TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCDX Spotlight: Sean Howard

Name: Sean Howard

Twitter Handle: @showardvmware

Current Employer: VMware

VCDX #: 130

 

How did you get into using VMware?

I was working at a reseller in Seattle back in 2006 doing SAN implementations. The need to develop VMware skills was driven by fast growing customer demand for ESX. Once I had a couple of deployments under my belt, I was hired away by one of our customers where I was able to do it on a larger scale.

 

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

It was mostly a personal challenge, but also to help build credibility with customers in my pre-sales role at VMware.

 

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

3 years total. I did my VCP in 2011, VCAPs in 2012, then worked on my VCDX submission throughout 2013 on and off.

 

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

I am not in an architect role, and I know a lot of people thinking about the VCDX believe that is an absolute requirement. It certainly helps, but it’s not a necessity. Though I will say hands-on experience is.

I know everyone says this, but really, truly read the VCDX Boot Camp book, and try to fully digest what is being said in it. Also try to attend the VCDX Boot Camp in person before you put pen to paper.

Get in a study group that does mocks. I lucked into one that was organized by Brad Christian. I doubt I would have passed otherwise. Also, don’t neglect the troubleshooting and design scenarios either. Practice those.

Spend 30 minutes every day on the elliptical, going for a walk (or whatever) and listen to the brownbag sessions, VMworld sessions, VMware related podcasts, stuff like that. It’s a great way to slowly absorb information over a period of months rather than trying to cram.

Finally, create flash cards for yourself on a service like Quizlet. I made almost 500 and had my wife ask me them. This forces you to say the answer out loud and work on crisp delivery.

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

I made things a lot harder on myself than they had to be. For one thing, I could have just done a mostly real design, I had enough projects under my belt. However, I felt that the projects I had done weren’t “cool enough”. So I took a real project as a base, bumped the scale up, added in components from other projects, etc. So it was probably 90% “real”, but was a collage of designs.

Yes, this resulted in a more whiz-bang design, but was a far greater burden during my prep for the panel. I had to be able explain interactions between things that had never actually occurred in real life. Luckily, I had access to enough lab gear to mock things up so I could answer confidently, but this was a lot of work that could have been avoided.

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

I immediately received a lot of recognition inside my extended team and several layers of management up. Of course people outside the company take notice and my LinkedIn got red hot pretty quickly. It’s only been a couple of weeks, so who knows what the future holds.

For me, this was mostly about proving to myself that I could do it. To me, that is its own reward.


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VCDX Spotlight: Kalen Arndt

Name: Kalen Arndt

Twitter Handle: @KalenArndt

Blog URL: www.vmrage.com

Current Employer: World Wide Technology

VCDX #: 132

 

How did you get into using VMware?

When I was working as a customer I had to do a rip and replace of ESX 3.5 to ESXi 4.1 with new hardware. I learned a ton about virtualization and when I first vMotioned a VM I said “Wow this is awesome and I have to work there.” I moved across the country to work for VMware where I worked commercially in networking/storage/fault support for about a year. After that I moved onto the Federal team at VMware where I was a TSE , Research Engineer, and then Escalation Engineer. I finally decided that I wanted to architect environments and I left for WWT where I implement large scale environments that leverage VMware.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

It was a challenge! I did the same thing with my VCP and then my VCAPs for DCV and View and finally hit the point where I felt I would be comfortable defending.

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

I initially planned for defending for 4.1 and then 5.0 came out and I switched teams. I would say the initial 4 submission was about 6 months. After I left VMware I spent about 8 months working on getting my VCAPs and submitting my defence for 5.5

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

Be honest and know your defence. I wrote an entire article about helpful things for future candidates can do here : http://www.vmrage.com/vcdx-dcv-overview/

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

I would have tried doing more mocks and additional proof reading of my design prior to my submission. I do plan on submitting for VCDX-DT with a totally new design from a previous implementation. So I guess you could say that I get to do over half of it over again Smile

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

A lot of people followed me on Twitter now which is pretty awesome. I am currently making a huge effort to mentor future VCDXs throughout the process. We had a few mentors and it was a HUGE help to the group.

My company was extremely excited that I had obtained it.

It was worth it to me because it was goal that I set and I finally did it. I loved the product enough to uproot my life to work on it and I am glad that I mastered one of their certification tracks. I plan on advocating it even further in the future


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VCDX Spotlight: Josh Coen

Name: Josh Coen

Twitter Handle: @joshcoen

Blog URL: valcolabs.com

VCDX #: 129

How did you get into using VMware?

In 2006, when I was active duty in the U.S. Air Force, we had a project to stand up a lab for testing patches and other projects. A server was bought and VMware Infrastructure 3 was purchased, but no one had training. I was brought into the project and sent to San Diego to take the VMware Infrastructure 3: Install and Configure course (coincidentally, Rawlinson Rivera was my instructor). I was immediately hooked and knew that my professional future had to include virtualization.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

After I started doing the VCAP5-DCA I decided I wanted to go for VCDX. The two biggest drivers for me was the challenge it presented and the doors it might open; professionally and monetarily

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

It took me roughly 12 months from the time I completed the last of the VCDX prerequisites (VCAP5-DCD) to the time I defended

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

Don’t give up. There were plenty of times during the process that I questioned “why am I doing this” and even contemplated quitting. These questions came when I got stuck on a particular part or section in the process and was unsure how to move forward. If that sounds familiar, take a break, clear your head and keep at it. Eventually something will click and you will break through

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

I would have tried to complete it sooner. I had the potential to defend sooner than I did had I got off my butt and completed the required documentation. Don’t procrastinate.

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

I’m not sure what’s next professionally, but I’m keeping an open mind. Personally, I’m going to focus on continuing to learn Spanish as well as Python. My company didn’t support what I was doing. All time and money associated with VCDX were my own. It was definitely worth it. A very rewarding experience and I’m glad to have went through it.


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EMEA VCDX Study Group

As some people may be aware, I am looking to defend my VCDX design at Frimley in April (tech review pending) and so wanted to follow the great example the guys from PEX set and try get some study groups going for VCDX for those people looking to submit and for people like myself who have submitted and are looking for mock defences for my design but also for the design and troubleshooting scenario.

Brad Christian posted a blog posting covering what the US guys did here for their mock defences and how beneficial they were. Everyone is welcome to join the EMEA VCDX study group (Current VCDX’s are especially welcome!!) although if you don’t even have you VCP yet then possibly waiting until you are further down the line is a good idea. I am hoping to link people up who are on the same level and path and create a “circle of trust” so that these people can share their designs for review and after submission for mock defences. 

I have created a form for people to fill in (I admit i copied the idea of James Bowling and his US Study Group form) and have listed the VCDX-Cloud and VCDX-DT as if people are aiming for these then there isn’t likely to be loads of people able to review and help.

So if you are interested and very importantly feel you can make the time (4-8 hours for a review) to help people looking to submit and defend then the sign up form is below:

SIGN UP HERE FOR EMEA VCDX STUDY GROUP

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight: Jonathan Kohler

Name: Jon Kohler

Twitter Handle:  @JonKohler

Blog URL: vdoogle.wordpress.com

Current Employer : MSN Communications

VCDX #: 116

How did you get into using VMware?

I started using VMware ESX 3.x and Workstation in late 2008. The more I started to use VMware’s products, both personally and professionally, the more impressed I was with their functionality and direction. I worked at a VMware partner at the time vSphere 4.0 came out and deployed it internally for their production environment and externally for customers as part of PS engagements. I decided then that VMware virtualization is where I wanted to maintain my professional focus and haven’t let up since.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I decided to go after the VCDX after I changed jobs a few years ago. I moved from Vermont to Colorado after finding a VMware Infrastructure engineering job at a large national health system on Twitter. The person who got me in the door was Nate Raper, VCDX 85, though not a VCDX at the time. I had both of my VCAP4’s at the time, and hadn’t really given much thought to the VCDX. That changed when I saw what Nate brought me in to work on. The environment at this company was massive in both complexity and size. To give you an idea of the level of VMware engineering at this particular establishment, the enterprise both Nate and I worked in has produced 3 VCDX’s (Tom Ralph, Nate, and Myself). That scale, as well as Nate’s encouragement, is what got me hooked and on the right path.

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

I started with the VCP4 in January 2009 and finished up with the VCDX5-DCV in August 2013, so holistically the better part of five years. In terms of hours, I probably spent over 600 hours over the last year working on everything associated with the VCDX deliverables. This was over the course of three application attempts and one defense attempt.

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

Approach all of your work like it was going to be compared against the VCDX blueprint, this will get you in the right mind set to succeed on whatever design you choose. I know the blueprint can be kind of vague, but try to use it as a checklist when you think you are done with a project, and literally go down the list and point out where you have those items in your design. Also, get and read the VCDX boot camp book.

Have confidence in yourself and give yourself a LOT of time. No matter how good of an engineer or architect you are, trying to rush to put together a world class deliverable simply doesn’t work, which I learned the hard way when I didn’t allow myself enough time for proper decompression, peer review, etc and failed the application stage twice.

If you get invited to defend, no matter how confident you feel, get SEVERAL different peer reviews on your presentation, practice frequently, and KNOW YOUR DESIGN INSIDE AND OUT. This means know why you made choices (very specifically), what you didn’t choose to implement (alternative design choices), and why you did what you did.

Past that, keep your hands in the dirt, as you will need to be sharp for the troubleshooting and design sections. I got lucky on my troubleshooting piece, as it was a problem I had actually dealt with in the real world before, which made me much more confident when engaging the panellists.

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

I would have given myself much more time the first go around, so that I didn’t have to stress over this for the past year. Smile

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

Life has been much less stressful for sure. My employer MSN Communications and manager Colin were supportive throughout the entire journey, and have responded well. No change in positions or anything, but as fate would have it, Nate and I left our healthcare IT jobs last year when we got outsourced, and both went to MSN. He just left MSN to go to VMware’s Global CoE, so I am going to step up and fill some of that gap with our customers, which I don’t think I could have done without going through the VCDX process. Lastly, I do think this journey was worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


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VCDX Spotlight: Brian Suhr

Name: Brian Suhr

Twitter Handle: bsuhr

Blog URL: www.virtualizetips.com

Current : Ahead

VCDX #: 118

How did you get into using VMware?

I was working for a large enterprise at the time and they had already begun to deploy some workloads into VMware 2.5. I was looking for more ways to expand my skills and learn new things. So I kept asking my manager to let me start working with this new virtualization stuff. This got me hooked on VMware early and fast, soon came amazing things like vMotion that blew my mind.

This was really a pivotal point in my technology career that set me on a course that led me to the point I’m at today. Without getting that early opportunity I would have not likely been introduced to VMware for several years.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I remember back about three years ago, thinking that I was pretty bored at the time. I was looking for a new challenge and I would need to make a career move. So I took my time and looked for a company that would provide me with the support and environment that would allow me to earn the skills necessary for me to make a VCDX attempt. This was the early days of VCDX and I was impressed with the level of people that were already certified then.

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

If you count the point from which I made the job change about 2.5 years. But for me it was about 18 months ago. That was when I began taking my VCAP5 exams and selected which one of my projects I would use for the submission. Anything before that point was preparation that I needed to hone my consulting and architecture skills.

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

I would say that while its possible to pursue VCDX by yourself it’s much easier if you have a support system. This could be co-workers or other technology people. You can then use these people for technical reviews and practice answering their questions. Even if you are a consultant and work with customers daily and are good at presenting, the VCDX defense session is at another level and you will want to be ready for it.

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

I am pretty proud of my VCDX journey, don’t think that there is anything that I would change about it. Well I would have loved to pass on my first attempt. I should have taken a few more vacation days before each defense attempt to feel more prepared.

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

It’s only been a short time since I was notified of my success. But my company values the VCDX program very highly and offers unprecedented support to those who wish to pursue.

For me it was absolutely worth it. To make the VCDX attempt it required me to push my technical and soft skills to a much higher level. So whether I was successful or not that was worth it for me. Granted being awarded the certification brings with it a lot of recognition both from the community and customers. But it was really about challenging myself and that was accomplished.


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VCDX Spotlight: Tim Antonowicz

Name: Tim Antonowicz

Twitter Handle: @timantz

Blog URL: whiteboardninja.wordpress.com

Current Employer: Mosaic Technology

VCDX #: 112

 

How did you get into using VMware? In early 2004, I was a SysAdmin at Bowdoin College in Maine.  Running out of datacenter footprint, we consolidated our servers with ESX 2.01 retiring 50 physical servers and leaving us 80% virtualized.  After Katrina in 2005, we worked with LMU in Los Angeles to co-host each other’s VMs for DR purposes. This project was one of the inspirations behind the development of VMware’s SRM solution.

 

What made you decide to do the VCDX? After moving into the Partner space, I began seeing and designing for several different customer environments. The VCDX program not only recognized those at the pinnacle of our profession but also advocated those skills and abilities needed to become the best at what we do. If I wanted to become a successful Architect, I should aspire to be a VCDX.

 

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey? Overall, the process was almost 3 years in length. I spent over a year getting my VCAPs and had a few attempts as a design, but nothing serious until about a year ago. My first design attempt didn’t make the deadline for submission, and I had to wait for PEX13 for my first official submission and defense invitation. While unsuccessful at PEX, I learned from my mistakes there and applied my experiences to my successful defense at VMworld13.

 

 

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation? Don’t attempt this unless you really want it. The VCDX process is not something you can go into half-committed. It will tax and test you all along the way, both technically and mentally. It is not for the faint hearted. With that in mind, if the VCDX is something that you want to do, and you are committed to becoming the very best you can be in your field, go for it. It is a journey that pays back 1000 fold what you put into it. By going through the VCDX, I am a better Architect than I was before. I’ve changed the way I approach each project, and my company, my customers, and I are better off as a result of my work and dedication. Aside from the actual certification, I am better at my job today for just going through the process. Holding the VCDX after it all is just the validation that I was on the right track all along.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently? Looking back, I wouldn’t have waited so long between getting my VCAPs and actually working on a design for submission. I should have started the process a year earlier than I did. Also, I only did one ‘Mock Defense’ for my first attempt. To all prospective VCDX applicants: “Mock, Mock, Mock!” Realtime, live interaction can do nothing but help you with your preparation for your defense.

 

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it? Since it has only been a few days since I received “my number”, nothing has changed for me professionally at this time. Personally… For the first time in over a year, I haven’t woken to thoughts of my design, potential flaws, and defense preparation scenarios running through my mind. It’s nice to hear the birds outside my window.


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VCDX Spotlight: Kenny Garreau

Name: Kenny Garreau

Twitter Handle: @kennega

Blog URL: http://dudewheresmycloud.com

Current Employer : Lumenate

VCDX #: 115

How did you get into using VMware?

My first exposure to VMware came when I was starting as a System Admin for a financial services company. I invested a lot of personal time learning the technology, and was eventually given the task of re-architecting our virtual infrastructure. This was a formative time for learning and putting into practice VMware, networking and storage design skills before I dove into the consulting arena.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I spent a couple of years consulting before I felt I had enough customer presentation and design experience to suitably defend a design. The design I submitted for my VCDX application was my first design at my second consulting job, and I remember thinking “Wow, this would be a great candidate for a VCDX defense.” It turns out that VMware and the panellists agreed.

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

I began by completing my VCAP-DCD and VCAP-DCA at the end of October 2012. I submitted my initial design in early December of 2012 to defend at PEX. I didn’t pass, so I took a couple of months off to recharge. I went back at it for VMworld 2013, and passed. So about 10 months.

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

Understand it’s not about the size or the complexity of the design you’re submitting to defend. It’s about your skills in designing around customer requirements and constraints, and mitigating risk to the customer and the project. Know your design, and recognize that if you include something in your design, justify it and know it. Finally, make sure your significant other knows and understands the journey you’re about to undertake. You’ll need their support, but it’s equally important to make time for them as well.

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

I would engage my fellow applicants earlier – they will be much more critical of your design going through the process than someone outside of the VCDX program. I’d try to complete my design a couple of weeks ahead of the deadline and run through a mock defense. It will help you identify weak points in your presentation, both technically and grammatically. You can then improve your design for its final submission and review by the panel.

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

Spend some time decompressing; you are going to need it! I had an overwhelming response from my co-workers, but the community response was what inspired me. Those who have been through the program realize the time and effort that goes into the entire process. To be counted among many of the very best names in datacenter and virtualization design is a humbling honour.


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VCDX Spotlight: Travis Wood

Name: Travis Wood

Twitter Handle: vTravWood

Current Employer: VMware

VCDX #: 97

 

How did you get into using VMware?
I’d seen a demo of VMware and like many people I was blown away by the concept of VMotion. The company I was working for won a deal to build a VMware environment and P2V about 100 servers into it, so I positioned myself to get selected for the project. It was intense working with such a new technology, stuff broke and we had to work through a lot of problems. P2V’s were far more complex then as Converter didn’t exist yet so we spent many late nights swapping NICs and disk controllers around trying to get the right combinations of hardware that’d work with P2V Assistant or using Ghost. But the experience was invaluable, at the time P2V skills were rare so this opened up many opportunities for me.

 

 

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I remember where I was when I first heard of VCDX. It was described as the pinnacle of VMware certification and extremely difficult to obtain. The concept of defending before a panel sounded intimating but challenging at the same time, I knew immediately this was something I’d have to do! At the time I was working in a projects team, building VMware environments with little design experience so I knew I’d have to start working my way towards a design role.

 

 

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?
It depends when you measure it from. When I received my VCDX certification in 2012 I’d been working in IT for about 10 years, and each step along the whole process eventually got me here. I first heard about the certification in 2008 and decided I would go for it but the journey really started when I joined VMware in 2009, so it took about 3 years.

 

 

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

Start with your end goal, VCDX and then figure out where on the scale you are now. Then create a plan to get there through a series of small, iterative but measurable steps. Figure out what you need to do and how you will do it. Secondly when it comes to submitting your design, read the blueprint. It is quite specific one what you need to cover.

 

 

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

I was quite happy with my journey, really the only thing I would’ve changed is tried to get more of the documentation done during the actual project that I used in my submission. When I decided to submit I reviewed my design against the blueprint and noticed there were areas I needed to cover but weren’t a part of this design, so that meant a bit of extra work ensuring I’d covered off everything.

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

Before VCDX I was in the VMware Professional Services team for Australia & New Zealand which gave me the necessary experience to get the certification. My VCDX certification got me noticed by the right people in the company to get tapped on the shoulder to join the Global Professional Services Engineering team as a Solution Architect. Now I am responsible for creating the services that VMware Professional Services offer as well as being an escalation point for the field and interacting with our product teams. I am also now a VCDX panellist which I find very interesting seeing how people approach design problems.


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VCAP-CID Objective 1.2 – Identify and Categorize Business Requirements

Knowledge

 Identify discovery questions for a conceptual design (number of users, number of VMs, capacity, etc.)

  • These questions are ones you are going to ask during the design workshop for the design/project. For the workshop you need to make sure you have the applicable project participants/stakeholders who can join the workshops (depends if you want one big one where people come and go at certain points or multiple ones where you speak to each business unit/ team). For the stakeholder meetings/design workshops I personally like to try bring in the following people, this does vary depending on the project and what has been chosen but 9/10 times these are the people you want to speak to:
      • Virtualisation administrators (if applicable. If not already present then future administrators of the solution)
      • Server Hardware Administrators
      • Backup Administrators
      • Storage Administrators
      • Desktop/OS Administrators
      • Network Administrators
      • Application Administrators (these are very important as their applications may have very specific requirements)
      • Security Officer
      • Project Sponsors
      • End users/ Help desk personnel (this I find is helpful to find out what are the current support desk tickets/problems the company are facing and if these will impact the project in any way. Also these discussions are easy to have in the hallway/over a coffee but have alerted me to unknown risks that would have severely impacted the design and delivery)

vcap

Identify the effect of product architecture, capabilities, and constraints on a conceptual design.

  • I may be looking at this the wrong way but I think this is actually around how specific products architecture, capabilities and constraints isn’t applicable in a conceptual design as for a conceptual design you are only creating a “napkin” design diagram of how the whole environment is going to be delivered.

Skills and Abilities

Relate business and technical requirements to a conceptual design.

  • From one of the VMware service delivery kits available to VMware partners they give a great breakdown of what requirements are and what business and technical requirements are:
    • Requirement – Documented statement that depicts the requisite attributes, characteristics, or qualities of the system
    • Business requirements – Describes what must be achieved for the system to provide value
      • System must provide self-service capability
      • System must provide x% availability
      • System must provide optimal scalability and elasticity
    • Technical requirements – Describes the properties of a system which allow it to fulfill the business requirements
      • System requires a Web portal where users can log in securely and deploy virtual machines based on defined policies
      • System must have fully redundant components throughout entire stack (host, network, storage)
      • System leverages virtualization technology and associated features
  • As mentioned these requirements will be gleamed from the Design Workshops/Stakeholder meetings and then put into the conceptual design. This is where you would work out if the customer requires a private, hybrid, public or even community cloud deployment. For example if the customer requires certain data to remain in a country for regulatory reasons then in the conceptual design you know compute resources, networking and connectivity between that country and the primary site need to be available. The speeds, number of hosts, make of hosts and amount of memory and vCPU are not in the conceptual design as this is the “napkin” design just covering the concept of how it will all work out and may actually change once you get to the logical and physical designs.
Number Requirement
R001 Virtualise the existing 6000 UK servers as virtual machines, with no degradation in performance when compared to current physical workloads
R002 To provide an infrastructure that can provide 99.7% availability or better
R003 The overall anticipated cost of ownership should be reduced after deployment
R004 Users to experience as close to zero performance impact when migrating from the physical infrastructure to the virtual infrastructure
R005 Design must maintain simplicity where possible to allow existing operations teams to manage the new environments
R006 Granular access control rights must be implemented throughout the infrastructure to ensure the highest levels of security
R007 Design should be resilient and provide the highest levels of availability where possible whilst keeping costs to a minimum
R008 The design must incorporate DR and BC practices to ensure no loss of data is achieved
R009 Management components must secured with the highest level of security
R010 Design must take into account VMware best practices for all components in the design as well as vendor best practices where applicable
  • For Technical Requirements a great way of doing it is to break them down into sections like:
    • Virtual Datacentre Requirements – eg: Allocation model Virtual Datacenters reserves 75% of CPU and memory
    • Availability Requirements – eg: VMware vCloud Director (clustering, load balancing)
    • Network Requirements – eg: Organizations have the ability to provision vApp networks
    • Storage Requirements – eg: Different tiers of storage resources must be available to the customer (Tier 1 = Gold, Tier 2 = Silver, Tier 3 = Bronze)
    • Catalogue Requirements – eg: Catalog items are stored on a dedicated virtual datacenter and dedicated storage
    • SLA Requirements – eg: SLA Requirement #1 – Networking 100%
    • Security Requirements – eg: Organizations are isolated from each other
    • Management Requirements – eg: Only technical staff uses remote console access
    • Metering Requirements – eg: Metering solution must monitor vApp power states for PAYG
    • Compliance Requirements– eg: Solution must comply with PCI standards
    • Tenant Requirements – eg: Customer requires the ability to fence off vApp deployments
  • To make sure you are doing the design in a VCDX-like manner which should push you to do it at a very high level, don’t forget to refine the customer-specific technical requirements and validate that they are specific, measurable, accurate, realistic, and testable (SMART).

Gather customer inventory data.

  • This is what is going to be on the new vCloud system whether it is existing workloads or new workloads. A good way of getting this if the customer allows it is to run a VMware Capacity Planner collection on the existing workloads that are going to be migrated in so you know sizes, I/O and current state analysis values. The Capacity Planner can only be run by VMware partners so if this isn’t possible for you then manual collection and recording is going to be required. Another method is via the VMware vCloud Planner which is another tool only available to VMware Partners so maybe getting a VMware partner in to do this for you prior to the project running would be a good idea
  • Also knowing what the customer already has can help you understand possible future constraints for example that all their current servers are IBM and so this is likely to be the server platform for this design.
  • There may also be a requirement to use existing legacy physical kit already present in the datacentre which needs to be recorded and fully understood so that the risks and constraints of using this infrastructure are fully understood. For example if you are using legacy network switches which can’t do stretched VLANs this will impact your design substantially if you have two sites and a requirement for the Management cluster to be failed over/migrated in the event of a disaster.

Determine customer business goals.

  • This is plainly what is the customer looking to gain from the deployment of this solution? At the end of the project what do they hope to achieve? These are sometimes not as clear as you may hope as people have different ideas of what they want the solution to achieve so as the architect you will need to take all these business requirements, set expectations if they are unrealistic due to varying reasons like cost or pre-selected hardware and then define them and get sign off from the customer that they agree to these before any additional work is done. This is very important as if these aren’t defined and agreed to by the customer then scope creep can happen which could cause the project to fail.

Identify requirements, constraints, risks, and assumptions.

  • I’m not going to go into great depth here as I think the definitions of each will give you a good idea of what each is. During the design workshops/stakeholder meetings these are worked out, recorded and agreed to by the customer. Always remember that for any design you need to collect all of these and then look at it in a holistic manner and understand the impacts of each decision.
    • Requirements – Documented statement that depicts the requisite attributes, characteristics, or qualities of the system. See above portions around Business and Technical requirements plus the examples.
    • Constraints – Requirements that restrict the amount of freedom in developing the design
      • Hardware which already exists and must be used (for example,host or storage array)
      • Physical limitations (distance between sites, datacenter space)
      • Cost $$$
    • Risks – Potential issues that may negatively impact the reliability of the design
      • Lack of redundancy for specific hardware component
      • Support staff has not had any training
    • Assumptions – Suppositions made during the design process regarding the expected usage and implementation of a system
      • Provides a sounding board for design decisions which must be validated
      • Hardware required is installed before vCloud implementation
      • Network bandwidth is not a limiting factor for external end users
      • Appropriate training is provided to existing technical staff
    • For assumptions and risks I like to get these highlighted to the customer right away as you normally don’t want any assumptions if possible and for the assumptions you record in your design you want these to be realistically clarified already so that the assumptions are only there to ensure that if what they promised would be there isn’t you can refer them to the assumptions they signed off.

Given customer requirements and product capabilities, determine the impact to a conceptual design.

  • This I think is covered above in places but is also something you can only really learn from actually doing a design and understanding how requirements shape a design and what impacts each of them have. On a conceptual design it isn’t as much of an impact as in a logical and physical design but limitations like keeping workloads in specific geographies and the capability of vCloud stretched clusters between the two locations for example are something that will impact the conceptual design. I would also read the Service definitions listed below in the recommended tools from the blueprint and the implementation examples from the vCAT.

Tools

If you feel I have missed something or am wrong on something then please do comment as I don’t proclaim to be the best and am always learning and welcome constructive criticism and feedback

Gregg