This year I have boldly put forward for a couple of sessions at VMworld. I’d love the opportunity to share some of my thoughts, knowledge and experience with a wider audience, so please feel free to put a vote forward towards me! I’ll be covering off 3 different topics…
2621 The Secret to a Successful Cloud – People!
This covers a bit more detail in Cloud architectures. Everyone can now give you the dictionary term for what a “Cloud” is, but I still think very few people are helping you translate that into how to actual put together your own Cloud. It isn’t about software, or services, it’s about people and procedures. You can have a fully functional Cloud environment very easily if you sit down and work out what you want to achieve and what processes/procedures need to be put in place. I’ll be talking a little about frameworks and continual service improvement models as well as IT maturity. The key takeaway is that you and your colleagues are the key to you successfully deploying a Cloud infrastructure!
2141 Future vAdmins
This follows on from a successful topic I covered at the last Northern UK VMUG which covered some of the skills required to be a successful vAdmin and where the industry is taking us. It’s been easy to get by in IT over the past 5-10 years with a small subset of skills, but with virtualisation you need a much wider remit. As a VCDX I know this all too well!!! I’ll cover some key industry certifications, how this can benefit your employer, and some key complimentary areas such as soft skills (which I think are hugely important).
2142 Questions to Ask Your Design Authority Read more... (1018 words, estimated 4:04 mins reading time)
So the Northern England VMUG has been announced and all confirmed, and I’m happy to confirm that I will be attending, and I will be presenting, twice! Very much looking forward to this, last one clashed selfishly with NetApp Insight so I couldn’t make it, but I’m definitely looking forward to this event. It looks like it could be the biggest to date, although these are growing in popularity each time one comes around, so no big surprise there! Here is the email regarding the event, please sign up and come down, I’ll be happy to take questions and conversations outside of the sessions and I’m planning on being around all day for it. Many thanks once again to Brendon Higgins for organising a very comprehensive event that promises to have something for everything. Additionally huge thanks to all the other guys presenting, I just hope there aren’t too many great presentations that clash with my own, not as they’ll steal my audience, but as I won’t be able to watch! Finally a big thanks to all the corporate sponsors, without whom these events would never be as successful or lavishly hosted, including my own employer B2net (unfortunately I think that means I can’t win an iPad ).
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So I’ve started playing around with ThinApp recently. The main reason is that I have a little NetBook (Samsung N150 running Windows 7 if you are interested) I use for running around the country with and I want this to be light weight, easy to rebuild and little inconvenience if it gets destroyed or lost. So I’m not looking at using this for enterprise deployments, just personal convenience. I’m new to application packaging too, so I’m learning a few lessons as I go! I’ll add a few of my observations here.
I’m building this on my home desktop PC running a clean Windows XP virtual machine. I read up on dependencies of dotNET, so although it’s updated, I put off installing all dotNET patches. I regularly snapshot this at various stages of application builds to allow me to go back, add updates and rebuild applications as appropriate. Hasn’t come to that yet, but I feel it’s a good practice!
Microsoft Office 2010 is a bit of a challenge still. It looks like this is due to the new way Microsoft handle the licensing of the product, even if you want to run a personal edition and authenticate online. This has forced me to still use 2007, which isn’t so bad as it’s less of a resource hog and so lightens the load on my NetBook. It’s a shame there isn’t a single Office package that includes Visio, OneNote and Project, so I have to package it 3 times, no biggie.
I made the mistake (I think) of installing Office, and packaging that up, then installing Visio and packaging that up separately. I think I’ve introduced an odd dependency between the 2 packages now as it runs fine on my vanilla NetBook, but trying to run Visio on my desktop now fails with an error. Something I need to investigate. Apparently “The operation system is not presently configured to run this application”. Read more... (487 words, 1 image, estimated 1:57 mins reading time)
I’ve been meaning to post something regarding the VCAP-DCD beta since I took it last month, but time has eluded me!
I am a design architect as my day job, so this exam should be pretty complimentary to what I do. Going through the study material in the blueprint was an experience all by itself. I downloaded around 130 papers, probably over 5000 pages in total. I don’t believe there is any easy way to study for this exam if you are not already doing this role. From the experience of doing the exam, 95% of the questions I answered based on experience (or guessing), and 5% was thanks to studying before the exam. I have to say the VMworld 2010 material has been very useful, and the session by Chad Sakac and Vaughn Stewart helped me through at least 1 question!
If you want to transition into a design role, then the blueprint is essential reading to get you focused and get an idea of what you’ll be doing. I think a lot of people would benefit from the study material of this exam. A course that covers all the topics would be essential (the current Design Workshop course is not quite detailed enough). Read more... (700 words, estimated 2:48 mins reading time)
I am a little over 12 hours away from sitting down to attempt my VCAP-DCA for the first time. I say ”attempt” and “first time” as I am actually really nervous about sitting this exam! I have relaxed back into an architects role over the past 6-12 months and so I am feeling the pressure of not being as hands on as I once was or as I was when I previously sat the Enterprise Administration exam last year. There is so much study material, and I haven’t really put in enough good lab time.
However I also think this period is one of the more difficult times to take this exam. Why? When I sat my EA exam last year it was focused around ESX and vCenter. There was no additional software to worry about, no fancy features, you just needed to know the ESX CLI pretty well. Seeing how the ESX Service Console is Linux based, and I have spent a lot of time with Linux, this wasn’t a major challenge (although I did do a lot of studying anyway!).
The VCAP-DCA sits at a frustrating time as we have to know 2 products quite well; we need to know both ESX and ESXi. Sure the differences aren’t much as we focus on doing things the “right” way (that is, vMA, PowerCLI, Orchestrator, etc. etc.), but some stuff is applicable only to ESX (firewalling as a single example), and other stuff is applicable only to ESXi (lockdown mode as a single example). The next release from VMware will be a bonus as it’s back to one core product that we need knowledge of. Additionally a lot of the really good deep-dive documentation and blogs you find out there are from admins and engineers that get down and dirty with the Service Console, and many haven’t yet been updated the details for ESXi (some you simply can’t do in ESXi). So I’m trying to achieve the same things I used to achieve with ESX by learning this almost from scratch again. If I enable tech-support mode and jump into BusyBox, is this an okay practice in the exam? It might not include ESXi hosts at all! Certainly some scenarios would negate the ability to use the BusyBox, but I guess so long as I can get the job done, it shouldn’t matter! Read more... (730 words, estimated 2:55 mins reading time)
I arrived home today, after waiting for 2 weeks, to the following email…
“Congratulations! You have achieved the VMware Certified Design Expert on VI3 (VCDX3) certification.
Your VCDX number is: VCDX47″
I can’t really express how truly happy I am at making it passed the final gate! I would love to get some level of feedback from the panelists, but being awarded the certification is more than enough for me! It validates the past year of hard work I have put into this!
So what does this mean to me and my job?
Well first of all for me personally this a huge achievement for myself! This helps me validate my hard work and justify the recommendations I make to customers daily. It takes away some of that personal doubt around whether or not I am capable of truly being an VMware / storage architect. For my job it gives me the confidence to make firm recommendations to my customers, and to assist my colleagues with their projects.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the VCDX journey is a fantastic opportunity to improve your own methodology and processes around VMware project work. Completing the journey is the icing on the cake!
I’m hoping to take this and put it to good use. What I started on this blog over a year ago, I need to put more effort into and continue (thank you all for contributing to my current 1000+ visitors per day). I need to continue showing my face over at the NetApp communities, and I’m long overdue getting involved in the VMware communities. Sounds like a lot of work, I hope I can put aside the time to keep being involved! Read more... (314 words, estimated 1:15 mins reading time)
Some of you may be aware that I have been working hard through the VCDX journey over the past year / 18 months. I’m not usually a VMware blogger as I think that space is more than filled, so I usually concentrate on the storage side. However the VCDX is still fairly exclusive, so I wanted to share this journey with everyone. It’s been a really good time, and I have learnt a hell of a lot! It’s helped me better understand the solutions and help my company as a whole put together better VMware solutions, so it’s been hugely beneficial. I’d recommend anyone that is focused on VMware for their company to go down the VCDX route. Even if you don’t get onto the final Defense, it’s a fantastic journey and you will learn a lot.
I won’t go into too much detail about my experience of the Enterprise Admin or Design exams as these have been replaced by the VCAP ones. They are obviously pre-req’s anyway, but I’d say after going through the rest of the journey that they are essential training to get you ready anyway. I’ll probably be sitting both the VCAP exams in the next few months just to make sure my skills are kept up to date.
The Defense Application
Make sure you free your diary for at least a week of solid work. People have said be prepared to do 30-40 hours of work on this, but I think I spent closer to 70 or 80! I had a full week off work, and used both weekends too. I had a lot of work to do as I haven’t really done many fully structured deployments as expected in the Defense application before, so I had to make one up. This is definitely a lot harder as you have to visual everything, including limitations and obstacles. If you make something up, you don’t usually make up challenges for yourself. To compensate, I think I ended up making my scenario a little more complex and I had to do a lot of checking through support docs which added to my work load. Read more... (2610 words, 2 images, estimated 10:26 mins reading time)
New YouTube video showing some of the new features and functionality of NetApp SMVI 2.0. Not sure on a release date just yet, but looks promising!
mbralign has now been added to the NetApp download ToolChest. This is an absolutely vital tool for anyone doing any VMware projects! I’m not actually sure if it checks to see if it’s running on NetApp storage, but obviously will align all partitions to a 4k block boundar, so a useful tool to have in any tool box all the same! Has full support for Windows and Linux as well as Primary and Extended partitions.
This script can help track when a VM was created. I’m not sure if it’s technical correct however as it works on the create time of a .vmsd file. Anyway, the principles are there, and should do the job.
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