TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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My First VMware Certification #vExpert NSX

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

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

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

What was your journey for the first test?

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

Were you nervous, how did you study?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Gregg


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Blog Sponsor – Pluralsight

I am pleased to announce the second sponsor of my blog: Pluralsight . I am really excited by this sponsorship as I have been a massive fan and user of Pluralsight’s and previously Trainsignal’s videos and online courses for years and they  have helped me pass all of my certifications within the last 7 years so you can understand how fond of the courses I am.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight’s purchase of Trainsignal has enabled the videos to now be available via your tablet and gives you the ability to download videos to your tablet so you can watch them without needing Wi-Fi like on a train or plane. I honestly can’t recommend them enough and would highly recommend you give them a try and sign up for their no obligation 10-day free trial. They have videos ranging from VMware technologies, learning programming languages from scratch or advanced courses , Windows technologies,hacking, A+ N+ , leadership courses and Scrum fundamentals to name but a fraction of the courses. For some of the certifications I have recommended and personally used Pluralsight courses for and will be using again in the future have a look at the following study resources pages and blog posting:

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-study-resources/vcp5/

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-study-resources/vcap5-dca-dcd/

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-x-cloud-study-resources/vcp5-iaas-and-vcp5-cloud/

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-x-cloud-study-resources/vcap5-cia-and-cid/

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/2014/04/28/vcdx-prep-round-2/

 

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight: Lane Leverett

Name: Lane Leverett

Twitter Handle: @wolfbrthr

Current Employer: Enterprise Networking Solutions Inc.

VCDX #: 53

 

How did you get into using VMware?

I first started using VMware Workstation and ESX in 2005 while working at JTS Communities as a Network Administrator. As I worked with ESX and saw the isolation/encapsulation capabilities I could see just how disruptive virtualization would be for the technology industry and that it would enable and usher in so many new capabilities that were either very difficult and/or costly to implement and manage. I also liked the fact that in order to do virtualization well it would require me to be well rounded in Server Operating Systems, Networking, and Storage as well as virtualization itself. I liked that challenge and saw this as the career path I wanted to target. So I then looked for employers where I could design and implement virtualization solutions or where I could manage and administer large and complex virtual environments.

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

I started in November of 2009 taking the VMware Administrator and VMware Design exams (now the VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD exams). VMware was still working out kinks in the communication process for how you were enrolled for those exams, and then getting back to you on when you could schedule the next step. I then took the first VCDX Boot Camp at Partner Exchange in Vegas in 2010. I sat in the back of the room and started to soak in the information. I ended up sitting next to Frank Denneman (VCDX#29) and he was giving his VCDX defense the very next day. He was SO gracious and helpful pointing me in the right direction giving me a heads up that I would need to spend a good deal of time and attention on the application and design documentation. I then ended up filling out the application and augmenting and providing the necessary required documentation from my real world design in May and submitted all of that information right before the deadline (Like I think I maybe had an hour to spare). That was really the most gut wrenching part of the entire process, and in my opinion the most difficult. I got the thumbs up that my application and documents had been accepted and that I would be defending my design the Thursday before VMworld. I then spent the remaining time till then reviewing my design and based on the advice from the VCDX boot camp, going over not only why I had made certain design decisions, but also why I chose not to make different design decisions. Was it because of a constraint, a customer requirement, or perhaps even preference towards a certain hardware vendor on the customers end. For me, the defense, while nerve wracking, was not actually the most difficult portion of the entire process. I am pretty good at thinking on my feet, I have excellent communication and soft skills, and I’ve had plenty of experience delivering designs and doing presales sessions in front of customers. Doing the defense was really no different. I just had a VERY well educated and technical astute customer. Smile It was nice to be done with the defense and enjoy VMworld, but it wasn’t till almost a month later that I got the e-mail with the good news.

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

First off, the VCDX isn’t for everyone. It really is for those that are currently VMware design architects or that aspire to that kind of position. This certification is really geared for folks that understand how to take a customer’s business requirements and can turn that into a technical solution given all the potential risks, requirements, and constraints for that particular customer.

If you do feel this is the right path for you then I first of all recommend that you use a real customer design. Even though a fictitious customer is acceptable, it will drive you crazy having to create from scratch a whole customer scenario (this would be analogous to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien coming up with the entire history of Middle Earth, legends, the Elvish language, etc. – you don’t want to really do that unless you’re a glutton for punishment).

Another item of advice is to make sure you’ve given yourself enough time to put together the application and documents. Don’t put it off or procrastinate. You’ll be sorry if you do.

Also, keep your design simple. Your design doesn’t have to be a 500 page multi-site international design complete with VDI, every hardware vendor under the sun, etc. The cleaner and simpler you can make your design, the better off you’ll be. Don’t hand in a five page design doc – that would also be hurtful to your chances of passing. But remember, you’re gonna need to know this design like the back of your hand when you give your defense, so do yourself (and the VCDX application review board) a favour and keep it short, but also complete (DO NOT leave out anything that they ask you in the application to have included in your documentation).

And finally get peer support. Get advice from folks on twitter or the community forums. Have people review your design and folks you respect watch your mock defense sessions.

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

Have given myself more time on the application and design documentation.

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

Life is good. I feel truly honoured (and still quite shocked) to be in the company of some truly amazing people. I actually ended up changing jobs weeks before I found out if I had gotten the VCDX. But that was really just a chance for me to move back home from Kansas to Northern California. That in itself has been a true joy. I’m working at a small integrator out of Sacramento, CA and I have the privilege to work alongside some truly fantastic peers. I know I could have my pick of several great opportunities out there, but for now, the ability to stay close to home with almost no travel allows me to spend quality and quantity time with my son and daughter.


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VCAP5-DCA is now GA

A very quick posting for those people out there who are looking to either test out their skills over and above the VCP5 accreditation or those like myself you are hoping to try for the VCDX5 accreditation. The official posting went out earlier today as did the blueprint which hasn’t changed since the beta.

If you feel you are willing to take the challenge of the VCAP5-DCA then you can register for the exam here. Due to my being part of the VCAP5-DCA beta I have already started listing all the resources I’m going to use for the exam on my VCAP5-DCA and DCD Study Resource Page and I’ve also almost finished covering all the VCAP5-DCA blueprint objectives.

Good luck to everyone looking to do the exam and if you know of any other resources I’m missing from my resources page please leave a comment so I can add it to the list

Gregg


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January 2012 London VMware Users Group (LONVMUG) and I’m presenting

Just a very quick posting to remind anyone around the south of England or who is willing to come to the south of England for it that the next London VMware User Group (LonVMUG) and the first one of 2012 is happening on Thursday the 26th of January. Also I’ll be presenting at it, the first time I’ve ever done a session at a VMUG. Mine will be around my VCP 5 Study Resources, my exam experiences and a few surprises Smile

If you haven’t registered I would highly recommend you do so ASAP as these are more often than not fully booked a week or two before the event. You can register for the event here and hopefully I’ll get to meet you there.

After the VMUG the standard vBeers will take place. If you’ve somehow never heard of vBeers before the below is just for you Smile.

vBeers

Is an informal get together of virtualisation enthusiasts and professionals to meet and discuss all things IT. It’s a great opportunity to network, learn and meet like minded people.

clip_image001

The following is part quoted from Simon Seagrave’s Website :

Enjoy Talking Virtualization? Come & Socialise at vBeers!

vBeers[7]Fancy meeting up every month with other IT virtualization enthusiasts to socialise and chat over a cold beer, wine or soft-drink? If so, then vBeers is for you! This is a great opportunity to meet with other virtualization enthusiasts and professionals and enjoy discussing all things virtualization, and in fact anything else that comes up in conversation…

vBeers is open to everyone so whether you are a VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer user/fan or none of the above it really doesn’t matter as “it’s all about the virtualization”.

The London vBeers meet-up is held at the Pavilion End Pub . Details and directions below:

When & Where

The London vBeers are held on the first Thursday of every month or after a VMUG meeting starting at 6pm in the ‘pavilion end pub

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Location: The ‘pavilion end pub’, London

Address: 23 Watling Street Moorgate EC4M 9BR

Date: First Thursday of every month and after VMUG meetings

Time: 6:00pm

Map:

image

Gregg


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VCP 5 Exam Experience.

This morning I sat my VCP 5 after around two and half weeks of studying. As I’m sure, you know I’m under NDA so I can’t mention too much but what I can I will in the hope that maybe it will help someone prepare better and thereby pass the exam.

I utilised a large amount of resources although due to my time constraints I did have to pick and choose which ones I felt would help me most. All the resources I used in my preparations are listed on my VCP 5 page here: https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vcp5/ .The ones i personally used from my list were:

  • The vSphere 5 Trainsignal videos by David M Davis and Elias Khnaser. I watched all the videos as i wanted to make sure i didn’t miss a low level setting that might come up in the exam and had a feeling the VCP 5 would require you to know each features inside out (which they do)
  • I know not helpful for people who haven’t attempted it but the preparations for my VCAP4-DCA really helped me as it gave me a really good base knowledge and loads of experience installing configuring and managing loads of the less utilised features. Off of this i would recommend getting loads of hands on lab time and make sure you install all the features and know how they work as the exam is based much more on experience rather than picking the new feature in vSphere 5 from a list. As mentioned in the BrownBag webinar I did last week with Damian Karlson you can create a lab from a few desktop computers or even use VMware workstation on your laptop and build a small lab that way.
  • The vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive by Frank Denneman and Duncan Epping helped me loads! the exam doesn’t expect you to know the deepest configurations but i read the whole book anyway and it really did help me better understand how it all works and even if you don’t want to read the whole thing then get the book and read the first few chapters of each of the sections so you know how it all works and what the new features are all about.
  • Andrea Mauro’s study guides were amazing and really helped me systematically make my way through the blueprint and flagged up points i possibly wasn’t very strong in so I could go research and learn more about it. All his guides are on his blog here: http://vinfrastructure.it/certifications-on-virtualization/vcp/vcp5/. They really are great
  • One of the resources I used to do the further research of features I wasn’t that strong in was Scott Lowe’s Mastering VMware vSphere 5 book. The book is great and gives amazing examples and explanations for all the features. Due to time constraints, i wasn’t able to read the whole book but it was really helpful for further studies and if I had more time I would have liked to have read the book.
  • The practice exams by Simon Long and the VMware mock exam were highly beneficial as they gave me a really good idea of the style of questions and helped flag up parts I was weak in and thereby needed to spend more time studying. As mentioned in the BrownBag, if you get 100% for the VMware mock exam you can’t retake it, which is insane but something to keep in mind.
  • I did mention it above but I feel it’s so important I want to mention it again. Get yourself a lab/build a lab on your laptop/desktop and practice everything as the exam is based on experience so the only way you are going to get a really good understanding of how everything works and all the features and settings is to get a number of practice hours in.

Well that’s all the things I used for the exam and I’m pleased to say I passed the examclip_image001. The score was a lot closer than I had hoped but seeing as the exam was so difficult I’m very pleased with my pass. Good luck to anyone sitting the exam soon.

Gregg


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BrownBag VCP 5 Guest Appearance

A very quick posting to point out that the recording of my guest appearance as a panellist on Cody Bunch and Damian Karlson’s VCP 5 BrownBag is now available for viewing. The BrownBag was at 22:30 GMT to make sure loads of people in the US could join it but it wasn’t extremely late for me out of the UK. In the BrownBag I go through all the resources I’m using for my VCP 5 study preparations as mentioned in my VCP5 page.You can watch the video here:

ProfessionalVMware BrownBag – VCP5 from ProfessionalVMware on Vimeo.

I really enjoyed it and hopefully I can do a few more in the future. A big thanks to Cody and Damian for inviting me and hopefully the resources i covered will help people

Gregg