I wrote a blog about this subject before, which can be found here. The information contained in that blog is still relevant to this conversation and walks you through the challenges for traditional three-tier architecture and how the industry, specifically VMware, has addressed those challenges.
In this blog, I will be updating the vision that VMware has laid out for the hybrid-cloud, which is comprised of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundations.
To better understand this journey and how we have arrived at this vision of Any Device, Any Application, and Any Cloud, take a look back at the previous blog.
Let's begin with an overview of VMware Cloud on AWS.
Quick Overview of VMware Cloud on AWS
VMware Cloud on AWS is a jointly engineered and integrated cloud offering developed by VMware and AWS. Through this hybrid-cloud service, organizations can deliver a stable and secure solution to migrate and extend their on-premises VMware vSphere-based environments to the AWS cloud running on bare metal Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) infrastructure.
VMware Cloud on AWS has several use case buckets that most customers find themselves falling into some overlap. The first of these use cases is for organizations looking to migrate their on-premises vSphere-based workloads and to extend their capacities to the cloud with the data center extension use case.
The next, is for organizations looking to modernize their recovery options, new disaster recovery implementations, or organizations looking to replace existing DR infrastructure.
The last one that I will mention, is for organizations looking to evacuate their data centers or consolidate data centers through cloud-migrations. This is great for organizations looking at data center refreshes.
VMware Cloud on AWS is delivered, sold, and supported by VMware and its partners like Sirius Computer Solutions, a Managed Service Partner. Available in many AWS Regions which can be found here and growing.
Through this offering organizations can build their hybrid solutions based on the same underlying infrastructure that runs on VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundations.
Day 1 began with the general session, which was a lot different than the previous year where the VMware Executives laid out their vision for the partner community. This general session was focused more correctly on the audience in attendance.
Back in October of 2016, VMware announced vSphere 6.5. This introduced a lot of changes to their flagship hyper-visor; you can see an earlier blog I wrote about that here. Now it is that time again for a new vSphere to be announced. The announcement of vSphere 6.7 came with a lot of new features and I will go over each of them in this blog. Let's take a look at these new features:
Let's quickly discuss migration paths. The new version supports upgrades and migrations from vSphere 6.0 or 6.5 only and the current supported migration paths to version 6.7 are as follows:
Day 1 began with the general session, where VMware Executives presented to the partner community and reinforced the importance of the partner as the unsung heroes helping to drive the VMware business and most importantly driving value for their customers.
The movement toward a hybrid cloud, software defined data center, has been on-going for years now. We have seen the virtualization of compute, storage, and now networking. In this blog, I will be discussing this journey: where we started, where we are going, and why you want to be on this journey.
Traditional data center models are still very prevalent and accepted by organizations as the defacto model for their data center(s). If you have ever managed a traditional data center model, then you know the surmounting challenges we face within this model.
What comprises the traditional data center model? A traditional data center model can be described as heterogeneous compute, physical storage, and networking managed by disperse teams all with a very unique set of skills. Applications are typically hosted in their own physical storage, networking, and compute. All these entities-physical storage, networking, and compute- increase with the growth in size and number of applications. With growth, complexity increases, agility decreases, security complexities increase, and assurance of a predictable and repeatable production environment, decrease.
Characterizations of a Traditional Data Center:
Challenges around supporting these complex infrastructures can include things like slow time to resolution when an issue arises due to the complexities of a multi-vendor solution. Think about the last time you had to troubleshoot a production issue. In a typical scenario, you are opening multiple tickets with multiple vendors. A ticket with the network vendor, a ticket with the hyper-visor vendor, a ticket with the compute vendor, a ticket with the storage vendor, and so on and so on. Typically, all pointing fingers at each other when we all know that fault always lies with the database admins.
The challenges aren't just around the complexities of design, day to day support, or administration, but also include challenges around lifecycle management. When it comes to lifecycle management, we are looking at the complexities around publishing updates and patches. If you are doing your due diligence, then you are gathering and documenting all the firmware, bios, and software from all the hardware involved for the update/patch and comparing that information against Hardware Compatibility Lists and Interoperability Lists to ensure that they are in a supported matrix. If not, then you have to update before going any further. This can be extremely time consuming and we are typically tasked with testing in a lab that doesn't match our production environment(s) ensuring we don't bring any production systems down during the maintenance window.
It's that time again and I highly suggest joining in. Not only will you be a part of a great community learning new products but you'll get the chance to offer your input into the direction.
This beta program is different from the past programs in that it is not tied to a specific version or release. This is a new beta program that includes a new beta community. The beta program will continue through multiple releases of vSphere. Participants can expect to see new functionalities and capabilities added on as the program continues on. Participant are expect to:
This program enables participants to help define the direction of the most widely adopted industry-leading virtualization platform. The vSphere team will grant access to the program to selected candidates in stages. This vSphere Beta Program leverages a private Beta community to download software and share information. VMware will provide discussion forums, webinars, and service requests to enable you to share your feedback.
You can expect to download, install, and test vSphere Beta software in your environment or get invited to try new features in a VMware hosted environment. All testing is free-form and you are encouraged to use the software in ways that interest you. This will provide VMware with valuable insight into how you use vSphere in real-world conditions and with real-world test cases, enabling them to better align with your business needs.
Some of the many reasons to participate in this beta opportunity:
You can register for the Beta Program Here!
Security these days can be more of that traditional, needle in a haystack approach, than a true centric security approach to include analytics and alerting. VMware is again shifting to a new paradigm, and that was evident from all the products and messaging that came out of VMworld 2017.
Security is on the forefront of all of our minds and VMware, as the leader in data center technologies, wants to lead the conversation and be the foundation that you are laying down to protect your data, along with adding significant value to you with their partnerships in the security space, like the new partnership announced with IBM around their security products like QRadar.
With increasing attacks on our data centers, take Equifax for example, we must first look at one of our most significant portions of our security foundation, ESXi and work to secure that. We typically start with securing the physical and the edge, throw in some anti-virus and call it secure, but are we secure?
When it comes to data center security, we must start with our foundation, ensure that we have designed it to follow recommended best practices, then evaluate the gaps, and add in products to get us the rest of the way there. This also includes following best practices for end-user access of the environments and not being "lazy" admins just to skip a few steps. We have to lean on trusted partners like Sirius that have developed a security practice that can help us navigate the waters of security because the landscape of security products is immense, as you can see from the picture below.
I have been a VMUG Leader in Rochester NY for 5 years, and recently became a leader of two other groups, Syracuse, and Capital District which collectively covers a large portion of Upstate New York. Did I mention that I love being involved in my local communities?
At its basics, VMUG leaders coordinate the activities for their local VMUG communities and being a leader is an amazing opportunity to give back, build awareness of VMware products, while building your resume and sharing your knowledge. The requirement to become a VMUG leader is that you must be a VMUG member and serve in a technical role with a VMware Customer Company. VMUG is a global organization as you will see from this blog.
Being in this role for sometime now, I decided to reach out and talk with leaders from around the globe to get an idea of what they thought it means to be a VMUG leader and gain some insights into how they run their groups. If you are a current VMUG member looking to become a leader and are wondering what is involved, I hope to answer any questions you may have within this blog.
I have a passion for technology, and for VMware technologies to be more specific. Joining VMUG as a leader has been a great opportunity for me to take my love for VMware products, and have a platform to evangelize within my communities along with the social aspect of it.
I love bringing technologists together to build a strong technical community, and I always think about the collective knowledge we have as a community, and how we can utilize that to help us through the projects we find ourselves working on.
Think about it, you attend a VMUG on a subject like VDI, because you are working on a VDI initiative at work, and now have an opportunity to gain some knowledge along with making local connections with other technologists that are working on the same project or have completed their own project. That is what's great about attending local meetings, you can learn from others or step up to assist others within your community. Of course, this is only one aspect of the benefits of joining VMUG as a member or a local leader.
One of my colleagues at Rolta Advizex runs a very successful VMUG in Cleveland, Ohio. Patrick Stasko works as a Solutions Architect and like me has a passion for technology. I decided to reach out to him to discuss being a VMUG leader.
I started out asking him about why he became a VMUG leader and his response was similar to my own. Patrick said, "I wasn’t filling fulfilled or challenged in my current role at the time. I recently moved back to Cleveland for a new opportunity and I was trying to determine which way can I make an impact. In my quest to wrap my arms around the Cleveland’s IT Community, it lead me to the Cleveland VMUG community which was going through some troubles. I’m passionate about people and technology. This is a perfect platform for both of those."
That passion for technology and community seems to be a resounding theme that I found when talking with leaders for this interview and really hit home with my own experience too. This was also true for another leader I interviewed, Valdecir Carvalho from São Paulo, Brazil.
When I asked him the same question Valdecir responded, "First of all, VMUG it's all about community and I’m a community lover. I'm from São Paulo, Brazil and when I first heard about VMUG I've rushed to vmug.com to look for a São Paulo chapter and that place was dead. Then I start to talk to some other friends and vendors to find out why, but long story short I sent a mail to VMUG HQ and applied. And I'm really glad I did!"
There are some great benefits to becoming a VMUG leader and for me, one of those benefits is exposure to the communities I lead, as a thought leader within the industry.
I also spoke with the New Jersey VMUG Leader, Ben Liebowitz and he mentioned that, "It has gotten me many more contacts in the community, all over the world!" That is so true and I have also experienced this. As stated above, VMUG is a global community and because of that you can meet other technologists from around the globe.
VMUG has many opportunities to connect with and get to know other leaders from around the globe, like through the VMUG site. Each group has its own community page where we can come together to share knowledge and discuss VMUG, along with other opportunities. VMUG also has online event meet-ups and opportunities, along with events like the annual VMworld members party, and Leaders meet-ups at VMworld. VMworld is also a great place to gain knowledge and meet our local leaders at the VMUG booths located throughout VMworld.
As mentioned there are many benefits to becoming a VMUG leader. I asked Patrick what he thought was the benefit and he said, "The biggest impact is the rapid ability to connect and network within the local community and other VMUG circles across the world. I especially enjoy and look forward to the VMUG activities at VMworld. " As mentioned already, connecting at VMworld is another great benefit not only to leaders but to all members. Some other advantages or benefits are things like, receiving a VMUG Advantage subscription.
VMUG Advantage is the best way to gain the technical skills to accelerate your success with exclusive access to VMware applications and discounts on training, certifications, VMworld registration and more! You are also given access to the EVALExperience, which gives you exclusive access to 365-day evaluation licenses for a selection of VMware solutions, for personal use in a non-production environment and includes these products:
This leads me to how we run our local groups. I have found that most leaders run their groups in very similar fashions but that we all learn from each other. When I asked the leaders how they run their local groups, Valdecir replied, "I do not run it alone. I'm happy to have other leader who is a great partner and together we are doing our best to make VMUG more and more relevant to our members. VMUG São Paulo, is a new group, we have "revamped" the group 8 months ago, so we are still learning from others Leaders, from VMUG HQ and most of the time, discovery things by ourselves by trying and error. Also, our focus is our members, so we try to hear what they want, what they need and they feedback, so we can improve our chapter more and more."
Of course talking wth Patrick, he has taken is skills as a Solution Architect and really formalized how his group is run as you can see from the layout he created below.
vRealize Network Insight or vRNI is the newest addition to the range of products from VMware. vRealize Network Insight integrates with VMware's network virtualization platform, NSX. vRNI delivers intelligent operations for your software defined network environment. vRNI does for your virtualized network what vRealize Operations does for your virtualized environment, but only to the SDN environment. With the help of this product you can optimize network performance and availability with visibility and analytics across virtual and physical networks. Provide planning and recommendations for implementing micro-segmentation security, plus operational views to quickly and confidently manage and scale VMware NSX deployment.
Let's take a step back and discuss, briefly, what VMware NSX is and why you should, as a technologist, care about it.
NSX is an innovative approach to solving long-standing network provisioning bottlenecks within the data center, and it allows for the integration of switching, routing and upper-layer services into an integrated application and network orchestration platform. With an overlay solution that may not require hardware upgrades, NSX offers customers a potentially quicker way of taking advantage of SDN capabilities by decoupling the network from hardware into a software abstraction layer allowing the end-user to programmatically create, provision and manage networks.
Essentially, NSX is doing for your network what vSphere did for your compute environments and we have typically virtualized the compute and storage with vSAN, so adding network virtualization brings the full vision of SDDC giving you a lot of benefits like single pain of glass to manage your environments within vCenter, which a lot of us are already familiar with.
With NSX you gain visibility into your network that you may not have today while allowing for division of duties in a secure manner. NSX technology inception is on the rise and as of today, VMware has over 2,600 customers that have implemented NSX and over 50% increase in license bookings.
I received some questions from VMware and thought that it would be fun to write this blog as a mock interview, but first let's begin with learning a little about VMware certification tracks.
VMware offers certifications in cloud management and automation, data center and network virtualization, and desktop and mobility. As a leader in the virtualization space, VMware certifications are a must-have for many IT professionals, especially those who work in data centers and/or support virtual environments.
VMware certifications are based on a version of the associated technology, which means VMware certifications change in response to technology changes. Be aware, though, that certification updates lag behind the release of new virtualization technology.
VMware Version certifications fall into four categories:
Associate certifications typically require passing a single exam to achieve certification. Candidates for Professional and Advanced Professional certifications must either take a training course or earn a prerequisite certification and pass an exam. To obtain a VCIX, candidates must earn two VCAP credentials.
Achieving a VCDX certification is more involved. Candidates must first obtain multiple prerequisite certs, then create a production-ready VMware solution and defend it in front of a panel.
Now that we have discussed the certification tracks let's jump into the interview about certifications from VMware and AdvizeX.
This interview is held between VMware and AdvizeX employees Chris Miller who is a Principal Architect and Brandon Seymour, a Virtualization Architect, Patrick Stasko, a Solutions Architect, and Jamie Carlson a Principal Networking Lead. You can find out more information on Chris and Brandon from a previous blog on being a vExpert that I wrote.
VMware: Why did you decide to take your first test and what was your motivation?
Chris Miller, AdvizeX Principal Architect: The first certification test(s) I took was the MCSE NT 4.0. My motivation at the time was enhancing my resume, gaining knowledge from the associated training, and giving my early career a boost by obtaining a certification that was in high demand at the time.
Brandon Seymour, AdvizeX Virtualization Architect: I wanted a career in IT and so I pursued my MCSE in NT 4.0. This also included training and certifications in Novell, and A+ through a technology school after the military. My first VMware certification was VCP-DCV5.0 and was taken to enhance my career in virtualization while working as a Enterprise Systems Administrator for a local University.
Patrick Stasko, AdvizeX Solutions Architect: Career Advancement.
Jamie Carlson, AdvizeX Principal Networking Lead: In 1998, it seemed one of the best set certifications out there was a combination of having the Novell Certified Engineer and being a Cisco Certified Network Professional. It was a great combo. It opened a lot of doors as I was leaving the Navy in 2000. My first exam was a Certified Novell Administrator.
VMware: What was your journey for the first test?
Chris Miller, AdvizeX Principal Architect: My journey for all of the test, involved a 4 week boot camp in Atlanta, GA. It was very interesting to me because I had not traveled out of state much up until that point (I was only 21 years old at the time). My employer at the time, an Internet ASP (I think we call this SaaS now :) ), offered to pay for boot camp training since we had big plans and our application was built on Microsoft technologies. Having certified folks on staff also helped lend credibility when we attempted to secure funding for future growth. We had an opportunity to receive a big discount on the training and I took it.
Brandon Seymour, AdvizeX Virtualization Architect: My journey was similar to that of Chris in that I also attended a boot camp for my MCSE and for my VMware certification I started with my employer at the time sending me to a local VAR for a week of training.
Patrick Stasko, AdvizeX Solutions Architect: A lot of book studying. Cramming. Memorizing port numbers and other facts that you would normally reference anyways.
Jamie Carlson, AdvizeX Principal Networking Lead: I had a lot of experience managing a Novell network that ran on Cabletron and later Cisco switches. It didn’t take much for me to self-study and take the Novell exam to start me as a CNA.
VMware: Were you nervous, how did you study?
Chris Miller, AdvizeX Principal Architect: I wasn't nervous but mostly because I've been a good test taker throughout high school and college. In the boot camp, the format was 3 or 4 days of 10-hour-per-day training and taking an exam the morning of the 4th/5th day. I believe there were 5 total exams and most of the evenings were spent studying further, so I didn't get to enjoy my trip very much outside a day or so on the weekend. Throughout the boot camp training class, I focused very hard on the material and payed close attention to the instructor. Outside of class there were attempts to study, but the friends I made while there the first week and I moved our study sessions outside to the hotel pool and productivity took a dive w/ the rest of us.
Brandon Seymour, AdvizeX Virtualization Architect: I put in a lot of time studying in groups with others pursing the MCSE certification. My VMware certification journey was a bit different in that I utilized a lot on online communities like vBrown Bag.
Patrick Stasko, AdvizeX Solutions Architect: Read. Highlight. Write important facts/figures I needed to memorize down on a notebook to commit to my internal.
Jamie Carlson, AdvizeX Principal Networking Lead: I was really nervous. I was doing it all on my own. A test was like $65 at the time. No one reimbursed me for their cost, and if I failed I’d have to take it again. The funny thing was that Novell at the time used exams that gave weighted questions based on previous answers. So, if you could answer a couple of hard questions, you could breeze right through. The shortest Novell test was five minutes long and it consisted of eleven questions. The Microsoft test takers would be crying as the Novell test takers would come in and leave. The joke eventually was on the Novell folks. After all, “what’s Novell?”
VMware: How did it benefit your career as well as your community?
Chris Miller, AdvizeX Principal Architect: The impact on my career wasn't immediately obvious. I returned home to the same job, spent a year working until like many other dotcoms we went bankrupt, and began looking for another job in a saturated market. The certification played zero role in finding my next job as I took a position with a bank where I knew folks in the IT department based on a past business relationship w/ the bank's IT group (the dotcom hosted some services in their data center). However my personal knowledge swelled considering my background was mostly networking until I attended the boot camp. The training helped tremendously with my daily job responsibilities, especially troubleshooting, but since I spent 7 years at the bank and didn't keep the certification current, I don't feel the certification had much of an impact on my career. The lesson here is that training and knowledge is more valuable than the cert once you get the job, and for most people it would help you find a job provided the entire technology economy didn't just crash and burn 4 months earlier.
Brandon Seymour, AdvizeX Virtualization Architect: I was hired right out of school by a internet provider and it wasn't what I had imagined. I was responsible for troubleshooting internet connections issues for dial-up customers and also built websites for customers. I will always remember this one call in which the customer kept dropping calls whenever his wife used the bathroom, which shared a wall with the computer and modem on the other side. When she would run the hair dryer the modem would lose connection. My VMware certification help change the direction of my career which at that point was just enterprise systems administration. My journey into virtualization led to me becoming an evangelical for VMware in my community. I currently serve as the local Rochester VMUG Leader and of course I blog.
Patrick Stasko, AdvizeX Solutions Architect: It solidified knowledge as internal IT worker that I was the VMware guy. In a sales role now, it’s a required check box. I believe it had more benefit to me when I was internal IT than in pre-sales.
Jamie Carlson, AdvizeX Principal Networking Lead: I would never had been able to obtain my first position at UUNet in 2000 if I had not received my CCNA and CNE. I quickly moved up and received my CCDP and CCNP in 2001. I never re-certified any of my Novell certifications going heavily into Cisco Systems networking. I later moved out to Juniper Networks, Meru Networks wireless, HP Networking, and finely Aruba Networking. It became apparent that understanding a set of vendors in a focus area was much more advantageous than being a vendor expert.
VMware: Knowing what you know today, what are some of the pain points in this certification that you can share with your audience?
Chris Miller, AdvizeX Principal Architect: The biggest pain point IMO with at least the MCSE (at the time), and my understand is this problem is greater now due to the algorithms involved with the test, is dealing with an adaptive test. It seems when you are doing well the test pulls questions from the deepest, darkest corners of the training material and can prove challenging. Also the sheer number of trick questions and questions that are worded such that multiple answers really would apply makes testing difficult. Be ready for anything and if you are testing for a technology you can obtain and practice with, do not hesitate to do so. Also never give up. Failing a certification test should be considered a $200 practice round, do not let it demotivate you. Later in my career my #1 testing strategy was to take a test without studying, see how well I do, try to remember what I struggled w/ the most, and to study in this context. It also gives you a good idea how "tricky" the creators of the exam are with respect to content.
Brandon Seymour, AdvizeX Virtualization Architect: I agree with Chris in that if you fail the first time don't be discouraged and remember that others have gone before you so reach out for support. A lot of these certification tests are progressive in that they change up depending on how well you are answering the questions so you need to know the information. Take advantage of communities like vBrown Bag because they put on study sessions to assist.
Patrick Stasko, AdvizeX Solutions Architect: You will need to memorize what I would normally consider reference-able material which is a pain in the butt.
Jamie Carlson, AdvizeX Principal Networking Lead: Know the exam and also know the job or technology. In the Cisco Systems world, and I assume there are many vendors like this, there are three answers to every test question. There is the wrong answer. There is the correct answer. But, most importantly, there is the correct Cisco Systems answer. Some vendors are worse than other. Instead of testing you on how to implement and manage the technology, they also want you to know how to increase their market share and lower others. Cisco Systems was always very good at that.
For more information on certifications with VMware please visit MyLearn.