Hating Yourself: The VCDX Way!

So, here we are. It is Thursday, October 5th, 2017.

I was supposed to be a VCDX  by now…

After being called out by Ariel on Twitter, I called my shot. I said that I would be submitting by December 2016. That very obviously didn’t happen. Life, and the process, is hard. Never underestimate how much work goes into a design. I thought to myself, “I know everything about the design IRL. I can do this quick and easy.” Well, that’s just not how it works in the real world.

I have heard many stories of people who have gone into hiding during the writing process. Neglecting their family and friends for a while, etc. I’m sure this is a very effective way of completing quickly. I simply cannot do that. This certification is my one and only career goal at this current point in time. But, family comes first, and work comes second. As badly as I want this certification, I’m not going to cripple my life over it. Now, in reading and hearing some people’s experiences with this cert, some may say that because I don’t want to cripple my life over it, I simply just don’t want it bad enough. And, this isn’t the case. Professionally, it really is my ONLY goal right now. I’ve had talks with my managers over it. I always get asked “what do you want to be doing in 5 years” type questions. The answer is the same. I want to be a VCDX.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been ruthlessly pushed along the way by a merry band of lunatics… The #VCDXWolfPack. Very firm, but accepting. My kind of lunatics. All, but 1, currently have gotten numbers not counting myself. We swore we were in it to win it this round that ended in September. Yep, that didn’t work out.

Where am I going with all this rambling about my utter failures as a man, and a human being? It’s simple. That is OK. Sometimes, schedules don’t work out. As a wise woman once said, “Remember, your goals are allowed to evolve.” It’s a personal journey, and my want for the certification is 100% selfish. I just want it for myself. Just like my college degree. I had my career started LONG before I went back to school. I just got it for me.

So, eventually, I will be a VCDX. I stopped stressing myself out over dates, and am working on my design during my free time to ensure that I can try and knock it out first try. Whenever that happens to be. We’ll see how that goes. Best of luck to everyone who submitted September 22nd for the December defenses!


My Face: VMworld 2017 Edition

Well, VMworld 2017 is officially a wrap! To make it official, the badge has been retired to the collection:

This was an extremely successful VMworld. I spent most of my time in the Hands-on-Labs area, working as a proctor. We cleared over 11k labs in under a week. That is fantastic.

Some of you may have noticed that I wasn’t out and around the conference anywhere near as much as I was in previous years. This is due to the HOL job. It really takes a LOT of work to make HOL go as well as it does. You need a lot of rest. Even though I was not physically around much, you may have seen my face quite a bit. I ended up showing up all over the place.

Let’s start with the stickers. Throughout the past year, Ariel has been asking for a high-res picture of my face. This is due to the running gag that I am “The Face” of vExpertNSX. Shortly before VMworld, I thought he was joking when he said I was going to be a sticker. This was, in fact, not a joke. These were passed out in Vegas, and a package is making it’s way to Barcelona for VMworld EU. Here it is in all it’s glory:

Now, it wasn’t just stickers. Thanks to Ronbecca and Rubrik, I am also a part of the #vAllStars trading card series!

If stickers and trading cards aren’t your thing, maybe you found a copy of the vTrail Map book. It is part of the new LevelUp Program that is being setup by Druva. Huge thanks to Yadin for getting the book put together. I am now the NSX Ambassador for the vTrail Map, which is a great book on all the different areas of VMware, and the best posts / videos to get started with:

So now we have stickers, trading cards, and books. That is all we have for the print media. But, that is just 2d renderings of my face. While I was not out and about much, I did find my way around a few times. I spent almost 7 full minutes in the VM Village talking to Tim Smith about… Can you guess the subject?… Of course you can. NSX of course!

And, in a final act of pure excellence, I made my way to the vBrownBag stage to deliver one of the many sessions that I had denied for the official session list. The session was called, “NSX: Out of the Box, and into Production!” This focused on the use cases for NSX, which one is the easiest to deploy, and then using vRNI to kick the process into overdrive. Check it out!

Well, that’s all I have. I had a great time, and got a lot done. I have also done an almost complete true-up on all the people I know from the community, but hadn’t met in person. It was great to meet so many of you in real life. Safe travels home to all!


Home Lab: Networking Upgrade

It’s been a long time since I have done a new installment in my homelab series. I have been pretty busy with my new endeavors as an NSX SE. More on how that’s going in a later post. Today, we’re going to talk about my recent networking upgrade in the home / home lab.

I used to have a Linksys by Cisco E2500 running the Tomato firmware. This worked well for a while. Recently it has been randomly dropping packets for 10 seconds here and there. Also, it has not been cooperating with my sub-par ISP. I have now upgraded to an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X, and UAP-AC-LR.

I have been eyeing these for quite some time. They are all the rage in the vExpert #Homelab slack channel. So let’s get moving with this riveting tale.

Let’s start with a huge road block I ran into. Ask me how many computers I have in my house with an RJ45 port. Go ahead. Ask. The answer is 1. Is this the $3k MacBook Pro Retina that I use for work? Is it my personal MacBook Air? Is it my wife’s MacBook? Nope. Not 1 of those. I never once thought about my lack of network jacks until I needed it. The 1 computer in the house with a network port is my wifes OLD iMac. This is one of those White ones. So I had to pull this thing upstairs just so I could connect the router to it to configure it.

I wanted this upgrade / swap to have as little downtime as possible to my home network. So I decided to configure the EdgeRouter as far as possible, then do a quick swap. I started off by logging into the EdgeRouter and configuring the LAN and WAN. I have a statically assigned WAN IP, so I went in and set that up on eth0. I then configured the remaining ports for LAN, and enabled a DHCP server for the scope. This will fulfill my home LAN / Internet configuration needs.

Now here is  where things get weird. The UniFi Access Points require a piece of software to run to initially configure. So, where am I going to put it? I have a vSphere lab, so I put it in there. This is on the subnet behind my Cisco 2821. No problem right? Well, the AP is going to live on the segment on the EdgeRouter. So, I put in the required static routes from the “home” segment to the “lab” segment. Fired up the UniFi Controller software and the UAP-AC-LR hardware. But, is it going to work?! The answer is no. UniFi will not locate AP’s across L3 boundaries. So, how did I fix this? I did what anybody would do. I configured a switchport on the 2960 for VLAN 50 (where the UniFi is), setup a DHCP scope, and plugged the AP into it. Success! The AP was “adopted”. Now, I moved it back to the home network segment, and since routing is in place, and it has the Controller IP address, it came right back up.

So now, we have Routing, and we have Wireless. As far as my wife is concerned, we’re done. I powered off the old router and swapped all the devices to the new AP.

Bonus Round:

So, while I was technically done with the Home Lab network upgrade, I have a bit of a bonus. The reason why I opted for the EdgeRouter is for dynamic routing. I do BGP / OSPF inside my NSX lab, and wanted to have dynamic routing peered all the way from my ISP handoff (EdgeRouter) to the Lab Router (Cisco 2821) in to NSX.

I started out by enabling BGP on the EdgeRouter. I gave it an AS of 1, and told it to advertise all routes. I then went into the Cisco and enabled BGP. I added some networks to test, and then ran the ‘show ip bgp neighbors’ on both routers. Established, Up. Ok, that’s great. Did ‘show ip route’ on each. All the routes…except BGP. What gives? I banged my head against a wall on this one for a while. I have never done BGP on a Cisco router before. Adding ‘network x.x.x.x’ doesn’t automatically advertise routes. I removed all the ‘network’ lines, and issued the auto-summary. Well, would you look at that. We have routes!


As you can see, the route is now advertised as BGP from the 2821 to the EdgeRouter. The EdgeRouter is, and the transit network on the 2821 is into the network.


Now as you can see in the 2821 CLI above, I have a BGP route from the EdgeRouter for my home segment. Everything is working!

I am in the middle of an NSX re-deploy to 6.2.4, so I’ll update this once it’s done and peered!



Let VMworld be open!


It is finally upon us. VMworld 2016 is in full swing. Sunday was a full day of great stuff. It was a day full of Opening Acts. The panels were chosen perfectly. Everyone who participated was great. The moderators also did a great job at keeping everyone on track and getting the good information out there.

Lunch was provided by the @vBrisket crew. They weren’t able to work out the logistics of making their own food, but the catering was fantastic. Lots of meat options, with some tasty sides.

The evening wrapped up (for me) at Nine Fine Irishman for the VMunderground Party. It was well worth the cost of the ticket, for sure. Some great food, drinks, and company. There is sure to be a lot of great stuff to come from VMworld 2016, so stay tuned!


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 🙂

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 🙂

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!