This week I had the luxury of attending the three-day vSphere: Design Workshop in Orlando, FL. The class is now a requirement for VMware Enterprise Partners which was the reason for my attendance. The class had about 15 attendees comprised of partners, customers and VMware employees. There are no formal prerequisites for the course although I would highly recommend a VCP4 as some of the topics and recommendations get very technical and that level of experience would be very helpful. This class is intended for those that will be designing virtual datacenters. It is directly related to the newly-announced VCAP4-DCD certification and I would also recommend it for any one considering the VCDX certification.
The class was comprised of eight modules. Day one ran through modules one thru four, day two had modules 5 and 6 and day three was comprised of modules seven and eight. You can read this to see the syllabus for the class as well as the description for each of the modules.
There were a two things about this class that I found to be very different than any other VMware class I had attended. First, there was no real administrative work. We never used the vSphere client or looked at a host. We barely used the classroom terminals at all. Almost all of the work was whiteboarding and drawing architectures of networks and storage and physical infrastructure. For the labs, the class was divided into two groups, one group was given an enterprise customer case study and the other received a SMB case study. Both study’s had physical environments that wanted to virtualize. The enterprise study was obviously significantly larger however the SMB had a very limited budget. Both had items to challenge the designers. As we reached the end of each module, we would incorporate what we learned into that phase of the design. The labs were actually designed very well. At the end of each lab session, each group had to pick someone to defend their design to the rest of the class (surely to prep us for what we might find at the VCDX defense session).
The second thing I noticed about the class that was very different from other classes was the references to blogger’s information. The instructor referenced Duncan, Frank and Mike on more than one occasion (The VMguy was left out unfortunately – guess I’ll have to try harder). Never had I seen such a display of non-vmware owned information in such a class. Personally, I read all of their information pretty religiously yet I still found things I did not know or had not read. This class was a very good summary of the pitfalls to avoid in design. It was a collaboration of all of the gotchas that these designers (some who are now VCDXs) have seen. Everything from the configuration maximums to what features are not supported with Fault Tolerance. It was an outstanding display of all the things you have to remember when designing an entire virtualized datacenter.
My only complaint would be that the case study notes for the labs were incomplete. We constantly found ourselves wanting to ask our imaginary customer for more information. This can be expected somewhat as the class is a new offering from the education department. I must say that our instructor was constantly requesting feedback for the course and promised to relay that information back to the class designers.
All in all, I would highly recommend this class to anyone who might need to design a virtualized datacenter. It was an outstanding collaboration of experiences and best practices that would be required before creating a accurate, reliable, properly sized, well thought-out design. Well done VMware Education Department, well done.