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HPE Networking expert level certifications

A couple of days ago, I took the HP0-Y47 exam “Deploying HP FlexNetwork Core Technologies”. It was one of two required exams to achive the HPE ASE – Data Center Network Integrator V1, and the HP ASE – FlexNetwork Integrator V1 certification. It was a long planned upgrade to my HP ATP certification, and it is a necessary certification for the HPE partner status of my employer.

You might find it confusing that I’m talking about an HP ASE and a HPE ASE. That is not a typo. The HP ASE was released prior the HP/ HPE split. The HPE ASE was released after the split in HP and HPE.

The HP/ HPE ATP is a professional level certification, comparable to the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). The HP/ HPE ASE is an expert level certification, so the typical candidate for a HP/ HPE ASE certification is a professional with three to five years experience in designing and architecting complex enterprise-level networks.

Requirements

There are different ways to achieve this certification. Regardless of the way you chose, you need a certification from which you can upgrade. This does not have to be a HP/ HPE certification! If you hold a valid CCNA/ CCNP or JNCIP-ENT, you can upgrade from this certification without the need of a valid HP/ HPE ATP Networking certification.

If you want to earn the HPE ASE – Data Center Network Integrator V1, and the HP ASE – FlexNetwork Integrator V1 certification in a single step, you need at least one of these certifications:

  • HP ATP – FlexNetwork Solutions V3
  • HPE ATP – Data Center Solutions V1

Or if you want to upgrade from a non-HP/ HPE certification:

  • Cisco – CCNP (any CCNP regardless of technology)
  • Cisco – Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
  • Juniper – JNCIP-ENT

Now you need to pass two exams:

HP2-Z34 (Building HP FlexFabric Data Centers)

The HP2-Z34 exam focuses on deployment and implementation of HPE FlexFabric Data Center solutions. Therefore, the exams covers topics like

  • Multitenant Device Context (MDC)
  • Datacenter Bridging (DCB)
  • Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)
  • Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)
  • Ethernet Virtual Interconnect (EVI),
  • Multi-Customer Edge (MCE),
  • Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), and
  • Shortest Path Bridging Mac-in-Mac mode (SPBM).

HPE offers a study guide to prepare for this exam: Building HP FlexFabric Data Centers (HP2-Z34 and HP0-Y51). I used this guide to prepare for the exam (eBook). The guide was of an average quality. Its sufficient to prepare for the exam, but I used other materials to get a better understanding of some topics.

HP2 exams are web-based exams. To pass the HP2-Z34 exam, I had to answer 60 questions in 105 minutes, with a passing score of 70%. The exam was quite demanding, especially if you don’t have much real-world experience with some of the covered topics.

HP0-Y47 (Deploying HP FlexNetwork Core Technologies)

The HP0-Y47 exam covers the configuration, implementation, and the troubleshoot enterprise level HPE FlexNetwork solutions. The exam covers different topics, e.g.

  • Quality of Service (QoS)
  • redundancy (VRRP, Stacking)
  • multicast routing (IGMP, PIM)
  • dynamic routing (OSPF, BGP)
  • ACLs, and
  • port authentication/ port security (Mac-auth, Web-auth, 802.1x)

I used the HP ASE FlexNetwork Solutions Integrator (HP0-Y47) study guide to prepre myself for the exam. Unfortunately, it had the same average quality as the HP2 Z34 guide: Good enough to pass the exam, but don’t expect to much.

HP0-Y47 is a proctored exam. I had to answer 55 questions in 150 minutes, with a passing score of 65%. The exam is not very hard, if you were familiar with the covered topics. Experience with ProVision and Comware is absolutely necessary, because both platforms have their peculiarities, e.g. processing of ACLs, differences in Stacking technologies, commands, STP support etc.

It took me some time to prepare for both exams, despite the fact that I work with ProVision and Comware Switches every day. So I’m pretty happy that I passed both exams on the first try.

My tool chain for 2018

Each of us has his or her personal tool chain. Depending on your job role, the tool chain will look different. My personal tool chain does not have changed much over the last few years, but if I added or removed a tool to my tool chain, this change was often influenced by other peoples tool chain.

Rainer Sturm/ pixelio.de

My primary work device is a Lenovo ThinkPad X250 (Intel i5 5200U, 8 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD) with Windows 10. I’ve added a 6 cell battery, so I have ~ 95 Wh of battery capacity. This gives me ~ 16h of battery lifetime with my common workload. The 12,5″ screen seems to be small, but it’s okay as I have two 24″ displays at the office. It’s small, lightweight, long battery life and powerful. I awaited the new Lenovo Thinkpads, that were presented some day ago on the CES. But Lenovo removed the Ethernet port on the X280. So this is not longer an option. Maybe the T480 with an additional 72 Wh battery… Devices and accessories are safely stowed in an Eastpack Floid Ash Blend2. It’s a great backpack, light and not too big.

Browser and Office

I have used Google Chrome for years, but with the latest Firefox release I switched back to Firefox and disabled all Google services I used before. I even try to avoid using google.com and use duckduckgo.com instead. Microsoft Office 2013 is corporate standard, so nothing much to say about it.

Knowledge Management

I primarily use two tools to dump my brain onto my hard disk. One is Microsoft OneNote, the other one is XMind 8 Pro. I’m using OneNote to store snippets, meeting protocols, summaries etc. in two notebooks. One notebook is for customer related stuff, the other notebook is for knowhow and snippets. A third notebook is shared between colleagues and me. I often use the web version of OneNote, available on onenote.com.

Tools

Royal TS is an awesome remote management solution, helping me to keep track of all those RDP and VNC sessions. And it can do much more. I switches from PuTTY to KiTTY last year. KiTTY is a PuTTY fork with some nice additions, like folders or scripting. My VMware application stack consists of the good, old VMware vSphere C# Client (don’t judge me…), PowerCLI and the VMware vSphere Remote Console. The web-based Clients are onboard as well. Filezilla is something that I’m using for years. FTP, S/FTP oder SCP are common protocols, most times used to upload firmware, or download config files from network devices. Wireshark is another veteran in my tool chain. Nothing much to say. The army knife in case of network troubleshooting. Authy is pretty new in my tool chain. I discovered it some weeks ago as an alternative to the Google Authenticator app in my iPhone. A pretty cool app. I can have the same accounts on my smartphone and in a desktop app. No need to grab my phone if I need 2FA at my laptop. And, IMHO a big benefit, an encrypted backup of my 2FA accounts. But 2FA or MFA is only one factor. The other factor is the password and I’m forcing me to use different passwords for different services. I’m getting older, so I use Keepass to store my usernames and passwords in a safe, password protected and encrypted database.

Development

I’m not a developer. But sometimes I have to write scripts in PowerShell or Python, transform data etc. My developer tool chain is full of well known tools. Notepad++ is my favorite text editor for years. ISE Steroids is still my favorite PowerShell IDE, even if I have Visual Studio Code installed. But this is mainly used for Python. ISE Steroids variable monitoring function is superior. Currently, I don’t get my mind wrapped around the VS Code debugging mode. But I swear that I will try it in 2018! GitHub Desktop is mandatory, not only for PowerShell and Python snippets, but also for my scripts and dot files (VIM, ZSH etc.).

Other stuff

Sometimes I like to hear music during work. I love Spotify. I don’t have to run VMs on my laptop, but when I have to, VMware Workstation Pro is my desktop virtualizer of choice. For reading PDFs I switched from Adobe Reader to Google Chrome, and after removing Chrome, to Foxit Reader.

Continuity vs. change

Note: I trashed this blog post several times. But I would like to express my point of view (hey, this is my blog. :D )

Some weeks back, I had an interesting discussion with a HR consultant. Bottom line: You ruin your career, if you stay for more than 3 years at the same company. IMHO this is bullshit.

I have started my IT career, right after school, with an apprenticeship at a local IT company. I finished this apprenticeship three years later, and my employer offered me a position as IT-Technician. Until 2004, I changed my employer three times. There were good reasons for each change. I learned pretty much in these years. The last change took me to my current employer. I have started as a Technical Consultant in October 2004. Today, thirteen years later, I’m leading the consulting and services business unit. There is a good chance I will not leave this company until retirement. At least not for the same or similar job role.

But is it a good idea to work for such a long time for the same company? What about challenges, motivation, perspectives, and income? How can you develop yourself, if you are working for the same company for such a long time? Isn’t this boring?

Challenges

Challenges are important. They help us to develop ourselves. Sure, customer projects can be challenging. But that is not what I mean. The biggest challenge, that we are all facing, is our job! Technology is changing so fast, and it will never stop. I’m a infrastructure guy. I don’t think that I have to explain how things like virtualization or cloud have changed the way we build infrastructure. “Never stop learning” is one of the biggest challenges in our job.

Motivation

Money is a bad motivator. It motivates only for a short period of time. Once you get used to it, the motivation is gone. “Strive for perfection” – that is something that motivates me. “Strive for perfection”, regardless if it is for a project, or for your own skill set.

Income

Is income everything? Nope, it is not. I had the chance to earn much more money. But at what price? Travelling from monday to friday, and leaving the family again on sunday? To be one of many highly skilled employees, with a manager in oversea? Ôr doing stuff I don’t want to do, just because it is well paid? That was never an option for me. What about working hours? Amount of travel? Car policy? Employer-funded pension? Having a safe job? To work for the founder of the company, and not for the shareholders. Money is not everything.

Perspectives

Good employees rarely remain unrecognized. Companies, that strive for sustainability, should try to promote employees. Often it is better to raise someone from the team into a manager role, than hiring someone from outside of the company. This opens perspectives for employees. Sure, sometimes you have to hire someone from outside. There are different reasons for this.

Should I stay or should I go?

It is not reprehensible to move forward, if the  conditions no longer fit. But it does not have to be bad to stay with an employer, and to develop itself and the company.

Fight the chaos: Design your toolbox properly

You need tools and methods to accomplish your daily tasks. No one will deny this insight.

I would like to give you an insight into my box of tools and methods. These tools and methods work for me, but they do not have to work for you. The design of your personal toolbox depends on your job.

Depending on who you ask, my job role consists of several roles: Currently, I am working as a consultant, head of the business unit, pre-sales consultant and technical account manager. That’s what you get when working in a very small company… And because of these different roles, my personal toolbox may differ from yours.

Daily Toolbox

Independent of the task, role or customer, some tools are always in use.

Google ChromeBrowser
Microsoft OutlookMail
Microsoft OneNoteKnowledge Management
MyLifeOrganizedTo-Do list, task management & personal organizer
XMindMind Mapping Software

Google Chrome and Microsoft Outlook don’t have to be explained. I use several extensions for Chrome, like OneTab, chromeIPass, Clip to OneNote, Adblock Plus, Ghostery and SwitchyOmega.

Microsoft OneNote is my personal notepad, I use it for notes, snippets, sketches, code dump etc. I don’t take paper with me.In the past, I used it on my iPad and my laptop, but for about a year I only take my Lenovo X250 with me. And if I do not have my laptop with me, a simple Internet browser or my iPhone is enough to get my notes.

MyLifeOrganized is similar to OmniFocus. It’s a very powerful tool for to-do lists and task management. I’m currently testing it, and I really like it. But it’s not cheap (MOL Pro for Windows $59.95,  MOL Pro for iPhone $29.99, Cloud Sync for 12 month $14.95).

XMind is available for free, but there is also a Plus and Pro version. I switched from Mindjet MindManager to XMind, because XMind was capable to read MindManager files. Mindjet MindManager is really expensive, and after leaving the FernUniversität Hagen, I was not entitled for academic discounts anymore. But XMind is really similar to MindManager. I like the concept of mind maps and I use it quite often for project planning and management.

Productivity

Microsoft WordWriting docs,  proposals etc.
Microsoft ExcelCalculations, data processing, proposals
Microsoft PowerPointPresentations
Internet ExplorerSometimes you need it…
Notepad++Powerful text editor

Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are self-explanatory. Sometimes I have to use the Internet Explorer. It is 2016 and there is still software out there that simply does not work properly with Firefox or Chrome. It’s a pity… Notepad++ is a free (GPL licensed) source code editor and Notepad replacement . Good piece of software and it’s free!

Admin

When I’m working for customers, I mostly need three tools: An internet browser, something for RDP connections, the vSphere C# client, and a SSH client.

Royal TSConnection Management Software
VMware vSphere C# ClientStill necessary for some tasks…
KiTTYA PuTTY clone

Royal TS makes my life so much easier! Royal TS is a connection management software for RDP, VNC, SSH based terminals or web-based interfaces. It also includes credential management. Very handy!

The vSphere C# client is mandatory. Even if I have not explicitly listed it, I also have installed the Client Integration Plug-In in the vSphere Web Client, as well as the VMware Remote Console.

KiTTY is a PuTTY clone. KiTTY is a fork from version 0.67 of PuTTY and includes some features like portability, automatic password, session filter, send to tray and many more.

Pre-Sales

HPE SalesBUILDER for windowsPre-Sales configuration tool
HPE Ninja STARS for HPE 3PARSizing tool for HPE 3PAR StoreServ

I often work with HPE products, and because of this, the HPE SalesBUILDER and the HPE Ninja STARS tool are quite often in use. Both are available to HPE Partners only.

Development

I’m not a developer, but sometimes I have to write code, mostly PowerShell.

Windows PowerShell ISE with ISESteroidsPowerShell IDE
VMware PowerCLIPowerShell interface for managing VMware vSphere
GitHub DesktopVersion control and source code management
Python 3.5 IDLEIntegrated Development and Learning Environment

For PowerShell, I use the Windows PowerShell ISE with ISESteroids. ISESteroids is an  add-on for the Windows PowerShell ISE, which extends the ISE with many, many useful features. I have written a blog post about it.

VMware PowerCLI is self-explanatory and a must, if you are frequently working with VMware products.

I have rarely used GitHub Desktop to manage my code, but I have decided to change this for 2017. I use GitHub Desktop to sync my code between my two laptops (one for work, and the other for lab, projects etc.).

I’m still in the process to learn Python, and I have written a blog post months ago why I want to learn Python (Hey infrastructure guy, you should learn Python!). I played a bit with PyCharm Community edition, but now I’m using the Python IDLE again. It’s basic functionality is enough for the moment.

Methods

A fool with a tool is still a fool. You are nothing without supporting methods. I mainly use three different methods:

You may be wondering about this list, because GTD and Pomodoro are both time-management methods. And you may wonder how Kanban fits into this list. It’s all about the flow.

The idea behind GTD is to get tasks out of your head by writing them down, and breaking them down into smaller work pieces. This allows you to focus on accomplishing tasks. Btw: Mind mapping is a great way to graphically depict this.

Pomodoro uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 20 to 25 minutes, separated by short breaks of 5 minutes. After four intervals, a break of 15 minutes is given. This technique can improve mental agility, and help you to focus on the currently active task. But what if a distraction pops into your head,? Write it down, then get back on the active task. That is the link between GTD and Pomodoro.

Kanban implements the pull principle in Lean Management. It limits the work in progress, thereby avoiding waste through multitasking and context switching. Kanban uses visual elements (cards on a board) to visualize the current state of the work and the workflow.

Summary

This box of tools and methods works for me in my current situation. Feel free to leave a comment, or write a blog post about your tools and methods.

Why VARs should rethink their business model

Okay, the headline of this blog post is a bit provocative. This blog post is not written from the vendor perspective. It’s the perspective of someone, who’s sitting between the vendor and the customer. A value-added reseller (VAR) is typically located between vendor and customer. And the business model of a VAR is typically based on selling hardware, software and service.

Added value

The typical customer doesn’t have the time, money and the know-how to transform business requirements into a bill of materials (BOM). It’s a “make-or-buy” decision. And “buy” is often better than “make”. The customer needs a partner who helps him to transform the business requirements into a solution and a BOM.

Even “simple” things, like a new server, are sometimes complex. What memory configuration? How many disks? Which controller? Which CPU for which application? Who ensures that the firmware is upgraded? Who labels the cables during rack-and-stack? These things are not self-evident. Sure, servers are commodities. You can buy a HPE ProLiant from an online shop. You can buy expansion enclosures for a HPE 3PAR from an online shop. You can buy nearly everything online. But what customer risks it to buy crap? At this point, a VAR can offer added value.

The downside of a buyers market

IT budgets are under considerable cost pressure. The customer always wants the best price. And there are many VARs. As a VAR, you are not in the best position. Information technology is a buyers market. As a VAR, you must offer added value and the best price. Customers love free advice… and then they buy from an online shop, or from another VAR that was cheaper.

Cloud eliminates hardware/ software revenues

Cloud offerings are awesome! For customers… But they are the plague for VARs. Usually you need to sell more billable hours to achieve the same margins with cloud offerings and service, as with a combination of hardware, software and service. And your employees need different skills. Take the example of Office 365. To date, a VAR has sold 200 licenses for Microsoft Office (Open License). Now he sells 200 E3 plans. Revenue is not the same. Maybe a little more service for the implementation of Office 365 and AD FS. Or Microsoft Exchange. Many customers consider the use of Exchange Online (often as part of an Office 365 deployment). Or Microsoft Azure instead of VMware vSphere on-premises. No hardware, less software, similar amount of service, but a different skills.

Develop your business model

Cloud offerings and “price-conscious” customers are forcing VARs to rethink their business model. Decreasing margins and a highly competitive market make the sale of hardware and software increasingly unattractive. But cloud offerings require other skills from your sales and technical teams. Such fundamental changes need time, patience and leadership to be successful.

Solving problems: A structured approach

What is a problem? A problem is an obstacle, that has to be surmounted. Solving a problem is connected with obstacles. Or more general: Problem solving is a process to get from an unsatisfactory to a satisfactory situation.

Most of us get paid for solving problems. It’s irrelevant if you are paid for solving technical problem (e.g. My computer doesn’t work), or if you are paid to create solutions for customers (e.g. design infrastructure for a Citrix XenApp farm). At the end you solve a problem.

Every problem has characteristics, that can be used to describe it.

  • Solubility

Not every problem is solvable. Think about “Squaring the circle“. But often a problem seems to be unsolvable because it’s not well defined. If Initial situation, obstacle and target situation are not clearly formulated, you won’t be able to solve the problem.

  • Decomposability

If you can decompose a problem into multiple subproblems, it is a hierarchical problem. Otherwise, it’s an elemental problem.

  • Effort

The effort to solve a problem is always different.. A problem is theoretically solvable, but it may require such a high effort, that it is practically unsolvable.

  • Subjectivity

Even if a problem is well defined, it appears different in regard to complexity for different people.

How to start?

First of all

  • Understand and define the problem

This is most important part. Before you try to solve a problem, make sure that you have really understood the problem. Then you should define the problem. Only a clearly defined problem can be solved. And it’s much easier to solve a clearly defined, than a vague problem. If it’s a complex problem, then you should try to

  • Simplify or decompose the problem

A simplified problem can help you stay focused. If you can’t simplify a problem, you can try to divide it into subproblems. With a clearly defined, simplified/ structured problem, you can start to

  • Find the root cause

Collecting information is the key. Collect information about what happened before, during, and after the problem has occurred. Identifying the root cause for a problem can be a time consuming task. But let me say this clearly: Information is the key. Information that help to find the root cause are not only observations (e.g. logs, error messages etc.). You can can use the results of systematic tests. Collect as much data as you can.

Sometimes it can be useful to create a hypothesis.

Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories.

If you see that System A is affected, but system B should be affected too, but it’s not, it might be time to create a hypothesis. With a hypothesis in mind, you can try to prove it. Test the hypothesis by performing tests and collecting data. This strategy is called “hypothesis testing”.

At some point, you should have identified the root cause. With the now known root cause, you can

  • Create solutions and select the best one

Sometimes it’s easy. But sometimes it’ not that easy. A trade-off analysis can help to identify the best of multiple solutions.

  • Create an action plan

Even if you only have to disable a specific feature, it’s a good idea to formulate an action plan. Even if consists only of three lines… You should state clearly

  • WHAT you do
  • WHY do you have to do it, and
  • HOW to you plan to check it

With these steps, you should be well prepared. It doesn’t matter what kind of problem you are trying to solve: The process is basically the same.

Other problem solving methods

Over the years many problem solving methods have been developed. Kepner-Tregoe is one of them. Other well known methods are:

  • A3 Problem Solving
  • PDCA
  • Eight Disciplines (8D) Problem Solving
  • Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA)

A3 Problem Solving has been developed at Toyota for their Toyota Production System (TPS). It’s an often used method in Lean Manufacturing. A3 helps to solve problems by pretending a structure (WHAT IS and WHAT IS NOT the problem, describe the problem, root cause, solution etc). This strucure is placed on an A3 sheet paper (that why it’s called A3). The process is based on the principles of Deming’s PDCA cycle.

PDCA, or Plan-Do-Check-Act (sometimes Shewhart-Cycle) was made popular by Dr. Edwards Deming. Plan-Do-Check-Act refers to the four phases of this cycle.

  • Plan: Plan the change
  • Do: implement the change
  • Check: Check the sucess of the implemented change
  • Act: Take action based on the results of “Check”

Eight Disciplines (8D) Problem Solving was developed by the Ford Motor Company. The D0 phase is the starting point for the D8 process, but it’s not counted.

  • D0:  Plan for solving the problem and determine the prerequisites
  • D1: Establish a team of people with the required skills and knowledge
  • D2: Describe the problem
  • D3: Define and implement containment actions
  • D4: Determine and verify the root causes
  • D5: Plan permanent corrective actions for the observed problem
  • D6: Implement the best permanent corrective actions
  • D7: Modify management systems to prevent a recurrence
  • D8: Congratulate your team!

The Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a highly structured, systematic approach for failure analysis. There are different FMEA alalyses:

  • Functional
  • Design
  • Process

FMEA is based on inductive reasoning (forward logic). FMEA is based on a highly structured process, which can be represented as followed.

  • Structural analysis: A system is divided into its components
  • Functional analysis: Identify the function of each component
  • Failure analysis: Identify the possible failures for each component
  • Calculate the risk: Risk Priority Number = occurrence ranking x detection ranking x highest severity ranking
  • Optimize: Optimize the component to mitigate the risk

No matter what, stay organized

The key to successfully solve problems is to stay organized. Solving problems isn’t magic. It is a very structured process that gets better with increasing experience. Try to create your own, structured method. Or use one of the mentioned problem solving methods. But in general:

  • Always try to describe a problem
  • Try to simplify or break it into smaller problems
  • Search and verify for the root cause
  • Develop a solution

VCP6-DCV Delta Beta exam experience

Today, I took my very first VMware beta exam. I took the 2V0-621D exam, known as the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Delta Beta Exam, at a local Pearson VUE test center. This exam is a possible migration paths from a valid VCP5-DCV, or any valid solution track VCP, to the VCP6-DCV certification.

The benefit of a beta exam is the low price (currently 50 US-$) and a chance to upgrade the associated certification, in this case the VCP6-DCV. This was the main reason for me to request the authorization and schedule an appointment at a local Pearson VUE testcenter. When I pass the exams, that would be a very effective and simple upgrade.

Exam topics

The blueprint for the delta beta exam consists of 10 sections and it covers a bit more then only VMware vSphere 6.

  • Section 1: Configure and Administer vSphere 6.x Security
  • Section 2: Configure and Administer Advanced vSphere 6.x Networking
  • Section 3: Configure and Administer Advanced vSphere 6.x Storage
  • Section 4: Upgrade a vSphere Deployment to 6.x
  • Section 5: Administer and Manage vSphere 6.x Resources
  • Section 6: Backup and Recover a vSphere Deployment
  • Section 7: Troubleshoot a vSphere Deployment
  • Section 8: Deploy and Consolidate vSphere Data Center
  • Section 9: Configure and Administer vSphere Availability Solutions
  • Section 10: Administer and Manage vSphere Virtual Machines

Each section includes one or more objectives. In opposite to exam 2V0-621, the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Beta Exam, the delta exam doesn’t include the objectives

  • 7.4: Troubleshoot and Monitor vSphere Performance
  • 7.5: Troubleshoot HA and DRS Configurations and Fault Tolerance
  • 8.3: Consolidate Physical Workloads using VMware Converter
  • 10.3: Configure and Maintain a vCloud Air Connection

Manfred Hofer highlightes this already in a blog post about his exam experience. But instead, the delta exam includes the objective

  • 9.3: Setup and Configure AppHA

So if you take the delta beta exam, you better take a closer look at VMware AppHA.

The exam

The exam consists of 75 single and multiple choice questions. You have 90 Minutes time to answer all questions. If you are a non-native english speaker, you will get 30 minutes extra. The questions are not always related to VMware vSphere 6! There are also questions about vSphere in gerneral, or prodcuts around vSphere, like Replication or AppHA. In my case, the questions were very unevenly distributed over the blueprint sections. I got a relatively high number of questions involving HA, DRS, Resource Pools and troubleshooting in general. Carefully reading the question and answers was very helpful. In most cases, I was able to eliminate wrong or unlikely answers. Answers must not be correct, sometimes answers were “best fit” answers.

With 75 questions in 120 minutes, I had more than one minute per question. That’s much more time as you get in the VCP5-DCV (vSphere 5.5) exam. There you have to answer 135 questions in 120 minutes. After 60 minutes I clicked the “End Exam” button. Now I have to wait. The results will be published after the end of the beta phase. This may take 6 to 8 weeks.

I don’t know if I passed the exam. In fact, I did not really prepare for the exam. I have the documents just flown over. But it was a very nice experience.

Exam experience JNCIA-Junos

The Juniper Networks Certification Program (JNCP) consists of different tracks, which enable you to demonstrate your skills with Juniper products and technologies in the areas most pertinent to your job function and experience. There are three main areas:

  • Junos
  • Support
  • Product and Technology

The Junos area consists of three tracks:

  • Service Provider Routing and Switching
  • Enterprise Routing and Switching
  • Junos Security

The “Service Provider Routing and Switching” track focuses on service provider and telecommunication (M-, MX-Series, Routing with OSPF, BGP, MPLS etc.), the “Enterprise Routing and Switching” on enterprise routing and switching in LAN and WAN (EX-Series, MX-Series, Spanning-Tree, VLANs, Routing etc.) and the “Junos Security” track is focused on the Juniper Security products (SRX-Series, Routing, Firewall, VPN etc.). All three tracks have the Juniper Networks Certified Associate – Junos (JNCIA-Junos) as a prerequisite. This is an entry-level certification and it covers the following objectives:

  • Networking Fundamentals
  • Junos OS Fundamentals
  • User Interfaces
  • Junos Configuration Basics
  • Operational Monitoring and Maintenance
  • Routing Fundamentals
  • Routing Policy and Firewall Filters

The certification is compareable to Cisco CCNA (Routing & Switching, Security) or HP ATP (FlexNetworks or TippingPoint Security). The certification can be achieved by passing the JN0-102 exam, that can be booked at Pearson VUE and which is delivered as an proctored exam. The exam costs ~100 € (depending on taxes). A Fast Track program for different certifications is available, so also for the JNCIA-Junos. If you pass a pre-assessment exam, you can get a 50% discount exam voucher for Pearson VUE. I strongly recommend to take the pre-assessment exam and save 50% costs. The voucher can only be used one time. So if you fail the first attempted, you have to pay the full price for the second attempt. It’s strongly recommended to get a CertManager ID before you schedule the exam. Otherwise you can’t get your eCertificate. You can get a CertManager ID later and connect it with your Juniper accounts. You can get a CertManager ID here.

To pass the exam you have to answer 70 multiple-choice questions in 90 minutes. I can’t tell you the passing score, because it’s not officially published by Juniper. But it’s compareable to other entry-level exams I passed in the last years. Nothing special. You get the result (if you passed or failed) immediately after the exam. But, and this was new to me, you get only a provisional score report! Juniper states on its homepage:

Juniper Networks then performs industry standard statistical analyses on all exam results to ensure compliance with the Juniper Networks Candidate Agreement and JNCP exam security policies.

It seems that Juniper tries to avoid that people pass the exam that have used braindumps or that have thrown a coin at each question. You get the final score report within three business days. I passed the exam on friday (based on the provisional score report) and today I had the exam listed as “passed” in my CertManager account.

Exam preparation

You can prepare for the exam in many ways. Juniper offers three different trainings that cover some of the exam objectives:

You don’t have to take a classroom or virtual training, you can prepare yourself for the exam. Juniper offers an excellent free software documentation, the Fast Track Self-study Guides and different Day One Guides (e.g. Day One: Exploring the Junos CLI). If you like CBT, try the course on Pluralsight: Juniper JNCIA-Junos – Introduction to Junos OS (thanks to Chris Frisch for developing the course!). Hands-on experience is strongly recommended! You can get cheap SRX 100 or 110 on eBay. Or try Juniper Firefly Perimeter, a virtual SRX. You can use it for 30 days without a license. Don’t make the mistake and buy Juniper 5GT or SSG series! They are running ScreenOS, not Junos! If you think you are well prepared, try the practice test that is offered by Juniper. If you pass the practice test schedule your exam at Pearson VUE.

The exam

I passed the Fast Track pre-assessment exam some weeks ago and scheduled an appointment for last friday (24. October). I had not much time to prepare for the exam. I used the Fast Track Self-study Guides (two PDF with ~ 160 pages) and a Juniper Firefly Perimeter to prepare for the exam. Since I’m quite familar with the SSG and SRX, I know how firewalls policies, routing and routing protocols work. As above mentioned the exam consists of 70 questions that have to be answered in 90 minutes. There is no bonus time for non-native speaker. Some questions can be answered really quick, but some questions, especially question with an exhibit, need more time. As far as I’ve seen all exam objectives were covered. I can’t reveal any details, but reading the study guides is not enough to pass the exam! You should be familiar with converting decimal to binary and IPv6. You should also be familiar with IP routing, subnetting, longest route match etc. Know the Junos CLI and the syntax for the important commands. You should also know how Junos routing engine and packet forwarding engine act together. Don’t waste to much time with basic questions. And very important: READ CAREFULLY! Some questions are nasty if you haven’t read the question, the exhibit and the answers…

I finished the exam after round about 60 minutes and passed it. I felt the exam as challenging, compared to other entry-level exams.

What’s next? I think I will start prepare for JNCIS-SEC and maybe JNCIS-ENT. The latter is more of a hobby because my employer does not sell Juniper EX. But in any case: It opens future options and learning new things is always a good thing.

vExpert 2014 benefits

In addition to the benefits that VMware grants to vExperts, a couple of vendors grant also benefits to vExperts. This includes free licenses, subscriptions or other offers. This is only a loose compilation of vExperts benefits.

VendorOfferLink
SolarwindsVirtualization Manager NFRhttp://bit.ly/1gYJtBB
VeeamBackup & Replication NFRhttp://bit.ly/1esRaFn
PluralsightAnnual Plus Subscriptionhttp://bit.ly/1esTa0o
TintriPolo Shirthttp://bit.ly/1eJqgE2
DevolutionsRemote Desktop Manager 1y NFRhttp://bit.ly/1iRVXfm
Login VSIVIP programhttp://bit.ly/1esPY4M
Hewlett-PackardStoreVirtual VSA NFRhttp://bit.ly/1m4J6gt
Darren WoollardSticker & URL Shortenerhttp://bit.ly/1noB4gb
DataCoreSANsymphony-V NFRhttp://bit.ly/1iUXd2N
Proximal DataAutoCache NFRhttp://bit.ly/1eLKoWa
VSS LabsvCert Manager NFRhttp://bit.ly/1eTncKP
UnitrendsEnterprise Backup for VMware or Hyper-V NFRhttp://bit.ly/1eWqn4Q
SymantecBackup Exec V-Ray Edition NFRhttp://bit.ly/1eTFcEO
Royal TSRoyal TS/X NFRhttp://bit.ly/1jtpNbB

I also recommend to check the following blog post:

I will add further offers to this list. Feel free to leave a comment and to point me to similar blog posts.

VMware vExpert 2014

The VMware vExperts program is a annual given title from VMware to individuals who have significantly contributed to the community. It’s an award for sharing their knowledge with the community. It’s a nice way to say “Thank you” from VMware.

There are three different tracks you can apply:

The Evangelist Path is for bloggers, authors and other members of the community, who demonstrate their passion and knowledge.

The Customer Path is for customers. This includes leaders of VMware customer organizations, like the VMware User Groups (VMUG), speakers, customers who helped to create customer success stories etc.

The VMware Partner Network Path is for employees of VMware partners who are learning continuously with passion and make their knowledge available to customers and the community. A VMware employee reference is required for this path.

What are the benefits?

This is nothing you get after passing an exam. It’s given to you by VMware in respect of your work. The vExpert title is something which differates you inside the commnity. Currently (vExpert 2014) there are 754 vExperts in the world. Individuals who participate in the program, have access to betas, free licenses, early access briefings, free access to VMworld conference materials online, access to a private community, use of logos etc.

Why I’m writing about it?

vExpert2014

It is an honor and I’m incredibly proud to announce that I was awarded: I’m vExpert 2014. This is my first award and it’s a confirmation, that blogging about my daily work and participating in forums is recognized, and it’s a spur. Thanks that I was awarded! Check the vExpert 2014 announcement and read, who’s also vExpert 2014.