TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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Why you should attend VMworld US

VMworld US is just around the corner (58 days to be exact) and I have been graciously allocated a bloggers pass for the conference and given backing from my company Dell EMC to attend. This will be my sixth time attending and my third time attending the US one. VMworld has something for everyone from those just learning about virtualisation to those who have been part of the industry for a number of years and are looking to those in depth sessions and discussions with the evangelists and guru’s of VMware plethora of offerings and solutions. 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 community driven then the vBrownbag crew along with the VMUnderground crew are again running opening acts and then the VMUnderground party in the Evening (unfortunately the party tickets are now sold out). I will be attending opening acts and have actually submitted a panel idea that I hope will be accepted.

vbrownbag

  • My next reason is about the community again but this time the ability to network with like minded individuals at the bloggers tables, fellow vExperts, fellow VCDX at the VCDX townhall on the Saturday before VMworld and all those I hope to meet over lunch and at the vBrownbag TechTalks who are working in collaboration with the VMTN team to run the infamous 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.
  • Next are the breakout sessions, group discussions and expert panels. The content catalog is now live and it is packed with amazing sessions by some of the biggest names in the industry and those up and coming in the industry. I’m personally really looking forward to all of the VMware Cloud on AWS sessions as it bridges my existing knowledge and interest in VMware with my exponentially growing interest in AWS. 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.
  • My next reason are the VMware Hands-On Labs which cover all VMware technologies and allow you to play with the latest releases and offerings not just from VMware but also VMware partners. Alike to the sessions the hands on labs are available after the conference but I would recommend going to a few that really interest you (again I’ve allocated some walk trough’s of the VMConAWS solution) and then you can do the remaining ones after the conference. If however you really want to hit the labs hard then I know they normally give a free pass to next years VMworld to the top few people who have completed the most labs.
  • The solution exchange is my next reason as this is the perfect opportunity to speak to those vendors who are offering the latest solution that might save your business and team loads of money and or time and this is the perfect opportunity to speak to that vendor who might be offering the solution that will fix the issues your company is experiencing and take that knowledge back to your company and impress your management with how you’ve found a great solution and to prove that your going to VMworld was worth it and that they should send you again next year. I would be remise if I didn’t encourage you to go speak to Dell EMC and hear about their amazing offerings all the way through the stack as well as pre-packaged and validated solutions for SMB’s all the way to large enterprises.
  • If you are looking to obtain that next VMware certification or want to speak to the certification team about the performance of your latest VCAP-Deploy exam then there are loads of  VMware Certification opportunities. You can also book reduce cost exams at VMworld which I have personally never decided to do but loads of the community swear by it and due to the reduced cost it means if you unfortunately don’t make it then it isn’t that much of a dent to your pocket and lets you scope out the exam to better prepare for next time.
  • Last is the parties and due to the conference being in Vegas you can imagine the amount of them there are and the amount of meet ups after the parties that happen.  There are parties for everyone so if you are looking for a chilled drinks evening then there are loads of opportunities for that and if you want to party all night (save some sleep to be able to attend the conference) then there are plenty of those as well. If you haven;t got a ticket to VMUnderground on Sunday then the Welcome Reception kicks off the conference experience with food, drinks, and networking in the Solutions Exchange. There are normally loads of announcements about the parties closer to the time so keep an eye out on social media as the parties fill up fast and remember the strip is big so unless you plan to uber it then getting to three parties in a night might not be possible. The VMworld party finishes off the conference on Wednesday night, the venue hasn’t been announced as far as I’ve seen but he bands have been and teenage Gregg is super excited about it as  Blink 182 and Bleachers will be performing. Last years aprty at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was really fun and fall out boy were awesome in my opinion

If you are looking to attend then sign up here https://reg.rainfocus.com/flow/vmware/vmworldus17/reg/account?src=so_590b899c53598&cid=70134000001K6I4 and make sure to come find me and say hi as well as i encourage you to attend the TechTalks which are due to be added to the content catalog very soon.

Gregg


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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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#VMworld Day 0

As is customary, VMworld US starts on Sunday with the Partner Exchange events as well as an opportunity for people to register and receive their VMworld badge, bag and initial swag.

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This year I am attending as part of the vBrownbag crew and so Sunday is a big day for us as we run Opening Acts with the VMUnderground crew. This year we have also included the vBrisket crew for a nice BBQ (Braai) for lunch. The panels were very well attended and there was really good audience participation. You can watch all of the Opening Acts on the vBrownbag YouTube channel.

vBrisket was amazing with some seriously nice food where I got to chat to a number of people I only know from the twitterverse and talk some VCDX with Rebecca Fitzhugh, Mike Burkhart and Brett Guarino after thier recent VCDX attempts (NDA retaining)

I then attended the VMworld Solutions Exchange for the Welcome party sponsored by Accenture  and had an amazing preview of the work VMware can do with Business Critical Apps by Niran Chen. Make sure you go by and see the demo near the VMware booth. We also had a nerdy #beVCDX picture showing 7 VCDX among the 5 of us (seeing as Niran and Augustin are double VCDX’s). I the picture is @NiranEC @sammcgeown @amalanco @iam_andysmith and I.

7 VCDX

The VMunderground party was hosted at the nine fine irishmen bar in the NYNY casino and as per usual it was the best best party for Sunday evening (sorry VMUG I am making assumptions here)

vmunderground

I ended the day not too late due to some jetlag and also needing to be spritely for the VMVillage where the vBrownbag Techtalks are being run where we live stream them as well as record them for uploading to the vBrownbag YouTube channel.

Gregg


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vExpert 2016 Truly Honoured

https://thesaffageek.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/vexpert_logo_q109.jpg?w=611

The 2016 vExpert announcements have been made and for the sixth year in a row I have been honoured with the designation. If you don’t know what the vExpert is here is the definition from the vExpert site:

The VMware vExpert Award is given to individuals who have significantly contributed to the community of VMware users over the past year. vExperts are book authors, bloggers, VMUG leaders, tool builders, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others. These vExperts have gone above and beyond their day jobs to share their technical expertise and communicate the value of VMware and virtualization to their colleagues and community.

A massive thanks to Corey and the rest of his team for selecting me, it is an amazing honour Open-mouthed smile. Also a massive congratulations to all the other people selected especially all the ones from the London VMUG and my vBrownbag brothers and sisters. You can see the list of the other vExpert 20162 awardees on the list here

Gregg


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vExpert 2015 – Honoured

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

For those who don’t know what this means and think it is just another certification I have done (I admit I do sit a large amount of exams) below is a brief description of the award and what it is for:

The VMware vExpert Award is given to individuals who have significantly contributed to the community of VMware users over the past year. vExperts are book authors, bloggers, VMUG leaders, tool builders, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others. These vExperts have gone above and beyond their day jobs to share their technical expertise and communicate the value of VMware and virtualization to their colleagues and community.

What did you do last year to get it?

As the vExpert designation is given for the work you did in the previous year, when people ask how they can become one or what did I do to be selected it is always around half a year behind what people should have been trying do to be in contention to be selected. For me I did some of the following:

–  VMware Communities Moderator

–  Co-hosts of the EMEA vBrownbag podcast

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

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

–  Beta tester of numerous VMware products

–  Active member of the VMware Communities

–  Active member of the London VMUG

I did all these things I love doing them and I’m passionate about the technology not because I wanted to become a vExpert though and I would recommend doing it for the right reasons and not because you want to get something out of it.

Massive Thanks

A massive amount of thanks to Corey Romero and his team who run the vExpert program and for feeling I was worthy of the designation. Also congratulations to all the other  vExperts!! There are a number of newcomers and as many returning vExperts so it is great to share this designation with so many passionate and amazingly friendly people.

 Xtravirt Taking the Lions Share

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

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

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

Gregg


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VMworld Day 2

VMworld EMEA day 2 kicked off with the keynote from Carl Echenbach, Ben Fathi and Raghu Raghuram. Unfortunately the keynote was again largely a repeat of the VMworld US day 2 one with all of the same jokes and mock up pictures also. Due to this I’m not going to break down the keynote but rather recommend you watch the keynote recording here.

After watching the keynote and writing up my VMworld Day 1 blog posting I helped the vBrownbag crew with preparations for the TechTalks for which the recordings are now available on the vBrownbag YouTube channel. I would highly recommend watching these as there were some really great presentations from some very big vendors and names within the industry. I then went to the hands on labs and did  HOL-SDC-1420 – OpenStack with VMware vSphere and NSX. The lab was really good and I plan to do the second part of it today.

Talking about containers VMware released a blog posting yesterday around Docker containers performance in VMware vSphere. some of the highlights from the article are that:

  • VMware find that for most of these micro-benchmarks and Redis tests, vSphere delivered near-native performance with generally less than 5% overhead.
  • Running an application in a Docker container in a vSphere VM has very similar overhead of running containers on a native OS (directly on a physical server).

To view the full blog post, you can visit :  http://blogs.vmware.com/performance/2014/10/docker-containers-performance-vmware-vsphere.html

After the HOL I attended the Solutions exchange and spoke to some of the vendors whose solutions interest me such as Nutanix, Hitachi Data Systems, PernixData, Simplivity , SolidFire and Colt stalls. Some amazing solution from these guys as well as many others, it’s scary how much the virtualisation ecosystem is changing.

From the solutions exchange I attended session STO2997-SPO The vExpert Storage Game Show EMEA which was really good fun and filled by really smart guys on the stage. I watched the recording of the one from the US a few weeks ago and it too was very informative and is a session I would recommend watching from both VMworld’s.

I then made my way back to the solutions exchange for the hall crawl where Hitachi were serving up sake and sushi at their stand which is two of my favourite things so I had to make sure I got myself some and they even gave us nice sake cups which I will personally use for a double espresso cup. A big thanks to Paul Meehan too for chatting us through their solution.

hitachi

I stuck around in the solutions exchange until the VMworld party as the party is in the convention centre. The party seemed smaller this year although there was a big roller rink in the middle last year so possibly this was the reason. It was good to chat to very vNerds and even some ex-colleagues whilst waiting for Simple Minds to come on. I’m only 31 so I only knew two or three of their songs but they were hands down better than Taio Cruz last year and most of the crowd seemed to really enjoy it and they even did an encore. From the party I met up with some of my Xtravirt colleagues for a night cap.


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VMworld US 2014 – The Calm Before the vStorm

For several years I have been very fortunate to attend VMworld Europe either via my company paying for the trip or in the case of last year, being able to attend as part of the vBrownbag crew and I’m very pleased to say that I will be attending this years VMworld US via the welcomed sponsorships of the vBrownbag sponsors (VMTurbo , Cisco , Brocade ,Infinio and Coho Data) for the TechTalks. Due to going as part of the vBrownbag crew VMware were gracious enough to give me a bloggers pass to cover my conference entrance fee and when I am not helping with the TechTalks or the VMunderground Open Acts i plan to blogging and tweeting away. But I am not only looking forward to going just for these reasons (certainly they are amazing enough reasons) but for several others and so I thought I would put out the reasons I’m looking forward to VMworld US and why if you haven’t booked to attend yet then why I would HIGHLY encourage you to register.

Social

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I know what you are thinking and yes there certainly are some amazing parties and there are people who sadly take it as a jolly rather than experiencing the conference but the social I am referring to is social media as well as actual human interaction with like minded people. I am sure a number of people are like me where we sit behind a computer for countless hours,then sit on our phone or tablet tweeting away to people about the latest virtualisation or related technology but have never actually met these people. In fact most of the people you tweet with are actually on the opposite side of the world but their blog posting/communities response/book/podcast/webinar or twitter response to a question you posted saved you countless hours of work or helped you get that new role or certification. Well VMworld is the perfect place to meet these people and thank them for their help, get your book signed by the author or throw the book at them if they were wrong (physical violence no matter how funny it may be from afar isn’t the answer…most of the time). This also allows you to talk about how cool the new features in vSphere 6.0 are and not get that placating nod your wife/girlfriend (husband/boyfriend for those super vWoman in the community) gives you when you get excited about it. For me the interaction and friendships I have had and made from VMworld conferences have sometimes been the best part as being able to chat to the person who wrote the book on VSAN/PowerCLI/VMware Networking for example is worth the conference fee in itself.

Sessions/Labs

The sessions,labs and announcements are brilliant and the only reason I chose social first is due to it being something not that many people think about. The sessions and labs are amazing and even though you can watch almost all the sessions (breakouts aren’t recorded) and do all the labs now via  labs.hol.vmware.com ,being able to attend the sessions for the week and hear about all the great new features and how people have taken the solutions provided by VMware and met their companies or customers requirements with them without being bothered by home life or work is an amazing learning experience. The same applies to the Hands on Labs where you can take the labs and skill up on the most recent technologies or even older ones that you might not have had the time to learn up until now. There are sessions for everyone as there are sessions where they are entry level for those people just getting into VMware technologies to advanced sessions where it is VMware engineers or product teams talking about the knitty gritty of the solutions. There are also loads of panel sessions ranging from meet the vExpert bloggers panel sessions to VCDX panel sessions where you can ask questions and learn from top vBloggers and or ask all those questions about the VCDX or the pre-requisites exams from those who have done it. If you are working for a VMware partner there is a partner day where as you guessed it, it is exclusively for partners and VMware will do sessions covering all the technologies and how they are working to make it better for partners or those selling their solutions.

TechTalks

Ok I’m probably very biased but the vBrownbag crew along with the help of our sponsors run the TechTalks from the community area where people who may not have had their sessions accepted to present at VMworld (this is not a reflection on the quality I can assure you) present about numerous different topics (no sales pitches) for ten minutes and they are streamed as well as recorded. The TechTalks have been a major success with loads of people watching the live stream, a very large number of views of the recordings and we also have a very good amount of live audience watching them. The schedule for the TechTalks is due out imminently and from having seen some of the amazing names on the list it will not disappoint.

Solutions Exchange

The solutions exchange is where all the vendors including sponsors have their stalls/booths where you can talk to them about their latest release, speak to some of their top people around possibly solutions you are looking to implement or need help fixing and even go to the VMware Expert bar. The Expert bar allows you to talk to the best people for each VMware technology and hear and see what all the new solutions from VMware can do for your business. As you would expect there are loads of freebies and competitions from all the vendors and this is the place where you can hear about that new technology and then be able to drop it in a conversation with your boss to show how on the ball you really are.

vmworld12-solutions exchange.png

General

There are also numerous activities that fall under the general banner like the VMworld party which last year had Train and Imagine dragons performing at the AT&T Park and three years ago were the Killers. There are also a number of vendor parties, parties exclusively for VCDX/vExperts and vendor excursions (brewery tours etc.) . The parties and meet ups in the evenings are amazing and if you have some self restraint and make sure you answer your phone when the wife calls, you can have an amazing time and still get the most out of the conference during the day. These are also a really great place to make new friends and even speak to some of the top names in the industry and realise they are 9 out of ten times really humble and friendly people.

If your significant other wishes to join you then there is spousetivities run by Crystal Lowe where vWidows/ partners of conference attendees can do day excursions.

Register Now!

If you haven’t registered for VMworld then I would highly recommend doing so here as it is well worth attending and if you need to justify it to your boss then why not use the VMworld letter for that. If you are attending then I would love to meet you and have a beverage with you or just chat tech. I will most likely be wearing one of my vExpert shirts or hanging around with the vBrownbag crew.

I am also planning to blog about a number of the announcements from VMworld so keep an eye out on my blog for those Smile

Gregg