Archive for 29th October 2013

UK VMUG – 21st November 2013

Just a quick reminder about the upcoming UK VMUG at the National Motorcycle Museum, Coventry Road Bickenhill, Solihull, B92 0EJ on 21st November (kicking off the night before with the Veeam vCurry for those in the area – registration required I believe).

For those of you who haven’t previously attended, a VMUG is a great place to:

  • Meet and swap ideas with other virtualisation professionals in the community. A great opportunity to put real faces to all those twitterati with whom you have had many conversations with over time, but aren’t quite sure what they actually look like (especially if they’re particularly selective about which photos they use)! 🙂
  • See some great presentations from other community members. Some of my most memorable have been things like the community discussion after the announcement of vCHS, network virtualisation from Greg Ferro (one of the best tech presentations I’ve been fortunate enough to attend, anywhere!), and Scott Lowe’s inspiring closing keynote on learning at last years event.
  • See some very interesting vendor presentation. Usually there are a variety so its a good way to keep up on the latest developments. Also they help pay for the events, so love em or hate em, the vendors make it possible!

The agenda is available here:
UK VMUG Agenda – 21st Nov 2013

I’m most looking forward to Knowledge Exchange by Duncan Epping (last years one was very interesting) and VMware Virtual SAN – All You Wanted to Know by Cormac Hogan. Unfortunately they’re both scheduled at the same time, so will have to make a call on the day! 🙁

Greg Ferro is also a great speaker, so his closing keynote is one to stay for.

Of the other sessions, I think the following look very interesting:

  • Securing VMware Virtual Environments, Sam McGeown
  • Introduction to Overlay Networking, Greg Ferro
  • NSX Technical, VMware – Scott Lowe
  • Data In; Data Out – vCHS, VMware – Mike Laverick

As always the quality and choice means I will ultimately end up missing some sessions due to not being able to be in two places at once. An enviable position when you think about it!

However you look at it, VMUGs are great FREE events organised in their spare time by some very generous people (Jane Rimmer, Alaric Davies, Stuart Thompson, Simon Gallagher & Martyn Storey). If you can get the time out of the office, and make it to the venue I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Register for UK VMUG here, get the latest news by following @LonVMUG on Twitter and don’t forget to join in the conversation throughout the day using the hashtag #ukvmug

If you see me at the UK VMUG or (if I make it) the vCurry night before, don’t hesitate to come and say hi; you cant miss me, I’m 6’7″!

The Self Study Era

I was prompted to write this article after the release of the new VMware Certified Associate (VCA) exam.

One of the most interesting and and best things about the VCP programme is the barrier to entry. Unfortunately in this age of brain dumps, it is all to easy to be a “paper MCSE”, having simply memorised all the answers to a load of exams and passed them without actually knowing the subject matter. Individuals like this usually become unstuck pretty quickly, and it makes a bit of a mockery of the whole process.

In this age of austerity, doom and gloom, employers won’t or don’t want to pay for professional training, which means this barrier can be pretty high! Gone are the days where companies may have the budget to send people on multiple training courses per year. I was extremely lucky at the start of my career to get the opportunity to attend all the courses for my MCSE (about 8 IIRC!) in the space of a couple of years! At many companies today, employees are lucky if they are sent on a single one in that time.

Fortunately it’s not as bad as it sounds, because gone are the days where there used to be only the official course books or in-person training available. Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, today we have many many more resources available to us, including:

  • Many free online community-generated resources. It never fails to impress me how people are willing to give up their free time to generate this content and help complete strangers improve their knowledge and skills.
  • Inexpensive virtualisation at home using VMware Workstation, GNS3, etc allowing you to virtualise and create an entire lab for whatever it is you’re studying. For most technology you can get away with as little as 8-16GB RAM in an old PC, as long as it has a CPU with VT-X extensions you’re golden! This for me is the best way to learn any product – lab it, lab it, lab it!
  • Free online labs from many vendors such as VMware’s http://www.projectnee.com/HOL and Microsoft’s http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/virtuallabs/ so even if you cant afford to have a home lab yourself, you can still get your hands on the tech.
  • If you work for a vendor partner you can often get access to their “Partner University” content for free.
  • Free practice exams from many of the vendors on their learning pages.

If your employer has minimal budgets for training, there is no point moping about it. Invest in yourself (be it financially or in time) and meet them half way.  Embrace the fact that you have joined one of the fastest moving industries in the world, show some initiative and study in your own time!

VMware Certified AssociateSo how does this relate specifically to the VCA I hear you ask? Well if I were starting my career again from scratch, the first thing I would be doing is passing the VMware Certified Associate exam of my choice, based on the free VCA training from VMware, and all of the free resources above. If you pull your finger out, you can even get 50% off the VCA exam for a limited time.

Once you have this one in the bag, then is the time to approach your employer and ask for them to fund your VCP course. They will know you’re serious as you have invested your own time, effort and money (for the exam), and they should already be starting to see the benefits in your additional skills.

At that point, considering the time and effort you have put into your development, if your employer isn’t willing or able to match that investment by paying for either exams or further training / materials, then maybe they’re not the right employer for you. Take your newly learned skills and put them to good use! 🙂

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