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Quick Take – VMware PartnerExchange 2010: Day 3

February 10, 2010

With about 2.5 hours of sleep and the VCP410 test looming, Tuesday took on a different tone than the previous two days. My calendar was full:

  • 5:30 – Wake-up and check e-mail/blog/systems back in CST
  • 7:00am – Breakfast at the VMware Experience Hall
  • 8:30am – Keynote with Carl Eschenbach, EVP Worldwide Sales & Field Ops, VMware
  • 10:00am – ESXi Convergence Roadmap Session
  • 11:15am – View4 Workload Sizing and Testing
  • 12:15pm – Lunch in the VMware Alumni Lounge
  • 1:30pm – vSphere4 Advanced Configuration Topics
  • 3:45pm – VCP410 Test
  • 5:15pm – View Composer Tips, Tricks and Best Practices
  • 6:45pm – Check-in at home
  • 7:00pm – Update blog and check/respond to e-mail

First, the keynote with Carl and the gang was awesome! VMware took a really aggressive attitude towards the competition, including Citrix (virtual desktop) and Microsoft (virtual data center). To sum up the conversation: VMware’s intent on carrying on the Q4/09 momentum through 2011, extending its lead in virtual data center and cloud computing capabilities. But Carl’s not happy with just the traditional server market, and VMware wants to own the virtual desktop space – virtually putting the squeeze on Citrix as the walls close-in around them.

With over 60-70% of net new Citrix VDI builds being deployed on VMware’s ESX servers, it make me wonder why Citrix would drive its XenApp customers to VDI – in the form of XenDesktop4 – by offering a 2-for-1 trade-in program. Isn’t this like asking their own clients to reconsider the value proposition of XenApp – in essence turning vendor-locked accounts into a new battleground with VMware? If the momentum shifts towards VMware View4.x and VMware accelerates the pace on product features (including management and integration) as suggested by Carl’s aggressive tone today, where does that leave XenDesktop and Citrix?

The VMware Express Trailer

The VMware Express Mobile Data Center

The VMware Express: Coming to a City Near You!

VMware introduced its “data center on wheels” to the PartnerExchange 2010 audience today and I got a chance to get on-board and take a look. The build-out was clean and functional with 60+ Gbps of external interconnects waiting for a venue. Inside the Express was a data center, a conference room and several demonstration stations showing VMware vSphere and View4 demos.

6 ton Mobile A/C for Express' Data Center

6 ton Mobile A/C for Express' Data Center

VMware rolled-out the red carpet to the PartnerExchange 2010 attendees. To the right – above the 5-th wheel – is the conference room. All the way in the back (to the left) is the data center portion. In-between the data center and the conference room lies the demonstration area with external plasma screens in kick-panels displaying slide deck and demonstration materials.

The Express' Diesel Generator - Capable of Powering Things for Nearly 2-days

The Express' Diesel Generator - Capable of Powering Things for Nearly 2-days

Up front – behind the cab – rests 6-tons of air conditioning mounted to the front of the trailer. This keeps the living area inside habitable and the data center (about 70-80 sq. ft.) cool enough to run some serious virtualization equipment. Mounted directly behind the driver’s cabin is the diesel generator – capable of powering the entire operation for better than 40-hours when external power is unavailable. Today, however, the VMware Express was taking advantage of “house power” provided by Mandalay Bay’s conference center.

Where the rubber met the road was inside the data center: currently occupied by an EMC/Cisco rack and a rack powered by MDS/NetApp/Xsigo. Both featured 12TB of raw storage and high-density Nehalem-EP solutions. In the right corner, the heavyweight EMC/Cisco bundle was powered by Cisco’s UCS B-series platform featuring eight Nehalem 2P blades per 6U chassis fed by a pair of Cisco 4900-series converged switches. In the left corner, the super middleweight MDS Micro QUADv-series”mini-blade” chassis featuring an eight Nehalem 2P blades per two 2U chassis fed by a pair of Xsigo I/O directors delivering converged network and SAN tunneled over infiniband interconnects.

Still More Capacity for Additional Hardware Sponsors

Two-of-Three Racks are Currently Occupied by EMC/Cisco and MDS/NetApp/Xsigo

It will be interesting to see how the drive arrays survive the journey as the VMware Express travels across the country over the next year. Meanwhile, this tractor trailer is packing 60-blades worth of serious virtualization hardware destined for a town near you. VMware is currently looking for additional sponsors from the partner community to expand its tour; and access to the VMware Express will be prioritized based on partner status and/or sponsorship.

VCP410 Test Passed – Waiting for Official Notification

With the VCP410 test in the books, I’m now waiting for official notification from VMware of my VCP4 status. According to my “Examination Score Report” I should receive notice from VMware within 30-days having met all of the requirements for “VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 4 Certification” and testing above the Certified Instructor minimums.

As a systems and network architect, I found the “interface related questions” somewhat more challenging than the “design and configure” related fare. However, the test was pretty well balanced and left me with well over 25 minutes to go back over questions I’d checked for review and finalize those answers. I logged-out of the exam with 18 minutes left on the clock. My recommendation to those looking to pass the VCP410:

  1. Work with vSphere in a hands-on capacity for several days before taking the test, making good mental notes related to interface operations inside and outside of vCenter
  2. Know the minimums and maximums for ESX and vCenter configurations
  3. Understand storage zoning, masking and configuration
  4. Go over the VCP blueprint on your own before seeking additional assistance
  5. Remember the test is on GA release and not “current” release so “correct” answers may differ slightly from “reality”
  6. Get more than 2.5 hours sleep the night before you take the exam
  7. Schedule the exam in the morning – while you’re fresh – not the afternoon following meetings, etc.
  8. Dig into topics on the VCP Forum online

That about does it for day number three in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s time to shuffle-up and deal!

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