VMUG Advantage – a fantastic new resource for VMware study

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I’ve been in a bit of a refresh cycle since I had my recent promotion in my company.  Over the years I’ve attained a ton of professional certifications, and it was about time to make the difficult decisions, on what to maintain, what to improve, what to add and what to cut.  Having some time to myself to allocate to technical development, I’ve been keen to bring my VMware skills up to the new VCP6.0 level ( I have aspirations of takin this even higher) and top bring in desktop virtualisation, virtualised networking and orchestration.   Part of my challenge is that I’ve already done the classroom training, and have a ton of hands on for VCP510, but need to sit the technical exam.  So the questions in order are: 1. how to attain VCP550 2. How to upgrade 550->610 and then what I can build on in terms of NSX.  Secondary concerns are upping these core fields to higher levels.

I have a ESXi box in the house, an investment sometime ago means I have a Dell T620, with a health 12 x 2.5Ghz Cores, 5TB of storage & 64GB of RAM.  Nesting labs is relatively easy, but as I want to build a lab that will last , I don’t want to be affected by the constant 60 day nag message that come with using the evaluation version.  I’ve been googling and came across the VMUG Advantage, which on paper seems to solve these issues by:

  • Offering 365day evaluation licensing for all VMware tools including Sphere, Horizon, Orchestration and VSphere
  • Offering discounts on specialised training.
  • Forum access to a global pool of VMware professionals
  • VMware blessing.

All of the above for $200US, and to be clear that includes full legal licensing for the full VMware portfolio.  If you think it seems a bit too good to be true, you’re not alone, but I can assure you having signed up that this site is completely legit.  I wish more vendors took this approach to training for software.  The signup process is painless, though be warned that the time between signing up for the program, and receiving the logins and links is about 48 hours, as it’s a manually verified process.  Rest assured the support teams that administer the service are fast and really friendly- and yes to repeat, you get FULL LEGAL LICENSES!  in hindsight I wish I’d not signed up on a Saturday as I waited the whole weekend to be activated, but that’s a minor grizzle at something I did on my side.

I’ve now got a VCP6.0 box (Sphere 6.0 and ESXi6.0) and a nest lab running an evaluation version of Sphere 5.5 for my first training course.  Nicely, it means that I can practice the upgrade from 5.5->6.0 when the time comes, and at the same time evolve my box to my needs.  I plan to also go through the VCP-NSX 610 course – I qualify for this due to my CCNP and having attainted my VCP, again though, that’s a secondary.  I will be posting more specifics on my lab setup and experiences but thought the sheer brilliance of this offer just had to be shared- take it up- you will not be disappointed!.  I’ve also loaded the box up with a copy of Cisco’s VIRL tool with a 30 node license- an Openstack underpinned service giving you full access to to Cisco images, allowing you to out do GNS3.

I once heard it said that the best money that Cisco ever spent on development was creating their training curriculum, and ensuring that IOS images leaked on the web.   It’s all very well being able to buy a few cheap catalysts and a couple of routers and sit your CCNA or even your CCNP, but what happens when you need to self study DC gear, or advanced firewalls with 6 figure price tags?  Often  this lack of hands on results in paper passed students, who have GNS3’d the sh_t out of it but lack real world skills.  The only other option is piracy (which I don’t condone) but why I can understand.

By allowing students legal, affordable and full access to your technologies, you are putting in place the foundations for a successful support structure, both in companies, and in the wider market as a whole.  VMware (for supporting the VMUG advantage) and Cisco (with VIRL) should both be celebrated for taking these important steps into enabling driven students and individuals to attain knowledge of their products.

So over to you Citrix, Juniper , ALE and others

New tracts and the first bite of the Elephant

I’ve been working in the networking and WANX space now for about 8 years, and after a while, new technology gets to the point where you think- I’ve seen this before.  I’ve never been very good at doing the same thing again and again, life is way too short and I get bored way too easily.  With that in mind, I’m making more of a push into something I started on a few years back- virtualization, both of compute and networking.  I did my VCP training course at Caledonian University in Glasgow a few years back, and I loved it, but didn’t give it the time I needed.  With my new role in my company, I’m back on the books and determined to get into something new.

My plan is to sit my VCP550 in late March this year, and then spend April and May learning the transition from VSphere 5.x-> 6.0 and take my VCP610 exam.  After that I plan to complete my CCNP R&S (I’ve already done my SWITCH exam, so it’s a case of sitting ROUTE and TSHOOT) to get that box complete, it’s not like I don’t have the knowledge just about getting to doing the exam.  As well as all this, I have Riverbed to recertify, am dropping my Ipanema and Aruba, and somewhere along the line I need to pick up my ITIL Expert (already became ITIL foundation certified in February).

The long term aim is definitely to move into the DC and SDN space – I have an idea to undertake the VMware NSX certification line, and eventually look to be :

CCNP R&S , DC & CCDP

Riverbed RCSP WANX & RCSP HCB

VCP6.0 DC

VCP 6.0 NSX

ITIL Expert

It’s going to be a busy year – something I look forward to!  But you don’t eat an elephant in one bite, so first things first – VCP550 24th March  🙂