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Why YOU should become a vExpert

The end of the year is one of my favourite times of the year. Not just because it’s my birthday or the holiday season but also because it’s time to fill in your vExpert application. It’s a good time to reflect on the past year and what you accomplished.

So what is the vExpert program all about

Unlike what some people may think, the vExpert program is not a certification that you get when you pass an exam. Nor is it necessarily a reflection of your skill as a VMware engineer. At its core, the vExpert program is a marketing and advocacy program, designed to help you, as an individual contributor in getting your messaging about VMware and its products out the door.

What’s more important though is that its a tight knit community of likeminded individuals that all have a shared passion.

Okay that sounds cool but what’s in it for me?

If you’re awarded the vExpert title, you also get a lot of benefits. One of the best things is that you get access to pretty much all the software that VMware has to offer with licenses. This will make it easier to try out new stuff in the lab and get new content out the door.

You also get access to NDA content and briefings by VMware and their partners.

But by far the best resource you get access to, is the vExpert slack channel. There’s a lot of great conversations about VMware topics but also about certification, homelabs, career and just random chit chat. It gives you access to people in the community that can help you out if you’re troubleshooting an issue in the lab or if you want another opinion on something you’re proposing, or whatever.

I’ve been in the program since 2016 and I can honestly say that I’ve made a lot of new connections this way and even built out new friendships. You can usually find a lot of the vExperts in the blogger zone at VMworld, which is great for getting those real world connections.

Speaking of VMworld, as a vExpert, you get an invite to the vExpert party at VMworld US & EU. When I went to the vExpert party in Barcelona in 2019, Pat Gelsinger popped in. A memorable moment for sure!

Belgian vExperts with Pat Gelsinger

That’s great but how do I become a vExpert

In order to become a vExpert, you need to put yourself out there. There’s really a lot you can do:

  • Write blogs
  • Speak at VMUG/events
  • Build a training course
  • Organise a community event
  • Respond to posts on VMTN
  • Write cloud
  • Publish videos

As you can see there’s a lot of things you can do with a very low barrier to entry. By far the easiest way to get started is by starting to blog. Did you come across an issue that you spent hours figuring out, and you couldn’t find any good resolution online? Well, write about the problem you faced, what things you tried to get it resolved, why it failed and what resolved the issue in the end.

Or just start writing about things you do at your job or in your homelab. Use your blog as your personal documentation of how you deployed a certain product. This helps yourself but also others that might be wanting to do the same thing.

I want to apply but I need some help

Filling out your application for the first time can be daunting. But don’t worry, the vExpert program has your back. A few years ago, the vExpert PRO was introduced. A vExpert PRO is someone in your local community that is actively trying to build out the community. They can also help you with filling out your application and giving you pointers on how to improve it.

I hope this gives you some good information about what the vExpert program is and how you can apply to get in. Still have more questions or need help filling in your application? Don’t hesitate to contact me!


Deploying vIDM through vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager

One of the reasons I got my homelab was to test out stuff that I don’t necessarily have access to at work. Recently, vIDM has peaked my intrest so I decided to deploy it. I had already deployed vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager so why not use that for the deploy!

Getting everything ready

Before we can actually start installing vIDM, we need to get the binaries onto vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager (vRSLCM). This can be done in three ways; connect your MyVMware account and download everything onto the appliance, copy the binaries to the appliance yourself through WinSCP, or connect vRSLCM to an NFS share. We’ll be using the last option here.

When you first login to vRSLCM, click on the Lifecycle Operations card which will bring you to your environments, datacenters, etc.

Click on the setting link on the left hand side.

Then, near the bottom, click on the Binary Mapping card. On the net screen, just hit the add binaries button.

Hit the NFS radio button and enter the path to your NFS share. I did run into some issues here because I didn’t realize my Synology also includes the volume name in the NFS share path. As soon as you hit the discover button, you’ll get a list of all the binaries that vRSLCM detects. Import the ones you need, in our case, it’s the OVA file for identity manager.

Creating a new environment

Now that we have the vIDM binary imported, it’s time to prepare for the actual deployment. On the left hand side, click the Create Environment link. On the next screen, click the slide button. This will tell vRSLCM that we’re going to install vIDM. You’ll notice that the environment name changes to globalEnvironment.

Select a default password from your locker, or create a new one and select it. This password will be set on the default admin user in vIDM. Select the datacenter where you want to deploy vIDM to or add a vCenter connection if you haven’t already done so.

On the next page, you can select what product is going to be installed. Notice that you can only select vIDM here. Select the correct version and deployment type. The only 2 deployment types you can choose are Standard and Cluster. For my lab, I’m selecting standard install.

You’ll be presented with the EULA on the next page which you’ll read through entirely before accepting of course… 🙂 Now it’s time to select a certificate, if you’ve got one imported already you can just select that one. I don’t have one available yet so I will generate a new one for the lab and replace it later, once my PKI has been set up.

The next page is all about the infrastructure itself, select your vCenter, datastore, network and all the usual stuff for your environment and hit next.

Enter the network settings for your environment and hit the Edit server selection button.

By default the same DNS servers, that are configured on the appliance will be shown. If you want to add additional ones, you can do so by clicking add new server in previous screen. Select the DNS servers you want and configure them in the correct order

The final page ties everything together and lets you set the final bits of configuration. Review that the certificate and password are the correct ones. Additionally you can select the node size here as well. I selected the medium size here, which deploys the VM with 8 CPUs and 16 GB RAM. I also entered an admin email and default username.

At the bottom of the page, I entered the VM name, FQDN and IP address.

Review and deploy vIDM

Now that all the details have been entered, you can review everything and run through the prechecks. Several checks will be done here, whether the DNS records exists or not, if the IP address is actually free, etc. Correct any errors you get and read through the warnings to make sure you can continue.

As soon as you hit deploy, you will be taken to the request details where you can follow along with every step of the way. I actually quite like looking at this as it looks great.

Once everything is done, you can go to the environments again. You’ll see you have a completed globalenvironment with vIDM in it.

You can just open up a new browser window and go to the FQDN you entered during setup, you should be see the following screen and login with the credentials you set during setup.

That concludes this guide, I hope you found it useful! If you have any more questions or comments just hit me up on twitter or in the comments below!