VCAP5-DCD – EXAM EXPERIENCE: VERY TOUGH

VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Datacenter Design for vSphere 5.x(VCAP5-DCD) has the toughest exam I have ever attempted… and I’ve taken many exams until now. So after sharing my VCAP5-DCA exam experience in my previous post, I will also share here the VCAP5-DCD experience, even though I passed this exam in August 2013. Posting about my exam experiences is my giveback to the VMware community in general. It has been really useful for me to read on the blogs about the experience of others, their tips, exam strategies, what they used to prepare and what was useful or not. On all my exams I first read the official certification information (exam format, blueprint, available time, retake policy, etc..) and then I read the experience of others whom shared it on their blogs. usually the first 2 pages of a Google search result list. This really helps me in setting up the most efficient exam preparation plan and brings in a bit more confidence.

Update [16 Dec 2013]: I strongly recommend reading Aram Avetisyan‘s and Paul Meehan‘s recent posts on their exam experiences, it was not part of my preparation but I find their reviews very helpful.

Exam summary:

  • URLhttp://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=30484&ui=www_cert
  • Time available: 3 hours and 45 minutes + 30 minutes if you take the exam in a non-English speaking country.
  • Number of questions: 100
    • 6 Design scenarios (you have to “sketch” a design <storage, network
    • About 15-20 drag and drop
    • The rest to 100 are VCP like single/multi-choice ones.
  • Passing score: 300 points (out of total 500 points)
  • Retake policy: 14 calendar days

First Contact

I first attempted the VCAP5-DCD exam at VMworld 2012 in Barcelona and suffered a painful fail, even though I was very well prepared and very confident. The exam is very tough on your brain, so having a clear mind to focus is essential. At VMworld you get to absorb so much information(you can read here about my VMworld 2013 experience), you have 12 hours per day of new and exciting stuff which is cool, but is also very tiring. On top of that you loose almost a full day from the amazing VMworld experience, so I do not recommend taking any exam during the event.

Besides fatigue, the other reason for failing was the wrong exam strategy. I have read lots of tips on how to tackle the exam, but unfortunately for me, I chose the strategy in which you leave(mark for later review) all the design scenarios for the end. That did not work out well for me because after getting through 95 question in 3.5 hours I remained only with 45 minutes for 5 design scenarios, that’s not enough! The “design” tool on the exam ads also to the frustration because it’s sooo sluggish.

Second shot

In August 2013 I’ve attempted it again and I am proud to say that I passed it successfully. I have not prepared much since the previous attempt, because I realized that the previous failure was not due to knowledge gap, but due to wrong strategy.  Don’t get me wrong here, I am not blaming the ones which are recommending to leave the design scenarios for the end, maybe for some this will be the winning approach, but this just didn’t work for me; not being a native English speaker and spending so much mental effort on tackling the first 95 questions (which are very long and written mostly in “business language”, not the familiar technical language) leaves you with very limited brain potential for the demanding design scenarios… plus the fatigue from 3 days of VMworld on top of that for me. So I knew that if I want to pass I needed to change my approach; I realized that the design scenarios are the core of the exam, they take the longest portion of the exam to complete and also they are the highest scored: around 40 points per scenario, which for all 6 of the scenarios is almost half of the total exam points. I was cruising through the other questions and keeping my energy for the scenarios, so for most of the “simple” single/multi-choice I was just skipping words, reading through very fast until the last sentence and trying an educated guess based on the available answers. This strategy worked well for me, I finished all the questions and pressed the “End Exam” button within the last minute of the allocated time and I was very surprised when saw my score, much higher than I was expecting.

How to prepare

These are the resources I recommend for preparation:

  1. Read the official exam resources (cert guide, program overview, blueprint… you can find all here: http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=30484&ui=www_cert)
  2. Read the exam experience of others, especially if this your first time attempting it.
  3. Read the “VMware vSphere Design” book, by Forbes Guthrie, Scott Lowe, Kendrick Coleman. This is a great resource, especially if you are not very experienced with designing vSphere infrastructures.
  4. If you’re company is a VMware partner and you are registered to “Partner Central” I strongly advise to go through the “VMware Virtualization Design and Deploy Service Kit R1.0“, ideally you would follow the kit to create your own fictional design , but even just browsing through the docs will help you greatly.
  5. Work on your “diagramming” skills, this is essential for the design scenarios, so practice as much as you can on visio and grab as many diagrams from your colleagues just to get familiar with different styles. You can/should also practice using the “mock” exam (Interactive Exam Simulation), which reproduces the exact exam interface.
  6. [Optional]: Attend the VMware Design Workshop class. I’ve put it as optional because of the high cost associated with this course, but otherwise it is a great help for the exam.

Exam tips and Strategy

I will try to summarize the lessons learnt from taking the exam twice and share them as tips, these worked well for me, hope it will helpful:

  1. Take the exam well rested.
  2. Focus on the design scenarios, these are the key of the exam.
  3. For the single/multi choice questions fast-forward to the last sentence and just try an educated guess based on the available answers.
  4. Use the whiteboard to summarize information when the scenarios/questions are too long to hold in your mind.
  5. Do not attempt to draw pretty diagrams in the design tool, they are evaluated by software, so they should be correct, not pretty.

Good luck!

VCAP5-DCA – exam experience: not hard at all

I have passed the VCAP5-DCA exam in May this year, however, I did not have this blog at that time to share my experience, but nothing changed with the exam, so don’t worry: all the facts and tips are still actual at the date of publishing this article. What struck me most after taking the exam is that it was not hard at all. I’ve read a lot of articles with the experience of the others whom took the exam and most of them were stating that it is very hard, but as I was advancing in tasks and questions during the exam I was getting more confident. Maybe it was because I was well prepared (and I will share below exactly how I prepared) or maybe it was because we, in the VMware Center of Excellence team from IBM, are quite experienced in working with vSphere. Since I took the exam, there have been 9 more colleagues whom passed it.

So here is how I did it:

I. Start:

I gave myself 3 weeks for preparing with about 4 hours per day, which should be more than enough for anyone who has at least some hands-on contact with vSphere 5.0, yes, luckily the exam is based on 5.0 so forget about SSO and webclient. I started by reading the program overview on MyLearn, just to get familiar with the exam format(number of questions, time allocated, retake policy, etc…) and then tried reading the blueprint, but I quit after several pages because the blueprint is basically a list of topics that will be covered during the exam, don’t get me wrong the blueprint is the key to the exam, however the doc itself will not help you unless you don’t start touching the documentation and practice with the items described on each line; for that I was sure that there are plenty of study guides on the Internet which are tied to the blueprint itself. So next I started looking online for these guides.

II. Read how others did it

I have read all the top 20 Google search results on “VCAP5-DCA exam experience”, to learn how the ones which passed did it and why some struggled, what guides they used and how they tackled the exam. I was thinking when I started to prepare that it will be useful to write my own study guide, but that will be redundant as the ones existing are really very well prepared, also the exam experiences shared by my fellow bloggers are very rich, giving you a very good view on which approaches/strategies work best, so I will just point you to the ones I used and which helped me and my colleagues to whom I was also recommending them.

III. Use a study guide

While many refer to Chris Wahl’s study guide, I found the guide created by Paul Grevnik to be more useful as it does cover each and every topic of the blueprint, but it provides only the essentials, a very well explained absolute minimum which was enough for me for each topic, and for those areas where I needed to read more he added links to useful resources where you can find more detailed explanations. I used the PDF version, but he added an online version as well, I strongly recommend using it: http://paulgrevink.wordpress.com/the-vcap5-dca-diaries/

IV. Get your hands dirty

For the blueprint topics where I was ok with the knowledge but I wanted a bit more hands on experience I used our team’s test lab, however any “home lab” (even running on a laptop) will suffice, if you can deploy 2-3 ESXi hosts, shared storage and a vCenter. Now, for the hands-on, I saw many are recommending to be able to perform the tasks with all the three ways of doing the things: vSphere Client, vCLI and PowerCLI. I strongly disagree, just do the tasks using the method that suits you better. You can easily pass the exam using the vSphere Client only. If you are not a CLI and/or scripting person, it will be very hard for you to change that only for this exam. Of course there are some topics in the blueprint and you may have them in the exam as well, where you can do the task only via vCLI or PowerCLI, these are well highlighted in the study guide so go on and repeat them until you are comfortable with them.

I also used the VMware Hands on Labs for practicing some of the topics where I was lacking the needed infrastructure and the nerves to build it, for example Autodeploy, I’m not sure if HOL is available only to VMware partners, but you can try to register, it’s a gold mine!

V. “Know” the documentation

During the exam you will have access to the official vSphere 5 documentation (the pdf documents), but do not expect that you will be able to use them much, I cannot disclose much, but I can highlight that being able to open the right pdf, use search and finding the info needed in the least amount of time possible is very helpful especially in situations where, for example, you need to configure an advanced setting and do not remember the exact name of that key. So download the documentation and get familiar with the docs, know what topics are covered in which doc, so that when you need the info you will know where to look.

VI. Know what to expect

Use the mock exam on MyLearn, it’s not much, but it gives you a taste of the real exam. Also, since I took the exam, there have been some sample questions appearing online, they are very useful to give a bit more insight on how the exam tasks will look like, here they are:

https://communities.vmware.com/message/2296321#2296321

https://communities.vmware.com/message/2308975#2308975

VII. Exam strategy

Prepare a strategy for this exam, this will increase your chances a lot; this exam unlike others should not be approached a linear fashion, you cannot start with task 1 and move incrementally to task 26, well … you can, but it will not be very efficient in my opinion. The strategy that worked best for me was to read each question and to write a very short (3-4 words) summary of the task on the whiteboard and also to categorize the task as: Create, Configure, Troubleshoot. The easiest and most accessible tasks (the low hanging fruits) will be the ones you are most comfortable with and the Create tasks, so start with them, order is quite important as some tasks will depend on the completion of a previous task, so after you have them written down spend some time planning the order. Then tackle the Configure tasks and leave the the Troubleshoot tasks for the end, as those tasks are the most time consuming and not highly scored. Very important is that you should move on whenever you are getting stuck in a task, do not try to even touch documentation or dig deeper until you have not completed the “low hanging fruits”. I used this strategy and I was able to complete 19 tasks (from the total of 26) in less than 3 hours. Even though you spend 15-20 minutes at the beginning of the exam for categorizing the tasks, you then have a clear view of what route to choose in order to complete as many tasks as possible in the limited time allocated.

I hope this article will help you pass VCAP5-DCA, Good luck!

VMworld 2013 Barcelona – part 3: Impressions and lessons learned

Impressions and lessons learned

VMworld has been a great experience and I am very happy I have attended it. I literally charged myself at this event, seeing the virtualization revolution happen again, at the whole datacenter level this time; it is very exciting even though in places it is quite scary as I am not very comfortable with advanced networking and because I realize there will be a huge effort needed to stay on top of all this new breakthroughs. VMware has 61 products !!! now on their portfolio, so it takes an insane amount of effort to know each of them and that’s why VMware has created separate education and certification tracks (datacenter virtualization, cloud, workforce mobility, operations), but the important message is that being a virtualization expert is not so simple anymore as only vSphere skills will not bring you very far.

My key takeaways after VMworld 2013, which will server as guidance until next VMworld:

  • VMware experts should learn advanced networking, while Networking experts should learn VMware(finally:) )
  • As the area covered by virtualization is widening, the automation and integration are key, so put a lot of focus on these
  • Analytics is growing and it’s not only something that the our infrastructure provide a platform for, but it is already used for analyzing our environments and it will find it’s way even deeper in our lives.
  • SDD (Software defined datacenter) is not a buzzword anymore, and it started to shape how HW is being designed, we have converged infrastructure(compute + storage) solutions growing. Soon we will have SDD appliances, with everything “in a box”, a plug and play datacenter, which you just need to power and provide cooling to.

I’m sure the list can be extended with more bullets, especially for mobile, but I wanted to stick to my specialty area.

And as a bonus, here are some tips if you will be attending next year’s event:

  • most of the sessions will be available as recording a couple of weeks after the event, so choose the ones that are not likely to be recorded: group discussions, NDA sessions (if you are a tap partner).
  • use the schedule builder tool available after you register at vmworld.com to schedule your sessions. I suggest building it at least 2 weeks in advance.
  • follow the tweets of the VMware “celebrities” for interesting tips on some extra activities (certification boot camps, parties, contests, etc…)
  • demos provided by the exhibitors in Solutions Exchange are the best way on how to get information about a product or technology, plan spending a lot of time there.
  • the venue is huge, you will need to walk A LOT, wear some comfortable shoes.
  • try to come in early (before 08:30) so you can enjoy a relaxed breakfast and have time for some networking with your peers, there are lots of options and many lounges where you can have a hot coffee/tea with some croissants/sandwiches/cookies.
  • use the VMworld mobile app, you can track your schedule, enroll/cancel sessions, provide feedback, see the venue maps and even win prizes.
  • the weather in Barcelona in October is not conference friendly, it will be too hot for a suit outside and also in the long hallways and it will be too cold for short sleeves in the huge conference rooms.
  • enroll for TAM day if you are a partner and have this possibility.
  • come a day early or leave a day later so you will have some time to visit the landmarks of Barcelona, because you will not have time during the conference, sessions end at 18:00 and usually there are lots of “after hours” activities from the sponsors.

See you again in Barcelona next year, Champions of the Cloud Era !

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VMworld 2013 Barcelona – part 2: Sessions and Booths

Tuesday 15 Oct. – Day 2 – Sessions

The day started with the General session, with an amazing laser show in the beginning which brought us to an elevated mental state:) I liked Pat comparing us to “dragon slayers, ninjas, gods” and ultimately to Champions of the Cloud Era. The stars of the keynote were NSX, vCloud Hybrid Service, vSphere 5.5 and the acquisition of Desktone, the keynote was broadcast live on VMworld.com, here is the recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nS1tK5p-2kM

I’ve just spotted myself in one of the pictures VMware published on Flickr (second from left to right in the first and closest row):

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I have spent quite a long time, about a month before attending, on building my schedule for the sessions and booking my place on the sessions I considered that will be interesting. For all the sessions the number of seats is limited (due to physical capacity of the conf. rooms obviously) and some of the interesting ones will be fully booked way before they start, so always book your place in advance, I think two weeks before the conference is a safe measure in order to be sure you will get a seat in the sessions you want.

My first session after the keynote was the group discussion on HA led by Duncan Epping; there was a huge queue of people at the door, they were those whom wanted to attended but did not book the place in advance, but they were lucky that Duncan managed to convince the organizers to allow those people standing in the room. Duncan managed to lead an engaging  discussion, however I was quite disappointed by the skill level of some of the participants whom had no knowledge of basic HA and were wasting the time with some questions for which they could find the answer on Google in 10 seconds.

The second session I attended was “Automating the Software Defined Data Center: How Do I Get Started?” presented by Thomas Corfmat and Alan Renouf. The session introduced the audience on the VMware solutions for automation; while the presenters were really entertaining and fun, that was not exactly what I was expecting, I was looking for some more insights on the methodologies for automation and ways on how to deal with the “new” concept of SDN.

The last session for the day was “Software-Defined Datacenter Design Panel for Monster VM’s: Taking the Technology to the Limits for High Utilisation, High Performance Workloads”, phew that’s a long name. This really was a fun and engaging session with the top experts where they shared some tips on how to deal with Melvin the Monster VM. The panel was comprised of the following experts:

Mostafa Khalil – Technical Support Director, VMware
Emad Benjamin – Principal Architect, VMware
Frank Denneman – Tech Evangelist, PernixData
Andrew Mitchell – Strategic Architect, Cloud Infrastructure and Management, VMware
Michael Webster – Strategic Architect, APJ COE, VMware

On the loooong way between the Solutions Exchange area and the Sessions area (where all the conference rooms are located) there was a nice surprise by VMware, a time machine wall, with all the VMware milestones listed, there is where I really started with VMware, in 2007 when I saw for the first time vMotion! It was really magic and there is when I decided I wanted to be a part of this magic:

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Wednesday 16 Oct. – Day 3 – Sessions and Booths

The day started with a general session also, where the main attraction was the theatrical discussion between Carl Eschenbach (President, Chief Operating Officer) and Kit Colbert ( Principal Engineer ) demonstrating the power and value of the Software-Defined Data Center. While the show was in moments a bit too artificial (obviously they are not good actors for this kind of performance), it was still fun and enjoyable, and both successfully delivered the key message that VMware is making both business guys and IT guys happy. You can watch a recording of the session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_iLwappdaE

After the general session, we decided with my colleagues to go visit the Solutions Exchange, I had some session planned for the morning, but I used the VMworld mobile application to cancel it. I started with the IBM booth, not only because I’m an IBMer, but also because it was the first booth near the entrance:) . I saw the PureFlex system at the booth and I immediately asked one of the IBM colleagues presenting to open it so we can see the guts. I am very familiar with PureFlex as I have designed solutions using it and I have colleagues whom wrote IBM RedBooks on this topic, but I really wanted to see and touch it. But what really impressed me at the IBM booth is that they had a demo and contest using the Emotiv headset which you could use to mind-control some toy cars on a toy-track. The person who would do the highest number of laps in 1 minute would be the winner of an iPad. They even had a Stig present to promote it. I really love this technology and I am planning to buy a headset and the SDK in order to play with this, so I was really happy to see it in action. However, all this was not enough to make the IBM popular mainly because it takes about 15 minutes to setup the headset (with all the “teaching” that you have to do in order software to map your brain waves to some actions), so you can imagine that there were not many people queuing for this demo; even I, as an enthusiast of this kind of technology, gave up trying it when I saw that there are 2 people in front waiting and that I would have to wait ate least 30 minutes to try it… Anyways, it was a nice effort from the organizers.

proxy

Next booth I visited was the Dell booth, where I tried the Caterham F1 simulator and also had short of demo and presentation of the rack servers they were displaying. They do have powerful and reliable HW, but to be honest I am not a fan of the design and the choice of colors for the servers. There was a funny moment at the Dell booth involving my colleague Bogdan Bolos: on my VMworld badge I had the company name IGS (from IBM Global Services) and I was treated quite well by the Dell staff, but Bogdan had IBM on the badge and he was completely ignored by the staff.

Next up I had two more session scheduled, for which I was not very enthuziastic anymore, after seeing the immense Solutions Exchange space and the number of interesting companies and technologies that I needed to go and discover, but I decided to attend them anyways. First was a deep dive of the version 7 of my favorite B&R solution for virtual environments: Veeam Backup and Replication, presented by Anton Gostev; it was interesting as it covered the new features in v7, which are quite impressive, though I was expecting a bit more depth as the title of the session contained “deep dive”.

The next session was by Dell and Caterham F1 team titled:  “The Virtual World of Formula 1 – How The Caterham F1 Team and Dell took the virtual datacenter trackside and made it work”. I love F1 and I was curious to see how IT works for a F1 team and where virtualization fits in , even if Caterham is not my favorite team. Another reason for enrolling to this session is that I was considering applying for a job opening in Williams F1 team as Infrastructure Engineer (Race Team). The session was very fun and it provided very interesting details about how ingeniously you have to use all the available HW and SW resources for an always moving F1 team, how FIA regulates the use of IT for the teams, for example all the teams are limited for having maximum 40 Teraflops for their research compute resources. Another interesting detail I learned is that FIA also regulates the number of people that a team can have in their garage for the Grand Prix, so most of the teams will have just 1 guy for the IT (to load/unload IT equipment, cabling, setting up and all the IT activities), which really negates all the fun and coolness of being working for a F1 team.

The day ended with the VMworld party, but as I was in Barcelona with my family I skipped the party and had a very nice dinner with my wife and son at Rembrandt Cafe, where we had the best nachos in Barcelona as they are advertising. I’ve been at the party last year and it is epic, the only problem is that it ends at 22:00, but maybe that is better as no one can blame the organizers for the very low attendance on the following day:)

Thursday 17 Oct. – Day 4 – Booths

Last day felt and started very special as above the venue there was a very interesting and rare phenomenon called cloud iridescence, it is the first time in my life I see it and I will take as a sign, that cloud is the future, it is bright and colorful.

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On the last day there was no morning General Session, so we started early with a coffee at the Partner Lounge and then moved on to the Solutions Exchange, I had a session scheduled from 10:30 but I canceled it as I knew the recording would be available later.

We started with a demo at Nutanix, one of the hot startups in converged infrastructure, they have a very impressive datacenter solution that consolidates compute and storage, is very scalable while providing performance and resiliency. I liked a lot the HTML5 based “Prism UI” that they use.

While roaming around I spotted Mostafa Khalil at the VMware NSX booth, I remembered I had some questions related to firewall on NSX and also related to the VCDX defense, so I went to the booth and approached him. It turns out that the VCDX defenses will follow the VMware events (Partner Exchange, VMworld), unlike previous years where there were sessions scheduled for each geographical area. This will make my VCDX adventure a bit longer, as I was hoping for a defense session in Europe during spring as it was the case until this year, so I will try my luck to get the trip funded by my employer fr the next Partner Exchange in US, in February.

We moved on to the VMware Log Insight booth, where we had a quick demo from Matt McLaughlin (Sr. Manager, Log Insight). I played with v1.0 of Log Insight in our test lab and I saw a huge potential, I am also part of the beta testing program for version 1.5 and I will try to write a deep dive article about it because I think this is a “must have” for any virtual environment, well… please let me reformulate it: this should be a must have for any IT environment! it handles any syslog based system where forwarding is possible, even MS Active Directory; it stores the log data with customizable retention period, thus satisfying any compliance requirements; it parses and analyses that log data and makes it available on the smart dashboard, where you can filter by event ID, system, date, keyword or any other filter you may think of. You can even define variables (keywords) and plot the values of those variables over time, an amazing feature! It definitely deserves more attention, so I will play more with it and share my experience with it on this blog.

Next up, after lunch I had a session scheduled, which I did not want to miss, because it would most likely not available as a recording (under NDA) and also because the person presenting was Adina Simu (Sr. Product Manager), she is the only fellow Romanian working for VMware on such a position, so me and the romanians from the team wanted to introduce ourselves. The session was a technical roadmap of NSX, available only for TAP (Technology Adaption Partners) thus the Non-Disclosure Agreement, which holds me from blogging the details of the session, but I can just say that the future will be very exciting.

We moved back to Solutions Exchange and had demos from PernixData (you can read a nice review from Duncan here) on their Flash Virtualization Platform and from Paloalto Networks on their virtualized firewall solution, complementary to NSX. Both are really solid solutions and we are already seeing customers adopting them.

We finished the day with a tour for collecting souvenirs (promotional materials from the exhibitors) that we can bring back to the colleagues at the office whom missed this year’s VMworld.

I finished my day together with my family visiting the Barcelona aquarium and a nice relaxed dinner, before starting to pack up for Friday’s flight.

VMworld 2013 Barcelona – part 1: VCDX boot camp and Partner Day

Another VMworld has just passed, it’s my third one already after last year and Copenhagen 2010. While I enjoyed much more the Copenhagen event over last year’s VMworld, I must say that I was really impressed by the one this year. I will share my impressions for the event along with some tips for those whom never attended it, but most certainly should (as you are now reading a virtualization blog).

From our VMware Center of Excellence team in IBM we had 10 out of 20 attending VMworld, we really are a team of enthusiast experts, especially that the travel and accommodation costs were covered personally, no business trip this year unfortunately.

This year I decided to travel to Barcelona with my lovely wife and 15 months old son. We arrived in Barcelona on Saturday 12.Oct around noon, together with 3 of my colleagues as we had the same flight from Prague. We booked an apartment in the SATA Olympic Village complex, it was not cheap but it was the best choice for a young family. The location was great, within 15 minutes of walk from Sagrada Familia and the Barceloneta beach, very well connected via public transport with most of the city, especially with Fira Gran Via, the venue for VMworld.

On the evening we had a walk in the park near our hotel and then we went to sleep early, a busy week was waiting ahead.

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Sunday 13 Oct. – VCDX boot camp

As I am preparing for my VCDX defense for next year, I was really happy when my colleague Stanimir Markov (VCDX #74) suggested to attend this event. If you are wondering how to be aware and apply for such events, the easiest option is to follow Mark Brunstad (VCDX Program Manager) and John Arrasjid (VCDX #001 and VCDX “evangelist”) on Twitter.

The event took place in a conference room at Hotel Melia and it was a great experience as we have been walked through the whole process from the motivation to become a VCDX to the content of the design, tips for defense session and for the design and troubleshooting scenarios. We were 20 attendees, 9 from my team (for which I was really proud) and we had also 11 VCDXes helping the hosts and observing: Michael Webster, Mostafa Khalil, Alexander, Tomas Fojta, just to mention a few… The VCDX boot camp slide deck can be found online here but the value is in attending the actual event, mostly from the questions raised and answers given by the experts and also from getting the energy from being in the same room with these celebrities. I recommend reading Paul Meehan’s review of the VCDX boot camp, he also attended it and has done a great job in summarizing all the topics discussed: http://paulpmeehan.com/2013/10/18/vmware-vcdx-boot-camp-review131013/

Monday 14 Oct. – Day 1 – Partner day (TAM day for me)

As IBM is “premium” partner of VMware, I had the opportunity to attend the partner day, specifically TAM day, an exclusive event dedicated to TAM Services customers, where we had access “to VMware experts who will discuss the best practices, innovative technologies and strategies that will accelerate your IT transformation.” as advertised on the TAM day program guide.

This, in my view, was the best experience I had at VMworld as it provides a more personal relation to the company.

I loved the executive keynote by Paul Stong (acting VMware CTO),  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1PrIcR-K1U. While he does not have the same charisma as Steve Herrod (the ex-CTO), Paul delivered a very inspirational and “TED” like session.

I also enjoyed the Birds of a Feather luncheon, where there were about 15 roundtables, each with some experts in a specific area, where you could just have your lunch while discussing the topics with the experts. I sat at a table with Duncan Epping and Lee Dilworth where we had a nice chat about Metro Storage Cluster, right next to me there was the table where Alan Renouf and William Lam were discussing automation, but the topics at our table were interesting enough to keep me there for the whole lunch time.

The closing keynote delivered by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger was also fun, especially that in the end we had a very nice reception where we enjoyed good quality wine, spanish cheese, seafood and the opportunity to meet Pat himself.