It occurs to me one of the most underutilized resources at VMware is our Online Hands On Labs, https://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/resources/how. Anyone who has been to VMworld should be familiar with the hands on labs, a few years ago the team at VMware decided to make this publicly available online at no charge. So that being said, I wanted to dig into the labs a little, and talk about some uses, and some of my personal favorites.
Often I get asked about how to pass a VMware exam. I always suggest hands on experience. In my opinion, the classes, while valuable, do not prepare you for the test in any way. In order to be successful you need actual stick time on the system. In the early days many of stood up labs either with salvaged equipment, or more recently with Mac Mini’s and Intel NUC boxes. This is still a viable option, but not cost effective for everyone. This is a perfect way for anyone who wants to get some hands on time with the product, and get comfortable with what you are working on.
When I started working on VMware products there were 3 products, Workstation, GSX, and ESX. It was pretty easy to be good with everything VMware did. Today, things have changed, both the acquisitions, and organic growth. Thankfully, the general concepts are similar, but the company has grown. That being said, so have most of our jobs. We are expected to get deeper on more products both on the SE side here at VMware but even more so on the IT admin/engineer side. Having a full lab to walk through and understand is immensely valuable.
One of my goals is to read one non-fiction book a month. I try to exceed that, but somehow I am lucky to get through the one. I find though, most of these books, technical or not, inspire me to want to go deeper into the technology I am talking about. The more time I spend digging into the labs the more curious I get, and the more questions I take to VMUG members, product teams, or anyone who is interested in discussion. The best way to get better is to keep pushing yourself and to keep learning.
HOL-SDC-1401 – Cloud Management with vRealize Operations
I have found this one to be incredibly helpful since it goes over the newer features in vRealize Operations, formerly vCOPs. There are significant changes coming, and this tool is proving to be incredibly helpful for a number of users I have spoken with recently.
HOL-SDC-1403 – VMware NSX Introduction
Having very little networking experience outside of architecture, this has been a life saver. I have decided to work on my VCP-NV, so this lab has been a lifesaver. Not only have I learned about NSX, but it has helped me to dig deeper into vSphere networking.
HOL-SDC-1408 – VMware Virtual SAN 101
I have been working with VSAN since the early Beta. I am a huge fan, coming from a storage background, although I am always cautious with the use cases. Using the Lab helped me to become more successful with my demonstrations, and with my conversations.
I do want to try more of the labs, there are so many, and they are quite well done. One final tip, I use multiple monitors when I am in my home office, or my iPad when I am not. I prefer to put the lab in full screen and use the second screen for the lab guide. It makes things so much easier.
I encourage you to use these labs, not because I work here, but because I think that knowledge is power. Get familiar with the products, challenge your self, your peers, your VMware sales teams, or just grow professionally. There are so many valuable tools out there, but there is nothing like hands on experience. It is your career, use the resources available to you and get better at what you do.