TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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Why you should attend VMworld 2018

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 US the vBrownbag crew along with the VMUnderground crew are again running opening acts and then the VMUnderground party in the Evening (keep an eye out for tickets as these sell out very fast). The opening acts are always well attended and if you are a vExpert then it is a brilliant way to meet many others and if you are not then you can come and get motivated to submit by Ariel Sanchez. I blogged about my attending and being on a panel last year in my day 1 recap posting here (I’m the nerd in the blue VCDX shirt in the picture).

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  • 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 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 conferences being in Vegas and Barcelona 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.

If you are looking to attend then sign up here  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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VMware AppDefense Announced at #VMworld US

At todays VMworld US there are a number of announcements coming out but one of the big ones in my opinion is the announcement of VMware AppDefense.

AppDefense provides an number of features, notably:

  • Application Control: Comprehensive view/grouping of VMs in the datacenter, their intended state and allowed behaviour
  • Runtime anomaly detection and response: Monitor the real time state of the OS and user applications – alert and control process, network, and kernel events
  • Process Analysis: Built-in process analysis engine gives overall process maliciousness as well as specific traits that are potentially suspicious
  • Orchestrate Remediation: Our infrastructure reach provides a more effective way to orchestrate remediation during a security incident

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Application Scope

  • Security Team View of Intended Application State
  • Security-team owned viewpoint of application infrastructure
  • Provides a lens to evaluate runtime behaviour against known good
  • An abstraction to validate and audit the placement of security policy

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Attesting Runtime Behaviour

  • Writing Rules to Inspect Validate Endpoint Processes and Network Connectivity
  • Enforce behaviour by blocking activity or audit/alerting
  • Evaluate a number of endpoint events from a trusted location:
    • Process network activity (inbound/outbound)
    • Process activity
    • OS Kernel
    • Virtual Enclave

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Built-In Process Analysis

  • Deep Level In-Memory Analysis of Process Capability to Provide Detail on Anomalies
  • Evaluate the in-memory state of a process before/after anomalies are recognized
  • Does not rely on signatures or hashes at all
  • Provides overall risk score and individual traits within the process

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Orchestrating Remediation

  • Blocking Behaviour or Responding on Alarms Through Virtual Infrastructure
  • Each rule can be associated with a recommended remediation workflow
  • Alerts integrate with standard SIEM tools and other notification methods
  • Enforcement can be automated or manual
  • Leverages the mutability of the virtual infrastructure (ESX layer and NSX security policy)

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AppDefense Architecture

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I’m really looking forward to learning more about AppDefense and seeing how it can fit my customers needs.

Gregg


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Why do you want the #VCDX certification?

A recent twitter comment or should I say declaration by Craig Kilborn reminded me that I wanted to write a posting about doing the VCDX for the right reasons (Disclaimer: this is my opinion and if you disagree then that is perfectly fine). Also I am really looking forward to the posting Craig is going to put out as he was and still is one of the most prepped people I know for the VCDX defences yet sadly failed it.

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When people come up to me at conferences or VMUG’s and chat to me about my VCDX journey and my achieving the VCDX certification and state they are looking to start the journey towards getting a VCDX number I always ask them one initial question: Why do you want the VCDX certification? The VCDX and path has been an amazing experience and learning curve for me and I know many many others and I personally feel you should do it for the cliché reason of “for the journey and not the destination” as the amount you need to learn and the breadth of not just technical skills but also public speaking, white boarding skills, stress management skills and the biggest one I had – realising how little you actually know and still need to learn is the best reason to do it. I know I ruffled a few VCDX feathers on a Geek Whisperers podcast appearance I did where I stated that getting the VCDX won’t always mean you will get a top role at VMware or get that six figure salary or automatically get that promotion. But the skills you have learnt and perfected along the way to obtaining your VCDX might bring some of those. I still believe this and if you do it for those reasons you might be disappointed once you get your number.

I use certifications to force myself to learn new technologies and for me the VCDX track was something that was going to push me to learn VMware technologies to a level only a certain amount of people globally had “proven”  this level of knowledge. What I didn’t realise was that the VCDX was going to force me to not just know VMware technologies to an expert level but also all the supporting technologies around it and how the VCDX requires people to have a very strong holistic understanding of all the technologies in a solution and how differing decisions can/would have impacts on the success of the design/solution. So even though this might sound a level that is daunting to you (it was certainly for me and to be honest it still is a work in  progress due to the ever changing landscape of IT) the amount you learn about all the supporting technologies, from people also aiming for the certification as well as the community around it is priceless and for me has been the main “prize” of doing the VCDX.

Last year October I defended a vRealize Automation design I had done in my spare time for a real world customer along with the infamous Rene van den Bedem and Andrea Siviero to hopefully obtained my VCDX6-CMA. I was ultimately unsuccessful in this attempt but gained an untold amount of experience not just from building a VCDX level design for vRA along with the required supporting documentation but again realising where there were gaps in my knowledge that needed to be filled. One of these was NSX where I knew a certain working level but in hindsight I naively  should have realised the amount NSX played a part in our solution and even though the defence was about vRA the impacts on the decisions and design we had made for NSX was a direct influencer on if the solution succeeded or failed. From this I have been up skilling on NSX and last week Friday I passed the first step in this by obtaining my VCP6-NV. I will also most likely resubmit for my VCDX6-CMA in the future because 1. I seem to be a masochist and 2. I fully believe a quote from a video I used to watch in prep for my VCDX-DCV second defence of “Pain is temporary, it may last for a minute, or an hour, or a day or even a year but it will subside, if you quit however the pain will last forever” and I can’t help myself but want to complete what I started or else I am accepting the failure. From needing to better my knowledge of NSX I have seen a direct impact and benefit to my role as a Solution Lead in Dell EMC’s Cloud Practice and the methods I learnt and used for my DCV and CMA submissions have proven untold benefit on the deliveries I have had to produce on projects I have worked on.

I’ve possibly been as clear as mud in this posting but my main personal thoughts and opinions about wanting to go for the VCDX are:

  1. Do it as it has been an amazing learning experience and continues to be for me.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail it as for me it has been the best way to truly show me where I need to be better.
  3. Do it to be a better architect and have a more well rounded knowledge as the IT landscape is forever changing and you never know when one of those supporting technology skills will maybe get your foot in the door to a new exciting opportunity
  4. The community around the VCDX is amazing and 98% of VCDX’s are more than willing to help you along your journey but you have to take the initiative as no one is going to carry you. As Rebecca Fitzhugh a relatively recent VCDX wrote about, a good mentor never coaches you but challenges, encourages and provides “wisdom” when needed.
  5. There is a fair likelihood that once you achieve the VCDX your company and/or boss will have no idea what it really means and most recruiters are more excited about someone being a vExpert than a VCDX but the skills you learnt in the journey towards VCDX will be what might get you that new role or promotion but don’t do the certification for those reasons as you might be disappointed that not much changes initially if possibly at all once you get a VCDX number. It’s actually one of the reasons I ask “ Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?” in my VCDX Spotlight postings as for most the change is minor and might only happen a fair time later.
  6. There is a substantial amount of personal time and effort that goes into the journey and if you don’t use it for all the lessons along the way then once you achieve it you might be saddened by what is behind the Wizard of VCDX’s curtain.

If you are realistically aiming for the VCDX(You have the VCAp’s/VCIX in your chosen track or are on the cusp of having them) then I run a VCDXPrepGroup slack channel where people also aiming for the VCDX can work together and where we have almost a dozen VCDX mentors covering all four of the tracks. Message me and I’ll add you to the group but be warned the group won’t give you anything that will break the NDA’s and you won’t be supplied people’s VCDX submissions so you will have to put in the work, the group just provides the platform to get some valuable feedback and link you to fellow VCDX Wannabe’s.

Lastly good luck to those that defended VCDX this week (a fair few from the slack group) and for those aiming for future defences good luck on the journey.

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight – Rebecca Fitzhugh

Name: Rebecca Fitzhugh

Twitter Handle: @rebeccafitzhugh

Blog URL: technicloud.com

Current Employer: self-employed

VCDX #: 243

How did you get into using VMware?

I was voluntold! I learned VMware while serving in the military. My direct supervisor instructed me to upgrade an ESX host; I had no idea what VMware, ESX, or virtualization even was at the time.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

It seemed like the next logical step. I had achieved multiple VCAPs and VCDX was next. It was more of a self-validation than anything. I also hoped that it would help open up doors in order to take my career to the next level.

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

A little over three years. I attained both VCAP certifications on v5 in 2013. As for actively pursuing VCDX, it took 10 months. I began rewriting my design (had briefly started the previous year) with my VCDX partner in February 2016, submitted in May, unsuccessfully defending in July, resubmitted in August, and succeeded in November.

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

If you are considering pursuing the VCDX, I would recommend doing a self assessment and evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. Work to shore up the weaknesses because as an architect you must be well rounded in many technical areas. Secondly, practice public speaking. Your soft skills matter as much as your technical expertise. And lastly, set realistic goals for yourself and find a study group that will hold you accountable.

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

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t change much. Failing was a huge learning experience and helped me get a clearer understanding of what the panel was looking for. I would spend more time up front doing mocks with more people and working on my presentation earlier.

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

My company was super supportive because I own it! Ha! As for post VCDX life, it has mostly returned to semi-normalness. But, I would say that the process and my preparation have changed my perspective and how I approach the design process. I’d say it was worth it for the personal growth and the people you meet along the journey.


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VCDX Spotlight: Byron Schaller

Name: Byron Schaller

Twitter Handle: @byronschaller

Blog URL: vbyron.com

Current Employer: RoundTower Technologies

VCDX #: 231

How did you get into using VMware?

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

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

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

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

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

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

Three points:

1. Get a mentor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Byron


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VMware Integrated Openstack 3.0

At todays VMworld Keynote VMware Integrated OpenStack version 3.0 is going to be announced. If you are like me and haven’t had a chance to learn about the VIO offering as a whole then let me give a basic overview and then what new capabilities and features are coming in the 3.0 release.

What is VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) ?

  • VIO is an “Integrated Product” Approach to OpenStack
  • Standard OpenStack Distribution (delivered as OVA)
  • Deploys & Manages Proven Production Architecture on VMware SDDC
  • Fully Supported by VMware

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The features that have been released prior to the this release and the ones in this release are:

VIO 1.0 (Q1 2015)

  • Icehouse Based
  • VMware Platform Differentiation
  • Production Ready
  • Simplified Deploy
  • Day 2 Operation Workflows
  • Automated Patching
  • Fully Supported

VIO 2.0 (Q3 2015)

  • Kilo Based
  • Seamless / Automated Upgrade & Rollback
  • Backup & Recovery
  • Customisations

VIO 2.5 (Q2 2016)

  • Kilo Based
  • Compact Architecture
  • VM Template Import
  • Scale, Perf & Stability Improvements
  • Simplified Monitoring & Troubleshooting
  • NFV Features

VIO 3.0 (H2 2016)

  • Mitaka Based
  • Compact VIO
  • Import existing vSphere workloads

VIO 3.0 Mitaka OpenStack Release

  • Latest OpenStack Release
  • Tons of improvements
    • Improved day-to-day experience for cloud admins and administrators.
    • Simplified configuration for Nova compute service.
    • Streamlined Keystone identity service is now a one-step process for setting up the identity management features of a cloud network.
    • Keystone now supports multi-backend allowing local authentication and AD accounts simultaneously.
    • Heat’s convergence engine optimized to handle larger loads and more complex actions for horizontal scaling for improved performance for stateless mode.
    • Enhanced OpenStack Client provides a consistent set of calls for creating resources no longer requiring the need to learn the intricacies of each service API.
    • Support for software development kits (SDKs) in various languages.
    • New “give me a network,” feature capable of creating a network, attaching a server to it, assigning an IP to that server, and making the network accessible, in a single action

VIO 3.0: Slimmer Full HA Architecture

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VIO 3.0: Compact Mode

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VIO 3.0: Import vSphere Workloads

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VIO delivers AWS Productivity with Private Cloud Control

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If you want to learn more about VIO then make sure you attend the VMware booth in the solutions exchange at VMworld US if you are attending the conference or speak to your TAM/VMware Sales representative for a demo or PoC.

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight – Kiran Reid

Name: Kiran Reid

Twitter Handle: Apollokre1d

Current Employer: Bank Of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ LTD

VCDX #: 225

How did you get into using VMware?

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

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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