Book review: Networking for VMware Administrators

NetworkingForVMwareAdministratorsI recently got my hands on a copy* of Chris Wahl and Steve Pantol’s Networking for VMware Administrators and was very keen to read it – especially given the reputation of the authors. I came to the book as someone who is at CCNA level (although now expired) and someone who regularly designs complex VMware networks using standard and distributed switches. I would class myself as having a fairly decent understanding of networking, though not a networking specialist.

The book starts out at from a really basic level explaining OSI, what a protocol is etc. and builds on the foundation set out as it progresses. Part I of the book gives are really good explanation of not only the basics of networking, but a lot of the “why” as well. If you’ve done CCNA level networking exams then you will know most of this stuff – but it’s always good to refresh, and maybe cover any gaps.

Part II of the book translates the foundations set out in Part I into the virtual world and takes you through the similarities and differences with between virtual and physical. It gives a good overview of the vSphere Standard Switch (VSS) and vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS) and even has a chapter on the Cisco 1000v. One of the really useful parts of the book are the lab examples and designs, which takes you though the design process and considerations to get to the solution.

Part III is an excellent and detailed section on storage networking covering networks for iSCSI and NFS, and design and configuration of both – with use cases. If you’ve not had much experience with these protocols in a production environment then this section will be a fantastic resource.

Part IV is labelled “Other Design Scenarios” and contains a lot of reference storage design examples based on numbers of NICs available in a host and whether that includes IP based storage – again, another really useful resource.

I really like the writing style that the authors have used, there’s enough humour and anecdotal/real world reference to drag it out of the “pure technical” category and help engage the reader, without detracting from the sheer volume of information that’s contained in the book.

Throughout the book there are lots of clear diagrams which help to explain and expand on the text, and again improve the readability of the book.

I would recommend this to any VMware administrator with responsibility for designing and managing VMware networking – and also perhaps some network administrators who work with a VMware team. It will give insight into how the two relate to each other. I’d probably even recommend it to storage administrators who manage iSCSI and NFS storage networks with VMware.

There are parts of the book that were really basic and, I have to confess, I skipped over – but as I mentioned before I have a fair amount of networking experience. But there is also enough meat on the bones to make the book worthwhile and a great resource for your bookshelf.

Networking for VMware Administrators is available on Amazon in both paper and kindle versions:

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* Full disclosure – I was sent a copy of the book for review, I will receive no reward for this and the review is my own honest thoughts and opinion.