My ramblings about all things technical

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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 1.2 – Gather and Analyze Application Requirements.

Due to my decision to aim for my VCDX6-CMA this year and thereby to get it in in time for the only VCDX-CMA defence of the year (so far) I have signed up for the VCAP6-CMA Design beta exam. I’ve been working on a very large-scale vRA 6.2 project for the past 14 months and so I hope this experience of designing and building it as well as my preparations via these objectives breakdown (plus my study resources) and using some of my VCDX5-DCV knowledge will help me. So I thought I would slowly post up each objective for my own benefit but also hopefully help other people looking to pass the VCAP6-CMA Design exam (beta or GA).I will be consolidating all the objectives on my blog page here


Gather and analyze application requirements for a given scenario.

  • What I believe is being looked for here is for you to having spoken to the stakeholders and more importantly the application owners and worked out what exactly they require for their applications and the interdependencies the applications have. Applications can be standalone and require no outside communication or could be multi-tiered and require access to the internet or a public git repository for example. Asking the right questions and fully understanding what the applications do and require will then allow you to provide what is required or if it isn’t available start making plans to make it available.

Determine the requirements for a set of applications that will be included in the design.

  • This is exactly the same as above in my opinion but now instead of just one application you need to get a holistic idea of all the applications in a multi-machine blueprint for example and all the requirements these have to work whilst also not impacting other workloads.

Collect information needed in order to identify application dependencies.

  • This is done by speaking to the application owners and then validating yourself as even though the application owners say they need certain things you need to validate this and ensure that they are correct and that putting it into the vRA solution doesn’t require another method of doing something. For example maybe the physical F5 load balancers can’t be used for load balancing applications deployed within the vRA solution so you either need to open firewalls to allow this or deploy maybe NSX load balancers within the environment to allow this capability. In the blueprint they recommend the Foundations and Concepts document which is good but personally I think you need to know much much more than the foundations to understand application dependencies and how they would fit within vRA.
  • They recommend the vRealize Infrastructure Navigator User-s Guide as a study tool and this is certainly a great method of looking at existing applications and understanding heir interdependencies and what the applications are talking to. This also makes sure that the application isn’t talking to some old database server in the background that Joe Blogs setup before he got retrenched and no one has known about since. VIN is a great tool and there’s loads of free videos and resources you can use to learn about the product like this VMware YouTube video.

Given one or more application requirements, determine the impact of the requirements on the design.

  • Again this is understanding holistically what the applications are talking to and require and then ensuring it is available within the environment or communicable from the environment (services like AD, DNS,IP Management etc). I’m not really sure how you can learn more about this without experience of differing products but understanding how multi-tiered applications work and require resilient back-end resources to function is very important (think of a web applications with multiple web servers, application server and a DB)

VMware Recommended Tools

The VMware recommended study tools for this objective are:

If you disagree with anything I’ve said above then please let me know and if I agree (I’m always open to learning) then I will update the posting. Now onto objective 1.3.


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vExpert 2016 Truly Honoured

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


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VCAP6-CMA Design Study Resources

A very quick posting around the creation of my new VCAP6-CMA Design study resources page now that the beta exam has been released. As I have done in the past for the VCP5 and VCAP5-DCV exams, I have started building a list of resources I will be using for the beta and if I don’t make the mark then the GA exam for the VCAP6-CMA design. If you feel I’ve missed any resources please do let me know as these pages seem to be very popular and so everyone can benefit with top class resources.

For those signed up for the beta, good luck!



VCAP6 Design Beta Exams Released

A very quick posting around the release of the VCAP6 design beta exams. I know the internal VMware round was happening this week and now they have opened the design beta exams for the DTM,CMA and DCV . make sure you register for the one you want most first as the validation can take a bit of time and you can only do one authorisation at a time it seems. Here’s hoping the VCAP6 beta exams go better that the VCP6 beta exams did.



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VCDX Advice

The Love Guru - VCDX is achieveableSince my obtaining of my VCDX I’ve been humbled that some people have asked me for advice around aiming for the VCDX. So I thought I would ask as many VCDX as I could (and who would be willing to respond) to send me some VCDX advice one liners. If you are a VCDX and wish to add to the list then please let me know as I’d love to have a one liner (or a few like some people have done) from every single VCDX added to this posting. So below are all the one liners sent to me so far:

John Arrasjid VCDX #1 : “Those pursuing the VCDX program benefit from dedicated time each day to strengthen their weak areas, fully understand their design, and anticipate questions. By doing this & mock defenses, they set themselves up for success.”

John Arrasjid VCDX #1 : “Although challenging to achieve, the benefits of the VCDX certification is recognized in the industry. Your design, tech, operational, troubleshooting, & presentation skills are all important to VCDX and design success.”

Jason Boche VCDX #34 : “VCDX certification is a multi-step journey. The defense ties all together. Preparation and confidence yields success. Exhibit confidence, but not to a fault. Successful design has a key listening component.”

Andrea Mauro VCDX #35 : “You can pass or fail your VCDX defense. But the most important aspect is the journey itself. And you can improve yourself”

Chris Colotti VCDX #37  : “Do Your Best….and Forget the Rest” — Tony Horton:)

Magnus Andersson VCDX #56  : “A great learning experience no matter the end result.”

Michael Webster VCDX #66 : “Know what you don’t know”

Hugo Phan VCDX #75 : “Fail to plan? Then plan to fail, preparation is key.”

James Charter VCDX #106 : “Be honest with yourself on your strengths and weaknesses; use this opportunity to push yourself and focus on improving your weaknesses, it will make you a better architect”

Mike Tellinghuisen VCDX #111 : “Aim to be finished with everything 1 month before submission and try to get peer reviews of your design – you’ll be surprised at what a fresh set of eyes will pick up and it will ensure you have time to make any necessary changes.”

Jon Kohler VCDX #116 : “VCDX is just as much about the journey as it is about the outcome. You’ll likely find that learning the design methodologies as well as the defense preparation/presentation strategies will be extremely valuable whether you achieve the certification or not”

Rene van den Bedem VCDX 2xVCDX#133/NPX#8 : “Start with the Conceptual Model, then the Logical Design, Physical Design and Risks, finishing off with the Supporting documentation.”

Rene van den Bedem VCDX 2xVCDX#133/NPX#8 : “Consume technology to extract business value.”

Harsha Hosur VCDX #135 : “ Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Pursue excellence; success will find its way to you. “

Safouh Kharrat VCDX #136 :  “Give yourself enough preparation time before submitting your VCDX application and if you couldn’t make it, don’t give up! Use the feedback to improve your design and go for it again.”

Joe Clarke VCDX #138 : “Read. The. Blueprint. Again.:)

Niran Even-Chen VCDX #142  : “Manage your time right during this journey, taking a breath between sprints is important. I’m saying that because I’ve seen folks with excellent designs get to the finish line burnt and exhausted and they don’t pass”

Joseph Griffiths VCDX #143 : “Pace yourself delaying three months will not kill you. Detail everything on your design.”

Jason Shiplett VCDX #183  : “Do your homework. If you come into the design process without having prepared well, you put yourself at a severe disadvantage.”

Jason Shiplett VCDX #183 : “ Stick with it. There will be times in the process when you want to give up – I know I did. Tenacity is the key.”

Jayson Block VCDX #186 : “Know your limits, it’s okay to have them. When reaching for the clouds, don’t get trapped in the fog. Demonstrate you have a methodology and are confident in your approach.”

Thomas Brown VCDX #187 : “Do mock defences before you submit so you find the holes in your design while you still have the ability to fix them. “

Yves Sandfort VCDX #203 :  “Go top down or fail. The Conceptual is your sketch of your dream house, the logical is your architects raw drawing, physical is what you build the house from.”

Gregg Robertson VCDX #205 : “ If I can do it anyone can do it with enough work and sacrifice. Always ask yourself “Do I want it more than X” and you’ll be amazed how much time you find to get it done “

Jason Grierson VCDX #206 : “Motivation is key, you are running a marathon not a 100m dash. Pace yourself and believe you will make it to the finish line.”

Andy Smith VCDX #208 : “Focus on the blueprint and how your design maps to that blueprint and your customer’s requirements.”

Konrad Clapa VCDX #211 : “Understand every single decision you made! If you put it in the design know why.”

Niels Hagoort VCDX  #212 :”Do take all the VCDX clichés into account, but make sure you follow your own path in getting to the level of comfort in yourself and your design to successfully apply and defend”


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Finally I made it to a #UKVMUG

Yesterday I finally made it to my first #UKVMUG. They have been running for five years but each time they have happened I’ve been unable to attend either due to having attended VMworld so also attending UKVMUG would be pushing my luck or I couldn’t motivate a day not billing time to a customer. This year I didn’t attend any VMworld’s so made sure I booked out the day to attend and I’m really glad I did.

My day started a bit later than most attendees as I had to drop off my daughter at nursery as it opened and then drive the 93 miles to the Birmingham motorcycle museum where the UKVMUG was being held. I unfortunately missed the keynote by EMEA CTO Joe Bagueley as well as my mention alongside colleague Sam McGeown for our achieving of our VCDX’s and the award of shirts until our vouchers for the official VCDX shirts come through.  Thanks to Alaric and the rest of the UKVMUG crew for printing this for me =0)

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I then spoke to quite a few fellow London VMUG attendees as well as peers from twitter and was very very appreciative of all the VCDX congratulations from so many of them.

I then attended a discussion by Zerto all around their offering and what has been released in their new version. A really great product and very interesting alternative to VMware SRM and vSphere Replication.

I then attended a session by two current and one ex Xtravirt employees around finding the silver lining in vCAC/vRA projects and the sharing of their war stories. Certainly some really great advice from the guys and the most important bit of advice around integrating tests and error reporting into your vCO/vRO workflows from the beginning.


It was then lunch time where again I spoke to a number of current and ex colleagues as well as fellow London VMUG regulars as well as fellow vBrownbag host (albeit he is on a sabbatical from it at present) Josh Atwell. Mike Laverick then did his swag bag raffle that he does every year in aid of charity which this year had raised £470 and the winner was Sean Killen.


After some talking shop with some vendors I made my way to the “VMware’s Virtual SAN: A technical Deep Dive and Product Roadmap buy Christos Karamanolis and Lee Dilworth. the session was very interesting and Christos certainly gave in-depth explanations around VSAN, I just wish they had spent more time on the roadmap and new features in the releases due in Q1 next year.


Next was a session by Frank Buechsel who is one of my fellow EMEA vBrownbag co-hosts who presented all around vRealize Automation-Lessons Learned. To say Frank didn’t sound like a big fan of vRA and the sheer complexity of getting a production setup working (tell me about it I’ve spent the last year of my life doing this) would be an understatement and I actually asked him at the end if he had anything nice to say about vRA which he did say it is a brilliant product but the errors are far too vague and the start-up and shutdown orders of a distributed installation are a nightmare.

Doing the closing keynote was then the illustrious John Troyer. It was a brilliant keynote all around how to try architect your IT career and how you need to keep learning new skills as the skills you have now will most likely be replaced/redundant in less than ten years. Poor John did seem to be suffering from a cold and jet lag but gave great advice. It was also great to hear a mention of the vBrownbag in his discussion. Thanks for that John:)


Then it was the aptly named “The Red Wedding” ( G.o.T SPOLIER ALERT!! ) section of the day where Jane Rimmer, Alaric and Stuart all announced they would be stepping down as leaders of the London VMUG and UKVMUG after 25 years of service between them to allocate more time to their jobs and hobbies. These three have been amazing in building the community and dedicating so much of their time to the user group. Simon Gallagher hasn’t stepped down so that’s one consolation from it.If you think you could dedicate the time and are interested in becoming a leader then there is a survey available to complete as part of the process. this closes next Thursday so get your interest in ASAP.

Last but not least Pietro Piutti was generous enough to bring me over a few bottles of beer from the only certified trappist brewery in Rome. Not sure about the eucalyptus they add but man it was good. Not a Westvleteren 8 but it still got 4.75 out of 5 on untappd😀


It was a brilliant day and I certainly will be aiming to attend again next year even though I plan to attend the US VMworld next year also.




VCDX Spotlight: Jason Grierson

Name: Jason Grierson

Twitter Handle: @JasonTweet7889

Blog URL:

Current Employer: Cisco Systems

VCDX #: 206

How did you get into using VMware?

I started just prior vMotion being introduced. I was working for a loaning company at the time which was an early adopter of VMware. At the time I was lucky to be part of the project to upgrade to the latest version and saw vMotion for the first time. I knew right then this would change the way Datacenters would work.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I had been working with VMware for a number of years now and had held my VCP since 3.5 upgrading it along the way. I figured it was just time to strive for my VCDX. Why couldn’t I reach the VCDX and what harm would come in trying. Little did I know where the journey would really take me.

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

Between the VCAP-DCA, VCAP-DCD and VCDX the journey took me a year and half pretty well.

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

My advice would be to go for it! It’s not an unachievable exam that sits on a pedestal. It’s a lot of hard work and time commitment but in the end the lessons you will learn while striving for your VCDX is priceless. You will become a much better architect and meet many others striving for the same thing which will only expand your network of professionals. The lessons learned along this journey will only better your career no matter where you end up going.

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

Umm I don’t really know lol. I would probably focus more on my defence probably knowing what I know now. Also there would probably be sections of my design I could improve on.

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

Life after my VCDX has gone back to normal for the most part now that the dust has settled. My company was very excited that I passed and send out a Canadian wide email so now there a lot more VMware questions being fielded my way lol. Was it worth it, yes absolutely! I couldn’t imagine the growth in my career or where an exam track would take me and am extremely appreciative of all of those who helped me along the way. I’m also beyond over joyed to have my VCDX # and am looking forward to seeing my Partner achieve his soon as well.


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