On the morning of the defense I head straight for the coffee shop and order a double shot latte, then a biscuit and another coffee! I’m not a morning person, but my defense was due to start at 9am so a good intake of caffeine was much needed to get me through the day ahead. Following my last blog post about the preparation I thought I’d share the experience of the actual defense and the structure of the day. Due to the NDA I can’t reveal the specific content of the defense itself, but I can talk about the process and what you should expect.
When I arrived for the defense I was greeted by the VCDX moderator and I must add that he was fantastic in making sure I understood the schedule, had plenty of coffee and he’s such a cool guy I was able to relax. When it’s time to go into the meeting room you’ll get called in and given a brief of what’s expected. The first thing on your list is to present your design, and the clock starts counting down. 75 minutes remaining…
Today I was delighted (for once) to be woken up by my children at 5am shaking me to get me out of bed. It’s a nasty habit, but it is the first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone for Tweets, Emails, Messages, and so on. Still in a semi-sleep state of consciousness I saw the email with my VCDX results. My hands were shaking, quite literally and it took me a good 20 seconds (which seemed like hours) to read the attachment and realise that I passed. I am VCDX #122.
Exactly one year ago I was in two minds whether to apply for the VCDX certification. Mainly because I had only one vSphere design under my belt, and I didn’t think it would be good enough. Working for VMware Professional Services as a Senior Consultant at the time gave me one HUGE advantage. I remember walking over to say hello to one of the engagement managers and she said “Oh by the way, we’ve got a design engagement for coming up which I’ve marked you for.”. It was then I decided that the effort I’d put into that design would have to exceed the customers expectations and deliver the quality the VCDX title demands.
I’m writing this blog post to help anyone that has the VCDX certification as a goal. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to achieve the title. For some it will help them with that next career move or promotion, whilst others simply see this as a personal accolade they wish to strive for. For me it was the latter but it soon became apparent, because I can’t keep quiet, that I put a lot on the line having told practically everyone in my team, people at VMworld, partners, and customers, that I was going to be defending in Barcelona. Suddenly Twitter was alive with my friends and colleagues wishing me luck. But what if I failed? After all this was my first attempt! To top it off, I have only just joined a new team at VMware so I felt that I needed to prove myself.
Now that VMware have announced VMware Horizon View 5.3 at VMworld in Barcelona this year, I’d love to share some of the exciting new features it brings. Just four days ago I presented a session for partners on the new features of Horizon View 5.2, but now VMware extends 3D graphics even further with vDGA, support for Windows 8.1 and View Agent Direct Connect Plugin (just to name a few!). What I’d like to share with you are some of the more technical aspects of this release, so without further ado, let’s talk about one of my favourite features: 3D Graphics!
vDGA (Virtual Direct Graphics Acceleration)
This feature allows you to configure direct passthrough for a virtual desktop to a dedicated physical Nvidia GPU. Just plain awesome. In fact the VMware stand at VMworld has this on demo showing Street Fighter IV running at 60fps! This is not only cool to look at, but the real applications for this such as CAD and design studio apps can really benefit from vDGA. Rather than the cost and logistics of sending your CAD engineers a high powered workstation, send them a thin client instead and keep your IP (Intellectual Property) and power inside the data centre.
This was previously a ‘Tech Preview’ feature with View 5.2, but now it’s out of tech preview you can start to look at dedicated 3D graphics workloads in your environment. One thing to note is that you’ll need a supported thin client or Windows thick client.
So how this works is actually quite simple. Your ESXi hosts have multiple dedicated Nvidia GRID K1 or K2 graphics cards (or GPUs) that have a 1:1 relationship between a virtual machine using GPU pass-through. In fact this uses VMware DirectPath I/O. Please don’t expect to get any Nvidia GRID cards in your half height blade servers any time soon though, this requires PCIe x16 slots. On each ESXi host you configure DirectPath I/O by selecting which devices you want to pass-through. Download the Nvidia GRID driver for Windows and install in your virtual desktop and you’ll see the GPUs listed in device manager (Display Adapters).
Almost one month ago now I was at the London VMUG when I got talking with other virtualization gurus, customers, and industry comrades when I realized there was a thirst for more information about VMware Horizon Suite, and in particular Horizon Workspace. The latest version (Horizon Workspace 1.5) was announced last week, and I needed to get some focus on the topics YOU are interested in learning more about. I am setting myself a goal to do some presentations this year, and they are most likely going to be focused on Horizon Workspace. But is it a technical deepdive or implementation overview that people want to know more about?
So I conducted a short but targeted survey to identify the ‘hot’ topics for Horizon Suite. This is obviously very much focused on end-user computing (I don’t like to use the term VDI here), and here are the results!
Less than 24 hours ago VMware announced Horizon Workspace 1.5 which further boosts the End-User Computing technology stack. You’ll hear a lot of talk around ‘mobile’, which I’ll talk about in a moment, but I’m actually more excited about how Horizon Workspace compliments View with a self-service application portal, automated delivery for your SaaS and ThinApp applications, and Horizon Data. Sure these features were part of Horizon Workspace 1.0, but with support for Oracle this brings the technology even closer to the enterprise. Let’s have a look at some of the new features of Horizon Workspace 1.5
With so many blogs, podcasts, and books on VMware virtualisation, we are all very lucky to have a wealth of information at our disposal. However, having recently spoken to customers and also community members at the last VMUG, I have noticed that there is still a big demand for more valuable content based on VMware Horizon. There is so much to talk about in regards to End-User Computing and in particular the VMware Horizon Suite, so this is something I will be focusing on for the remainder of 2013. I will be presenting on some topics this year, and certainly writing more blog posts on topics like Horizon Workspace.
To help me focus on topics that are in demand, I’ve put together this survey. If you are a blogger or just love to Tweet, then please share this. It only contains 5 questions and it will close on 2nd August 2013. Once I’ve collected the results I will share them here on my blog. This is not an official survey, but it will be interesting for us in the community to see if it’s technical deep dives or design best practices that you want to learn more about.
If you have 5 minutes, then please let me know your thoughts by completing the short survey here:
After stopping for a coffee break on my 250 mile journey home this week, I posted this quick video on how to monitor VMware Horizon View virtual desktop for performance issues using ESXTOP. I discuss the key performance metrics to look at, such as CPU Ready Time (%RDY) and Co-Stop (%CSTP) in addition to memory ballooning (MCTLSZ) and swapping to disk. Enjoy!
Determining if multiple vCPUs are causing performance issues: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1005362
I must admit that I had very little time to prepare for this exam, but that said I do have a pretty good home lab environment with two good sized ESXi hosts, iSCSI storage, VLANs and most of the features deployed that are part of the exam blueprint for the VCAP5-DCA. Having previously done the VCAP4-DCA last year I expected much of the same this time around, but I was mistaken. Sure, many of the blueprint topics share common ground but this exam tests your experience with vSphere 5 and you are expected to perform many of the tasks with your eyes shut. Well, not literally although much of it needs to be second nature to you.
Here is a brand new video tutorial on building a CentOS 6 web server for WordPress. In this video I guide you through building a secure CentOS 6 web server with every step from installing CentOS, configuring MySQL and Apache and installing your first WordPress blog site!
This year I’ve been working on a VMware design for a large enterprise customer, and had various conversations with the solutions team on everything from storage sizing to networking (that was one day!). This prompted me to address one topic that I feel deserves more attention, and that is the Cisco Nexus 1000V. If you are new to the 1000V virtual switch, then you might want to read the guide I published back in April 2012 on How to Deploy the Cisco Nexus 1000V. For now, grab a coffee and let’s begin with load-balancing policies…