Tag Archive for labs

VMworld Europe 2015 Day One Roundup – Partner Day

Well it has to be said that day one went off with a bang this year indeed (not least due to all the buzz about the Dell / EMC acquisition)!

Having arrived late on Sunday night, we still made it into the Fira Gran Via for 8.30am on Monday morning to register, have a wander round and hit the Hands on Labs before they started to get busy. I immediately got stuck into HOL-SDC-1630 Cloud-Native Apps: Bringing Microservices and Containers to the Software-Defined Data Centre. As the buzz on the street at this years event is all about Cloud Native Apps, I suspect this one will feature in the top 10 labs by the end of the week! For those people not attending VMworld, you should be able to get access to it soon after the event at http://labs.hol.vmware.com.

First lab out of the way, I headed along to Hall 8 for some of the partner event sessions. Obviously I can’t go into masses of detail but suffice to say that the first session was delivered by the inimitable orator, Joe Baguely on the subject of CNA. For me, he really brought things in to focus as he explained that his teenage daughter was already onto her 3rd bank, with the most recent being chosen based on the quality of the mobile banking app provided with her account. This really brings home the idea that many of the older companies around today need to start innovating, soon, or risk becoming irrelevant to the next generation!

After a pretty decent bit of lunch Chris Crafford talked us through some considerations and approaches for transforming legacy apps into something which looks a bit more cloudy / microservice-y. The key takeaway from this session for me was not to try to boil the ocean and redevelop your entire legacy application in one go unless you absolutely have to. Rather think about adding new features driven by business requirements and targeting existing performance bottlenecks using microservices instead, That way you can start to see more immediate benefits to your applications without running the risk of a massive redevelopment falling flat on its face!

My last session of the day was from Andy Kennedy, on the subject of “Factors to Consider as Part of a Holistic Security Architecture”. In summary this session gave some great insight into some of the challenges currently face in traditional security designs, and how NSX can help to solve them, with a liberal sprinkling of candour as to where NSX may not meet every requirement, and in those situations how to augment solutions with third party products. A refreshing view indeed! We also got a little insight into some of the announcements coming this week on the NSX front – interesting times indeed!

Finally I spent the evening catching up with new and old faces alike, at the VMware vExpert event at the Elephant bar & restaurant. The atmosphere was excellent, with many great conversations to be had. One of the most interesting to me was with CEO and co-founder of RuneCast, VCDX 74, and all round nice chap, Stanimir Markov. His company has come up with an idea which seems so incredibly simple I don’t know why nobody thought of it first, but these guys did and with any luck they will be very successful indeed!

Put simply, my understanding is that they monitor all of the latest KB articles from VMware, then via the use of their analyser appliance, they scan your environment configuration and logs to check whether you are potentially impacted by any emerging issues, faults or threats. This allows you to then mitigate them before they occur. What a great idea! If you want to find out more about them, I believe they have a booth at the Solutions Exchange, or you can check them out at https://www.runecast.biz. Well worth a conversation indeed, I’d say!

Anyway it’s getting late, so I’ll simply sign off with my favourite quote of the day today, curtesy of Mr Kennedy, which frankly sums up the optimum approach to IT Architecture IMHO:

A simple solution deployed well is far more effective than a complex solution deployed badly.

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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