmi into his posting VMworld Tips, Tricks and Prize winning. Bilal also listed them and more in his  VMworld Tips by vExperts (title edited due to my not wanting four billion spam messages)
  • Just a very quick plug that I’ve now created a VCAP5-DCA & DCD Resources page to start listing all the resources that I’ll be using in my preparations once the exams are released. If you know of any materials I haven’t listed on it please leave a comment on the page and I’ll make sure it’s added.
  • Lastly is a posting by Tom Howarth on How to Report an Issue to a VMTN Moderator. This is sometimes a necessary step on the VMware communities due to people either publishing NDA information about new releases or exams. Or the occasional spam message that is unfortunately posted.

Well that’s all the things that have caught my interest in the past few weeks and the things I need to finish reading to try keep up to date. If you want to follow me on twitter my handle is @greggrobertson5.

Gregg


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VCAP5-DCA & DCD Resources Page

A very quick posting to alert people that I have now started building up a VCAP5-DCA and DCD Resources page for the impending release of the VCAP5 certifications. At the moment it is fairly short due to the exams not even having reached beta but I’ve got to start somewhere and for those of us out there who will be hoping to be invited to the beta exams these resources will probably be our best preparation Smile 

As said on the page ,if you know of any other resources out there please do leave a comment or drop me a tweet on twitter on @greggrobertson5 as this is really all about helping everyone find the best resources for the exams.

Gregg


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All Things Virtual 25

 

After a much needed two week holiday I’ve come back to an overwhelming amount of news from the virtualisation arena and in particular the announcement of VMware vSphere 5. Having been on the beta for vSphere 5 and vCloud 1.5 I had a feeling the announcement was due to happen while I was away but due to only having got onto the vSphere 5 beta late and only having played with it indirectly via the vCloud 1.5 beta I felt it was better to let some of the more informed bloggers out there do a better job than I could.

  • First on my list is one that even after over two weeks of letting it set in I’m still excited about like a child on Christmas day. On the 1st if this month the VMware vExpert recipient emails went out and I was selected as one. I did a blog posting all about my honour at being selected here if you’re interested and as mentioned on that posting if you want to see all the other recipients and their blogs so as to follow them (which i would HIGHLY recommend as they are pretty much the best ones) and their twitter handles to also follow them then Arnim van Lieshout’s vExpert page is where you can find all these. If plans go ahead I’m hoping I’ll have a very exciting new feature to mention very soon off of this so keep your eyes out for it as it’s something I truly believe in and is something close to my heart.
  • Next is the release of vSphere 5. As you can imagine there is a STAGGERING amount of information about it and I was planning on doing a list of all the best resources but as is the case someone has beaten me to it and seeing as it’s the list I’m currently using to get myself up to speed on it all it only makes sense to link to it. So if you’re like me and are currently trying to catch up on it all then Eric Siebert’s vSphere 5 Links is the best place to go.
  • One of the parts off of this release is also the release of the VCP5 exam and I notice a fair amount of the vExpert’s have either already started sitting the Beat exam or are due to sit it very soon. Obviously I’m not going to mention anything about the exam but if your like me and now have loads of question about what this means for people who have their VCP4 and what the upgrade paths are and if you’re even more like me and are due to write your VCAP-DCA very soon and are now wondering if it is worth your while doing it still or if you should wait then these links will answer all your question like they have for me
    • Fist is all about the upgrading of your VCP4 to VCP5 by Scott Vessey (@vmtraining) . Thankfully VMware are following the same policy as they for the VCP3 to VCP4 path and allowing people with the previous VCP accreditation to write the test without having to attend any compulsory training until February 29th 2012
    • Next also from Scott is the upgrading of your VCAP4 to VCP5 and VCAP5-DCA. Personally this is most likely the path I’m going to follow seeing as I hope to have my VCAP4 and seeing as it will allow me to get the VCP5 at the same time as my VCAP5-DCA makes the most sense for me.
    • Then the big question “Is it worth doing vSphere 4 certifications?” . Scott gives some great things to think about and it does come down to the answer of “it depends” as obviously people are at different points of their knowledge and studies.
  • Kendrick Coleman has done a great posting all about how to set up your SQL server DB for use with vCloud Director 1.5 now that support for SQL DB instances is available. Having had to fiddle with this myself during the beta to get my test environment working I can assure you his steps are really helpful in making sure you do it correctly in the first place as i had to rebuild me whole one due to a simple mistake with the DB and making sure you select the right collation is REALLY important.
  • Next is a competition run by Greg W Stuart for the chance to win a Free Conference Pass to VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas, Air Fare and 5 Nights Hotel Accommodation. Greg won his way to VMworld last year via Jason Boche’s contest and from this he’s embraced blogging and the community so much he was awarded by becoming a VMware vExpert for 2011. So get your comment submitted as it finished THIS SUNDAY JULY 24th and good luck.
  • I did say I wouldn’t mention vSphere 5 again but seeing as it’s such great resources I have to point out the vSphere 5.0 Storage Features series of blog postings and due them being updated on the coming weeks and months it is something to keep an eye on. The first five have already been posted and are brilliant for getting yourself up to speed on the new features (of which there is a substantial amount)
  • Next is a friendly reminder for those of us going to VMworld to register for the sessions you want to attend as unlike in previous years VMware are enforcing session registration and if you don’t register and the session is full then you wont get in. Simon Gallagher has blogged all about this here.
  • Last but certainly not least is the announcement that The Brownbags WebEx’s made popular by Cody Bunch are coming to Europe and are being hosted by the illustrious Tom Howarth. So get yourself registered  http://tinyurl.com/62qmotk

Well that’s my summary. .Good luck catching up with all the vSphere 5 features and news and good luck to those writing the VCP5 beta and those of you writing your VCAP exams. Remember I’ve done a VCAP-DCA and DCD resources page if you’re interested in the resources I’m using for my studies.If you would like to follow me on twitter my handle is @greggrobertson5

Gregg


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All Things Virtual 24

 

Just a very quick All Things Virtual as I haven’t been able to read as many blogs as I had wanted due to work commitments and the studying for my VCAP-DCA taking up a large portion of my time.

 

First is the delay to the vExpert results. The results were said to be released on the 6th of May yet were delayed by two weeks and then last week the guys from the vSoup podcasts spoke to John Troyer at the Boston Gestalt IT Tech Field Day and he explained that due to a number of the VMware employees who were selected to give their opinions on the candidates still not having replied it has been delayed for another two weeks (John said two weeks last week Friday but I have a feeling it will need another week above that). It is a shame this has been delayed so much and is a let down for the people who give so much of their spare time to the VMware community, for VMware to then take an extra month and a half to give the results of the vExpert nominations. John did however promise they would be out before VMworld Smile

Talking of VMworld the Session catalogues for VMworld US and VMworld Europe have been posted. There’s a number of very exciting sessions happening and it’s great to personally see so many people I know form the London VMUG and via twitter whose sessions have made it after the public voting. If you’ve never heard of VMworld or have never been before I blogged about each of the days happenings when i went to my first one last year if you’re interested in getting any idea of what an average day at the conference is like All Things VMworld Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

The next London VMware User Group has been announced for the 14th of July. Unfortunately I will be away on holiday over this time but as I’ve stated many times in a number of blog postings on this blog the VMUG’s are an awesome day out and the amount you learn from the sessions and from fellow attendees is well worth your time. I was able to attend the last one on the 12th of May and wrote up a blog posting about the day if you want to get an idea of what happens during the day. If you are likely to be around the London area on the 14th of July I would highly recommend registering on the VMUG site and attending.

I’ve been trying to fill my slightly ADHD mind with all things VMware in preparation for my sitting of the VCAP-DCA exam and as mentioned in my VCAP-DCA and DCD Resources Page I’m a massive admirer of David Davis’s Trainsignal videos as they allow me to spend as long or short on each topic as I want and allow me to watch them via my iPad or laptop whenever i have a chance. David has recently released his VMware vSphere Performance Monitoring Training. I’ve only briskly looked at the video’s in the set as I’m trying to complete his VMware vSphere Troubleshooting Training set of videos first before starting the new ones but the videos look as amazing as ever and as sad as it is I’m actually excited to watch them. If you haven’t used David’s videos before I would HIGHLY recommend them especially if you are looking to do your VCP4 or your VCAP-DCA

Gregg


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VCAP-DCA&DCD Resources Page Updated

 

Just a quick posting to alert people that I have just updated my VCAP-DCA & DCD Study Resources page with new resources and great tips.The page is a list of resources that I have been constantly updating as I  have come across new resources and I have made my way through the  required amount of studying to be prepared (which is now in full swing).So either click the “VCAP-DCA & DCD” link at the top of the page or click here if you can’t be bothered going to the top of the page and if you know of any other great resources please do comment so that I can add them and it can benefit the whole community.

Gregg


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VCAP-DCA & DCD Resources Page Updated

Just a very quick posting to alert people that I have now updated my VCAP-DCA and DCD resources page. The page is a list of resources that I have been constantly updating as I  have come across new resources and I have made my way through the  required amount of studying to be prepared (which is still on-going).So either click the “VCAP-DCA & DCD” link at the top of the page or click here if you can’t be bothered going to the top of the page and if you know of any other great resources please do comment so that I can add them and it can benefit the whole community.

Also a reminder that Kendrick Coleman is doing a VCAP-DCA Live Lab on Cody Bunch’s Brownbag tonight so go to his site and register as it’s sure to be a brilliant one

Gregg