Wednesday, 10 November 2010

VCAP-DCD beta exam experiences

This is the week where the VCAP-DCD beta exams are being taken around the world, and I've read various items of feedback in the way of blog posts, comments on the VMware community forum, as well as numerous tweets on Twitter.

Here's a list of the key feedback I've come across so far:
VMware community forum post
Chris Dearden's blog post
Jason Boche's blog post
Jeffrey Wolfanger's blog post
Dave Convery's blog post
Rick Scherer's blog post

Remember that all the above links refer to the beta exam - the final exam should be released in the next 6 weeks or so, once the feedback and responses given during the beta process has been collated and analyzed.

Update on November 11th:
Additional blog posts added above

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

VMware training - virtually...

I blogged a little while ago about Global Knowledge starting to offer the vSphere: Install Configure Manage course as an instructor-led, online event - ironically for training on VMware products we describe this as "virtual learning".

We've now broadened our schedule to include a wider set of VMware courses, as well as a selection of CiscoITIL and Prince2 courses - you can find the latest schedule here.

We also have a special promotion running on all virtual learning events - Buy 1 Get 1 Free - more details can be found on the schedule page at the link above.

Fancy a free iPad in time for Christmas?

Everybody knows that the must-have gadget of 2010 is the amazing Apple iPad - I've been an iPod Touch user for about a year now, and I'd absolutely love an iPad - almost every competition in the Solutions Exchange at VMworld Europe had an iPad as a prize!

Would you like an iPad too? How's about if it was free? Interested?

Global Knowledge UK are running a promotion that allows you to get yourself a free iPad in time for Christmas! Think of the possibilities:

- Sell it on ebay and keep the money
- Swap it for Take That tickets
- Give it to a loved one to show you care
- Or, best of all, keep it all for yourself!

There are some T's & C's associated with the promotion, take a look at this Global Knowledge iPad Promotion page to find out more.

Global Knowledge offer new UK-based VCAP-DCA testing centres

The live-lab VCAP-DCA exam has been available for a couple of weeks now, VMware have worked with Pearson VUE to try and offer the exam at many testing centres globally. Most of the current testing centres offering the VCAP-DCA exam as run directly by Pearson themselves, in the UK the only centre where the exam has been available is in Holborn, London.

Something that Global Knowledge have been discussing with VMware is offering the exam at other testing centres in the UK, and around Europe, and I'm glad to be able to announce that three Global Knowledge UK training centres will be able to offer the VCAP-DCA exam:

Global Knowledge London
Global Knowledge Wokingham
Global Knowledge Wakefield

I've also learned that by mid-November, all VCAP-DCA exam bookings will be made directly via Pearson, rather than having to be arranged through VMware.

Friday, 29 October 2010

VCAP exams user interface demos

VMware have just released Flash demos of the exam environment used for the VCAP4-DCA and VCAP4-DCD exams - I spoke with Jon Hall at VMworld Europe a couple of weeks ago and he told me then they were almost ready to be published - Jon narrates the demos himself.

You'll find the VCAP4-DCA demo in the VCAP4-DCA Resources section on the main VCAP4-DCA page, and in case you want to watch the demo straight away here's the direct link.

The VCAP-DCD page has an idential layout, so again check under the VCAP4-DCD Resources section on the VCAP4-DCD page, here's the direct link.

Friday, 22 October 2010

VCAP4-DCD beta exam

Emails have been going out in the last day or so inviting people to register for the VCAP4-DCD exam - passing this exam brings the VCAP4-DCD certification, lets you work towards VCDX4, and is also the exam that the current VCDX3 holders need to pass to gain VCDX4 status.

The beta period is short, November 8th-12th, and slots are filling incredibly quickly - I know of one guy in the UK who has had to schedule his in Amsterdam...

VMware are only offering the beta exam through the same testing centres as those currently enabled for the VCAP4-DCA exam - I've been assured by numerous people at VMware that the final VCAP4-DCD exam will be available at all testing centres.

If you want to try and register for the beta exam, send an email asap to and include your VCP ID.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

IP Expo - Exclusive training discounts

Following on from VMworld Europe 2010, the vendor/partner circus comes back to London for IP Expo 2010, the event runs on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st October, and Global Knowledge will be there...

Global Knowledge will be at booth 947 in the VMware Partner Zone, and are offering all attendees an exclusive discount on training courses and exams across multiple vendors (VMware, Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix) - pop by the stand, say "hi" to my colleagues and collect your discount flyer!

I wish I could be there myself, it was a great event last year - my "day job" prevents me from attending this year.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The first batch of VCAP4-DCA holders are here!

There's been a few messages flying around on Twitter in the last day from people reporting that they've received the results of their VCAP4-DCA beta exam, so the world has it's first VCAP4-DCAs!

Those that I've heard of so far:
Jason Boche
William Lam
Chris Dearden
Duncan Epping
Rick Boyett
Kanuj Behl
Hal Rottenburg
Rick Scherer
Mark Gabryjelski
JF Richard
David Convery
Bill Griffith

I'll keep the above list updated if I hear of any others. I met quite a few people at VMworld this week who have their exams scheduled in the coming weeks, and I'm going to book mine soon.

Congratulations to all VCAP4-DCAs!

List last updated on October 17th 2010

VMworld Europe 2010 - Day 3

OK, so I'm not in Copenhagen any more, but I still wanted to write something about what I got up to on the final day of VMworld Europe 2010...

My last day in Copenhagen started a little late, but that might be related to enjoying myself at the VMworld Party and in the bars I went to afterwards with friends... (you know who you are!)

I attended an excellent session delivered by Chad Sakac from EMC and Vaughn Stewart from NetApp - Best Practices to Increase Availability and Throughput for VMware - even though their organizations compete it's clear that they have a common interest, and the banter between them helped to make this one of the best breakout session of any VMworld or TSX I've attended before.

I also spent time in the Solutions Exchange area, talking specifically with some of the Education Services team at VMware, my friend Jane Rimmer who was there with Centrix Software, and collecting a few freebies for my kids, then it was time to head to the airport and home...

I've had a different experience at each of the four VMware events I've now attended, it really is an event that you can get whatever you want from - whether it's networking, hands-on labs, attending some of the larger breakout sessions, or participating in a group discussion or even a one-to-one.

Thanks to all those involved in making it happen, and a shout out to all those I met up with - see you next year!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

VMworld Europe 2010 - Day 2

Well, this will be a short blog post...

I've not been to the Bella Center today, I've been at a hotel with a dozen other VCIs attending a VCI Mentor Workshop. I've held Mentor status with VMware for a couple of years now, but attending this new Workshop means I will retain my status from January 2011.

Being a Mentor means I understand the technical and delivery standards expected of a VCI, so I am able to sign off prospective VCIs against those standards. The Workshop was straightforward, the framework used by VMware is similar to that used by the Institute of IT Training in the UK - and I've been a qualified IITT Assessor for about 6 months now.

It's VMworld party night tonight, I'm heading out for dinner soon with my Global Knowledge colleagues, then we'll be heading to the Forum in Copenhagen to the party - it's a party for Abba fans as Bjorn Again are the headline band. I'm looking forward to a good night, then it's back to the Bella Center tomorrow morning for Day 3 and the journey home...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

VMworld Europe 2010 - Day 1

So today was the first "proper" day of VMworld Europe 2010, and the first thing that struck me was how much work went into the Solutions Exchange area between 5pm on Monday and 10:30am on Tuesday - when the VCI day was over the area looked far from being ready and yet this morning everything was setup and ready - a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes to make that happen.

After chatting to Chris Skinner from VMware on the Metro on the way to the Bella Center, I spent the first hour "walking the floor" of the Solutions Exchange area with Linda Smith - the Business Development Director for virtualization at Global Knowledge UK. We caught up with people from VMware, Quest, and Veeam amongst others, then we split up and headed off to breakout sessions.

The first session I attended was Virtual Machines Outperforming Physical Machines with the always-impressive Scott Drummonds and Dave Korsunsky, where Scott highlighted the impressive volume of performance improvements from ESX 2.5 through to the vSphere 4. Dave and Scott then presented how those enhancements had enabled various workloads to run better in virtual machines rather than be run in the traditional physical manner. Some of the gain was related to scalability issues that are directly related to the applications themselves and other gains were realised by the VMkernel being able to take advantage of the latest hardware technologies. The session emphasised the importance of finding "the sweet spot" for each application in terms of sizing the virtual machine - and Scott highlighted that in most cases these days a 2-way or 4-way VM gave the best scalbility and performance of most virtualized workloads.

I attended my first "group discussion" session later in the afternoon, Storage with Chad Sakac, where Chad led an interactive Q&A and discussion session on storage protocols, filesystems, best practices, challenges, as well as trying to gather feedback on how VMware and storage vendors could support their customers better. Chad also discussed some potential future enhancements to vSphere that could allow some of today's limitations to be removed or circumnavigated.

I really enjoyed both sessions - I deliberately chose them based on the subject as well as the presenters and wasn't disappointed!

I also spent a little time today in the Bloggers Lounge, behind the Solutions Exchange area, where I chatted to Vladan Seget, Alex Mittell, Mike Laverick, and Simon Long to name just a few...

Whilst most people were attending the Welcome Reception in the Solutions Exchange area, I attended the CTO Reception for the current batch of vExperts - the VMware CTO is none other than Steve Herrod, and Steve brought many principal VMware staff and engineers with him. I spent my time chatting with other vExperts, and also got to meet John Troyer for the first time - John works incredibly hard with social media, the VMware community forums, the VMTN blog and podcast, as well as managing the vExpert program.

Once we had finally left the Bella Center for the day, Linda and I ate a really tasty meal, then headed back to our hotel to re-charge our batteries, ready for another busy day tomorrow!

Monday, 11 October 2010

VMworld Europe 2010 - Day 0

I arrived in Copenhagen late on Sunday afternoon, headed straight to the Bella Center on the free shuttle bus, and completed the registration process for VMworld - I love the bag! My phone wasn't working straight away, so thanks to a guy I met on the bus I managed to phone a friend of mine (Rakesh - a freelance VCI from the UK) and met up with him. We got the excellent metro into the central area, then headed to my hotel where we also met with Marcel - a colleague of mine from GK in the Netherlands. After a couple of drinks in the hotel, we eventually found somewhere to eat dinner and grab a couple more beers.

I've spent today at a VCI day, arranged by my friends Andy Cary and Undeleeb Din - it was a packed day, with presenters from the VMware Education team as well as product managers and consultants, the agenda ran like this:

- Introduction and VCI benefits
- Education update
- Certification update
- VCI program and portal update
- VCDX session with current VCDX holders
- vCloud Director Q&A
- View 4.5 Q&A

After dinner this evening, we headed to the Customs House for the VMUG event - it was busy in there when we first arrived and I met a lot of people who I've chatted with via email or online before - Kendrick Coleman, David Davis, Gregg Robertson, Vladan Seget - as well as catching up with some older friends from the virtualization world.

On to the main event, starting tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Global Knowledge UK launches in Bristol

Just in case I haven't mentioned it before, I work for Global Knowledge in the UK as their Lead Instructor for VMware ;-)

We already have a number of training centres around the UK, and have now launched a training schedule for various vendors (including VMware of course) with a partner in Bristol.

Follow these links to our schedule for Bristol, as well as a location map and directions.

We currently have two dates for the vSphere: Install Configure Manage course:
- November 8th-12th 2010
- February 21st-25th 2011

VCAP and VCDX updates

If you're a regular reader of the blog, you'll know already that registration for the VCAP4-DCA exam for vSphere 4 is now open. The VCAP4-DCA exam forms part of the up-and-coming VCDX4 certification, and is a chance for VCP4 holders to "raise the bar" in terms of their VMware certifications.

With the introduction of the VCAP4-DCA and VCAP4-DCD certifications, VMware are retiring the various components of the VCDX3 certification for VI3:

- Registration for the Enterprise Administration exam for VI3 are now closed
- Registration for the Design exam for VI3 are closed too
- Those who have already passed both the exams above for VI3 can still submit a defence to achieve VCDX3, but the design must be submitted by November 22nd 2010
- The design defence element of VCDX3 will only be available at a couple more VMware partner events, the final event being Partner Exchange in Florida in February 2011

VMware also stated previously that those that had completed elements of the VCDX3 certification would receive discounts on the equivalent exams for vSphere 4, to allow them to "upgrade" their certification. As I have previously passed the Enterprise Administration exam for VI3, and I have my VCP4, I now have a 50% discount voucher for me to use against the VCAP4-DCA exam. An equivalent voucher will be sent out to those eligible for a discount on the VCAP4-DCD exam once that exam has been released.

The VCDX4 defence application will be made available in November 2010, which suggests to me that the VCAP4-DCD exam will launch next month too - we shall see...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Another excellent VCAP4-DCA study resource

Whilst the new VCAP4-DCA exam is 100% live labs, so hands-on practice and experience are a really key part of any preparation for the exam, there are already a number of key study resources available.

I have various other blog posts on VCAP4-DCA already, with links to the key official and unofficial resources such as the exam blueprint and some experiences of those who took the beta version of the exam.

Sean Crookston over at vFAIL.NET has been busy collecting together information about most of the elements covered in the VCAP-DCA exam into a set of posts on his site, so here is his VCAP4-DCA Index.

Update: October 15th 2010
The vFAIL.NET Study Guide is now complete, and will be available soon as a downloadable PDF

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

vSphere-land "Top 25" VMware blogs

I blogged recently about the vSphere-land "Top 25" VMware blogs, voting was open for a couple of weeks and Eric Seibert who runs the site had my blog in the list of those you could vote for - and I'm proud and humbled to say that whilst I didn't make the Top 25 (I never thought for a minute that I would), I did make the Top 50!

Here's the full results:

Personally, I voted for 10 of the blogs in my "blog roll" down the right-hand side of this very page - if I could have voted for all of them I would have. This blog gained a respectable 263 points, and is listed 42 in the list - Duncan Epping's Yellow Bricks was the clear winner of the poll - I direct an awful lot of my students at Duncan's posts on HA and DRS, and he got my vote too. I shall be meeting Duncan at VMworld in a couple of weeks too, as well as many other bloggers from the list.

One interesting article that I read in relation to the Top 25 was published this morning by Tom Howarth over at PlanetVM - a very different perspective on the Top 25 -

Thanks to all those who voted for this blog, I really appreciate it :-)

Monday, 27 September 2010

Free "What's New in vSphere 4.1" e-learning

The vSphere: Install Configure Manage course was recently updated for the vSphere 4.1 release, see the course outline and my earlier blog post on that. Other vSphere courses such as the Troubleshooting and Manage for Performance courses were designed around the vSphere 4.0 release, and have yet to be updated.

VMware have created an e-learning course titled What's New in vSphere 4.1, and sell it as part of their All-Access subscription - it is also made available to VMware partners.

The part of this that's of interest to me in particular is that VMware have also now decided to make the e-learning available at no charge to those students who attend any one of the following instructor-led courses:

vSphere: What's New
vSphere: Troubleshooting
vSphere: Manage for Performance

If you have completed any of the above courses since July 28th, VMware will email you a token (a free voucher) that can be used against the e-learning course. The token has to be used within 90 days of being issued, and the course subscription then lasts for 365 days.

The course includes an overview of new 4.1 features including:

- ESXi enhancements/changes
- Support for Active Directory authentication
- vCLI enhancements
- vCenter Server enhancement/changes
- Host Profiles enhancements
- Increased cluster maximums
- New DRS affinitiy rules
- vMotion enhancements vSphere 4.1 installation and upgrade options
- An introduction to storage I/O controll and VAAI
- An introduction to Network I/O control
- Information about ESX/ESXi memory compression

Update - September 29th 2010
I can confirm that only the courses highlighted above qualify for this offer. Those attending the vSphere: Fast Track course could have attended the new vSphere: Install Configure Manage course which is already based on 4.1.

50% VCAP4 exam discount

VMware are currently running a promotion around the exams for the VCAP4-DCA and VCAP4-DCD certifications - a 50% discount voucher to anyone who attends one of the recommended training courses.

It's not compulsory to attend any training courses to take a VCAP4 exam, you do have to be VCP4-certified (which does have training requirements) but you can then self-study in terms of preparation for the VCAP4 exams.

There are recommended courses for each of the two certifications, and if you review the exam blueprint documents for either of the certifications (VCAP4-DCA blueprint, VCAP4-DCD blueprint) you will see the strength of the relationship between these courses and the exams:

vSphere: Troubleshooting
vSphere: Manage for Performance
vSphere: Automation with PowerCLI
vSphere: Manage and Design for Security

vSphere: Design Workshop

Attend any of the above instructor-led courses between now and November 30th and the week after your course VMware will email you the 50% discount voucher. For further information, follow the link to the VMware Education Services page and click the Learn More icon under VMware Training and Advanced Certification - here's the direct link too.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

VMworld Europe 2010 - See you in Copenhagen

I'm sure most of you will be aware that VMware's annual conference is titled VMworld, and each year they run an event in the US and one in Europe - I'm a regular attendee of the Europe event, and will be in Copenhagen next month along with however many other thousands of people decide to go!

I'll be joined there by a number of key colleagues from Global Knowledge around the EMEA region, and have a fairly hectic schedule already:

Sunday October 10th
Fly in from London

Monday October 11th
VCI day - Various roadmap sessions with VMware Education, and some Q&A sessions with VMware experts

Tuesday October 12th
Main conference

Wednesday October 13th
VCI Mentor Workshop - A chance to refresh my Mentor status as a VCI, so I can continue to sign off new VCIs

Thursday October 14th
Main conference
Fly back to London

I love going to VMworld - I've got plenty of people that I'll be seeing while I'm there and will no doubt bump into many other ex-students and ex-colleagues there too - if you've not been before and this will be your first time take advantage of all the different activities there:

Breakout sessions
Hands-on labs
Solutions exchange

I'll try and do some blogging while I'm there too about what I've seen and who I've seen, and generally sharing my experiences of the event. I will be spending my days wearing a Global Knowledge shirt, well they are paying for me to go, so look out for me and come and say "Hi" if you see me :-)

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Certification Updates - September 16th 2010

Lots of small pieces of certification news to cover in this post:

VCAP4-DCA exam
Registration is now open as of September 13th, as I revealed recently - register here
I registered on Monday, and have already had a follow-up email from the Certification team
VMware have published a list of the testing centres where the VCAP4-DCA exam can be taken - here's the list

VCP4 study sites
Forbes Guthrie has updated his excellent vSphere reference card for the 4.1 release - download it from here
Simon Long has been updating his VCP4 study notes and practice questions for 4.1, the study notes are work in progress but then he has just started a job at VMware so I'll let him off - access The SLOG

VCP4 exam prep workshop
I've now completed an overhaul of the unique VCP4 exam prep workshop that Global Knowledge run in the UK, mainly by updating and enhancing the practice questions we go through on the day - click here for details on the workshop

VCP4 books
There are now a number of VCP4 study books on the market, I'm hoping to be able to review each of them here soon:
VMware Certified Professional vSphere 4 Study Guide by Robert Schmidt
VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 4 Study Guide by Brian Perry, Chris Huss, Jeantet Fields
VCP4 Exam Cram by Elias Khnaser

Phew, lots of new things to take a look at there!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

vSphere-land Top 25 Blogs

Eric Siebert's vSphere-land site is one that is well-known within the virtualization community as a place to gain access to masses of information related to all things vSphere and VMware, and his vLaunchPad has an excellent list of links to other blogs and sites.

Eric was kind enough to add this little blog of mine under the "News and Info Websites" section a while ago, and on a regular basis he opens up the voting for the much-coveted "Top 25 Blogs" - voting has just opened again for that list.

I'll be casting my votes for the blogs I have in my "Key Blogs" section on the right of this very page... Of course, if you wish to vote for my blog that's entirely up to you... ;-)

Good luck everyone :-)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Exclusive: VCAP4-DCA exam release date

Here's a little piece of exclusive information, and one that a lot of people have been asking about for a few weeks now...

VMware will make the final VCAP4-DCA exam available from September 13th 2010.

So, grab the blueprint, get yourself prepared, not long to wait now...

UPDATE - September 13th
Exactly as I'd learned, registration for the VCAP4-DCA is now open, via this link.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Save travel costs on UK-based ICM 4.1 courses

Global Knowledge UK have now created a schedule for live-online delivery of the new 5-day vSphere: Install Configure Manage course, these events will be run from the UK and as such will take place during typical UK working hours.

The live-online course is instructor-led, just like a regular classroom-based course, and those attending still get the same discussion and question opportunities with their peers and the instructor as they would if they attended in person. This course also still meets the training requirement of the VCP4 certification.

The key benefit of attending a course using this method of delivery is the savings that can be made in terms of travel and associated expense costs, in addition we have decided to create our own events of this kind to appeal to those based around Europe and Africa who may find the live-online offerings from VMware unsuitable due the time of the day that VMware run their events.

If you have any other questions or concerns about live-online delivery, please feel free to send me an email.

Can't decide whether to attend the new ICM course or the Fast Track?

Ever since I blogged about the new 5-day vSphere: Install Configure Manage course I've received emails from people asking about whether they should attend that course or the 5-day extended-hours vSphere: Fast Track course.

The new ICM course, available from August 23rd, has been updated for the vSphere 4.1 release - there is mention of those 4.1 features that are relevant to the course objectives, the software used in the labs is the 4.1 version, and VMware have also switched the host version used from ESX to ESXi in line with their recommendation that customers transition away from ESX and deploy ESXi. The new ICM course also contains material and labs that were not present in the now-retired 4-day ICM 4.0 course, this content has been brought in from the Fast Track, and was highlighted in my previous blog post on the new ICM 4.1. The new ICM material also brings the course content much closer to the objectives covered in the VCP4 exam blueprint, in comparison to the ICM 4.0 course.

The Fast Track course in it's current form will retire at the end of 2010, and has not been and will not be updated for the 4.1 release. Fast Track still contains some material and labs which do not form part of the new 4.1 ICM course, specifically around the vSphere CLI and how it can be used to administer host-level networking and storage.

If you're debating which of the courses to take, I would definitely suggest to consider the new ICM 4.1 course due to the points I make above.

VCAP4-DCD exam blueprint now available

The exam blueprint for the VCAP4-DCD exam has now been published, although it is not available yet via the main VCAP4-DCD page

Here's the link to the blueprint document:

The exam has yet to enter beta, so the blueprint still has some final details missing related to the number of items and the required passing score, but at least those wanting to take the exam can begin their preparation.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

VCAP4-DCA and VCP4 exam blueprint links

Well-known virtualization blogger Kendrick Coleman has published a version of the VCAP4-DCA exam blueprint in the form of a set of links to the key technologies and documents covered in the exam. It's the most comprehensive VCAP4-DCA guide I've seen so far, couple it with my recent blog post of beta exam review links and you've got an excellent set of resources.

Here' the link to Kendrick's VCAP4-DCA page:

Simon Long did the same thing a while back for the VCP4 exam, and has been updating the links on his page to point to the documentation for vSphere 4.1. Simon has also started working on a VCAP4-DCA page similar to Kendrick's, the links will follow once Simon has caught his breath from starting a new job at VMware...

Here's the link for Simon's VCP and VCAP4-DCA pages:

Friday, 23 July 2010

It's back - 10% discount off any VMware exam!

Pearson Vue have just sent me a new 10% discount code, applicable to any VMware exam taken between now and December 15th 2010. I can give the code to any student who I train between now and then on any official VMware course.

The discount code can be used against any VMware exam, so not just the VCP4 exam, but also the VCAP4-DCA and VCAP4-DCD exams when they are released soon. The code can also be used multiple times, so if you are following the VCAP4-DCA and you still need to do your VCP4 first, you can use the code when booking each of the exams.

Note that the discount code only applies to exam bookings made directly with Pearson Vue.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

VCP and VCAP4-DCA blueprints updated

VMware have now updated the exam blueprint documents for both the VCP and VCAP4-DCA exams to refer to the latest documents for vSphere 4.1.

Here's the links:
VCP on vSphere 4 Exam Blueprint
VCAP4-DCA Exam Blueprint

Jon Hall from VMware has also confirmed what I posted earlier this week about the effect of the 4.1 vSphere release on the VCP4 exam - read his post on the VMware community forum here.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Handy URLs to VMware certification and education pages

I'm going through the process of updating my VCP4 exam prep workshop to reflect the vSphere 4.1 release, and stumbled across something very useful - shortcut links to the various certification pages on the VMware website.

So instead of saving this in your browser favourites:

You can just enter this URL in your browser:

There are also other shortcuts that might come in handy too:

You can also get a simple redirection to the general Certification area by going to:

And if it's training you're looking for:
or of course: ;-)

Monday, 19 July 2010

vSphere Training - What's Next?

Have you done one of the following foundation-level vSphere courses, or have equivalent skills and knowledge?
What's New
Install Configure Manage
Fast Track

Whilst the above course teach you a huge amount about vSphere and the various infrastructure elements that it integrates with, those courses only scratch the surface of numerous topics and often leave those who attend the courses wanting more...

There are now a number of advanced-level courses available, designed to follow-on from the courses above and help people get much more in-depth skills and knowledge in certain key areas.

vSphere: Manage for Performance - read more about it here
vSphere: Troubleshooting
vSphere: Design Workshop
vSphere: Manage and Design for Security (coming soon)
vSphere: Automation (coming soon)

The advanced-level courses will also help you prepare for the new VCAP certifications too. Global Knowledge UK offer the full range of official vSphere course, delivered around the UK. Feel free to get in touch if you want to know more about any VMware training course, or certification program.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

New group on LinkedIn

I've been using LinkedIn for quite a while now, and have built up a decent number of connections from all over the world, I'm a member of quite a few groups on there too such as the VCI, VCP and new VCAP groups.

I'm not sure why I've done this today in particular, but I decided to create my own group, titled VMware Training and Certification - can you see what I've done with the name there? ;-)

The idea is to take the blog out to somewhere new, you'll already find me on both Twitter and Facebook so it seemed logical to use LinkedIn as another place to pass information out to my connections and open up a new way to interact further with those who have an interest in VMware certification and training courses.

I'm fairly open in terms of membership of the group, I have invited a number of my LinkedIn connections today and I'm glad to see some of them have already joined. See you there!

Update - July 19th
Wow, the group already has over 100 members - thanks to all those who've joined! I've added a couple of new discussions too - take a look and contribute...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Changes to VCP exam due to vSphere 4.1 release

VMware have now released vSphere 4.1, and one of the first questions I was asked was "Will the VCP and VCAP4-DCA exams now be based on 4.0 or 4.1?" - so here's what I've found out so far...

VMware continually reviews the impact of major and minor releases to ensure that all content on the exam is consistent with the latest release of the software. They may also test on components included in these update releases if the components fall within already stated exam objectives, as they appear on the current version of the exam blueprint.

If significant new features exist in a release that are not covered by current objectives and these features are identified as being critical to a VCP’s job role, a new version of the exam blueprint would be released containing the new objectives and the exam would be updated to test on these objectives.

So, if you're preparing for your VCP4 exam it would be recommended to study from the latest 4.1 documentation, and download the latest exam blueprint.

With reference to the VCAP4-DCA, the lab environment is currently based on vSphere 4.0. Periodically, VMware would update the lab environment, and when they do they would revise the exam blueprint and potentially the exam, depending as with the VCP on whether there are new objectives relevant to the VCAP4-DCA job role that would need to be tested on in the exam. Until that time, the VCAP4-DCA will remain using a lab environment based on vSphere 4.0.

Update - July 22nd
Jon Hall from VMware has created a thread on the VMware commmunity forum for the VCP, and also posted the latest exam blueprint document:
How new versions of vSphere affect the VCP exam
VCP on vSphere 4 Exam Blueprint Guide

Update - August 1st
Quote from Jon Hall at VMware:
"As we go forward and everyone is studying using 4.1 materials, we are likely to include 4.1 based questions when we need to revise or replace questions, as long as the topic is one already addressed on the blueprint. We still will not cover topics (like storage IOCTRL) that are not on the blueprint."

vSphere 4.1 is released

Well after a fair bit of hype online over the last few days (ie. somebody out there violating the VMware NDA they signed), VMware have now released the 4.1 version of vSphere. The binaries are available for download too, so we can all now get our hands on the latest versions of ESX, ESXi, and the various vCenter components.

Apparently there are over 150 new features, I'm sure the release notes will offer a good amount of detail on those, here's a link to the new What's New in VMware vSphere 4.1 page.

I've been on the private beta for 4.1 for some time now, so I've been aware of many of these new features for a while. With my new vExpert status, I was lucky enough to join an exclusive webcast last week, to give myself and the other vExperts a chance to get a more formal head start in learning more about some of the new features.

A few facts about vSphere 4.1:
VMotion will now be known as vMotion, and Storage VMotion will now be known as Storage vMotion
ESXi free is now known as vSphere Hypervisor
The paid license versions of ESX/ESXi are now defined as Hypervisor architectures
New license bundles for Essentials and Essentials Plus, the latter to include vMotion for the first time
ESX will be deprecated in 2011, when vSphere 5 will be released
vCenter Server 4.1 is only available as a 64-bit application, giving significantly greater scalbility

Here's some notes about the most significant features/changes in vSphere 4.1:

ESXi is now defined as best practice for deployment over ESX
ESXi now supports scripted installation, boot from SAN, and easier CLI options for troubleshooting

Network I/O Control
Set per port group or port, only available on the vNetwork Distributed Switch
Designed for 10GigE, where a host is likely to only have 2 NICs in total
New version of the Cisco Nexus 1000v has a "fair wait queuing" feature

Load-based NIC teaming
New configuration option to complement existing teaming choices

Storage I/O Control
Prioritized use of storage, across hosts, set per VM
Kicks in once latency is over 35ms
FC/iSCSI only for now, support for NFS is coming

Storage performance reporting
More granular, and new NFS measurements

Array integration API
Allows cloning and migration functions to be carried out directly at the storage layer
API-based operations are between 5 and 20 times quicker than non-API
EMC, HP, Dell, NetApp, HDS are initial partners for the API

Memory compression
Designed for over-commit situations, 1000x faster than swap
Makes memory over-commit more viable as an option

DRS host affinity
Group of VMs set to run against set of defined hosts
Hard rules, never breached by DRS
Preferential rules, DRS attempts to maintain defined rules

HA diagnostics and healthcheck
GUI improvements on host/cluster status
HA/DRS have better integration on VM placement
Application API, making it possible for HA to detect application-level problems inside a VM
HA/DRS cluster sizes aligned better

vMotion speed and scale
4 concurrent migrations with 1GigE, 8 concurrent with 10GigE
Migrations 5x faster than 4.0 with 10GigE
Enhanced vMotion Compatibility enhancements

Active Directory integration (host-level)
vSphere Client options to configure ESX/ESXi to authenticate against Active Directory

More VMs, more hosts
3000 VMs per cluster
1000 hosts per vCenter
10000 VMs per vCenter

I can also confirm that the new 5-day vSphere: Install Configure Manage course will be based on the 4.1 vSphere release.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

So what is a VATC?

As you probably know by now, I work for Global Knowledge in the UK as their Lead Instructor for VMware, Global Knowledge are a VMware Authorized Training Center (VATC) in many countries around Europe, the Middle East, Africa, as well as in North America.

VATCs are VMware training partners, they are appointed by VMware on a country-by-country basis to offer VMware-certified training programs. The VATC model was first launched in Europe and has now spread to every continent worldwide, VMware manage the VATCs in each country to make sure we are delivering training to the high standards they demand.

As a VATC, we run the official courses developed internally by VMware themselves, using equipment that has to conform to certain standards, and courses run by VATCs are delivered by VMware Certified Instructors (VCIs) such as myself - all VCIs must meet a minimum standard of technical and delivery capabilities as defined by VMware.

In the EMEA region, Global Knowledge have VATC status in 11 countries. Here they are, along with links that go to their respective landing pages for VMware training:

Spain = Formación VMware
France = Formation VMware
Germany = VMware Schulung
Belgium = VMware Training
Netherlands = VMware Training
Denmark = VMware Træning
Norway = VMware opplæring
United Kingdom = VMware Training
Egypt = VMware Training
United Arab Emirates = VMware Training
Saudi Arabia = VMware Training

Global Knowledge also have VATC status in North America, in both the US and Canada:

United States = VMware Training
Canada = VMware Training

Monday, 5 July 2010

New 5-day Install Configure Manage course for vSphere 4

The vSphere: Install Configure Manage (ICM) course was released in the middle of 2009, and is by far the most popular official course on vSphere 4 - those attending the course qualify for the VCP4 certification, and the content covers all the foundation-level skills and knowledge needed to deploy and administer a vSphere 4 environment.

Towards the end of August 2010, VMware will be releasing an updated version of the ICM course, and for the first time it will be a 5-day training event. This will give us the opportunity to cover additional material in the lecture and lab sessions, giving you a more well-rounded experience during the course and helping you further in preparation for the VCP4 exam.
The new content in the 5-day ICM will be:
  • vCenter Linked Mode
  • Host Profiles
  • Distributed Power Management
  • Deeper content on High Availability
  • Fault Tolerance

As well as the addition of the new material, VMware have also overhauled and restructured a lot of the content that was previously in the 4-day ICM course. Most of the new material is derived from the content of the current vSphere: Fast Track (FT) course, the 5-day extended-hours FT course will still be available, and will still cover some additional lecture and lab material not found in the new 5-day ICM.

Update on July 13th:
I can confirm that this course will be based on the new 4.1 release of vSphere.

Monday, 21 June 2010

VCAP4-DCA exam - beta feedback

I was invited a couple of weeks ago to sit the beta version of the new VCAP4-DCA exam, my work schedule has prevented me from taking it, and even though VMware asked me if I would be able to take it if the beta period was extended I just don't have the time - my day job getting in the way... but hey, it's good to be busy!

I read a couple of blog posts today from others who have taken the beta exam, and it sounds just like I would expect it to given my previous VCP exam experiences and the VI3 Enterprise Admin exam from the VCDX3 program.

Here's the blog posts:
Chris Dearden:
William Lam:

I'll be waiting now to take the final exam when it is launched in July. I'm also developing some ideas to help those wanting to take the exam - check back around the date that the exam launches for more news on that...

Update - June 22nd
Here's another review of the beta exam from Jason Boche:

Update - June 30th
Duncan Epping from Yellow Bricks has posted his feedback too:

Update - July 11th
Dave Convery over at Daily Hypervisor has posted his feedback:

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

VCAP4-DCA exam blueprint now available

The VCAP4-DCA exam is currently going through the beta phase, invitations were sent out about a week ago and beta exams are being taken this week. At the same time, VMware also published the exam blueprint document, which as always will be THE most important document for an individual to download and digest when preparing themselves for this VMware exam.
The exam covers the following objectives:
  • Implement and Manage Storage
  • Implement and Manage Networking
  • Deploy DRS Clusters and Manage Performance
  • Manage Business Continuity and Protect Data
  • Perform Operational Maintenance
  • Perform Advanced Troubleshooting
  • Secure a vSphere Environment
  • Perform Scripting and Automation
  • Perform Advanced vSphere Installations and Configurations
The blueprint confirms that the exam is based exclusively on live lab activities, with each lab consisting of a number of scored tasks. The exam will use the same 100-500 scaled scoring system as the VCP4 exam, although the passing score will only be set after the beta period. VMware will also set the time for the exam after the beta period. The exam code with Pearson Vue will be VCDA410, and registration for the final exam opens on July 12th.

Update on June 16th:
The content of the exam is very broad and very thorough at the same time, it looks as though the labs will be challenging, and that the VCAP4-DCA certification will be a very significant step-up from the now foundation-level VCP4.

Whilst VMware have not made it compulsory to attend any training courses to qualify for the VCAP4-DCA certification, the exam contains labs similar to those done during the following courses:

vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage and Manage Availability and Manage Scalability
vSphere: Fast Track
vSphere: Manage for Performance
vSphere: Troubleshooting
vSphere: Manage and Design for Security
vSphere: Automation with vSphere PowerCLI

Monday, 14 June 2010

Becoming a VMware Certified Instructor (VCI)

I get lots of emails from people asking me about becoming a VCI, I've been one since 2006 and thoroughly enjoy holding the title and doing the job too!

VMware have now launched a VCI portal, it can be accessed via the Education Services page, or directly via this link or this link.

The welcome page of the portal outlines the VCI requirements and gives the link for which potential VCIs can use to contact VMware. The requirements for becoming a VCI are strict, even just to deliver a vSphere: Install Configure Manage course a VCI has to meet three key requirements:
  1. Attend the VMware vSphere 4: Install, Configure, Manage course twice
  2. Pass the VCP4 certification exam with the required minimum score (350 or more for a VCI)
  3. Attend and pass a VMware Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW).

There are also specific requirements for delivering other official courses on vSphere, as well as the other products that have instructor-led courses. These are all detailed in the secure area of the VCI portal, and VCIs also have access to a private community forum too where we can exchange ideas with one another and courseware developers.

VMware vExpert 2010

I've just come back from a 2-week holiday, and whilst I was away I received an email from John Troyer at VMware informing me that I'd been designated as a VMware vExpert 2010!

Here's the VMware definition of a vExpert:
The VMware vExpert Award is given to individuals who have significantly contributed to the community of VMware users over the past year. vExperts are book authors, bloggers, VMUG leaders, tool builders, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others. These vExperts have gone above and beyond their day jobs to share their technical expertise and communicate the value of VMware and virtualization to their colleagues and community.

I'm very proud to be given this status, it's great to get recognition from VMware themselves for all the work that gets put in by all of us within the wide VMware community. As well as this blog, I've just spent a lot of time updating my Think Virtually website, but the biggest thing of all from my perspective is the help I give to the community forums on training and certification.

So, for the next year I will be able to use the vExpert logo as well as make use of the other benefits now available to me. The logo looks good, I feel a new blog banner coming on...

Needless to say the hard work goes on, I'll certainly be trying my best to achieve the vExpert 2011 :-)

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Re-launch of Think Virtually

I've been running my Think Virtually website for about 9 months now, in conjunction with this blog, as a way of organizing the various pieces of information I publish about VMware training courses and the various certifications programs from VMware.

Here's the URL:

I'll be honest, I'd neglected the website a little over the last few months and the content had become a little outdated and stale, so this week I decided to re-vamp the site and add content around the new certifications and latest training courses. I've also given the website a new look and feel which I think is much more vibrant and fresh than it was.

The current content is formed of the following:
  • VCP4 information and resources
  • VCAP4 details
  • VCDX4 outline
  • VCDX3 overview
  • vSphere foundation and advanced courses
  • View and Site Recovery Manager courses
  • Articles on the VMware training labs I use, and ESX/ESXi

Initially I planned on shifting away from this blog and moving towards the website, but I think both serve very different purposes so I will continue to update both. Take a look at the content and tell me what you think - I've got ideas as to what I might want to add in the future but I'm open to suggestions :-)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

New Certification: VMware Certified Design Expert on vSphere 4 - Datacenter Design (VCDX4)

To complete the set of advanced-level certifications for vSphere 4, VMware also announced the VCDX4 certification, designed to follow-on from the VCP4 and both new VCAP certifications. The VCDX for VI3 is held by roughly 50 individuals worldwide, most of whom work for VMware or their partners, and VCDX4 is aimed at the same calibre of individuals.

There are four elements to the VCDX4, three exams need to be passed as well as the individual submitting, presenting, and defending a vSphere 4 design to a panel of the current breed of VCDX holders:

The VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD exams can be taken either way round, but both must be completed before the process of submitting a vSphere design can begin. Those who pass the VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD exams will also gain those certifications en route to achieving their VCDX4.

The only compulsory vSphere training element of the VCDX4 is to achieve the foundation-level VCP4, but VMware recommend advanced-level vSphere courses as part of the preparation for the VCAP exams. An individual wishing to achieve VCDX4 who already has the VCP4 certification should follow this path:

VMware are offering discounts and shortcut paths to those who were persuing the VCDX3 certification, and have completed some or all of that program. The official VMware page on VCDX4 illustrates the various options available.