Fun with Legos and Intel NUCs

After achieving my VCDX I wanted to start focusing on more of the SDDC stack, specifically VSAN, NSX and vRealize Automation. I wanted to revamp my home lab–previously my lab consisted of a cluster of Mac Minis and a Dell T110 II. The minis are long gone—I sold them when I moved from Oregon to Texas. And minis are just not the greatest option anymore since they max out at 16GB RAM.

I also planned to sell the T110 II since it is not on the VMware HCL for VMware 6 and it purple screened when I tried to install bare metal ESXi 6 Update 1.  I tried one last time (I was not looking forward to ebaying and shipping that beast) with ESXi 6 Update 2 and that worked. It’s run stably for a few month now so it is here to stay.

Enter the Intel NUC. They have all the benefits of mini; small form factor, quiet and low power consumption. Most importantly—they max out at 32GB RAM. The SDDC stack is a huge memory hog and 16GB a node is just no longer enough for a decent home lab. Continue reading

NSX, Jumbo Frames & Intel NUC Weirdness

I built a lab with Intel 6th generation NUC’s with the intent of creating a VMware NSX, vRealize Automation and vSAN learning lab. I ran into a bit of trouble when I was attempting to enable Jumbo Frames on the onboard I219-V ethernet adapter.

I tried setting the MTU using both the gui and esxcli and each time received the following error:

esxcli network vswitch standard set -m 9000 -v vSwitch0
Unable to set MTU to 9000 the following uplinks refused the MTU setting: vmnic0
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VCDX Community – Thank You!

I wanted to make a public shout out to all the folks that contributed to my success by providing great resources for learning VMware and pursuing the VCDX. Thank you all–I wish I could host you all for a VCDX keg party and thank you in person. And there’s so many more people and resources out there besides the ones I listed that make this community so valuable.

Pluralsight 

Jason Nash  – VCAP-DCA Optimize and Scale class
Chris Wahl  – CCNA Datacenter classes
David Davis – Misc VMware classes
Scott Lowe  – VMware Design Class Continue reading

My VCDX Journey – Part 5 – Defense

After a year of prepping and taking VCAPs and preparing & submitting it now came down to 3 hours in a conference room at VMware HQ in Palo Alto.

Presentation for the Defense

You are expected to come prepared with a USB stick with a presentation to highlight the salient points of your design and the critical factors that influenced your decision making – all packed into 15 minutes. I ended up with about 16 slides for the presentation and 50 or so “reference” slides. The reference slides there to help you answer questions from the panelists and it saves you time from having to whiteboard. Continue reading

My VCDX Journey – Part 4 – The Design

I passed my VCAP-DCA in late November right and dove right into the VCDX Design submission. Prior to this I combed through all VCDX defense tips and experiences I could find. I also had read John Arrasjid’s and Ben  Lin’s Book:

VCDX Boot Camp: Preparing for the VCDX Panel Defense

From all of the experience and tips I read the most important ones for me were:

Follow the Blueprint – I have read this time and time again but it is so very true. In the end, I created an outline based mostly off the blueprint to layer my design into – a Framework that covered all the points in the blueprint.

Map your Business Requirements to the Conceptual, Logical and Physical Designs – A big part of the design and the “VCDX way” is demonstrating how your design meets the business requirements of your customer. Continue reading

My VCDX Journey – Part 3 – VCAP-DCA

With the VCAP-DCD down, the next challenge was the VCAP-DCA. I didn’t take a break between the two exams. While I was preparing for the VCAP-DCD, I was also prepping for the DCA. I usually have multiple irons in the fire when I’m learning new things. I find that I need a little variety and don’t like to focus on just one thing. Fortunately, at the time I was studying for the DCA, I was also in the middle of a hands-on engagement building two VMware/UCS Data Centers.

The Lab

Since the VCAP-DCA is a hands-on lab exam, I needed to resurrect my lab. I had a lab using 3 Mac Minis and a Synology NAS which I used prior to me moving from Austin, TX to Ashland, Oregon. I ended up selling this lab as part of the move so now I was starting from scratch.

I choose to build a self-contained lab using a Dell T110 II (Quad Core with HT & 32GB RAM) and I installed ESXi 5.5 bare metal on it and then nested an ESXi Environment within it. I loaded the Dell up with some SSD’s and ran a FreeNAS VM to control and carve up my storage. I choose this setup for few reasons: Continue reading

My VCDX Journey – Part 2 – VCAP-DCD

 

Previous Post: My VCDX Journey Part I

Already having my VCP, the next step on the journey was the VCAP Exams. I chose the Design exam (VCAP5-DCD) first since it more aligned to what I do on a day to day basis. I’m an architect first and foremost and while I can do hands-on, I don’t do it as often as I would like. Some engagements I do hands-on, but most of them I am in a consulting and design role.

I studied off and on for about two months prior to taking the exam. It wasn’t intense study and was done mostly when I was traveling to client sites.  I mostly re-read books and did some Pluralsight classes. I found these books especially helpful to review–I have read and re-read these and refer to them often.

Books
VMware vSphere Design 2nd EditionForbes Guthrie & Scott Lowe
A really good design book on the “VMware Way” which was also helpful later in the VCDX design for knowing what should be included in Conceptual, Physical and Logical designs.

Networking for VMware AdministratorsChris Wahl and Steve Pantol
Must read for any VMware Engineer or Architect. Very useful on knowing functions of all the different ways of setting up and configuring vSphere Networking. I also used for reference in my VCDX design.
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