Thursday, 23 October 2014

VMworld Europe - TAM Sessions

An extra post about my favourite part of VMworld from the organised conference perspective...

I thought that the TAM sessions were by far the best sessions I attended. None of them were presented by the most well known vRockstars (they were out in the normal breakout sessions, doing their thing - and from the ones I saw, doing it very well) the TAM sessions were all by the engineers and product managers who you don't know as well, which was great.

The breakout sessions are all recorded and are hence available after the fact to every VMworld attendee. The TAM sessions are not recorded, not available anywhere, so you simply have to be there to get this invaluable opportunity to sit down with VMware folks and a small group of your peers to talk about the things that interest you most. each of the TAM sessions was kinda like a pick-your-own-content VMUG with a very limited number of  attendees, who were all super interested in the subject! As a result of this, I don't mind at all that I dropped the "Leet" EVO:RAIL 1337 session to talk about stuff that might be coming in future versions of ESX. Besides, I've already watched the origins of project Marvin online after getting home.

Monday, 20 October 2014

VMWorld Europe - Day 3

The final day, an early start to the sessions with no keynote to overrun into the first session, so I went straight into a 9am breakout session.

Session: INF2311 - vCenter Server Architecture & Deployment Deep Dive
Some good tips here for the folks running (or planning to run) vCenter 5.5 specifically around the placement of vCenter components. Do not, do not, do NOT run your Inventory service on a different server to your vCenter server service! If you do, performance will be terrible. In fact, it's best to have the inventory service installed on different spindles to the rest of your vCenter server if you can manage that. That's how important this is. You know how you always get told to have a 100GB drive for vCenter? This is why, the Inventory Service has its own local database, separate from the vCenter DB and it will take up some GB's. This is also where your tags and storage profiles etc. reside, so back it up!

VMworld Europe - Day 2

I'm on a bit of a roll now! The 'second' day of VMworld Europe started with another keynote, just the same as San Fran (same general format, same general content). Fortunately for those of us wanting to blog/tweet during this, the doors that were closed yesterday were open by the time I got to the hangspace, so I was in and settled with a coffee and pain au chocolat before 9am. This time I chose "Recharge Island" instead of the bloggers table, mainly cos I didn't have a blogger badge or pass and there was less stuff between me and the big screen this time.

Once more, this is the session in which some more of the technical content is revealed when compared to the previous day, but again we have heard a lot of it before.

Carl Eschenback had the lead in this session and introduced a number of videos followed up by chats on stage. Included in this section were some interesting points - for instance, SAP are using 75,000 VMs and are refreshing those at a rate of 30,000 a month to meet changing use cases. Those numbers make my head hurt. Then Tom Stockwell of Vodafone challenged us to consider if our business success is driven by apps/services or infrastructure. One of the themes this year was the move towards considering that hardware virtualisation is a done deal, we now need to focus on rapid app deployment. This was already mentioned in the TAM day introduction and was picked up again here.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

VMworld Europe - Day 1

Admittedly, I'd already been in Barcelona for a while after the TAM day (partner day for most people) on Monday, so we'd already had comfucion amongst the bloggers as to what day it was., perhaps we should stick with 'Tuesday' and have done with it? Apologies for any tense changes here, this post was mostly written at VMworld, but not published then.

This was my first opportunity to attend a European keynote, so I was hoping to be able to get ensconsed in the hangspace or the bloggers area and tweet or blog from there, whilst hoping it would be different from the US keynote. Unfortunately, the first 10 minutes were spent milling around outside the hang space with some of the better known UK bloggers, as we weren't allowed in! There were a number of big screens, plus coffee and breakfast nibbles going to waste, as we could see through the round window. Finally we got let in over 10 minutes late, so I missed almost everything that Maurizio Carli had to say,other than him introuducing Pat Gelsinger. Pat went through the same Fluid / Liquid routine from the US keynote, but there was a more Euro twist with features on Cancer Research UK and Lufthansa, plus commentary on how Ministry of Education Malaysia are connecting every student, 25,000 virtual desktops. That's impressive infrastructure.
 

VMworld Europe - Prelude and TAM Day

I have to admit to being pretty excited to attend my first VMworld in 6 Years, this time with the additional perk of having the Monday lined up as well, as part of the TAM experience. Technical Account Manager, that is. Same day as Partner Day, but for those of us who warrant or buy this level of service, I guess. I work for a large American Company so this was something I get that I was not going to get so often, as my TAM is in the US, whereas I am not!

I flew in to Barcelona on Sunday and after getting the VMworld bus to the Fira Europa site, picked up the VMworld backpack and also a free metro pass, which is a nice touch. 10 free metro trips would be enough for the week. I'd followed the good advice from Jonathan Medd's Blog and booked a flat instead of a hotel (way, way cheaper!)  so the first metro trip was to get me "home". Then once settled there, I had just enough time to get myself ready before it was time to head over to the Hard Rock cafe for the vRockstar party. Now I'm not the most widely known person in the VMware community, but there were plenty of faces I knew already on hand to introduce me to a whole lot more. Plenty of beers and conversation meant that this was a good start to the week. Possibly too good!

Barcelona's warm, even at 8AM in October and especially if you are on the metro with a hangover. Lesson learned.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

VMware VCP550D 'delta' exam for VCP5-DCV holders

A couple of days ago, VMware announced that they would offer existing VCP5-DCV certified folks a shortcut to extending their certification, by introducing a new delta exam. The new test is a Pearson Vue delivered test as you would expect and has the code VCP550D. The exam is the same duration (75 minutes) and length (65 questions) as the normal VCP5 exam, but it is taken remotely like the introductory level VCA exams and is also considerably cheaper than the full exam, at £80. Delegates only have until the end of November to take the exam and once you sign up and pay for your exam, you only have a couple of days to take the test.

The content is described as being the new material released between vSphere 5.0/5.1 and vSphere 5.5.  That's somewhat confusing as there are 65 questions to get through and the presence of 5.1 there is possibly superfluous, as I assume it's differences between 5.0 and 5.5 in reality. Also, the exam blueprint you are pointed to is in reality the standard 5.5 exam blueprint!

I say kudos to VMware for providing a cheaper means to recertify for those people who only hold a VCP5-DCV cert and don't yet want to undertake a VCAP or have exposure to cloud, horizon or network virtualisation. A lot of people will see their VCP5-DCV certification expire early in 2015 and there won't be another version of vSphere out in time to have a VCP6-DCV exam in place. This basically buys a chunk of VCPs the best part of two years before any recertification issues crop up again. It's an utterly pointless gesture for other people of course. I fell somewhere in the middle ground as I had to do something to avoid becoming uncertified and that was originally going to be a stab at the VCP-Cloud IaaS exam, using the Hands on Labs to help me thought the blueprint, as I don't use a cloud in my day job. This seemed to be an easier option.

Those of you watching tenses will guess that I have dealt with this situation and you'd be right. I took the exam this evening and passed, with a 380. Now I have 2 years to get my act together and deal with exams I really want to look at and this will either be VCP-NV or VCAP-DCD (or both). It could be that I don't take a other VCP-DCV exam for quite a long time!

If I am honest, the exam was pretty tough, as I was not really sure what the content would be. I did not expect many 'gimme' questions either compared to the 5.0 exam, as there wouldn't be any questions on topics that have been in vSphere since version 2 that everyone knows backwards. I did find it interesting that there is no mention of open book like the VCA or closed book, like the full VCP5, so this may be interpreted as a bit of a dumbing down of the exam, but of course to qualify for the delta exam, you had to pass previously in a test centre. There's no way you will just pass this using Google or the vSphere online manuals if you've been doing something other than vSphere for the past 2 years, as you have just over a minute per question. You have to know your stuff, even if you are not in the test centre for this exam. This exam was nothing like the VCA-DCV (as you'd expect).

I passed the 3.5 exam after attending the 3.0 course and the 5.0 exam before attending the optimise and scale course, so I am used to assembling my own cram content and as such, always look in to the new products that plug in to the current vSphere suite. I guessed that VSOM and the other different ways you can buy vSphere these days would figure today, since they were not in my 5.0 exam. Previously, I focused on the differences between standard and distributed switches and the associated teaming, shaping features etc. and looked over NFS and iSCSI since I don't really run those (we use 1000v at work too, which doesn't always help). That approach worked for 5.0 so I assumed that 5.5 would be no different. I also relied on some of the content I have been reading recently (good job I bought the VSAN and Networking for vSphere Admins books recently for instance, since some of that is still fresh in my mind). Before starting the exam, whilst making a brew, I had a quick think on the differences between the web client and the c# client as all the new features are web client only of course. That was about it. It was just enough.

There were some questions that I had absolutely no idea about at all but to be honest, I'm not sure I would have known what those answers would be if I had studied and crammed for weeks. There were some multi choice questions where 2 answers were clearly wrong or just felt wrong - I guess that using VMware every working day for years does help! Since I always read right through every question a couple of times to see what they're really asking, even if I think I know the answer, then I did not have a lot of time to spare - in fact my time ran out whilst I was rereading the last question I still had marked for review!

I'll be interested to hear how other people get on with this exam and if they decide to take it or not. I found this exam to be useful as I am going to be pretty busy till Christmas and now I can focus on something new for getting certified next year.