Achievement Unlocked: VCAP5-DCA


Good News, Everyone!

Today, I sat and passed the VCAP5-DCA. This was my 2nd run at the exam. First time, I missed the mark by 5 points. This time, I found those 5 points… as well as 68 more. I feel like I did really well. I can’t thank the community enough for the support. Huge shout out to Joshua Andrews¬†and his test track lab for giving me the opportunity to plan, learn, and cram. I truly don’t think I could have passed without it. If you’re going for the DCA, I HIGHLY recommend it.

There is now even better news on top of just another VCAP. I have now fulfilled all the pre-requisites for the VCDX submission. I’ve been slowly starting to pull my design together the past couple months. Now that the DCA and DCD are under my belt, the only thing in between me and my # is that silly application, acceptance, and defense stuff ūüôā

Looking forward to some posts on the design / VCDX process, as well as hopefully a VCDX pass after a while. We’ll see!


Let’s get ready to VMworld!


It’s almost that time again! VMworld 2016 is coming to you live from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino from August 28th – September 1st. There is still time to get in for your first trip, or your 13th. This year, as with most years, is poised to be the best VMworld yet. Some of the best breakouts from the most sought after speakers are lined up. If you’re going and have never been before, I created a guide here. Just ignore the San Francisco specific stuff. You’ll come home with a massive collection of goodies, so bring room.

On top of all the sessions, you’ll be doing a ton of networking. Come out and meet some of the guys in the community who you’ve learned so much from. Top folks from all over the world will be in town for the event. Want to just chill and listen to some informal talks? Spend the day in the hang space listening to the vBrownBag tech talks. I’ll be giving two, I believe.

And absolutely don’t forget about the vendor events. Check out the gatherings¬†page for more info on the things going on. Fall Out Boy and Capital Cities will be playing the VMworld Party this year, at the Las Vegas Speedway. Want to ride a lap around the track in a pace car? This is your chance!

Want to register? Go here¬†and I’ll see you there!


My time @VMware (A Love Story)

So, I’m sure I’ve made it very apparent over the past couple months that I made a transition in jobs. I left Dell Services and became a Sr. Pre-Sales SE in the NSBU @VMware. I knew since I started working with VMware products that I would eventually like to work at the “mothership”. I had always heard nothing but great things about the company. After my first couple months in, I can tell you insider information.¬†It’s even better than anyone ever said.

The people, the products, all of it. I never thought I would join the NSX team. I always thought it was one of the coolest products, but didn’t think I fit the mold for the SE role in NSBU. I was wrong. There is no mold. Everyone I have met and worked with so far has been more than helpful in getting me up to speed. I’ve been offered more training than I could possibly take in 5 lifetimes. And I’ve tried to take all of it.


I’ve spent two weeks this month in Palo Alto. If you’ve never been to the headquarters of a tech company in the Bay Area, you’re missing out. The VMware campus is brilliant. Nested in the hills. The sprawling campus is covered in beautiful trees, long walking paths, employees w/ their dogs, and even¬†turtles! The company has gone a LONG way to ensure that employees are happy. Food options for every diet, fresh fruit weekly, bagel / pastry days, coolers full of all types of drinks for all types of tastes, and snacks for all types of tastes as well! My family flew in to town for the last few days, and my wife was floored. As a public school teacher from a smaller district in Texas, she never imagined company HQ’s could be this way. Her exact quote was, “Stupid-Crazy Big.” My daughter enjoyed the cupcakes ūüôā

As some of you have seen, I have stock-piled a small hoard of Certifications in my time here. As I work for VMware, their certs are… affordable. They provide me the opportunity to go for the certs I have been studying on, for such a long while. It was just cost prohibitive before. I have been pushed and encouraged to go for the gold. My overall career goal right now is VCDX. My boss is a double-VCDX (DCV, NV). While he can steer my career in the right direction for this goal, he can’t directly be involved as he is a panelist. I also have a crew of VCDX’s that I know that have all advised that they are willing to help in any way possible. Being at VMware, I’ll have the best opportunities to study, attempt, and complete my goal. I have a great team around me and behind me to get me to the end goal.

Other than VCDX, which is my overall goal, CCNA is next on my plate. I am going to put my nose to the grind-stone to get this done. It was on my 6 month plan, and I have 4 months to complete. This is part of the overall plan to get me where I need to be to be a great NSX SE. As with any other job I have ever done, I am pushing myself on the fast-track to be the best possible. I’ve heard there is an award for SE of the year. I want it. It will be mine.

I’ve already spent some time with customers, and gotten great feedback on the presentation, the product, and everything in between. I feel I made the right choice jumping on board with Team NSX. I can’t wait to see what all we have coming up!

If you have the opportunity to join Team VMware… Do. It. Run as fast as you can towards us. You won’t regret it.



Achievement Unlocked: VCIX-NV

As some of you may have known, I did not successfully pass the VCIX-NV my first try. I sat it 7 days ago, and missed the mark by 8 points. Today, I re-sat the exam, and passed by 47 points. I am extremely excited to be up at the VCIX level now. I am part of a great group of people, and even further on my way to VCDX.

By now, you have all heard how awful the lab is. I did it on a weekend twice, and the performance was not terrible. Laggy, but could be dealt with. No major lab provision issues.

I want to put out a HUGE shout out to Martijn for the lab guide that got me where I needed to be. This is an invaluable resource for VCIX-NV (6.0). Note that this will be out of date when the VCAP6-NV Deploy comes out soon, but it can be updated and most is still relevant. Just buttons may be worded differently.

Thanks for all the support from friends, family, and community!



My Top 10 Album List!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You didn’t ask me for this. Well,¬†@h0bbel¬†threw the gauntlet down in public a while back, and I have been bashing my head in ever since to answer back. I have finally figured it out. Or, at least, I am going with this iteration. I could have changed it around and in and out a million times. Well. Here we go!

10. Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends

Really, in the mix for one of the best done albums of all time. Great tunes with a couple of dueling vocalists. Was the album to my summer before senior year (yes, I know this is giving away my young-er age. This entire list has some stuff only a 30-something could love).

9. Avenged Sevenfold – Avenged Sevenfold

If you haven’t heard this album, then give it a while and report back to the list. This group of musicians 100% know how to write an album. Hard, to easy, to…well… I can’t even begin to explain what “A Little Piece of Heaven” is. Have a listen for yourself. And this was one of (or the) last albums that The Rev was alive to record the drums for.

8. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II

Absolutely no explanation necessary. If you have to ask, “Why didn’t you choose the one with Stairway on it?” Then you need to move on. Just go.

7. Staind – Break the Cycle

I had a hard time choosing between Break the Cycle and Dysfunction. Their debut album is so raw and real. But god help me, I just love this album. Gave them a bit more studio polish to iron out their sound. And still before they went off the rails to the way lighter side for a couple albums.

6. Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?

I would give anything to go back in time in a DeLorean to see Hendrix live. I was really born in the wrong time. It would be impossible to have a list of mine without this album.

5. Breaking Benjamin – Phobia

I ranked them so high here due to their live shows. As a guitarist / musician of over 20 years, I value stage presence VERY high. Breaking Benjamin can throw down a show just as well as they can in a studio. And this is a great album.

4. Green Day – Dookie

Oh yes… My introduction to Punk Rock. I had a cassette tape of Basket Case that I recorded off the radio. I wore that tape OUT. Finally got this album, and it was actually my first CD. And it was the first album I taught myself on Guitar.

3. Slipknot – Slipknot

And since we just got through my intro to Punk and Rock, this was my jump off the cliff from Punk Rock to Hard Rock / Metal. This group changed the game. Some people call it noise. You show me any other group that can put 9 people on a stage and make brilliantly written music. It would be impossible. I am a fan of ANYTHING that Corey Taylor puts his hands on. Slipknot, Stone Sour, and his Solo CMFT stuff. Brilliant guy.

2. Incubus – Make Yourself

Oh, Incubus. Some of the greatest indy musicians gone mainstream. I could have put any of their albums on here, but this one is the one I listened to for basically a year straight. A great range of musical styles in here.

  1. Finch – What it is to Burn

I found Finch in the middle of High School. Great split guitarists, well produced, and an all around great album. Runs the gamut of a relationship from New Beginnings, through the fight (Project Mayhem) through the end (Ender). A really well done album. And they put on a killer show live.

Well. This is it. Going to publish it now. I know the second I do I’ll want to change it. It’s SO HARD TO DO THIS.


Achievement Unlocked: VCAP5-DCD

My day has come! I am finally part of the VCAP club. Today, I sat, and passed, the VCAP5-DCD exam. I have to say, it was the most brutal 3 hours of my life. So many ups and downs. I had no idea how things were going to go when I clicked “End Exam”. It took me a few seconds of staring when I saw the score for it to sink in. I sat in the chair staring at the screen for a couple minutes. I even forgot to finalize the exam ending and walked out to the proctor to get the score sheet. When it didn’t come out, we realized that I didn’t click to close out. Then there it was. My score sheet. Pass.

The score was, in all honesty, better than I expected. I got a 337 out of 500. While you only need 300 to pass, making 337 not that impressive, I truly only had hoped for a 301. I am thrilled with what I got.

Let’s go for a little exam prep / experience. My exam prep was not what I recommend for someone wanting to sit down and crank out the DCD. I’ve been working towards this for a couple years now. I’ve been working on vSphere / VDI Design for a couple years. So a lot of it was practical knowledge. I also went over the VCAP5-DCD Simulator¬†until I felt I was only answering from memory. Then I didn’t go back for months, then I did it again. It’s great. 100% use the blueprint and go through some of the PDF’s on consulting (risk, constraint, assumption, requirement type stuff). There is a Google Plus group you can join with a ton of great info / people / stories.

Also, I did the I really never sat back and said “Alright, lets do this!” and put my nose to the grindstone. I really only went for it because I had been kicking it along for a while. Decided today was the day. I don’t recommend this.

If you’ve never done a Design exam, or even a VCAP, I highly recommend you mentally prepare. Sleep well, have a good breakfast, take the exam early (unless you’re an afternoon kind of person.) I did not spend my evening before studying, as that bums me out, and I figured I wouldn’t get any better in 1 last night. The exam is 22 questions. Most are drag-and-drop style questions. There are 9 Visio-style design tool questions, 1 of which is a “Master Design.” My master design item came at like halfway through the exam. I immediately marked it and moved on. I highly recommend saving this for the end. They say to allow 30 minutes for it, I ended up starting this with 1 hr flat left. I truly can’t remember how long it took, I know I finished early.

As far as tips, I really have 1 big one. READ THE QUESTION. Did you read that? Did you get it? Read it again. Then read it again. Who knows, the question could give you part of the answer. You’d never know if you didn’t read it.

So that’s it. Not a lot of info, but enough. I just needed to tell anyone else that would listen that I passed. Best of luck for everyone else in your endeavors. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it. I’ll be glad to tell you what I can.



Time For A Change: Career Edition

It is with mixed emotions that I am writing this today. I will be leaving my current role as Sr. Virtualization Engineer for Dell Services. Over the past 3 years, I have had the privilege of working for one of the largest accounts for Dell Services. I was hired on as a Wintel engineer with a strong knowledge of VMware. From there, I quickly became the Principal Architect and SME for the VDI solution. I have also become the Infrastructure Lead. I owe a huge debt to my original hiring manager, as well as the Cloud Services manager that helped build me up to where I am today. I will be leaving one of the greatest team of people I have had the opportunity to work with.

As of April 18th, 2016, I will shift directions slightly. I will be joining the VMware NSBU as Senior Systems Engineer, NSX Enterprise. While a lot of the existing NSBU folks have a heavy background in networking, I will be bringing my heavy virtualization background to the table. I am greatly looking forward to the opportunity to dive head first into one of the coolest pieces of technology to hit the streets. I will be working alongside and under some of the most gifted minds in the industry. This is extremely exciting for me, and I cannot wait to start.

One of the biggest goals I have for my life and career is to learn all I possibly can. While I have a grasp of basic networking, this job will give me the opportunity to jump out of my comfort zone¬†and on to the bleeding edge of a rapidly growing technology. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for NSX, and I’ll be sure to share it with all of you. Stay tuned!




Welcome to another installment of the “Tim needs to learn networking better”¬†series.¬†This episode is not really anything specifically NSX related. I want to implement OSPF on my lab network, but before I can do that, I really should understand what it is and what it does. I decided to add a couple other protocols used in the lab. This write-up is simply for my own sanity-checking. If someone else finds it useful, cool!

Note: If you’re a network expert and have any corrections, or anything to add, please do! ūüôā


Open Shortest Path First (OSPF)


OSPF is the most widely used of all the Interior Gateway Protocols (IGP – Protocol used inside organizations / networks). OSPF is generally implemented when a network grows too big for RIP to be effective. RIP is not the fastest protocol at scale as it only keeps information about the local router and neighbors. OSPF stores information about the complete topology (Self, Neighbors, and all adjacent segments). This allows devices to calculate what the fastest route is from point to point based on full topology. The protocol works with effective “areas”. This is the equivalent of departments in an office building. The office building would be “area 0” then each of the departments would be the other area #’s. This sets up logical groupings of routers with 0 being the backbone communication area.

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)


Border Gateway Protocol is considered “the protocol of the internet”. It is the most widely used Exterior Gateway Protocol (EGP – Protocol used between organizations / networks). BGP allows routers to communicate with autonomous networks (networks outside of your own). The protocol is used to ensure your traffic makes it out of your network, through the vast internet, and into the correct destination network. As IP blocks are not “logically” assigned by geographic region, or anything like that, routers need another way of knowing how to get packets from your network to the destination network. The protocol allows routers to answer other routers that they know where the packets are supposed to go, so to send the info to them so it can be sent on.

Spanning Tree Protocol (STP)


Spanning Tree Protocol was created before the time of switches, even though it is still widely implemented today on networks with switches. STP is used to ensure loop-free topology in bridged networks. This mitigates the issue of routing loops on the network with logical blocking. The protocol is also implemented to manage purposely-planned redundant loops. This allows for the active-standby use of connection loops, so that when a link goes down, STP can mitigate the dead path by activating the 2nd path.

Thanks for playing along, as always!


I…have made fire!: An NSX Story

In my¬†last post¬†I went through my initial deployment of the NSX Manager appliance. I have, since then, done so much more. As I told you in that post, networking is not my strong suit. I am really trying to learn as much as possible to try and fill in the holes. My big feat thus far? I have completely deployed a new network segment in my lab, using NSX. While in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t huge, it is to me.

I have 3 IP spaces in my house. – Physical – Home Network – Physical – Lab Network – NSX – Horizon

The network will soon be expanded to, I just wanted to get it working for now. I have generated a quick and dirty Visio of my current setup. With the magic of static routes in strategic places, I am able to communicate from my laptop on the 192 segment all the way through and back to my Horizon View servers that are Physically in the 172 segment, but logically (NSX) in the 10 segment.

2016-03-19 08_37_11-C__Windows_system32_cmd.exe

This is really cool for me. It was a struggle for me to configure the original handoff to from the 192 segment to the 172 segment. I have routes all over the place. Check out the Visio below:


I’ll be doing some more posts on my overall NSX config, as well as some blogs on setting up Horizon View for Load Balancing and Distributed Firewall on NSX. Keep checking back for more fun!


VMware NSX: Appliance Deployment


Hello, and welcome to what will probably be a series of posts about a topic that is way over my head. Hopefully this exercise will make me a bit better in what seems to be a weak point for me. Networking and Security.

VMware NSX is the network virtualization platform for the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC).

Today, we’ll be simply deploying the appliance, and configuring the vCenter in the appliance. This is a very non-technical procedure, but who knows. Someone may find it useful. Let’s get started.

First thing I did was to launch vCenter, and Deploy OVF Template. I pointed the wizard at the NSX manager I downloaded from

01 - OVF

From there, you’ll see the details of the OVF. Including the verified VMware publisher.

02 - OVF

Next, you’ll need to accept the EULA. Make sure you read and understand all of it. It’s a binding contract.

03 - OVF

Name the VM and select the folder within your vCenter structure.

04 - OVF

Select the cluster.

05 - OVF

Select which datastore or DS cluster you wish to put the NSX Manager VM on.

06 - OVF

I selected Thin Provisioning by default.

07 - OVF

Tell the wizard which portgroup you wish to put the NSX Manager VM on. I have mine on Network Services.

08 - OVF

The next page you will setup your passwords for the appliance. You’ll also setup the IP / DNS info.

09 - OVF

Verify on the next page that all of your information is correct, before you deploy.

10 - OVF

You should now see the deployment task in vCenter.

11 - vCenter Task

Voila! We have now deployed the NSX Manager appliance. Now let’s tie it to vCenter.


Login with the Admin user, and your default password that you specified during the OVF deployment.

13 - NSX Login

Once inside the NSX Manager console, we’ll want to go to Manage vCenter Registration.

14 - vCenter Reg

From here, we have a pair of settings we need to configure. The Lookup Service for SSO registration, and the vCenter Connection. Lookup service will be the IP of vCenter (or external PSC / SSO), the default port of 7444 (unless changed) and your SSO admin credentials.

15 - vCenter Reg 2

The vCenter Server info is the DNS name, admin user, and password used to access vCenter.

16 - vCenter Reg 3

Accept any certificate warnings.

17 - vCenter Reg 4

Now we’re all setup! We have two Green LED’s on the sections we need. Perfect!

18 - vCenter Reg Done

This is a shot of the home screen of the NSX Manager appliance portal. Shows resource usage, and service status.

19 - NSX Appliance Home

Now, if we login to the vCenter Web Client (Can’t access NSX from C# client) we see the NSX Networking & Security icon.

20 - NSX vCenter

There you have it. It’s extremely straight-forward to deploy and link the NSX Manager to vCenter.

Stay tuned for more on VMware NSX. The next blog should be on basic host-prep and service deployment. I’ll be deploying it for use in my vSphere¬†home lab, as well as integration into¬†VMware Horizon View.