VMware VCAP-DCA: Manage for Performance Course

Imported from published Jul 04 2011

A couple of weeks back, I attended the VMware vSphere: Manage for Performance course. This is a recommended course for VCAP-DCA certification – the full title is (deep breath) – ‘VMware Certified Advanced Professional - Datacenter Certified Administrator’.

I just wanted to give a heads-up to all those others that have spent the last year focusing on and sharing experience in relation to the VCAP certification process to show their great prowess in all things VMwareWink

I was somewhat skeptical of a performance oriented course that lasted only 3 days. Typically in these new courses there seems to be a lot of “discussion”. However, for that really to succeed, the course attendees need to have a level of relatively intensive medium-large scale virtualization experience. It is critical that the trainer is someone that is engaged enough and motivated enough to perform the required level setting in the group.

Our trainer really managed to do that – no easy task, believe me! However, the guys at QA-IQ know their stuff and bring it across in a really interactive style (a big thanks to the trainer Nel Reinhart! who also shared great insight into rugby – made me finally watch the Clint Eastwood/Morgan Freeman/Matt Damon Invictus film – excellent by the way!).

Well to the course itself. There was actually a fair amount of hands-on for a change. The VCAP-DCD was just a tad heavy in case study and discussion material. These courses are expensive, and I believe that every attendee wants to get the most out of the material and be able to use it directly in their daily work environment.

What I personally liked about this VCAP-DCA Performance course was that for one of the first times, the terminology has been standardized – particularly in the areas of memory, virtual memory and all things paging related. This was a major headache as when one speaks with administrators at client sites or even VMware personnel for that matter. There is a very large discrepancy between the words used, what was intended and the actual definitions of words used.

There were also some clearer guidelines regarding the word “overhead” in creating virtual machines and best practices that were actually pretty good.

One of the areas that we had an intensive discussion in the course about was regarding technology convergence vectors and their effect on “best practices”. As I principally work in the high-end large scale environments, I get to see a lot of the cutting edge without getting too bogged down in the “techno-babble” that virtualization discussions sometimes lead to. You know what I mean – are 2x vCPU better than 1x vCPU, more memory or less, which guest operating system to use….Crying

In the course we discussed some of the areas that are driving deep virtualization and continuous consolidation. We discussed the number of VMs that an ESX server can host, and the best practices for that. However, on the technology side we are seeing massive increases in say network bandwidth – 10GbE in the mainstream, and 40/100GbE technologies already out there at the bleeding edge. The old notion of there is not enough network bandwidth is starting to disappear – leading to revisions of the consolidation ratios practically achieved by customers!

Naturally, in actual exam and training course material this needs to be matched with the exam requirements – you are there to pass the exams after allYes. However, I think that training courses are sometimes a more intimate circle where new technology, best practices in the market, challenges, issues, and things that plain “just don’t work” can be discussed in confidence without revealing any customer names (very important) or secret-competitive “things”.

That type of discussion may well be the real value of such courses – requiring techies to be receptive to that type of information - as increasingly competitive pressures are resulting in fewer customer references, less information sharing in an industry, and competitive “virtualization” advantage being fiercely guarded!

From an EMC Consulting point of view, it is great to be able to help educate-up administrators on the rationale of virtualization beyond simple consolidation. The aspirations of their businesses are discussed, as well as where they see areas of improvement from a practical administrative point for the virtualization technologies.

Correspondingly, the career administrators in such courses do a great job of educating consultants by highlighting how and why things go wrong on the ground as well as the relationship management improvements needed to ensure distillation of the precious knowledge these administrators have and not simply dismissing their ideas. Additionally, always great to hear how they are all uniquely addressing bulk administrative duties and automation in the context of their own unique datacenter eco-systems

In any case, to all those VCAP-DCA’ers, keep at it and good luck when you do your exam! Right – back to the training materials……


The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by EMC and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of EMC.