Wednesday, 24 February 2010

VMware training labs at Global Knowledge

There's an awful lot of time, money, and effort goes into building and running a VMware training lab, and this article is going to give you an insight into how we do things at Global Knowledge.

All VMware Authorized Training Centers (VATCs) like Global Knowledge have the option of either renting training kits/racks/equipment from VMware (known as the VMWare VDC), or using their own training kit. A lot of smaller VATCs, and VMware themselves use the VMware VDC, but at Global Knowledge we see real benefits in hosting and running our own equipment. It gives us ownership coupled with responsbility for providing equipment capable of running the labs used across all courses, and due to the volume of VMware training we do, it gives a more cost-effective way of doing things.

Running your own labs is a complex challenge - VMware dictate a minimum set of equipment and specification for any VATC using their own kit, we have to host it, provide connectivity, build it for any particular course that we might be running, and maintain and support it when things don't quite go to plan. As well as being better for a larger VATC financially, it also gives that VATC the opportunity to build out a lab that exceeds the required specification, and also to provide all the associated documentation for both instructors and most importantly of all, our delegates - they are our customers after all, and the hands-on element of any course is very important.

The actual equipment used depends on which particular course is being run, we have a flexible configuration that enables us to be able to run any official VMware course on any of our lab kits. The graphic below shows the equipment that we use at Global Knowledge when running a vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage course:

I was directly responsible for designing and running the training labs at my previous employer, another UK VATC, and always received excellent comments from both external instructors and course delegates about the very high quality of our labs. I perform a similar role for Global Knowledge - although we have a dedicated lab team I am heavily involved in the design of the labs, and producing the all-important supporting documentation. We pride ourselves at Global Knowledge on having equipment which is above the required specification, is reliable, has the backing of a lab support team, and our supporting documentation is second to none in the UK market.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

vSphere course suitability for VCP4 exam

If you're a regular reader of my blog, or you just have an interest in the VCP4 certification from VMware, you will be aware that attending at least one official training course on vSphere is part of the process an individual needs to follow to gain VCP4.

As outlined an another post here recently, there are a number of qualifying courses, and the course an individual could attend depends on past course completion or certification on previous versions of the software.

Something else I'm often asked by my students, and by current and prospective Global Knowledge UK customers, is "So which course matches the exam the best?" - so I've decided to give you my view on the suitability of each of the qualifying courses in terms of how closely their content matches the topics that get tested on in the exam.

vSphere 4: What’s New is only suitable for those that have knowledge of VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) to VCP3 level. It offers a broad grounding in many of the new features of vSphere 4, and is geared towards updating an individual’s skills and knowledge rather than preparing them specifically for the VCP4 exam.

vSphere 4: Install Configure Manage course is suitable for all individuals, and the course content is a close match to the topics covered in the exam - it should be noted that the VCP4 exam does cover some topics that are not covered in the course.

vSphere 4: Fast Track covers all of the Install Configure Manage content, so is equally beneficial to those wishing to get trained on the topic areas covered in the VCP4 exam. This course also covers some additional command-line material and labs which do not form part of the exam objectives.

vSphere 4: Troubleshooting also qualifies for the VCP4 certification, but bears no relation to the exam content. VMware accept this course as qualification for those that already have an enormous amount of experience with VI3 and vSphere 4 where the other courses above would not be suitable.

Note that in all cases, I would advise that plenty of additional study is necessary in order to be fully prepared for the VCP4 exam. Take a look at my VCP Study and VCP Exam Preparation Workshop pages for the resources I would recommend.

November 10th 2010:
Updated post to reflect the new 5-day vSphere: Install Configure Manage course, and to advise on additional study.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

VCP4 holders get their Workstation 7 key, and the new logo

VMware have started the process today of emailing out the license keys for Workstation 7 to those who have passed the VCP4 - all 15,000+ individuals! This applies to anyone who has obtained VCP4, regardless of any VCP certification on previous versions. You'd better log into your email to see if yours has arrived yet...

The new VCP logo is also available for download from the secure VCP area on the VMware web site - you get sent the login details for the area with your VCP Welcome Pack.

Update (Feb 12th, 09:00): I've just heard that new VCP3 holders will also get a key for Workstation 7, not Workstation 6 as was previously the case - note this only applies to NEW VCP3 and VCP4 holders, existing VCP3s will only get a key if they gain VCP4.

Exclusive - VCP Numbers

I'm proud to be able to be able to share an exclusive set of figures with you, I've just been told how many VCPs there are, and also how many VCP4 holders there already are - and the numbers are much greater than I think most people would expect!

I've been in contact with Jon Hall from VMware over recent weeks, he agreed to share the figures with me, and has just given me the go-ahead to release them here! Thanks Jon!

So, here goes:

  • More than 53,000 individuals hold at least one VCP certification!
  • There are more than 15,000 VCP4 holders worldwide!

The most amazing of the two figures is how many people already hold the VCP4 - it's already over 15,000 and rising! Considering the exam has only been available for less than 6 months I find that incredible - it certainly explains why Pearson Vue testing centres have been so busy!

Update on Feb 16th:
Confirmed with Jon Hall that 53,000 is the number of individuals who hold the VCP, rather than the number of certifications issued.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

vSphere Curriculum - Feb 2010

Regular readers will be aware that I always announce new VMware training courses as and when I'm allowed to, I have access to the education and certification roadmaps so I always have advance notification of what's coming and roughly when, but as I'm a good boy I only post what VMware tell me I can! I can say that this is going to be a busy year for me, lots of new courses to master and deliver, and some new certifications too...

I created a graphic recently for my Think Virtually site that show's the vSphere curriculum that's either currently available, or will be in the next few weeks. It also gives people the opportunity to map out their own training path, and to show how the follow-on courses fit together:

We've got even more new courses coming in the next few months, for example a Security course for vSphere, and another on Automation - and it goes without saying that I will be announcing more details on those when I can, along with the various new certification paths. Watch this space....

Monday, 8 February 2010


Many of you will be aware that in terms of enterprise-level virtualization software from VMware, we currently have the set of products titled "vSphere 4", the foundation building block of which is ESX 4 and ESXi 4.

ESX dates back to 2001 when it was first launched as a 1.0 product, before it became part of VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) and now vSphere 4. ESXi didn't arrive until 2007, as a 3.5 version, and was initially only available as "ESX Embedded" inside servers made by the likes of HP and Dell. It didn't take long for VMware to also offer this new embedded hypervisor as an installable product, and at the same time it was renamed to become ESXi.

So these days, customers have the option of installing and using either ESX or ESXi, or even a combination of the two, and as such a question I'm asked all the time by customers is "Which one should we use?" Before you read on, if you're wondering what the actual differences between them are, click here.

My answer back in 2007 was always that ESX was generally the better choice as ESXi was more difficult to manage and troubleshoot, it's integration with 3rd-party products was poor, but looking back that's because ESX was familiar to me and the wider market, and ESXi was new and different and 3rd-party vendors had yet to release products that could interface with ESXi.

Since then, there have been huge numbers of blog articles and whitepapers on ESXi management and troubleshooting, and the major 3rd-party vendors now have similar or identical support for both ESX and ESXi, as such when I am asked the same question today my response is quite different.

To me, the key factor these days is whether I depend on the Service Console in ESX, or whether I have a script or 3rd-party product that does. If I was deploying vSphere today, in most cases I'd use ESXi over ESX, in spite of ESXi still not being quite the same beast to handle as ESX.

So why has my answer changed? It's not just because of the positive and negative points raised above, it's more due to the rich set of programming interfaces and APIs that are common to both ESX and ESXi (particularly the vSphere CLI and vSphere PowerCLI), and the fact that VMware will be retiring ESX by the time we get to vSphere 5. Organizations that have established VI3/vSphere 4 as the basis for their virtualization layer will have to get used to life without the Service Console, so if you can get by without it today in terms of scripting/troubleshooting and 3rd-party product support then you are helping yourself in the longer term.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering why I created this post today, I just became aware of a new set of pages that appeared on VMware's website recently: ESX to ESXi Upgrade Center. Interesting reading....

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

VMware Consulting and Training Credits

The Consulting and Training Credits (also known as PSO Credits) system operated by VMware allows organizations to use credits to purchase professional services and training directly from VMware - what a lot of organizations don't appreciate that VATCs such as Global Knowledge UK also accept payment for official VMware training courses using credits too.

The credits themselves can be purchased directly from VMware, but many VMware customers also receive a number of credits automatically as part of purchasing software licenses for vSphere. The credits expire 1 year after they are issued, and VMware operate a "use them or lose them" policy, so any organization that has credits should definintely consider using them against official VMware training.

Global Knowledge UK accept VMware credits against all their official VMware courses.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

It's all gone green!

I've just received my latest batch of instructor manuals from VMware, and they're green! They've been changed from the older blue covers to bring them in-line with the VMware web site and all the literature they produce in terms of course outlines.

Here's my new vSphere: Troubleshooting and View 4: Install Configure Manage manuals:

This would seem to be the way forward for official VMware courseware from now on.