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I'll be honest, I'd neglected the website a little over the last few months and the content had become a little outdated and stale, so this week I decided to re-vamp the site and add content around the new certifications and latest training courses.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.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

New Certification: VMware Certified Advanced Professional on vSphere 4 - Datacenter Design (VCAP4-DCD)

As well as the VCAP4-DCA certification, VMware have also launched the VCAP4-DCD certification for those who are capable of designing VMware solutions around vSphere 4 in multi-site, large enterprise environments. The certification builds on the foundation-level VCP4 certification and gives architects the opportunity to use VCAP4-DCD as a step towards the full VCDX4 certificaiton.
 To achieve the VCAP4-DCD certification requires two exams to be passed:

The exam will be a mixture of multiple-choice questions and a design exercise, and registration for the exam begins in August. The fee for taking the exam has yet to be set, but like the VCAP4-DCA exam it will be available at a large number of Pearson Vue testing centres around the world. Those who have passed the Design exam on VI3 as part of the VCDX3 program will be entitled to a discount on the VCAP4-DCD exam.

The official VMware page on the VCAP4-DCD can be found here.

The VCAP4-DCD exam will not have a compulsory vSphere training requirement, however VMware are recommending that the vSphere: Design Workshop be considered as the exam objectives are all met by the instructor-led workshop.

Those who are new to VMware training/certification who wish to pursue the VCAP4-DCD should follow this path:

New Certification: VMware Certified Advanced Professional on vSphere 4 - Datacenter Administration (VCAP4-DCA)

VMware have now announced the new VCAP4-DCA certification for vSphere 4, designed to follow-on from the VCP4 and give those in high-level technical roles the opportunity to demonstrate their advanced-level technical skills in key areas of vSphere and vCenter technologies. The VCAP4-DCA also leads on to the full VCDX4 certification.

For the official VMware page on VCAP4-DCA, follow this link.

To achieve VCAP4-DCA, there are two exams that must be passed:

The blueprint for the new VCAP4-DCA exam will be made available soon, and there will be an invitation-only beta process for the exam too. The VCAP4-DCA exam will be the first VMware exam to be based entirely on live labs, and will cost $400 - registration for the exam opens on July 12th. Those who have passed the Enterprise Administration exam for VI3 will be entitled to a discount on the VCAP4-DCA exam.

The exam will be centred around three key areas of expertise in vSphere 4 - performance, troubleshooting, and security, and there will also be some exam content around automation. It will not be compulsory to attend any official vSphere courses to qualify for the VCAP4-DCA exam, but given the content of the exam VMware recommend that the advanced-level vSphere courses are considered to assist with preparation for the exam.

Here's an outline of the recommended course and exam sequence for those who are new to VMware training/certification who wish to pursue the VCAP4-DCA:

A few notes about the new VCAP4 certifications

Here's a colleciton of lots of things I've learned about the new VMware Certified Advanced Professional certifications for vSphere 4:

  • The DataCenter Administration exam will be 100% live labs
  • Your score for the DataCenter Administration exam will not be given immediately on completion of the exam, just like the Enterprise Administration exam for VI3 today
  • The DataCenter Administration exam will cost $400, the price for the DataCenter Design exam has not yet been set
  • The DataCenter Design exam will be a mixture of multiple-choice questions, and a design exercise, as it is today for VI3
  • The testing centres for the DataCenter Administration exam will be expanded to a significantly larger pool than it is today
  • The new exams will be scheduled directly with Pearson Vue, only the VCDX design defence will need arranging directly with VMware
  • The blueprint documents for the new exams are still in development and will be released soon
  • The new exams will not have compulsory training course requirements
  • The advanced-level Performance, Troubleshooting, and Security courses are recommended as preparation for the DataCenter Administration exam, the exam content is centred around those 3 key areas
  • The vSphere: Design Workshop will be excellent preparation for the DataCenter Design exam, the workshop content covers all of the objectives in the exam
  • The beta periods for both exams will begin shortly, and will be invitation-only
  • VMware partner requirements will not include VCAP4 certifications at this time

Monday, 24 May 2010

Advanced-level vSphere certifications

VMware have now officially announced the three advanced-level certifications for vSphere 4:

1. VMware Certified Advanced Professional on vSphere 4 - Datacenter Administration (VCAP4-DCA)
2. VMware Certified Advanced Professional on vSphere 4 - Datacenter Design (VCAP4-DCD)
3. VMware Certified Design Expert on vSphere 4 - Datacenter Design (VCDX4-DCD)

I've gots lots of content ready to post later today, here's the official news from VMware.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

New course in development - vSphere: Manage and Design for Security

VMware are currently developing a new specialist course title vSphere: Manage and Design for Security, the course will be available later in the summer, and will cover all the best practices for secure design, deployment and operations of a vSphere environment. The course objectives are:

  • Identify vulnerabilities in the current design of a vSphere environment and recommend corrective actions
  • Harden vSphere components as described in the security hardening guides for vSphere 4
  • Use VMware® vShield Zones to provide firewall protection to virtual machines and monitor virtual machine network traffic
  • Recommend configuration and change management policies, processes, and systems

This is planned to be a 2-day course with roughly 40% of the time spent doing hands-on labs. I'll post a fuller overview of the course closer to the release date, once VMware have finalised the course objectives and content.

Update on July 5th - corrected the course name in the title and body.

New course in development - vSphere: Automation with vSphere PowerCLI

This summer VMware will be releasing a new course vSphere: Automation with vSphere PowerCLI, the course will give administrators an introduction to the vSphere PowerCLI and show them how to use it to perform a variety of different tasks in a vSphere environment:

  • Automate VMware® ESX™ configuration
  • Automate the provisioning of virtual machines
  • Automate changes to virtual machine configuration
  • Automate cluster operations
  • Automate reporting

vSphere PowerCLI is an extension to Microsoft PowerShell, and contains over 100 VMware-specific commands (or cmd-lets in the language of PowerShell) - the course is currently in development and is due to be 2 days long with roughly 60% of the time spent doing hands-on labs with PowerCLI.

I'll post a more thorough outline of the course closer to the release date, once the content and structure has been finalised.

Update on July 5th - corrected the course name in the title and body text

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Blog coverage for VMware Xtra

In a previous blog post I told the story of VMware Xtra, a value-added project I've been working on for Global Knowledge UK, two other well-known UK-based bloggers have also now posted a review of the principle behind VMware Xtra and some of the content.

Tom Howarth posted his review recently on his excellent PlanetVM blog - here's the post.

Simon Long has also just added a review to The Slog - here's his post.

I also confirmed in the webinar last week that we are rolling out our Xtra program across other vendors, my colleagues are currently working on Cisco CCNA Xtra, and in development we also have Xtra content for Prince2, ITIL, and some key Microsoft technologies... they will all be added to the Global Knowledge UK site as and when they are ready.

I will also be adding lots of content to VMware Xtra over the summer, enhancing the current material and making Xtra an even fuller end-to-end learning experience.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

VMware webinar on Xtra and advanced-level training and certification

I'm just putting the finishing touches to my latest webinar for Global Knowledge UK, this time the topics covered will be our VMware Xtra "value-added training" offering, and also the latest information on the new advanced-level vSphere training and certifications.

The webinar starts at 11:00am BST (GMT+1) on Friday 14th May, and will be a 45-minute session followed by Q&A. To register follow this link.

During the webinar I will be giving an insight into our VMware Xtra program, a project I have been heavily involved in over the last couple of months, I'll talk about what VMware Xtra is today, where it came from, and also about our plans for the future in that area.

I'm also going to be discussing the imminent launch of the new advanced-level certifications for vSphere 4, and giving an outline of how some of the official higher-level training courses that we offer will help you to prepare to achieve these new certifications.

Update - May 14th
Well the webinar took place today, thanks to all those who joined me for the session. VMware did allow me to say a couple of additional things about their plans for the new vSphere certifications:

1. The official announcement on the three new certifications will be in the next two weeks, before the end of May.
2. The new exams for the new certifications will be lab-based with simulations.
3. The new exams will draw on content from all the advanced-level vSphere courses - as such the topics in the exams will cover Security, Automation, Troubleshooting and Performance.