Becoming a VMUG leader

As many of you already know, last year Erik Schils decided to step down as a VMUG leader after 15 years. When I saw the announcement, I immediately thought to myself that I don’t want to see this community disappear. I started talking to other folks in the community and quickly we had a bunch of enthusiastic people ready to step up and keep on building this community.

I won’t be flying solo, my good friends Jens Herremans (blogtwitter) and Kristof Asaert (blogtwitter) will be joining me as VMUG leaders. And we also have Stijn Depril (LinkedIn), Maarten Caus (blogtwitter) and Harold Preyers (blogtwitter) joining in a supporting role.

Why I want to become a VMUG leader

Ever since I discovered the vExpert program and VMUG, I’ve wanted to be a part of those communities and help build them out into something more. I’ve been doing this as a vExpert since 2016. That’s also the year I did my first VMUG session. I was instantly hooked!

So coming back to the title of this paragraph, why do I want to become a VMUG leader? I want to help build the VMUG in Belgium into something greater than it is today. There is an enormous potential for growth, there’s still a lot of people that are only now discovering the VMUG community.

VMUG is all about users and I want to bring it back to the users. Not only the veterans that have been coming to VMUG for 5, 10 15 years, also the people just starting out or coming to their first VMUG. I first started doing public speaking at the VMUGBE in 2016. It was a great experience for a first time speaker and I want more people to take that first step into public speaking. VMUG is the ideal platform for it.

Another part of wanting to become a leader is that it gets me way out of my comfort zone. I’m usually one of those people in the back that just sit there quietly and I’ve been wanting to do something about that for a while. By becoming a VMUG leader I can start working on that for myself while also building out the VMUG community, that’s a win win if you ask me! 😀

What is VMUG / vBeers?

Officially launched in August of 2010, the VMware User Group (VMUG) is an independent, global, customer-led organization, created to maximize members’ use of VMware and partner solutions through knowledge sharing, training, collaboration, and events.

In Belgium, this is an annual VMUG event that was hosted in Mechelen. Providing a space for partners, vendors and customers to meet, network and attend sessions hosted by industry and community experts.

On the other hand, we have the concept of “vBeers”, which is a community-based initiative that focuses on connecting like-minded people that have a passion for technology & virtualisation. This is a monthly event (every 3rd Thursday of the month) with 1 or 2 short sessions. These sessions can be technology-related but that’s not required. The goal of vBeers is to provide a low-entry platform for inexperienced public speakers to experience and test public speaking between similar vGeeks, but that doesn’t mean we never invite experienced speakers. 🙂

If you are interested in one of those, be sure to head over to the vCommunityBelux slack workspace for updates on events and meet the other vCommunity folks.

vCommunitBelux slack workspace

What are our goals for 2022?

1.VMUG

Building on the existing foundations we have today, we want to fuse the VMUG and vBeers concepts into one. Creating an event like VMUG with the atmosphere and energy of a vBeers. We want to return to the basics of VMUG and that’s an event by Users for Users. Meaning, how you can get practical value out of the event. As leaders, we are just a small portion of how we see the VMUG concept grow in Belgium. 
We also need YOUR input on how we can bring VMUG to the next level. You can help us with filling in a short survey. This will only take a few minutes and provide essential information on what we can do to make VMUG the perfect format for “you”.

Survey

We are currently working hard on getting things rolling and hope to host a Physical/Virtual VMUG later on this year in june! 

2.Pre-VMUG

We’re also planning to do an online pre-VMUG session. This will be a 2 hour event with lots of community speakers that will present some smaller sessions. 

3.vBeers

For the vBeers, I’ve already mentioned that we host this every 3rd Thursday of each month. We’re also thinking about organizing a bigger vBeers twice or three times per year. We would then invite a partner that would dive deeper in a specific area.

Stay tuned and looking forward seeing you soon on our next vBeers or VMUG!  


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!


VCAP-DCV Deploy Exam Experience

After postponing this exam for too long, I finally took the time to study for and take the VCAP-DCV deploy exam. To be honest, I was kind of looking forward to this exam. I love playing in the lab and getting my hands dirty in an environment. So to be able to take an actual lab exam was pretty exciting to me.

In this post, I will try to give some pointers and tips that might help you pass the exam. Please note that I took the exam for the 6.5 version but the same logic applies to other versions.

Preparation

Unlike the design exam, the deploy exam is a lab exam. This means you need to know how to do the stuff you’ve been reading and talking about. But, there are still some similarities. For starters, know the blueprint. This comes back for every exam, but read the blueprint upfront and know what topics are going to be covered on the exam. You should be intimately familiar with these blueprints by now.

Documentation

Although it’s a lab exam, you do have access to all the documentation VMware has on vSphere 6.5 in a folder on your desktop. Unlike what I read in some other posts, you do NOT have access to Adobe Reader in the lab. All PDFs will be opened in the browser, which means you can’t do a search in the entire folder anymore. Keep this in mind, read the documentation, and know where you need to look to find certain commands or info on a topic.

Community resources

As you might have guessed, there are already some great resources available in the community and I’m probably going to be linking the same ones that everyone does but that just shows how good they are.

  • Kyle Jenner’s VCAP6-DCV deployment study guide is the resource that I used the most. Kyle has put a lot of time and effort into explaining every topic covered in the blueprint. Make sure to go through every topic thoroughly.
  • Graham Barker’s VCAP6-DCV exam simulator is great to get a feel for what kind of questions will be asked and what depth they go to. Although the HoLs listed are no longer available, you can still perform these tasks in another HoL or your own lab.

Lab

But the most important resource I used while preparing was my lab. The VCAP exam covers nearly every vSphere feature there is. Like me, you’re probably not familiar with every feature there is. Make sure you lab these things more than once so you know how to do them. If you’ve got a lab that’s set up perfectly, try to get one of your colleagues or friends to break things in the lab. This will come in handy when you’re doing the exam. If you don’t have a lab, just spin up one of the vSphere 6.7 labs and start playing around.

You could also rent a server for a month or 2 like I did, and start building a nested lab. But that’s a topic for another post.

Besides that, there’s no replacement for real-world experience. I would not recommend taking this exam until you’ve got about 1 – 2 years of daily hands-on work done with vSphere. This will make the exam a lot easier.

Exam experience

The exam itself is presented to you in a HoL like fashion, it’s the same UI. If you’re not familiar with how HoLs work, be sure to start up a few so you’re familiar with the interface and how you can change and use the interface. Also, try booking the exam in a center where they have big screens. My test center has 24″ screens, which helped A LOT.

I found the lab to be reasonably performant and had no issues with connection whatsoever. The only minor annoyance was letters appearing more than once while typing but this is probably due to latency. Just be sure to read what you typed if a command fails.

Time management is crucial for this exam, that’s what a lot of other people told me at least. With that in mind, I tried to get the questions done as fast as I could without rushing through them. If I was stumped on one part of the question, I would write it down on the piece of paper I got, and move on to the next question. After I got through all questions, I started going back to the ones I didn’t complete. This will also prevent you from getting frustrated/stuck on 1 question, taking a break will give you a fresh look at the question.

I finished the exam with 42 minutes to spare so I never really felt that I was in a hurry to get everything done but your mileage may vary.

When doing the exam, read the questions carefully. It happened several times that I quickly read a question, started doing things, and afterward re-reading the question to find out I had not done several things.

Make sure you’re familiar with the CLI and PowerCLI, these things can come in handy for doing certain things faster. Also, try to open up the flash client again before taking the 6.5 exam. During the 6.5 days, the H5 client wasn’t yet fully-featured so you may not be able to use it for all questions.

Results

I took the exam on a Friday at 10 AM, so I was expecting to get the results on Monday or Tuesday after that. Around 8 PM I got an e-mail saying that I passed! This was a very pleasant surprise and big kudos to the VMware education team for providing the results so quickly.

I hope this post will help you prepare for the exam, good luck!


Looking forward to the coming year

It’s been fairly quiet on the blog front lately, with this post I’m trying to pick it back up again 🙂 I decided to put the blog in a fresh new theme, I really like how it turned out! It looks a lot cleaner now.

2016 in review

When I started this blog last year, I made a goals page that lists everything I wanted to get done that year. A quick review:

  • Earn the VCP6-DCV certificate –> FAIL. I only managed to get part 1/2 done, I haven’t gotten to part 2 yet, but it is one of the top priorities this year.
  • Become CCNA  –> FAIL. I will be taking this one off the list. When I have some more time, I might pick it up. But for the moment, I feel my knowledge is good enough to get by.
  • Learn PowerShell –> PASS. Last year I started performing routine tasks using PowerShell. Eventually, I was able to automate some of the things that I had to do frequently. Over the past year, I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for the language and I’m constantly discovering new things! I will be continuing with this until I feel that I have mastered it.
  • Publish code to GitHub –> PASS. I published 2 scripts that I created. I also made my first ever pull request and added some tests to the awesome Vester project (If you don’t know it, check it out here!). When I get some more free time, I will be looking for some more projects to contribute to.
  • Attend VMUG(s) –> PASS. I managed to go to both the Belgian as the Dutch VMUGs and I’m hoping to do it this year as well.

2016 was also a big year on a personal level. In august, I changed jobs and started working for Realdolmen as a system engineer. This was one of the best decisions I have made recently, working here gives me the chance to interact with some of the smartest people I know. I get to work with complex and interesting environments and I’m learning new things every day!

But the most important thing I did, was asking my girlfriend to marry me. She said yes and we’re getting married this coming May, I’m very much looking forward to it!

Looking forward to 2017

Obviously the biggest thing for me this year is my wedding. Shortly after that, 29 colleagues and I will be climbing the legendary Mont Ventoux by bike. I’m riding a lot again and found the joy of cycling again.

On a professional level, I will also be setting a few goals for the coming year.

  • Earn the VCP6-DCV certificate –> This is the first thing I want to get done education wise this year. It’s possible I won’t have time to do this until the summer, though.
  • Continue learning PowerShell –> There’s a ton I don’t know yet, and a lot that I can do better. I’ve started to put most of my code in functions and I will be looking into building some modules where I can.
  • Upgrade my MCSA to 2016 –> With the release of Server 2016, it’s time to upgrade my MCSA. I don’t want to let it expire, which would mean I would have to take the first 3 exams again.
  • Keep the blog more active this year –> Changing jobs in the summer, starting cycling again and preparing for our wedding has eaten up most of my free time since august. I’m hoping to find some more time to keep this blog going with some new content!
  • Wildcard –> I’m keeping this one open for something else to do the coming year. I’m not entirely sure what it is yet, it will all depend on the amount of free time I have and how the other goals have come this year.

A short list this year, but with a lot going on in my personal life, this feels reasonable.