T-minus…

In 10 days I board a jet-plane for VMworld (HOLY CRAP!) which means the excitement is starting to ramp up. There are meetings, demos, events and of course parties to plan for, but how you approach a major conference is something that is very particular to the individual and that’s what I’d like to spend a few minutes discussing today. There are about as many ways to approach a major conference as there are attendees. Really? No,  but let’s just pretend so that I can share a few lessons learned from my conference experiences.

The Lab Guy

My first major conference I spent the majority of my time sitting in the lab soaking up as much hands on experience as I could. I would go hit the expo floor, grab a snack and an adult beverage, hide said adult beverage and hit the lab for hours. Not to say it wasn’t valuable but it damaged my spirit a little when late in the conference I learned that all of the labs would be available online after the conference ended… Oof.

After hearing this bit of spirit breaking news I learned that there is a really valuable reason to be in the labs: the guided sessions. Any time you can sit down with an expert, pick their brains, while gaining hand’s on experience, well… that’s just a win right there.

The pros to this are pretty obvious, you get to spend dedicated time learning, which is never a bad thing, but the fact that HOL will have the labs available on-demand after VMworld Europe diminishes the value somewhat.

The Expo/Party Guy

These strange beasts are very closely related to the Party People. Tech conferences are fun. There is a lot of beer and a lot of free stuff. But there’s always the person who devotes themselves strictly to these endeavors. A lot of really great information can be gleaned off the floor, but at a price… the dreaded badge scanners! If you’re ok with that, then you have a really great opportunity to learn about emerging tech.

Now the expo floor is great, and I have my fair share of headaches/swag to show for it, however there are some folks who make this the primary objective of their conference. The expo floor should be one tool in your conference bat-belt, but if it’s your bat-mobile… maybe it’s being overdone a little bit.

Breakdancers

Yeah ok, that sub-title is horrible, but I couldn’t think of a fun (and appropriate) way to label the folks who are all breakouts, all the time. This one is usually me. Attending conferences isn’t cheap, even if it isn’t coming directly out of your pocket. I usually want to return some value to my sponsor and that historically has taken the form of trying to take away as much directly applicable knowledge as possible. Next to the labs, this might be the most effective way to soak up as much technological knowledge as possible. In my mind, Breakouts are the meat and potatoes of a conference, so it’s hard for me to find a downside here. But like all things, including meat and potatoes, take it in moderation.

Contributors

“Active Participators” may be another way to frame this and it’s a new one for me. At Dell/EMC world 2017, I made it my mission to blog as much as possible. Going into VMworld 2017 I’m really making it my mission to get involved as much as I can. There are so many events that you can get involved with, I’d urge you to get out there and broaden your horizons a bit. On top of the parties located on the gatherings page, you can find opportunities to play games, get into the hackathon, blog in the village and a whole host of other activities.

Whatever your approach, I hope you find the right balance of activities to make your conference amazing. See you in Sin City!

PS: If you need more things to do, come check out my sessions.

VMware library

2017-06-25_203353The entire vSphere community (myself included) seems to be in a flutter over the release of the long awaited Host Resources Deep Dive by Frank Denneman and Niels Hagoort. For me this recently resulted in a tweet-thread to see who had bought the most copies (I lost). The upside to this whole thing is I came across Mr. Ariel Sanchez Mora’s (you should follow him ) VMware book list. I love book reviews, so with Ariel’s permission I’m stealing his idea! In fairness you should really go check out his page first, but make sure to come back! Without further ado, here’s the best of my VMware library.

 

Certification

Like many people, this is where I started. I’d heard horror stories about about the VCP, so after taking Install, Configure, Manage I bought my first book, coincidentally (or not) written by the instructor of my class. I immediately followed it up by adding the second piece to my library.

The Official VCP5 Certification Guide (VMware press) by Bill Ferguson

VCP5 VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 5 Study Guide: Exam VCP-510

(Sybex) by Brian Atkinson

I think that in terms of the earlier books, I’d give the edge to the Sybex version. It covers the same fundamentals as the official guide, but goes much deeper.

Just last year while at 2016 I was wandering around the expo floor at VMworld 2016, bumming from failing my VCP6 (it was expected, but disappointing nonetheless), and I walked straight into a book signing for the new VCP6-DCV cert guide. It was destiny or something like that

VCP6-DCV Official Cert Guide (Exam #2V0-621) (VMware Press) by John Davis, Steve Baca, Owen Thomas

Here’s the thing with certification guides; the majority of the material doesn’t change from version to version. DRS is DRS is DRS (not really, but the fundamentals are all there). If you’re just getting started, or able to get a hand-me-down version of an earlier version you’ll still be leaps and bounds ahead of folks who haven’t read the books. They can be a good way to get a grasp on the fundamentals if all you’re looking to do is learn. To that end, if you’re goal is to pass the test, you can’t go wrong with picking up an official certification guide. I know the VCP6-DCV guide provided an invaluable refresher for me.

For more on the VCP-DCV, please check out my study resources.

Hands On

Learning PowerCLI (Packt publishing) by Robert van den Nieuwendijk

I didn’t realize until just right now that there was a second edition of this book released in February of this year! Regardless, this book is a great way to get started with PowerCLI, however it’s more of a recipe cookbook than a tutorial. If you need a getting started with PowerShell book, look no further than:

Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches by Donald Jones and Jeffrey Hicks.

This is the guide to get started with PowerShell. Honestly I think the authors should give me commission for how many people I’ve told to go buy this book. It’s not a vSphere book, but if you want to be effective with PowerCLI, this book will help you on your way. It breaks the concept up into small manageable chunks that you can swallow on your daily lunch break.

DevOps for VMware Administrators (VMware press) Trevor Roberts, Josh Atwell, Egle Sigler, Yvovan Doorn

“DevOps” to me is like “the cloud”. It means different things to different people. In this case the book focuses solely on the tools that can be used to help implement the framework that is DevOps. Nonetheless, it’s a great primer into a number of the most popular tools that are implemented to support a DevOps philosophy. If you’re struggling with automation and/or tool selection for your DevOps framework, there are far worse places to start.

Mastery

Mastering VMware vSphere series

The gold standard for learning the basics of vSphere. This title could just as easily appear under the certification section, as it appears on almost every study list. A word of warning, this is not the book to learn about the latest features in a release. That’s what the official documents are for. You may notice that I linked an old version above, and that’s because the latest version was conspicuously missing nearly all of the new features in vSphere 6. That being said, it’s another standard that should be on all bookshelves.

VMware vSphere Design (Sybex) Forbes Gurthrie and Scott Lowe

Age really doesn’t matter with some things, and while that rarely pertains to IT technologies, good design practices never go out of style. This thought provoking book will help you learn how to design your datacenter to be the most effective it can be. I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s in an infrastructure design role, regardless of whether they were working on vSphere or not.

It Architect: Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design: A Practical Guide for It Architects John Yani Arrasjid, Mark Gabryjelski, Chris Mccain

And then on the other hand you have a design book that’s built for a specific purpose and that’s to pass the VCDX. Much of the content is built and delivered specifically for those who are looking to attain this elite certification. This is a good book, but as someone who has no intention of ever going after a VCDX, I expected something a bit less focused on a cert, and a bit more focused on design principles. If unlike me you have VCDX aspirations, you definitely need to go grab a copy.

VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive (Volume 1) Duncan Epping & Frank Denneman

I really don’t care if this was written for a five year old OS or not. If you want to learn about how vSphere makes decisions and how to work with HA/DRS/Storage DRS/Stretched Clusters, this is an essential read. Put on your swimmies because you’re going off the diving board and into the deep end!

I’m just going to go ahead and leave a placeholder here for the aforementioned VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive. Having heard them speak before and read their other works, I expect this book to be nothing less than mind blowing.

If you liked this, please check out my other book reviews.

Thanks for visiting!

What a week!

What a crazy week it’s been. It all started off with a little swim to help some awesome folks…

And they did it!!!!! So proud of our plungers! #penguinplunge #specialolympicsVT

A post shared by NorthCountry FCU (@northcountryfcu) on

Followed by a climb to one of Vermont’s highest peaks with some friends

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And *I thought* bookended by one of the greatest football games of all time.

BUT then today, I was honored to find out that I’ve been awarded #vExpert status from VMware.

vmw-logo-vexpert-2017-k

With all the uncertainty in the world these days I thought that I was going to sit down and hammer out some “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” type proverbs. But perhaps what we (and I really mean me) need these days is little more appreciation and gratitude.

I’m so happy that I got to help the Special Olympics in some meager way. If you’d like to help as well, please visit https://specialolympicsvermont.org/. Despite getting my derriere kicked climbing up Camel’s Hump, I’m appreciative for the friendship that brought me there and the beauty that we experienced. I am happy for the simple joys in life, like rooting on my favorite team and celebrating being an underdog. I’m thankful for my career and the opportunities it’s brought me. And last but almost certainly not least, I am appreciative for my family who’ve supported and encouraged me through all these endeavors.

I hope that you find the same joy and appreciate in those things that matter most to you.

Be well,
Scott