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22Oct/14Off

My first VMworld..

Posted by Simon Eady

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As this was my first VMworld I am not ashamed to say I was really stoked about attending, many of my peers have attended in the past and were going to attend.

I flew in on the Sunday evening so that I could register early on Monday for partner day, however I did miss the chance to attend what turned out to be a very popular and very full Rockstar event on the Sunday evening.

The first thing that struck me was the size of the venue in short it was huge and even with VMworld running the conference center had room to spare. Registration was a simple affair the staff were very helpful when i had a few queries regarding my pass, being the nerd I am I was keen to collect my rucksack and make good use of it.

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I then made my way directly to the bloggers area and the HOL which did not disappoint, I immediately ran into a few familiar faces from twitter and this became a running theme all week, it really was fantastic to finally get the chance to meet so many 'tweeps'.

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A few of us (courtesy of VMUG) were given a tour of the HOL area with great explanations from lab team leads on how and why they ran them and the history of how it came to be. It was also quite cool to note that 1 of the two datacenters running the labs was using EVO:RAIL.

20Oct/14Off

vCAC 6.1 – Creating a user selectable network dropdown that sets Network and Network Profile correctly

Posted by Sam McGeown

I am aware that that's not a catchy blog post title. In fact, it doesn't even really describe the problem or solution very well - for that I need to go into a little bit more depth!

Suppose I have configured a Reservation with two Networks ticked ("192.168.1.0-VLAN1" and "192.168.10.0-VLAN10"). As you can see in the screenshot below, each of the networks has a Network Profile created and assigned with a network pool to provide IP addressing for the VMs.

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When I deploy the Blueprint without any custom properties, the network selection is round-robin and so the VM gets it's virtual NIC assigned to "192.168.1.0-VLAN1" or "192.168.10.0-VLAN10" alternately - this is the expected behaviour. The Virtual Machines are assigned an IP address based on the Network Profile of the assigned network.

All good so far. Still with me?

20Oct/14Off

VMworld 2014: Day Three and wrap-up

Posted by Sam McGeown

Posts in this series
  1. VMWorld 2014: Day One
  2. VMworld 2014: VCP NV Exam Experience
  3. VMworld 2014: Day Two
  4. VMworld 2014: Day Three and wrap-up

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*This post was meant to be published on Friday, VMworld Sleep Deprivation meant I didn't click the button!*

This is the last post and a bit of a wrap up on my VMworld 2014 series!

There isn't a keynote on day three, and there's definitely a "winding down" feel as people tend to arrive later (if at all) and many areā€¦feeling the effects of the previous night shall we say! That said, every session I wanted to attend was still fully booked and it was a case of queuing for the spare seats.

I managed to get into the #SDDC1337 Techincal Deep Dive on EVO:RAIL really to get a good view on what the EVO:RAIL offering is. The session was presented very well and told the story of EVO:RAIL from inception to birth. There was a lot of information about the technologies involved in getting EVO:RAIL to a fully functional product. I was impressed with the 8 month timescale and the team's focus on doing the core things right rather than feature creep which VMware can be guilty of.

I think the fact that the hardware is partner based means that it's much more accessible for environments that are single-vendor (e.g. HP, EMC, DELL, HDS or Fujitsu shops) because they can purchase under existing agreements etc without needing to get new suppliers approved, and there's already familiarity and eco-systems in place.

With VSAN still really a tier-2 storage solution, I'd expect these to go into remote office environments for large enterprises. I haven't seen the pricing for EVO:RAIL, but I suspect all that packaged goodness will have a price - probably not one SMB's will like. An interesting idea discussed with Michael Poore (@michaelpoore) was the idea of having EVO:RAIL clusters as vCloud endpoints.

That was the last technical session I was able to attend as I had to catch my flight home! It's hard to summarise in a blog posting the value that you get from attending VMworld - as a vExpert I have access to a lot of VMworld sessions online after the event, but VMworld is a lot more than just the sessions. It's a crazy mix of sessions, networking, meeting old and new friends, vendor parties, sleep deprivation, walking (lots of walking), exams, the solutions exchange and generally being immersed in all things VMware for the duration of the conference.

I would definitely encourage anyone who can get to VMworld and who loves the technology and community around VMware to go next year. It's much more than the sum of it's parts!

Filed under: VMware, VMworld, VSAN Comments Off
16Oct/14Off

VMworld 2014: Day Two

Posted by Sam McGeown

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Day two of VMworld kicked off with a keynote session which traditionally includes demos of all that's new. It was a well presented session with a glimpse into the sysadmin's future with a demo of vCOps alerts popping up on Google glass. Since the sessions are available online I won't go into detail, but it was worth a watch (if you didn't watch the US one).

My morning consisted of preparations for the VCP NV (NSX) exam, which I detailed in a previous post. Very pleased to have passed what is a difficult exam.

As ever the networking aspect of VMworld continues to be the most valuable, meeting and chatting with some really clever guys. It always impresses me how many people are happy to give their time and expertise for the community.

One of my favourite things this year is the Destination Give Back initiative where VMware challenge you to make and throw a paper aeroplane, the further it flies the larger the donation to charity. You even choose which category the donation goes to, children, education, environment, human rights or women and girls. Over 140,000 Euros has already been pledged, with the majority going to children. It's interesting to see the choices donations, children get by far the most, with environment and human rights getting the least. One thing some people have said was why not just donate the money. My answer is that a huge part of charity fundraising is about
awareness and getting people to think about where the money is going is a huge benefit.

In the afternoon I attended my only technical session of the day, #NET1974 Multi Site Data Center Solutions with VMware NSX. This was a great session with some really practical information on designing NSX for multi site deployments. I found the comparison between how you deploy for Enterprise (typically low latency/high bandwidth intersite connections) and Cloud (typically high latency/low bandwidth) really useful, as well as strategies for using vSphere Metro Stretched Cluster for low latency sites with stretched L2 networks, Enhanced vMotion for low latency sites with multiple clusters, and NSX's Layer 2 VPN for sites with higher latency. There was also a massively useful section on DR for NSX using SRM.

In the evening was the VMworld party, featuring Simple Minds. Unfortunately I think VMware shot themselves in the foot having made a big deal of how they are promoting women in IT, but had some fairly provocative shadow dancers around the hall. Clearly not a joined up message, as I mentioned on twitter, you can either value women or objective them, but not both.

Filed under: VMware, VMworld Comments Off
15Oct/14Off

VMworld 2014: VCP NV Exam Experience

Posted by Sam McGeown

Posts in this series
  1. VMWorld 2014: Day One
  2. VMworld 2014: VCP NV Exam Experience
  3. VMworld 2014: Day Two
  4. VMworld 2014: Day Three and wrap-up

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It is with great relief that I can announce I have passed my VCP NV (Network Virtualisation) having been caught out by the difficulty of the exam and failing previously.

Exam Preparation

I was fortunate to attend a VMware internal bootcamp (roughly equivalent to the ICM course) for NSX and have had experience deploying production NSX environments, so that is by far the best preparation. As always, the exam blueprint is crucial, you *have* to know all areas covered there. I've also been reading the documentation and design and deploy guides published by VMware, and completed the basic and advanced hands on labs that are also freely available. On top of that there is the official practice exam which I strongly suggest you do as it reflects the real exam well, and there are a series of fantastic practice tests by Paul McSharry available while provide a decent test of knowledge.

Exam Experience

It's a typical VMware VCP level exam consisting of 120 multiple choice questions with 120 minutes to answer them. That's 1m per question, it may not sound a lot but there are plenty of questions you will answer in seconds. I completed the exam in about 1h25m. Other than that there's not a huge amount to say about the exam itself due to NDAs!

Advice for takers

Study the blueprint, it really does cover everything you need!
It seems obvious, but know the packet walks and understand how encapsulation changes packets
Have a clear and precise understanding of the components and architecture, and what the use cases are
If you have access to the binaries, install, break, fix, remove, repeat! If not, HOL, you don't have to follow the guides, you can do your own thing.

Next steps

My score wasn't great (a pass is a pass right?) so I'm keen to go back over some weaker areas to start with. I am definitely going to look at recertifying my expired CCNA, as this is really good knowledge to take into any NSX engagement. With the VCIX exam recently released, I'll look towards that also. Finally, lots of lab work with vCAC 6.1 and NSX to really maximise its potential. NSX shines when you see it automated.

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