2019 review

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I haven’t thought of doing this kind of review but reading some of them through the internet, it motivated me to do it.

Also by submitting to programs like vExpert from VMware, made me realize that I did many things this year that I forgot and were amazing.

2019 Timeline

  • January: Going to the gym to get healthier knees and finished exams from the university with good scores. Semester ends.
  • February: New semester (about my degree) and many things planned.
  • March: Earned a certification (MCSA 2016) and letting my self know more in the local VMUGs. I was awarded as a #vExpert for the first time!
  • April: Getting stronger and not feeling more pain in my knees after a long injury (previous year).
  • June: I took some university exams (all passed!) and then… time to enjoy the summer!
  • July: Enjoying the time when there is no semester
  • August: Lots of sport, going to restaurants and more.
    Planning what to do in New York.
  • September: I failed an exam which I knew I wasn’t prepared but I got married (eloped) in NY 🙂
  • October: #BlogtoberTech2019 = 5 blog posts!
  • November: The event VMworld 2019 Europe. Tt was amazing to meet new people, older friends and interact with all of them. Also, I was able to record sessions with the vBrownbag crew.
    I also presented a session at VMworld!
  • December: Nothing to say here, basically, preparing the next year.

Success

First, things I did and makes me happy that I achieved or earned:

  • Personal: Eloped in New York for just 2 months and 3 weeks ago!
  • Commitment: Continue with my degree by passing all subjects with a good score.
  • Networking: Meet better or new people which made me realize that there are good friends or someone you can chat from time to time.
  • Better writing: Although this year I wrote only 16 posts (I know isn’t too much), I think I write better and I didn’t let quantity overcame the quality.

 

Failure

Obviously not all things went well:

  • I wasn’t able to pass the VCAP6.5-DCV Design exam in October, you can check it here.
  • For 4-6 weeks, I gained some weight because of time anxiety.
  • I am procrastinating more than I used to (probably because of anxiety?).

 

To work on

  • Procrastination: I tend to procrastinate at home when I have to do university assignments. Also, other personal projects tend to be massively delayed.
  • Organization: I do like to organize what I am going to do every week but maybe I have to put more fun windows and realize that sometimes you need to play games, do nothing and don’t be worried about you could do instead of seizing that time (time anxiety ?)!
  • Writing, hosting, and more: More blog posts for the next year, host people to record sessions with vBrownbag, and presenting more.

 

And that’s all! This will be the last post of the year (obviously) and although I was aiming to publish another different post that I am working on, I decided and wrote today this quick post in order to let you know that no one is perfect of course and there are bad and good news that people usually don’t talk about.

 

 

See you!

Want to be a vExpert?

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vExpert 2020 applications are open!

vexpertlogo2020

From November 25th to January 10th, you can apply to be a vExpert 2020 through many different paths and you must do it if you think you contributed to the VMware community.

What is a vExpert?

It’s an award that VMware gives to individuals who have contributed (a lot) to the VMware community.

Only the contributions over the past year are evaluated, therefore, it is a program that requires constant dedication every year by being an evangelist and advocacy of VMware products.

vExpert is not a certification! It’s an award that is given to individuals and not companies so, companies must not claim that title.

Why become one?

vExperts who participate in the program have access to exclusive benefits. One of the challenges that you will see is, the journey to be and to maintain it. As I will explain later, being active in the community (through different ways) is the key to become one!

At VMworld there are some exclusive gifts, access and parties that are only accessible to vExperts but, interacting with the community will be always your best gift in my opinion.

Here is a list of some of the benefits:

  • Join the private Slack channel (which is quite active!).
  • Permission to use the vExpert certificate and logo on your website, social media, etc.
  • Private forums on communities.vmware.com.
  • Private webinars with VMware partners as well as NFRs.
  • Evaluation licenses (1 year period) for many VMware products for your home lab!
  • Blogger early access program for vSphere and some other products.
  • Your profile will be listed in a public vExpert online directory.
  • Access to vExpert parties and exclusive gifts at both VMworld events.
  • Preferent seating at VMworld Keynotes.

How-to

Being a VMware vExpert is not a sprint and it doesn’t consist of making the greatest amount of blog-posts about VMware.

To become a VMware vExpert, you must be active in the community: This can be achieved by knowing and replying to people on Twitter, writing blog posts about VMware technologies, reply to the VMTN forums even if you don’t know the exact answer.

Assisting or presenting to VMUG events is one of the best things you can do, not just to know people, promote yourself and learn new things also because you participate in the community and let yourself know.

To apply just do it here and list all the contributions from this year (2019).

If you still have doubts, you can reach your local vExpert PRO, which will help you with your submission. I can help you if you need some guidance or need any advice, just reach me on Twitter!

Once you apply, your submission will be evaluated and once the applications are closed, the vExpert 2020 will be awarded.

Summary

By being part of the community and involving yourself more in evangelizing VMware products through posts, VMUG events/UserCons, VMTN forums, etc. you will have a high chance of being a vExpert.

 

 

Remember that in only will count the contributions from the previous year (2019 in this case) so, if you are not one know, don’t worry, apply if you think you contributed enough to the VMware community.

You didn’t contribute enough or nothing this year? Set yourself a goal and make it happen for the next year!

For me, being a vExpert gave me, not just licenses, gifts, etc. but many new friends of the community and a better knowledge of VMware products and culture.

VCAP-DCV Design exam notes

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As the VCAP-DCV Design 2020 certification is going to be released (but the 3V0-624 exam is not scheduled to be retired yet) on Jan 1, 2020.

Recently I made another post about my experience with this exam where I failed, check it here.

For your information, at the moment the 3V0-624 is the current exam code for the VCAP-DCV 6.5 Design certification (Also named VCAP-DCV Design 2019), always check the code for the exam no matter which is the certification name.

I decided to share with you some notes for this kind of exams no matter which version.

This information will be more helpful for people that have never taken this exam rather than those who are experienced in these advanced exams.

Audience

The Design exams (VCAP-XXX Design) are mainly for IT Architects (sounds cool?) but, why for architects? Well, if you check the blueprint, you will see a couple of sections and not many objectives. The truth is hidden inside each section, which is huge and covers many aspects.

Could you pass this exam without being an IT architect? Of course!

trust_me_architect

Many did it (not in my case yet) by studying and having a lot of design experience, or also helped doing designs with other peers for example. Also, you can gain all the knowledge of all areas and study your main gaps.

The goal is to design VMware solutions to meet specific goals and requirements, ideally, you should have advanced knowledge of storage, network, compute, end-user computing environments and other components.

You will have to develop a conceptual design given a set of customer requirements, determining which requirements needed to create a logical design and after that creating a physical design with these items.

Technical background

As you are aiming for a VMware certification, you must think in all solutions, features, and elements from vSphere.

Here is a list of the solutions that appear in the Blueprint and are related to VMware of course:

  • vSphere
  • vSAN
  • SRM
  • vROps
  • VVOLs
  • vCenter Converter

Inside each solution, you should know at least the most of the features, functionalities that they offer, dependencies between them and test them (if you can).

Apart from knowing about these technologies related to VMware, there are obviously the core areas that compose a general IT infrastructure: Storage, networking and compute.

So, be prepared to dig on each area and know about dependencies between each other and with other solutions.

Advanced knowledge is desirable (and you will be tested) on each area would deserve more than post so, I am not going to explain anything right now about it 🙂

Aiming for the exam

Your main guide must be the blueprint, no matter what other unofficial guides say (although they are very helpful). In the blueprint you will have all the sections and objectives that will be qualified.

This exam requires to read a lot (more if your daily job isn’t designing solutions) and not just books to gather information about how to gather requirements from the customer and match them to terminologies like RAMPS or RRAC (I will explain a bit of those later), also all the technical papers that the blueprint mention (+50).

Conceptual, Logical and Physical Design, you will see this a lot and once you understand it, you will see why.

You must check all the references (documents) that the blueprint mentions because most of them will appear in the exam.

Some key points from all the features, elements or products I think will be:

  • Dependencies: Know the dependencies between solutions. What do you need to enable vSAN, apart from at least 1 SSD/Flash and 1 SAS/SATA disk? It also requires vCenter and DNS.
  • Advantages and disadvantages: Does SRM perform replication? Is HA better to ensure availability than FT? Which solution can achieve a 5-minute RPO? vSAN
  • Maximums and limitations: vSphere 6.5U1 supports a maximum of 4 PSCs per site, behind an LB. Also a maximum of 10 PSCs per vSphere Domain.
  • Upgrade paths: How would you upgrade a vSphere 6.0 environment to 6.5 with external PSC?
  • Determine RCAR: Differentiate between requirements, constraints, assumptions, and risks.
  • RAMPS: Build recoverability, availability, manageability, performance, and security into a vSphere Logical Design.
  • Gather and analyze business and application requirements from customer interview data, determine customer priorities for defined objectives and categorize those requirements by infrastructure qualities.

In the post, I mentioned to you at the beginning there are some resources which are quite helpful in order to learn and improve your non-tech skills.

Summary

There is so much information to digest if you don’t have a certain level of knowledge in vSphere and the “art” of designing solutions, which could lead you to study a lot of products, methodologies, and features in probably, a great amount of time.

But don’t be impatient, it will take you time but, review each section and check the concepts, products or features that you’re not familiar with.

Check videos and other unofficial guides that probably will make other fellows from the community.

This exam is about theory so, you will be tested as an architect who designs solutions based on customer or application requirements and how to match them to a VMware design.

It is difficult to generalize all the things that can appear in past, present, and future VCAP-DCV Design certifications but I tried to give you as much information as I can.

Runecast Analyzer: Deploy, configure and quick review

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Today, I’ll show you how easy is to install, configure Runecast Analyzer (v 3.1.1.0) in your environment and we will review quickly what can we offer this solution.

Runecast?

Runecast is a company founded in 2014 more recognizable because the CEO is Stanimir Markov which is VCDX #74 but in his team has other virtualization veterans who help them to create this solution.

It’s a solution made by and for IT Admins which will scan your VMware environment (vSphere, vSAN, and NSX-T and V) and inform you about issues, best practices, hardware compatibility and apply security hardening in your VMware environment.

With all of this information it will save a great amount of time to any IT admin in order to resolve or identify a known (or not) issue, perform an upgrade of any new release of vSphere, apply the correct configurations according any Security standards (PCI-DSS, HIPAA, DISA SITG, etc.) and more…

The main functionalities of this application are:

I will do another post showing and explaining in detail these features, meanwhile, you can check each one on their website.

 

Use it in your environment or try it in a demonstration

If you want to install and configure this virtual appliance to deploy in your environment, go to https://www.runecast.com/quick-and-secure-deployment and in the upper-right menu click the Free trial button.

You will need to create an account (it’s free) but once you created it, you will have access to the OVA file by downloading it:

Ova_download

 

Runecast has also a Live Demo where you can try all the features without installing anything, just go to the website: https://demo.runecast.com and login with the credentials provided.

live_demo

You will see immediately a test environment where you can check all the features that it has in just seconds, quite handy if you want to test this solution quickly.

 

Deploy and configure

Once you download the OVA file, deploy it in your virtual environment like what you will do with other virtual appliances:

  1. Right-click in your DC and “Deploy OVF Template…”
  2. Select the OVA file you downloaded in the previous section.
  3. Select name, folder, compute resource
  4. Accept the EULA, choose the deployment configuration (in my case Small)
  5. Configure the resources necessary for the appliance (storage, network and finally all the networking properties).

Once the OVF package has been imported (it took 2 min approximately), it will appear a VM in your vCenter:

vm_vcenter

 

Now, power on the VM and check in the VM console which is the IP that you give to the application in order to access the appliance (https://192.168.1.81):

runecast_vmconsole

 

The first time you access through the website, you must use the following credentials (the same as in the Live Demo):

live_demo

 

Now, it will ask you some information to connect to your vCenter, just enter the information (I created a new user to connect to the vCenter) and click Continue:vcenter_info

And provide a schedule, I let the default setting as it’s a reasonable schedule. Continue by selecting “Start analysis”:

schedule

This, will scan your VMware environment and let you know in the dashboard all kind of issues, configuration, etc.:

runecast_main
The screenshot was taken from the Live Demo that Runecast provides

 

Features

Here I’ll show you some screenshots from the solution and how they look:

  • Security Hardeningrunecast_securityhardening

It matches the security standard that you select to your environment and let you know which configuration you must apply in order to be compliant with that security standard.

  • Best Practicesrunecast_bestpractices

Guides you about which Best Practices can be configured in your VMware environment against the VMware Best Practices.

  • Config KBs Discoveredrunecast_configkbs

One of the most pro-active features is Config KBs Discovered, it lets you know which configurations you have currently applied in your environment and the KBs that are published in the VMware DB.

  • Hardware Compatibilityrunecast_hcl

This feature will help you to deal with any kind of upgrades in just seconds, do you know if your hardware is listed in the Hardware Compatibility List for some product? It will give you all the information in just a moment.

  • Log Inspector runecast_loginspector

Log inspector will look for patterns in your ESXi logs in real-time in order to analyze and provide a solution before anything happens.

What a better way to apply a fix for something that you didn’t even notice?


And that would be all for this quick post about Runecast Analyzer and how can it help in a VMware environment for vSphere, vSAN, and NSX.

If you thought that Runecast Analyzer is a single-use tool, you’re wrong, it has many features that make it easier to manage a VMware environment in a daily-basis.

Remember that you can try it for 30-days with all the features or use the live demo on their website.

 

VCAP6.5-DCV Design failed exam experience

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Recently I took the 3V0-624 exam (a.k.a. VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization Design Exam) and I failed (266/500).

fail-better

I took it on September, 4th (a month and a half ago) and as I was on holiday and now preparing things for VMworld Europe I won’t be able to study after the event.

I recognize, I study a bit in a rush. In just one month for someone who is daily tasks aren’t about architecture, it can be hard (or not). In my case, this rush was influenced due to leaving on vacation for more than 2 weeks. Then, I decided to give it a try before leaving but, the outcome wasn’t what someone would like!

Let me share my experience in the exam, some thoughts, resources, and notes that maybe can help you.

Know yourself

What I want to say in this section is knowing your limitations and experience against the exam. I am not going to do a comparison against the blueprint right now but, check the blueprint and be honest to yourself.

This exam is called “Design” and that means having a broad knowledge on many areas (like networking, storage, computing, hardware, etc.), a different mindset than an engineer (the famous “holistic” view that architects have).

So, basically, check all the sections in the blueprint and match them against your knowledge. Are there too many gaps? Then, you probably need more experience and a lot of time to study (or both) but definitely, the experience becomes very handy for this exam.

(I recommend you to check the blueprint from the VCAP6-DCV Design which is quite better than the 6.5 version (in fact, it has the resources split into sections instead of giving you a list of 50+ resources like in the 6.5 version).

I am not an architect but I did some projects from the scratch (small ones) and participated in others that were normal (I don’t want to say big because it is subjective) as a technical reference so, I had some of the knowledge regarding how to approach a project

Expect to gather the requirements, find “RRAC” (Requirements, Risks, Assumptions and Constraints) and also I had knowledge in DC architecture, vSphere (obviously) and other products from VMware (this is a VMware exam so don’t expect another thing!).

Study Resources

There are many resources that you can find on the internet:

Blog posts:

 

The books I read:

  • VCAP5-DCD guide
  • IT Architect: Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design: A Practical Guide for IT Architects
  • VMware vSphere Design 2nd Edition

Obviously I reviewed all the technical papers from the blueprint and you should too (at least check if you understand the main concept).

The exam

As the official webpage states, there are 60 questions and you have 135 minutes (2 hours and 15 minutes) to complete the exam. This is plenty of time for anyone I think.

I read other experiences and almost anyone had a lot of time left in the clock before finishing the exam. When I took it, I reviewed the questions and there were almost 30 minutes.

Questions can be large so, maybe you want to read it a couple of times or even when you’re answering it.

The format of the exam is multiple-choice, matching and drag and drop. That means that all questions won’t have a single choice solution.

Even I had time to finish the exam without looking at the clock too much, I failed with a score of 266 (passing score is 300 like many other VMware exams). That means that I need to review which were my weakest points, resolve my doubts and catch up with all I studied a couple of months ago.

Notes

As far as I know, this exam goes until ESXi 6.5 U1 (which is the latest release before the blueprint came out).

Review dependencies between all products and features within vSphere (especially the ones related to the RAMPS concept).

The conceptual, logical and physical design concepts must be mastered.

Review limitations on each feature (HA, DRS, FT, etc.) or product (vSAN, SRM, etc.).

The vBrownbag videos and books like the “VCAP5-DCD guide” can be very helpful even though are “older”. About books. the “vSphere Design 2nd edition” along with the “IT Architect series: Foundation in the art of infrastructure design” will give you a general vision of all concepts that an architect must know.

Check the blueprint from the VCAP6-DCV Design as the objectives are the same as the 6.5 version but better explained and with references on each section.

 

So, that’s all I wanted to say and I hope that even I didn’t pass in this first attempt, it can help other people willing to take it in the future.

Sometimes you have to fail better before succeed.