My review of the vSphere 5 Design Workshop

Thought I might post up my experience of the Design Workshop. I somehow managed to coax my employer to send me on this training in May, small victory in this! Here’s a breakdown of how each day went. Might just benefit other folks who may be looking at this training.

From what I heard, VMware have picked up their game recently so I was hopeful be able to get a lot out of this. Added bonuses were the 100% exam voucher and a free exam prep workshop for the DCD.

I had a very sore throat and sounded like a donkey that swallowed a frog. Hard to concentrate when you’re feverish and on tablets.

Day 1:

Most of the day was a rehash of all the stuff that vSphere 5.0 and 5.1 offer. Just the kind of stuff you could read off Scott Lowe’s book. I didnt learn anything on Day 1. Towards the end of the day the instructor asked the class to work on a sample design for an SMB for a P2V project. We did bits and pieces of the storage aspect of the design.

Overall, I expected more. The workshop should be about why you’d choose one thing over another and how your decisions would affect parts of your design. The instructor was good, he was pretty knowledgeable but he concentrated on talking about the good stuff (SDRS, FT, NPIV, vDS type things). When asked he’d answer as to why one thing was better than the next, but only when asked. But he did lay a solid foundation for the next two days.

The class was a mix of folks with varying levels of experience and expertise with VMware’s products. There were a couple of architects, some were sys admins and another was a network guy (dunno what he was doing there).

Day 2:

Better than Day 1, thankfully. We did 2 design scenarios for the same SMB, this time it was the host and networking aspects. The instructor went into details about HA and DRS, the kind of stuff you’d read in the Deepdive book. Nothing to do with design per se, but still not a bad discussion. He talked at length about choosing vDS’s over vSS’s, why/when/where you’d implement NIOC/SIOC/DirectPathI/O and what all to keep in mind when buying hosts/cards/arrays.

Overall a much better outcome on Day 2. He engaged the class well, everyone talked. The 2 architects in the class spoke about some of the designs that had put in and what they learned from the experience. A good day!

Day 3:

The instructor carried on the momentum from day 2. There were a few interesting discussions regarding choice of hosts in clusters, number of hosts in a cluster and VM sizing. He talked at length about resource pools, and how some of his clients made wrong decisions about putting VM’s in pools (and not putting them in pools). Not a bad day, apart from the bad cold I’ve had. I was sneezing my head off which didnt make things any better.

Conclusion:

Attend the training only if your employer is paying for it. Do not spend your own coin on this. There should be a lot of emphasis on the design aspects rather than how a particular thing works. Like yesterday, the instructor was talking about HA and one of the students asked a question. For the next hour, we only talked about isolation response and application monitoring. The discussion was a good technical deepdive, but that’s not what the course was for. I felt the course was an advanced Optimize and Scale rather than Design. Great discussions here and there, but not Design focused. You could get the same kind of information from Duncan Epping’s and Scott Lowe’s books too. I wouldnt call it a waste of time (for me, that is) but if you are in a design role already, you’ll probably not learn much.

The success of the training is determined by the instructor, but also by the students – by it’s very nature design can be a subjective thing, the sharing of ideas and opinions during the discussions in the class are different each time.

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  1. Is there a VCAP6-DCV exam group, please add me to it if it does exist? Email address is vihan.coetzee@neotel.co.za, thanks.

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