VMware 5.0 Training Days One and Two (Review)

The new vSphere 5.0 virtualization software and underlying technology are available as training. Take it but be ready for it.

If you've ever wondered, wondered whatever became of me, I've been learning it up virtually, virtually V-M-W-A-R-E*. Yes, this week, your Virtually Speaking, often roving reporter, yours truly, is attending VMware's vSphere 5.0: Install, Configure, Manage course. This is the course you take prior to taking the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) certification exam. I won't sit for the exam but the training is really essential to my job and to my customer's requirements. So far, vSphere 5.0 is awesome. I love the enhancements but I also like that my knowledge of earlier versions is transferable to the new.

There's comfort in familiarity. And, vSphere 5.0, while a very significant upgrade, is familiar.

One of the most impressive enhancements is that VMware now provides you a vCenter Server virtual appliance, which is a free download from the appliance marketplace. I like this because the free appliance is Linux-based. Unfortunately, it is SuSE Linux instead of VMware's traditional Red Hat but that's a topic for another post.

Until this release (5.0), your vCenter server had to be a Windows system with a database, usually SQL Server and the vCenter Server software on top of that. Now, you simply download and deploy the vCenter Appliance, go through a few simple configuration steps (Network, EULA, Authentication) and you've got a vCenter server.

The other thing I really like about vSphere 5.0 is that it is ESXi-based. Its small footprint and ability to be installed on and run from just about every imaginable source is just too cool.

I'll keep you posted with the course and a summary next week of the entire course with a breakdown of what you'll learn in it from a learner's perspective--no hype, no promises and no bias.

As an aside, if you're wondering why I won't sit for the VCP exam, it's because I don't like tech certifications. At one time in my career, I really thought certs were the way to go. I took the Novell Netware 3.x training (at my own expense in the mid-90s), passed the Certified Netware Administrator exam and was about to continue my education and training for the Certified Netware Engineer (CNE) certification.

I stopped abruptly because I saw other people in the class, who had no experience, taking the classes on the government's nickel and it irritated me--greatly irritated me. One guy was a displaced aircraft worker who'd been making $75,000 per year and had an entire Novell network at his house, paid for by you and me via grants. Then, he was going to compete with me in the job market.

That scenario plus the MCSE throng that began a little later showed me that certs were bogus. It's just a money racket for vendors.

The training is valuable but certifications are worthless. Sometime, I'll give you my entire rant on that topic.

VMware's training is very good. It's well-paced and you get real experience doing exactly what you'll do when you use the product in a real data center. For that, I give them high marks. My instructor is very good too. She's one of the few vendor course instructors I've had who really knows her stuff. So, I really have the best of all worlds in this course. The latest software from VMware, a great instructor and enough product experience that allows me to truly appreciate version 5.0's updates.

I think that anyone who wants to take the course should have some experience with VMware's earlier products and virtualization. If you don't, you could be lost. This is an introductory course but there are aspects on computing and virtual computing that could leave you cold if you don't have enough experience to understand it. Networking and Storage are two of the more complex areas of study.

Virtual networking isn't easy. It's weird and different. This course should not be your first instruction on it. Virtual storage in the form of SAN, NAS and NFS is a little weird too. You should know a bit about those topics as well. Know what a LUN is. Know what a SAN is. Know what iSCSI is.

I don't want to scare you off of the training but you'll be better prepared if you have some prerequisite knowledge before diving into the concepts of virtualization, virtual infrastructure and virtual data centers.

I recommend this training for anyone in the technical end of IT but not just for people who are in the trenches. Anyone who needs to discuss this technology intelligently needs this course. Otherwise, you're just repeating buzzwords and irritating the technical folk with whom you deal.

*OK, so you'd have to be a fan of the old WKRP in Cincinnati TV series to get that reference. The second line of my version would go something like, "I got tired of hacking and unhacking..." Yeah, I know. I'm a nerd. So what?