VMware vSphere: Design Workshop

I set a goal for myself to become VCAP-DCD (VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Datacenter Design) certified. There are two recommended traning courses for this certification: DRBC Design – Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Fundamentals (E-learning course available for partners free of charge on Partner Central) and VMware vSphere: Design Workshop. The workshop used to be obligatory for VMware partners to obtain Enterprise level partnership but can now be substituted by VCAP-DCD certification. This week I used the opportunity and took part in the 3 day VMware vSphere Design Workshop.

There are many reviews of this course on the Internet. Here are some links:

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2010/03/24/vmware-design-workshop/

http://www.boche.net/blog/index.php/2010/10/27/vmware-vsphere-design-workshop-day-1/

http://www.seancrookston.com/2011/01/19/vmware-vsphere-design-workshop-review/

All the reviews are very similar. They are all positive praising the interactive workshop format. Therefore I was very much looking forward to it as there can be nothing wrong talking VMware for three straight days.

However after finishing the course my opinion about it is mixed. The biggest issue is that the course should be interactive and therefore very much depends on the instructor’s ability to facilitate discussion and on the level of the experience and knowledge of the participants. In my case it failed on both of these points.  We went very quickly through the theory. The labs were two real world examples – small company and a big enterprise. The instructor also distributed PDFs with supposed solutions to these labs, but these documents were very poorly written, brief and did not match the given labs.

The theory was based on vSphere version 4.0. Version 4.1 is out for almost half a year and has many new features that have impact on the design (VAAI, SIOC, NIOC, higher limits)!

As expected the workshop focused only on vSphere features. Some important parts of design were skipped or mentioned only briefly. Some exmaples: disaster recovery, backups, deployment, monitoring, how to virtualize tier1 applications. Also hardware specific info was missing (blades vs rack servers, 10 Gb NICs, FCoE). No recommendation where to get that info was given, neither were mentioned any of the best VMware blogs (Yellow-Bricks, Frank Denneman).

Among the good points is the design methodology and the text book. It will be useful while studying for the certification and I will go through it in more detail.

Although I mentioned many negative things I am still glad that I participated. It is always good to listen to other people experiences. Also there is no other way to obtain good text book or e-learning on the subject.

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