All posts by Christian Mohn

Written by . Christian is the owner of vNinja.net and a vSoup.net Virtualization Podcast co-host.

Need the vSphere Client? VMware Has You Covered.

One of the more popular posts, currently in third place, on vNinja.net is my list of vSphere Client direct download links posted back in March 2012.

Thankfully William Lam had the same idea, and got a new Knowledgebase Article published: Download URLs for VMware vSphere Client (2089791). Please use that article as the official download link documentation from now on.

Obligatory: My VCAP-DCA 550 Experience

I finally took the plunge, and sat the VDCA550 exam yesterday. The VCAP5-DCA certification has been on my todo list way to long, and I’m glad I can now tick that box and move on.

The VDCA550 exam is held in a live lab environment, with approximately 23 lab activities, which is the subsequently scored after the exam is finished. This means that you do not get an immediate pass/fail summary at the end of the exam, but you’ll be feverishly checking your email until the score report is sent to you from VMware.

Preparation tips?

  1.  Hands-on experience. There is no substitute for real experience when it comes to this exam. It’s a lab and you need to be able to perform the tasks presented to you. No amount of reading will prepare you for that, unless it’s also accompanied by actually working with the products.
  2. VCAP5-DCA Official Cert Guide: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5- Data Center Administration. I’ll be writing a more detailed review of the study guide later, but this book was invaluable for my preparation. Even if the book is mainly focused on the older VDCA510 exam, it also contains a chapter highlighting the changes in the blueprints between the 510 and 550 exams which was really helpful. The best part of the study guide is Chapter 10: Scenarios which goes through the certification blueprint and hands you specific tasks for each section. Get the book and do those, practicing will save you valuable time on exam day.
  3. Read the official vSphere documentation. End to end.
    Familiarize yourself enough with it, to the point that you know what keywords to search for if you get stuck on the labs.

Exam tips?

  1. Time management. You get your allocated minutes, and that’s it. I was forcefully logged out of the lab environment as soon as the time ran out, and I had 4 labs left to complete at that time. Don’t get stuck on particular labs for disproportional amounts of time. If you get stuck on something, cut your losses and move on. You can always return to a lab later if you have time for it. It’s better to score a few points extra by completing other labs, rather than losing points on a lab you end up not finishing anyway.
  2. Open up the documentation and the knowledgebase in the lab browser. That speeds up searches, and if you know your way around those resources before you sit the exam, they can be a real lifesaver.
  3. As with “traditional” multiple choice exams, read the lab descriptions carefully. Some lab descriptions are very clear on what is the expected outcome, others are more subtle. Make sure you understand the task at hand before starting on it.

The Exam?

I really enjoyed it. No, seriously, I’m not kidding. This is the most fun I’ve ever had while actually working on obtaining a certification. The fact that you get to do real world administrative tasks, without multiple choice memory games was a refreshing experience. You still need to know your stuff, but since you have the vSphere documentation and VMware Knowledgebase available to you during the exam, you can look it up if needed. See Bullet #3 above.

Working with the lab setup was a bit sluggish at times, especially when scrolling, something that require frequent screen updates, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I was really lucky, as the turn-around time for scoring of my exam was just shy of 30 minutes after finishing the exam, something that saved me a lot of agonising about my poor exam time management skills.

One last thing: I really hope VMware Education opens the door for more test centers in Norway. I had to fly to Oslo from Bergen to sit the exam, something that drives the cost obtaining it dramatically higher. We have local test centers in Bergen, but they are not allowed to offer the advanced level exams from VMware. If I had the ability to sit this exam locally, Bergen is Norway’s second largest city after all, I probably would have done this a long time ago. I almost missed my exam when my morning plane was cancelled, and when I finally got to Oslo my taxi driver had problems finding the test center. I got there just in time though, but if I had got there much later, I would have set my employer back the exam fee, the plane tickets, a taxi bill AND a day of lost productivity. Of course, I could have flown in the day before, but that would have added hotel bills to the cost equation as well.

Opinionated: VMworld US is over. Now what?

Another VMworld US is over, with huge attendee numbers and in keeping with tradition lots of new announcements were made.  I’m not going to go through them, enough posts have been made about that, the basis of this post is something completely different all together.

There seems to be a general expectation that we as a community is to be wooed by the announcements and flashy keynotes, but are we really the target audience? If you think about it, we probably aren’t.

While we certainly like to think that we are the center of the universe, there is no factual evidence available to back that up.

I think a lot of us who work for vendors, partners or even competitors seem to forget is that we live and breathe this stuff on a daily basis, and for the most part we actually have a pretty good idea what is going to be announced, and why. We participate in beta programs and in general have our fingers on the pulse 24/7, and still we expect to have general announcements cater to our own perceived reality. A reality that in many cases are years ahead of the real targets; the end users and customers. The announcements made at a conference like VMworld serve more than one purpose, but the main purpose is to generate buzz and interest in new products and services.

We can talk about Software Defined Data Centers, with all its bells and whistles until we run out of breath. We can talk about All-Flash-Arrays and sub-millisecond latency until we turn blue, or proclaim that DevOps is the only true way to enlightenment, but is that the reality that our customers live in day to day? For the most part, I really don’t think that is the case. New product announcements, new services and new buzzwords has an effect, it generates revenue down the line when the customers and end-users in the real world catch up with the bleeding edge reality we as tech-oligarks live in.

Reality

The state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.

You may say “I reject your reality and substitute my own”, but that doesn’t help us in any way, shape or form. We are fortunate enough to live on the very bleeding edge of technology and we are actually in a position to help change the direction it takes in the future.

Spend a minute and reflect on that. It’s kinda neat isn’t it? Don’t stop pushing the boundaries of what we can do, and how, just take a break now and then and put your ear on the tracks and listen. A train might be on it’s way, don’t get hit by it just because you didn’t bother checking.