Friday, 18 November 2011

Exam review - VCP5

I've taken the VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 5 (VCP5) exam today, not only is it part of my requirements as a VMware Certified Instrucor (VCI) but it also makes a lot of sense for me personally to update my VCP to the latest version.

So, what's the exam like? Well I'll tell you as much as I can, and what I think is relevant to those of you preparing to take it yourselves...

The VCP5 exam is the same format as VCP4 in terms of the basic format, for those of you doing your first VCP exam, you will be faced with 85 multiple-choice questions that you have 90 minutes to answer, and a good number of the questions will require you to choose multiple answers - I'd say about 50% of the items I saw today - as always with VCP exams when that's the case you'll be told "choose two" or however many answers are required.

As a VCI I was required by VMware to take a VCI-specific version of the exam that has a higher passing score than the regular VCP exam that the majority of you will take, but the items in the VCI and VCP exams are the same. The passing score for the VCP exam is 300, the scoring system is scaled and does not represent any kind of percentage - I had to score at least 350 to pass my VCI exam and I'm glad to report that I achieved that by some margin - I never give out my exact scores to anyone, so don't ask :-)

The items themselves definitely demand a combination of two skills around the vSphere features tested on in order to answer them effectively:
- a deep knowledge of the concepts, features, requirements, and limitations
- hands-on experience

As has been reported by a good number of others who've taken the exam, there are hardly any items that you could answer just by having memorized a maximum number - I got no questions like that at all. There are items with screenshots shown as exhibits, and you will get some items that go "beyond the vSphere Client" and test you on your knowledge of some of the command-line tools and other interfaces available that an administrator would use to interact with vSphere.

I have to say that VMware are very fair in the objectives they publish in the VCP Exam Blueprint guide - I was tested on most of the objectives, but nothing that I would class as being outside those objectives. You will also get questions on technologies and concepts around the subject too, exactly as it mentions in the blueprint, without giving too much away I was asked about other VMware products, hardware components used as part of a vSphere infrastructure, and white fluffy things you find in the sky too!

I would definitely suggest you take a look at the other VCP5-related posts on my blog as part of your preparations, click the VCP5 tab towards the top for links to the key posts, including pointers to some excellent study resources.

Best of luck to anyone preparing for their VCI or VCP exam, I hope you've found this particular post and many of my other posts useful!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

vExpert Spotlight

I'm a proud man again today, I've taken my place in the vExpert Spotlight over on VMware's VMTN Blog. My friend and fellow vExpert Gregg Robertson came up with the idea of publishing a short bio of each of the vExperts, and one by one we've all had our own little chance to step into the spotlight and talk about how we got into IT, into virtualisation, and into becoming a vExpert.

Here's the link to my vExpert Spotlight profile:

Being a vExpert in itself is a great enough accolade, it takes a lot of time and energy to get as involved in the community as we all do, and there are many other amazing contributors too!

Monday, 31 October 2011

First UK VMware User Group - This Week!

I'm a bit late to blog about this, but this week sees the first ever UK VMware User Group event, at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, just off the M42 close to Birmingham Airport.

United Kingdom VMware User Group
Thursday 3rd November 2011, 8:30am-4:30pm

This event brings together all the VMware User Groups from around the UK, there are a mixture of vendor and community sessions on the day itself plus an excellent chance to network with your peers.

Key speakers from VMware:
- Joe Baguley
- Duncan Epping
- Frank Denneman
- Cormac Hogan

As always with a VMware User Group event, attendance is free. For the full agenda, location and hotel information, follow this link:

I'll be attending the event myself, if you don't recognise me from the picture I have on this blog, I'll be wearing a light-blue Global Knowledge shirt - come over and say hi if you see me!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Studying for the VCP5 exam

Even though the VCP5 exam is only 5 weeks old at the time of writing, there are some amazing resources already available to help with those preparing for the exam.

I've always been an advocate of trying to prepare yourself using the official resources that VMware make available - the exam blueprint tells you what aspects of vSphere 5 you will get tested on, the exam format, number of questions, time limit, and the scoring system. The exam blueprint makes references to the official vSphere 5 documentation, which VMware validate the exam items against, and the mock exam gives a decent indication of the exam format. The VCP community forum is an excellent way of asking VCP5-related questions and getting furter information.

VCP5 homepage
VCP5 exam blueprint
VCP5 mock exam
VCP community forum
vSphere 5 documentation

A project that I completed towards the end of 2011 was an exclusive 1-day VCP5 workshop designed to focus you on the VCP5 exam and give you the chance to attempt over 100 practice questions, complete with questions/discussions with a VCI and others preparing for the exam.

Global Knowledge VCP5 Exam Preparation Workshop

Something that VMware don't publish is an expanded exam blueprint that includes all the relevant study notes, however there are a number of sites where people have done exactly that - be careful when using these study notes in case they're not accurate in comparison to the official documentation.

Forbes Guthrie's vReference card for vSphere 5
Forbes Guthrie's vReference documentation notes for vSphere 5
Preetam Zare's Prep Guide for VCP5.0
Andre Mauro's vInfrastructure VCP5 notes
Mike Preston's VCP5 study notes - with practice questions
Jason Langer's VCP5 study guide

There are a number of people in the VMware community that write and publish their own practice questions, normally as part of their own preparations - it should be noted that these do not necessarily indicate the types and styles of questions you will get in the real exam, and the accuracy of these practice exams cannot be guaranteed either.

Robert Stothard's VCP5 practice questions
Simon Long's VCP5 practice exams
Paul McSharry's VCP5 practice questions
Mike Preston's VCP5 practice questions - with study notes

To finish, here are a couple of exam experience blog posts from people that have taken the exam themselves, including me!

My review of the VCP5 exam
Eric Sloof's VCP5 exam experience
Brian Tobia's VCP5 exam thoughts and experience

Best of luck to anyone taking their VCP5 exam, I hope the resources above will prove useful to you!

VCP5 information and preparation

This page contains a collection of links to some of the key VCP5-related posts on this blog.

Latest Update
VCP recertifcation deadline extended, VCP6 discount for those who've already recertified

General information
New certification: VCP5
Current paths to VCP5 - March 2012
Studying for the VCP5 exam
Review of the VCP5 exam
VCP - Common Questions
VCP5-DCV now updated for vSphere 5.5
Recertification policy
Quickest option for recertification

New vSphere 5 training courses
New course - vSphere 5: Fast Track
Exam preparation workshop
Free webinar on vSphere 5 training and certification

Updating to VCP5
How does a VCP3 holder update to VCP5?
Update your VCP4 to VCP5
Gaining VCP4 and VCP5

VCP4 information and preparation

This post collects together a variety of VCP4-related posts from my blog since the launch of the exam back in 2009.

Core information
Studying for the VCP4 exam
Review of the VCP4 exam
Is the exam related to vSphere 4.0 or 4.1?
Gaining VCP4 and VCP5
Recertification policy

Building a home lab
Exam preparation workshop
Training paths for VCP4
vSphere course suitability for VCP4 exam

Updating your certification
Is it worth doing vSphere 4 certifications?
Update your VCP4 to VCP5

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Number 5 is ALIVE!

So I take a 2-week break and VMware do some BIG things while I'm away - you'd think they would have waited, just for me...

- vSphere 5 is released
- The VCP5 exam is live
- VMWorld has begun

The final VCP5 exam blueprint has now been published, you can download it and find links to numerous other essential items at

And if you want to download vSphere 5, go to

I'm going to be in Copenhagen at VMWorld Europe, if you still haven't registered go to

New "upgrade" path announced for VCP3 holders to gain VCP5

VMware are announcing this week that there is now a third option available for a VCP3 holder to update their certification to VCP5, here's all three options:

1. Attend vSphere 4: What's New > pass VCP4 exam > pass VCP5 exam.
2. Attend vSphere 5: Install Configure Manage > pass VCP5 exam.
3. Attend vSphere 5: What's New > free vSphere 4: What's New e-learning (optional) > pass VCP5 exam.

I've updated this blog post to include the new path:

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Free webinar on vSphere 5: Training and Certification

I am hosting a webinar for Global Knowledge next week, vSphere 5: Training and Certification, where I will be presenting on the latest VMware training curriculum and vSphere certifications. The webinar starts at 4pm UK time on Wednesday August 10th, and you can register here.

Many of you will have seen the blog posts that I published at the time of the vSphere 5 announcement, during the webinar I will be discussing the content of those posts. The presentation should last no more than 45 minutes, with 15 minutes allocated to Q&A - but the session will go on til there's no more questions being fired at me!

We are publicising this webinar right across the EMEA region, but anyone with an interest in this topic is welcome to join the session.

UPDATE (August 30th) : Thanks to all those who joined the session live, for those that couldn't make it here's the link to the recording.

It's cheap up North, but only at Global Knowledge!

Global Knowledge has been awarded access to funding that enables organizations based in Yorkshire and Humber to attend courses such as vSphere: Install Configure Manage at up to 75% discount from the list price!

We run our VMware courses at locations all over the UK, including our newest training centre in Leeds, the funding is only available for a limited time, for further information please call Rich Thomas on 0113 234 4747.

If the funding available doesn't apply to you or your organization, we still have some fantastic discounted bundles available:

Thursday, 28 July 2011

July 28th updates to exam blueprints

A number of VMware certification exam blueprints have been updated to new versions.

VCP4 v1.9.2:
VCP5 beta v1.4:

VCA4-DT v1.2:
VCP4-DT v1.1:

It looks like the changes in all the blueprints are minor, but as always it is advisable to use the latest blueprint available to help prepare you for the certification exams.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

I'm a VCAP4-DCA :-)

I was just heading deep underground to get the Waterloo & City line train last night when my Blackberry buzzed to tell me I had a new email, I waited til I was on the platform waiting for the train to come and thought I'd check to see what my email was - it was from VMware Certification thanking me for my participation in the VCAP-DCA exam, my score report was attached in a PDF...

All I had to do now was view the attachment, which due to a complete lack of signal my Blackberry couldn't open!!! Now it's only a 4 minute journey to Waterloo, but it felt like it took 20! I couldn't wait to get off the train, up the escalator, and on to the station concourse - finally the signal returned and I could open the PDF - I passed!

I'm delighted to now be a VCAP4-DCA, I posted my review of the exam recently and it was tough - it was a great relief to know that the preparation work was worth doing!

Now I've just got to wait to find out my VCAP4-DCA number...

UPDATE: I'm VCAP4-DCA number 319 :-)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Blog posts related to vSphere 5 release

I've added NINE new posts to this blog related to the vSphere 5 release:

1. How does a VCP3 holder update to VCP5?
2. Is it worth doing vSphere 4 certifications?
3. New certification - VCP5
4. New vSphere 5 training courses
5. New vCloud Director 1.5 courses
6. New VMware official curriculum
7. Update your VCP4 to VCP5
8. Gaining VCP4 and VCP5

Feel free to email me if you have any questions:


How does a VCP3 holder update to VCP5?

When VMware launched the VCP5 certification back in August 2011 they offered those who already held the VCP3 a shortcut path to gaining VCP5, but as of March 1st 2012 those shortcut paths are no longer available.

The path to VCP5 that a VCP3 has to take is the same as it is for those who are new to VMware training/certification:

I would personally recommend the Fast Track out of the two course options above, it will prepare you more fully for the VCP5 exam and teach you many things that have changed since VI3.

Is it worth doing vSphere 4 certifications?

Now VMware have launched vSphere 5, one of the big decisions that people have to make is whether to continue with the vSphere 4 certifications or wait for the equivalent vSphere 5 certifications to be released. I think it's a very individual choice, it depends on a number of things:

- Have you already started preparing, and if so how close are you to being ready for the exam?
- Do you think it's worth you having the vSphere 4 as well as the vSphere 5 certification?
- Have you already attended one of the vSphere 4 qualifying courses for VCP4?

The VCP5 certification has already been announced, there's more about that on my blog post here. The final exam will be available after August 29th 2011, that's only 6 weeks from now...

If you've attended a vSphere 4 course and are debating whether or not to take the VCP4 exam I'd probably suggest that you should - I would! Why? Well, at the time of writing vSphere 4 is the only version you can download and deploy, it will take time for customers to choose to deploy vSphere 5 or upgrade to vSphere 5, and one other bonus of getting VCP4 is that until February 29th 2012 VCP4 holders can also gain VCP5 certification by passing the VCP5 exam with no mandatory training required. If you choose today not to gain VCP4 you will have to attend a vSphere 5 course in order to qualify for VCP5 either before or after that February date.

If you've yet to train on vSphere 4 then you have a tougher decision to make as your decision is probably not just about what version you want to get your VCP on but also what version are you going to deploy/manage/support. vSphere 5 courses will be available within the coming weeks, more about those on this blog post.

New certfication: VCP5

July 12th saw the launch of vSphere 5, the next generation virtualisation/cloud infrastructure suite from VMware. VCP is widely accepted as being the "industry standard" certification in virtualisation, and VCP5 has also been launched today!

The VMware Certification portal has already been updated with the VCP5 exam blueprint and even a VCP5 mock exam, and there is a substantial amount of information about the training requirements on the VCP5 homepage.

The final exam will be available to take after August 29th 2011, but there will also be the usual beta exam process which begins imminently - check your inbox to see if your invitation has arrived yet!

New vSphere 5 training courses

July 12th saw the announcement of vSphere 5, and the Education Services team at VMware have been busy for some time developing the new vSphere curriculum. In this blog post, I'm going to share with you as much as VMware will allow me to about the new official training options for vSphere, coming later in 2011. The exact names of some of these courses are subject to change, and I'm not able to divulge the target release date of all the courses.

For those of you that have vSphere 4 skills and knowledge to VCP4-level, VMware will be launching a vSphere 5: What's New course. This course will focus purely on new features in vSphere 5, enhancements to features inherited from vSphere 4, and the upgrade process. This course will benefit those wishing to update their VCP certification from VCP4 to VCP5, in fact it will become compulsory for VCP4 holders to attend this or another vSphere 5 course after February 29th 2012.

If you don't have VCP4-level skills and knowledge, there is still a foundation-level vSphere 5: Install Configure Manage (ICM) course, it will remain as a 5-day course, be closely aligned with the up-and-coming VCP5 certification, and content-wise little changes from the vSphere 4 version of the course. There is some re-ordering of content, some new content, and some content has been "moved up" to the higher-level courses. Some of the new vSphere 5 features will be included such as the vCenter Server Appliance, the ESXi firewall, the vSphere Web Client, and the rest of the content is all being updated for vSphere 5 as you would expect.

Following on from ICM will be two new courses, ICM2 and ICM3 - they are designed to offer an intermediate and advanced-level of vSphere training, and are aligned with the VCAP5-DCA certification. ICM2 will cover advanced configuration of vSphere networking and storage, and performance management. ICM3 will cover troubleshooting and command-line administration using the vSphere Management Assistant.

VMware will also be releasing updated versions of the Automation with PowerCLI, Manage and Design for Security, and Design Workshop courses.

As mentioned in other posts on this blog, there will also be new courses available on vCloud Director 1.5 (Deploy and Manage, and Architecting the VMware Cloud), and on Site Recovery Manager 5 (Install Configure and Manage).

Global Knowledge will be offering a full schedule for all new VMware courses in the UK and beyond as soon as each course becomes available, we will update our site as soon as we can:

New vCloud Director 1.5 courses

In addition to the vSphere 5 launch announcement on July 12th, vCloud Director is also being updated to version 1.5, and the Education Services team at VMware are expanding the training offerings for this new version. This post gives you as much information as VMware will allow me to share at this time - the final course titles and content are subject to change, and the release dates for the courses are yet to be finalised.

For the first time we will have available a Deploy and Manage course for vCloud Director 1.5, which will help those responsible for deploying a cloud infrastructure based on vCloud Director and vSphere to put all the various pieces in place.

The design course Architecting the VMware Cloud is also being updated for the 1.5 release.

We also have a new set of vSphere 5 courses available which you'll see mentioned in other blog posts here, and a new Site Recovery Manager 5 course too!

All courses will be available in the UK and worldwide through Global Knowledge of course, we will update our site with the final course overviews and dates as soon as we can:

New VMware official curriculum

Following on from the July 12th launch of vSphere 5, vCloud Director 1.5 and Site Recovery Manager 5, the Education Services team at VMware have revamped the official curriculum offerings for these products. These new courses will become available in the coming months, the final course titles and content are subject to change, and I'm not permitted to divulge the expected release dates.

So, the new instructor-led official curriculum looks like this:

All the vSphere courses shown will be new or updated for vSphere 5, and the vCloud Director and Site Recovery Manager courses are new too!

Global Knowledge will offer these courses as and when they become available, for further information take a look at

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Update your VCP4 to VCP5

Following the launch of vSphere 5 on July 12th, VMware have started to release information about how invididuals can update their certification to VCP5. If you're already a VCP4 holder, you can update your certification to VCP5 by passing the VCP5 exam once it becomes available.

Until February 29th 2012, VCP4 holders were not required to attend any vSphere 5 training course in order to qualify for updating their certification, but from March 1st 2012 attendance of the vSphere 5: What's New course is compulsory for those wanting to update their certification to VCP5.

VMware have already added a VCP5 page to their site, complete with the exam blueprint and mock exam, more about that on this blog post: New certification: VCP5

Gaining VCP4 and VCP5

VCP4 has essentially been the "industry standard" virtualisation certification since it was first released back in 2009, and there are thousands of individuals who already hold the certification. I train people all the time who want to gain VCP4, but now VMware have launched vSphere 5 it won't be too long til VCP5 certification becomes available.

If you've yet to train on vSphere 4 and want to gain both VCP4 and VCP5 certifications, here's the path that you need to follow:

Note that from March 1st 2012, attendance of the vSphere 5: What's New course is no longer optional for a VCP4 to achieve VCP5.

VMware have already added a number of VCP5-related resources to their site, more information on that can be found on this blog post: New certification: VCP5

Monday, 11 July 2011

AppSense training in the UK

Global Knowledge has now started offering official AppSense training worldwide, and is the ONLY training provider in the UK that can offer both the Professional and Specialist courses.

AppSense is the leading provider of user virtualisation solutions for the enterprise, with over ten years proven track record in the virtualisation space. They make physical and virtual deployment possible by ensuring a seamless user experience across all delivery platforms. Much more than traditional profile management, user virtualisation represents a fundamental change in the way the corporate desktop is constructed, delivered and managed - encompassing the whole user-centric aspect of the desktop, including personal settings, user-centric corporate policy, as well as user applications and data.

Friday, 8 July 2011

VCAP4-DCA exam review

Today was a big day for me, I finally got to take the VCAP4-DCA exam for vSphere 4 - this was the third time I had been scheduled to take the exam and this time I didn't have to re-schedule it - ahh, the joys of being a busy man! It goes without saying that I can only give out so much information on the exam, I definitely don't want to violate any non-disclosure agreement after going through 3.5 hours of work and a lot of preparation!

So, on to what I can say... It's a tough exam, fair, but tough. You get given a really wide variety of tasks to carry out, some of them relatively straightforward things that any VCP would know how to do, other tasks were very in-depth and quite complex. I used a variety of different administrative interfaces - this is not an exam that you can do with the vSphere Client alone - you WILL need to know how to use the Service Console and vSphere Management Assistant, and you WILL need to do some work in vSphere PowerCLI too.

There were a number of tasks that I was asked to carry out that are things I've never had to do before in 5 years of working in-depth with ESX/ESXi and vCenter Server, things that I've never been asked in class or in discussions with customers. I did have a good read through the VCAP-DCA exam blueprint when I came out of the exam just to make sure VMware were justified in asking me to carry out some of these tasks, and I can confirm that they WERE!! You won't get asked to do literally everything in the blueprint document, you get roughly 40 tasks to perform on the day, but the tasks in your exam will be a subset of what's in the blueprint so be prepared to do anything that's in the document.

In terms of preparation, get the blueprint, build a lab, and practice. And just when you think you're ready, practice some more!! I'm sure you're waiting for a list of what resources I used to prepare, or would recommend you take a look at - you really need to focus on troubleshooting, performance, automation and security:

Official advanced-level vSphere courses
Video-based training from TrainSignal
Study guides from people such as Ed Grigson and Sean Crookston

This is definitely a certification that sorts out the men from the boys, puts hairs on your chest, helps you to earn your stripes as a vSphere administrator, and plenty of other cliches. I'm now waiting to get my results in about 2 weeks time, best of luck to you if you're taking yours any time soon...

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Global Knowledge awards

Global Knowledge have been picking up a number of awards over the last few months, the one I'm the most proud of personally is the UK organization winning the VMware EMEA Education Partner of the Year - I've been there right from the start as I joined the company the day that we achieved VATC status in the UK.

But, we've also recently been given awards by both Cisco and Microsoft:
2011 Microsoft Learning Competency Marketing Acceleration Partner of the Year Award
Cisco Worldwide Learning Partner Award of Excellence for Excellence in Collaboration – Europe

We are not the kind of organization that rests on it's laurels though, we've produced a massive amount of online content to broaden our "Xtra" series from VMware into Cisco (CCNA and CCNP) and Prince2, we have a free ITIL learning portal for public sector customers, a number of new vendors joining our learning portfolio, and some very exciting developments coming in terms of delivery methods - the rest of 2011 is going to be busy!

What's a BrownBag? Find out this week!

There are only a couple of things in life that I would buy and expect the contents to be given to me wrapped in a brown paper bag, and lunch isn't one of them! However, over in the US the term Brown Bag (or "brown bag seminar" according to Wikipedia) is designed to be an hour-long seminar that can be consumed by attendees whilst they also consume their lunch!

Well-known blogger Cody Bunch started his VCP BrownBag series over a year ago, extended the coverage to incorporate VCDX, and now has an impressive list of guests and topics similar to the VMware Communities Podcast! The problem for us Europeans is that we have to stay up very late if we want to join Cody's BrownBags live, so Tom Howarth of PlanetVM fame has agreed to start a BrownBag series that will run during evening hours in the UK and Europe.

So, the first European BrownBag takes place this Thursday, July 7th, and it starts at 7pm UK time. Tom has kindly asked me to be a guest speaker/presenter on the session, and we plan on discussing the current state of play with VMware certifications and curriculum.

Register for the first European BrownBag here:

Don't phone, it's just for fun!

I'm still stunned at how the world of online media and social networking has changed the way in which we communicate, so from time to time I collate some statistics about my online presence - I just wanted to share some of those numbers with you:

I'd love to say I have some amazing prize for the first person to correctly identify what each of the numbers above relates to, but I don't! I'll leave this up as it is for a while, and think about posting the "answers" at some point...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Lightning DOES strike twice - I'm a vExpert again!

VMware have been sending out notification emails over the last few days to those lucky enough to be designated as vExpert 2011, and on Friday I got mine! I was also the proud recipient of vExpert 2010 status, so lightning really can strike twice!

"We're pleased to designate you as a vExpert 2011 as recognition of your contributions to the VMware, virtualization, and cloud computing communities. You’ve done work above and beyond, and we’re delighted to communicate more closely, to share resources, and to offer other opportunities for greater interaction throughout the year as we continue to grow knowledge and success in the community of IT professionals. Welcome to the vExpert 2011 Program!"

It's a great honour to be selected again and sit amongst such big-hitters in the virtualization community. I know a huge amount of work goes into running the program and there are many VMware employees involved in the selection process - so a big thanks to all! There is one man who gets a mention on every blog post I've read from other vExperts, John Troyer deserves all the credit he gets for the work he does to keep the VMware community alive and kicking!

I love being part of the VMware community, it does take time out of one's business and personal life to contribute in the ways that all vExperts do, but it's definitely a case of "you get out what you put in" and I've made some great contacts who've become good friends along the way.

Well done to all the other vExperts!

Friday, 24 June 2011

London VMUG - July 14th

The next London VMware User Group (VMUG) event takes place on Thursday July 14th, at the usual venue of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in London. Sponsors for this event are Arista Networks, Embotics, and Vision Solutions.

The full agenda and registration details can be found on the central VMUG site here: London VMUG

I'm glad to say that I'll be attending the event myself this time, I'm looking forward to being there and meeting up with old and new attendees.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Building a vSphere home lab for VCP/VCAP-DCA preparation

From talking to many individuals who are wishing to achieve VMware certifications such as VCP or VCAP-DCA, most people have to prepare for exams in their own time. One of the important elements of both these exams, particularly the live-lab VCAP-DCA, is to use a vSphere environment to practice using the various administrative tools and interfaces in readiness for the exams.

Some people are lucky enough to have access to a lab environment at their workplace that they can "play" on, but many inviduals end up trying to build their own home lab. This can be done either be using a number of separate physical machines, or building a vSphere lab in virtual machines on products like VMware Player or Workstation, or even the free edition of ESXi.

Whether physical or virtual, generally there are four systems required:
2 x ESXi servers (ESX can be used instead)
1 x Windows server running vCenter Server, SQL Express, and the vSphere Client
1 x shared storage server running FreeNAS, OpenFiler, or similar

There are already many blog articles out there on how to build a virtual vSphere lab:

Here's a very useful site that deals with the software/build process and offers a recommendation on hardware too:

One of my students this week has just told me about an amazing deal for building a virtual home lab system, it's a HP ProLiant MicroServer on sale from EBuyer, with a £100 cashback offer - as of today the effective price you pay is only £137.99:

You will need to upgrade the RAM to 8GB in order to run the required virtual machines, but that's only going to cost an extra £64:

Of course, you might want to upgrade the hard disk to something like an SSD drive for better performance, but that's up to you - the 250GB built-in disk should easily be big enough to accomodate all your vSphere VMs.

Born on the 12th of July...

Something BIG is happening at VMware Towers on the 12th of July - I wonder what it could be...??

Until then, all I can do is quote things that VMware say in public, so here goes:

"Please join VMware executives Paul Maritz, CEO and Steve Herrod, CTO on July 12th for the unveiling of the next major step forward in cloud infrastructure. The live webcast will be followed by additional online sessions where you can learn more about the industry’s most trusted virtualization and cloud infrastructure products and services."

So, if you fancy joining the webcast on July 12th, here's the link: VMware webcast

Thursday, 2 June 2011

First UK delivery of vSphere: Advanced Fast Track training

Global Knowledge will be running the first UK delivery of the new vSphere: Advanced Fast Track training course, starting on June 13th. This is an extended-hours course that covers 7 days of material in 5 days, and includes both the vSphere: Troubleshooting and vSphere: Manage for Performance courses.

I blogged about the course when the details of it were first released:

I'm delivering this course myself, and it offers good preparation for the VCAP4-DCA live-lab certification exam - covering the majority of the objectives in the exam blueprint.

Free VMware vCloud Director webinar on June 3rd

I'm hosting/presenting a webinar tomorrow titled An Introduction to building a private cloud with VMware vCloud Director. It's free to register/attend, I'll be covering the most important elements of how to utilise vCloud Director and vSphere to create your own private cloud.

Here's the registration link:

The session starts at 13:00 UK time, and lasts for 1 hour.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

VCP4-DT Exam Blueprint Published

VMware have now published the all-important exam blueprint for the new VMware Certified Professional 4 - Desktop certification, you'll find the blueprint document here on the VMware community forum:

Here are the section headings in the blueprint:
Install View components
Configure the View environment
Create and configure pools
Implementation Troubleshooting
Component features and functions

This certification has two pre-requisite certifications:

It is recommended to attend either the View: Install Configure Manage or View: Desktop Fast Track training courses in preparation for the exam, but neither course is mandatory.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Global Knowledge launches UK Blog

Whilst this blog is owned by me, created by me, and administered by me, it would be pretty difficult not to know that I work for Global Knowledge UK. The company has now launched it's own "corporate" blog - there are contributions being made from all corners of the business, so you should expect to see contributions from me at some point too!

Here's a copy of the announcement:

Global Knowledge are proud to announce the launch of our UK blog -

Your source for IT Professional Management Learning

The blog will feature latest industry developments, articles from leading industry experts, 'How To' technical guides, interviews plus much more.

The blog will focus on technical and best practice news covering Cisco, VMware, Microsoft, ITIL and Service Management, and a number of articles on general Learning and Technology news.

The blog has an open comment forum if you wish to contribute towards an article. We would also like to hear from you, if you have any questions or would like a blog post on an industry hot topic or subject area.

Free ESXi Training

Most people who work with VMware vSphere products and technologies are aware of the ESX and ESXi bare-metal hypervisor options available - after all it was the 3.5 release of the software that first gave customers the choice of deploying either or both. Later this year sees the release of vSphere 5, and from that time forward we will be living in an ESX-less world - I wrote a post about this back in February 2010: ESX v ESXi

In the middle of 2010, VMware Education released a 2-day instructor-led training course complete with hands-on labs to aid customers who had vSphere deployments centred around ESX to help them start to make the move towards ESXi: vSphere: Transition to ESXi

VMware Education are now taking the ESX-less message further out to their customer base with the release of a free 4-hour self-paced elearning - essentially it's a cut-down version of the full instructor-led course above. The course has no hands-on labs, and as you would expect from elearning versus instructor-led training there's no instructor to ask questions of: vSphere: Transition to ESXi Essentials

Thursday, 12 May 2011

VMUG Advantage

I've been a member of the London VMware User Group (VMUG) for the last year, and VMware have now centralised all VMUG registrations for all groups worldwide under a single website:

Something that I noticed on the site recently is VMUG Advantage, an opportunity to purchase a subscription that entitles you to some BIG discounts:

$100 off a VMWorld pass
20% off VMware instructor-led training
20% off VMware certification exams
$750 worth of VMware e-learning
30% discount off a VMware Fusion or Workstation license

Buy a subscription by May 31st for only $170 from the MyVMUG site here:

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

VCA4-DT Exam Registration is now open

A few days earlier than I previously expected, VMware and Pearson Vue have now opened registration for the final VCA4-DT exam. You can register here:

The cost varies from country to country, in the UK the cost is £95+VAT.

Here's a link to all the other VCA4-DT posts on my blog so far, including the link to the exam blueprint:

London VMware User Group - May 2011

The next London VMUG takes place on 12th May 2011 at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the May event will be the first to follow a new format:

- It's now an all-day event, with a specific theme - for May it's "Your Journey to the Cloud"
- There are two separate specialist tracks in the afternoon
- You can do some hands-on labs

As always, the VMUG is free to attendees, but you MUST register in advance using the following link:

I've been to the last couple of London VMUGs and they are very good, I presented at the last event in February, and once the day is over there's free beer to be had thanks to VMware or the event sponsor.

I won't be able to make the event this time due to work commitments, but should be able to join everyone at the pub afterwards :-)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Live-online VCP exam prep workshop - April 21st

The next Webex-based delivery of Global Knowledge's exclusive VCP4 Exam Preparation Workshop takes place on Thursday 21st April, starting at 9:30am BST (UK time). As per the online event run last month, I'm delivering the session myself.

Here are two other blog posts about the workshop:

Before anybody emails me and asks, we do charge for the workshop - it took a good amount of time to produce - I should know, I produced it - and obviously you have my experience with VMware certification exams that you can draw on during the session.

We already have a good number of registrations for the session next week, for more information on the session and to book your place, either email me or click here.

VCA4-DT exam blueprint and release date

VMware have now published v1.0 of the exam blueprint document for their "starter" desktop certification for VMware View - VMware Certified Associate - Desktop, here's the link:

VCA4-DT exam blueprint v1.0 (login required)

The release date for the final exam has also now been confirmed (but not yet officially announced) as April 22nd 2011.

Latest VCAP4 exam blueprints - April 2011

Jon Hall from VMware has published updated versions of the blueprint documents for both the advanced-level vSphere certifications, here's the all-important links:

VCAP4-DCA exam blueprint v1.9
VCAP4-DCD exam blueprint v1.6

I've had a look through both documents, and it's not obvious what's been modified, but as usual with VMware it is recommended to use the latest blueprint documents when starting to prepare for an exam.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Abseil for British Red Cross

Following on from the Wokingham Half Marathon that I completed back in February, I'm doing a 140-foot abseil this Sunday for the British Red Cross - they want to buy a new ambulance, and apparently I want to hang off the side of a building on a very long rope!

I'd be really grateful if you would consider sponsoring me:


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Updated VCAP4 exam blueprints

4VMware have just released new versions of the VCAP4-DCA and VCAP4-DCD exam blueprints, and it is always recommended to use the latest blueprint documents as the basis for any study/preparation for a VMware certification exam.

MyLearn (account required)
VCAP4-DCA blueprint
VCAP4-DCD blueprint

Communities forum
VCAP4-DCA blueprint
VCAP4-DCD blueprint

As of today, the VCAP4-DCA blueprint is at v1.7, and VCAP4-DCD is at v1.5.

VCP4-DT beta exam invitations

VMware have sent out invitiations for the VCP4-DT beta exam, check your Inbox to see if you have one!

The VCP4-DT certification will only be awarded to those who also hold VCP4 certification, and of course you must either pass this new beta exam or the final exam as and when it is released.

The foundation-level VCA4-DT exam went through it's beta process in February and will get it's final release via PearsonVUE soon. Later this year VMware will also release the exam for VCAP4-DT.

My earlier blog post on these new desktop certifications for vSphere and View is here:

And before anybody asks, I can't get you an invitation to the beta exam - your best option would be to email

Friday, 4 March 2011

New Course - VMware View: Desktop Fast Track

Another course due for release in the next couple of months is VMware View: Desktop Fast Track, based around View and ThinApp 4.5 and 4.6. The course runs over extended hours as a 5-day event, and combines together 7 days worth of material from three individual courses:

VMware View: Install Configure Manage (4 days)
Application Virtualization with VMware ThinApp (1 day)
VMware View: Design Best Practices (2 days)

The final release date and pricing has yet to be confirmed. It looks as though the course will include a voucher for the new VMware Certified Associate 4 - Desktop (VCA4-DT) certification exam.

Friday, 25 February 2011

New Course - vSphere: Advanced Fast Track

VMware have decided to create an advanced-level extended-hours course for vSphere 4 - vSphere: Advanced Fast Track. This course will combine together the vSphere: Troubleshooting course (4 days) with the vSphere: Manage for Performance course (3 days) into a single 5-day extended-hours course.

This new combined course will offer excellent preparation for the VCAP4-DCA exam, and will include a voucher for the exam as part of the course fee. The course is expected to be available within the next couple of months, the content is still being finalised at the moment, and pricing has yet to be determined.

This course is going to be perfect for anyone who's attended the vSphere: Install Configure Manage, vSphere: What's New, or the old vSphere: Fast Track course, and also for those who attend the new vSphere: Automation Fast Track - it gives students from any of those courses an excellent follow-on course as well as helping prepare for the VCAP4-DCA exam.

New Course - vSphere: Automation Fast Track

Until the end of 2010, one of the courses we offered to our customers was a vSphere: Fast Track - which combined together roughly 7 days of various vSphere 4.0 courses into a single extended-hour training course.

VMware updated the core vSphere: Install Configure Manage course for the 4.1 release and grew it out to 5 days at the same time, pulling in quite a lot of material that previously formed the old Fast Track.

I can now confirm that VMware plan to release a new Automation Fast Track course, which will run as a 5-day extended-hours course. This course will combine together all the material from the current Install Configure Manage course (5 days) with the Automation with vSphere PowerCLI course (2 days) - so 7 days worth of training in 5 days.

So what else can I tell you about this new course? Well some of the details are still emerging, but I can say that the course will include a voucher for the VCP4 exam. The release date has still not been confirmed, but I would expect it to be within the next couple of months, course pricing has also yet to be set.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Coming Soon - Book Reviews!

Like a lot of virtualisation bloggers, I've been asked plenty of times over the last couple of years if I would like to be an author or contributor to vSphere books - sometimes they're VCP study guides and sometimes they're vSphere reference books or admin guides - the problem is I don't have the time so I've always declined!

I've now started receiving reviewer copies of some vSphere-related books, and so once I've had a good read through them I'll start posting reviews here on the blog - I know other bloggers who are a lot more well-known than me who already do the same so I really appreciate being asked. All part of being a vExpert!

I've already read through one book I received recently, and I've told the publisher that I wouldn't want to tarnish their reputation "in public" by sharing my true thoughts on it with you all - so I'm in the process of doing an in-depth review of that particular book that will only be seen by the publisher so they can improve any future edition of that title - and no, I'm not telling you what it was... ;-)

If any authors or publishers out there would like to cast my eye over their wares, please get in touch with me:

I hope to get my first review posted in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Half-marathon - Done!

I blogged recently about me running my first ever half-marathon with some colleagues from Global Knowledge, for a special little girl called Evie who requires surgery in the USA - well we completed the run on Sunday 13th February! There were 10 of us who started, we all finished - I finished in a group of 5 with a time of 2:32:43 - I'm really glad I did it on a personal level as well as it being for an excellent cause.

We have raised a really large some of money from donations, and Global Knowledge agreed to double every single penny raised - this is going to make a massive difference to Evie and give her the chance to live the best life she can - I know some of the donations came from some of you who read this blog so a big thankyou to everyone who did donate!

If you haven't donated yet and wish to, it's not too late, follow this link and you can find out more about Evie too:

Global Knowledge also issued a press release to highlight the reason for the run:

Next up for me are a series of 10k runs, and a 140-foot abseil down the side of a rather tall building!