Tag Archives: vsphere

thoughts on vilt

Over the years, I have taken (and given) a lot of training.

I’ve had self-paced tutorials (printed and electronic), in-person lectures, hand-on labs, small groups, formal classes, one-on-one tutoring, and virtual instructor led training (VILT).

I’ve seen two distinct types of VILT – good and bad. I have yet to see any “ok” training. It’s either great or horrid.

This week I took the VMware vSphere 5 Install, Configure, Manage (ICM) class to begin the preparation to become a VMware Certified Professional.

Some initial thoughts on this class:

(this class was excellent, btw – only matched by the HP Operations Orchestration 7.0 training I took 3.5 years ago shortly after the product had been renamed post-acquisition of Opsware by HP)
  • Our instructors, Steve & Rebecca, did a fantastic job both in playing off each other, alternating to keep the class interested, and presenting the material
  • Labs are always problematic – some folks are fast, others slow; some have issues, others none
    • Team / partner labs are even more problematic – making sure that both partners are learning in the process and neither is outstripping the other
  • Formal organization is good – ability to change based on class needs / interests is better
  • Engaging the class with humor, “relevant” Q&A, and other interaction is vital
  • Learning your [randomly-assigned] partner’s strengths, weaknesses, background, and expectations is important as early as possible

Other pros that should be taken and applied to all classes:

  • Clear learning objectives – stated and repeated throughout
  • Labs which directly connect with the lessons
  • Labs which logically build upon one another
  • Team labs that are still workable by an individual if there is no available partner
  • To the point slides and lectures
  • Few enough slides in each lecture to keep our attention
  • Few enough lectures between labs to be able to apply what we have just covered
  • Presenter/Lecturer/Teacher with appropriate knowledge of the material being presented
  • Remember what it’s like to not know the material

Cons from this class (which I think are true of all VILT classes):

  • Keeping attention on the lectures is entirely up to the student – it can be easy to get distracted, especially if taking the class from home (this also applied to telecommuting – a topic for another time)
  • Lab time is given on an as-needed basis … so once most of the class has gotten it done, a timer is set (eg 10 minutes)
    • For those in the class who finish rapidly, this can give a great opportunity to study, get work done, or goof off
    • For those having issues and/or who work more methodically etc, it can artificially limit their efforts
  • Because of the semi-random nature of lab length, some days can run long and others short

Characteristics of bad VILT classes I have attended:

  • Unclear objectives – if any
  • Overly-long presentations
  • Unrelated labs
  • Long separation from lecture to lab
  • Too much lab, too little lecture
  • Too much lecture, too little lab
  • Presenter with poor / non-existent knowledge of material (ie, read from slide only)
  • Broken labs (often related to poor product base, over-subscribed lab, etc)
  • Inflexibility with regards to lab and lecture start/end times

Conclusion

I really liked the vSphere ICM class – I learned a lot, and finally saw what I knew connected in an organized way that brought into focus my extant knowledge and helped me apply it in more useful ways in the future. Personally, I cannot recommend the trainers higher – Steve and Rebecca did a fantastic job, and I think we were fortunate to have good trainers: it made the material far more fun to learn, helped keep our focus, and made the whole week a positive experience.

Given the opportunity, I think all system administrators and system integrators should take a class like this one – even if virtualization is not in play: seeing the concepts, understanding the architecture, and learning how to design a virtualized environment will carry-over well to other arenas in the IT world.

My lab partner is a DBA for Yahoo – never saw virtualization before, hasn’t been a sysadmin, etc: but seeing how the environment works, how to build it, and how to apply architecture to systemic thinking helped open his eyes a bit to the world beyond data … and, I think, will make him a better DBA.

certifications and dependencies

Last week I participated in a beta class for HP’s new Cloud Service Automation 3.0 product release (ok, so it’s a prerelease, and “product” is a strong term). 3.0 is a full rewrite from 2.x, so there is no upgrade path. Also, not everything that “appears” to be in place OOB is actually working – and there is no way to grey-out options that are unavailable.

We were told this should be addressed in a patch sometime in the next 6 months. Yay us. Oh, and did I mention I’m involved in a project to implement this currently? Woot!

After taking this class, I found out that a prerequisite for the class is some Operations Orchestration training from HP – without which HP will not certify I took the class. Right. So, I have to take those classes via HP University over the next couple weeks so that by the time the CSA 3 class is “live” next month I can be officially-verified as having taken it.

And, if I’m going to take those classes, I might as well also go for the certification from HP to add to my CV 🙂

Also by about my birthday, I will be taking the VCP week-long class and test to learn and be certified on VMware’s vCenter, vSphere, and ESXi product lines from an architectural and implementation standpoint.

These next several weeks are going to be a blast 🙂