As I spend a lot of my time in training and learning about new technologies, I thought it might be a good idea to start reviewing the classes that I attend to help my readers figure out how to get the best out of their training dollars. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the 2-day VMware vSphere: What’s New [5.0] class.
If you are thinking about becoming a VMware Certified Professional (VCP), you’re going to need to go to class. It’s a requirement for certification. I don’t necessarily agree with this though. No other certification I hold requires me to go to class. The CISSP requires a certain level of experience, and when I looked at the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) requirements, they said that their required class could be waived with demonstrable experience. So the fact that VMware is making me go to class is kind of irritating. That’s even taking into account that my employer sees the usefulness of staying certified and lets me attend a large number of classes. I really feel for the independent contractors that need to be VCPs to get into the field but can’t afford to either pay for the class or take the time off for 2-4 days to attend one. There should be some kind of waiver for people that can demonstrate experience with VMware. Yes, I know that if you are a 1-step removed VCP (VCP4 in this case) you don’t have to go to class. Yes, I know that there are very good reasons to make people attend class, such as keeping current with new technology and ensuring your certified user base is up on all the new features. Yes, I know that the costs of the class are necessary for things like facilities rental and materials. Just because I understand why it’s required and why it’s so expensive doesn’t mean I have to like it. But, I digress…
I chose to take the 2-day What’s New class because it was a quicker way to go through the requirements as well as being valid for upgrading my VCP3 to a VCP5 until February. The 2-day What’s New class is a condensed version of the 4-day Install, Configure, and Manage (ICM) class that introduces VMware to those that are new to virtualization. Being condensed, the prerequisites for the course state you must be familiar with VMware. While you don’t need to be intimately familiar with every aspect of the hypervisor and it’s settings, you had better at least be comfortable logging into vCenter and doing some basic tasks. There won’t be much time for hand-holding in the What’s New class.
The materials for the 2-day class are a 270-page student manual with the slide deck from the class printed in note-taking format and an 80-page lab guide. The student guide has ample annotations of the slide deck as well as space for taking notes in class. The lab guide has places to record the information for your student lab pods so you aren’t constantly flipping back and forth to remember what your vCenter or ESXi servers are named. The lab guide went into good detail about each task, making sure that you knew where to go to enable features or perform tasks. The lab guide is great for those that want to do a little more practice after leaving the class in a personal lab environment.
The material covered in the class focused on the new features in vSphere 5 and how it’s different from vSphere 4. Special attention is paid to the new storage features and the new deployment options for ESXi servers, like stateless Auto Deploy. Thanks to the ample amount of lab time, you have a great opportunity to reinforce the topics with actual examples rather than just staring at static screens on slides. If you get a really good instructor (like we had), you can even see live configurations of these topics on their lab machines. Rick, our instructor, made sure to show us live examples every chance he had rather than just relying on stuffy slides. He also did a great job going into depth on topics that deserved it, like VMware HA changes and elections. By the way, for anyone that has ever complained about HSRP elections or STP root bridge selection, you should really check out http://www.yellow-bricks.com and get Ducan Epping’s vSphere Clustering Deep Dive book. Therein, you will learn in vSphere 5, 99 is greater than 100 when performing HA elections. I’ll give you hint: lexical numbers don’t follow normal rules…
Overall, I found the condensed version of class to be a much better value than the 4-day ICM course. On the other hand, I’ve also been working with VMware for the last 3 years, so I had a good grasp on the basics. For someone that isn’t familiar with the way virtualization works, the 4-day ICM class will give you a much more measured understanding and more time to play with the basics. For those that have already gotten their feet wet with VMware and are just looking for a tune up or need to go take the VCP5 exam, you can’t go wrong with the 2-day short, short version of the class. It’s going to save you a good deal of time and money that you can use to buy more licenses for vRAM.
If you’d like to see more details on the VMware education offerings or sign up for a VMware class, head over to the VMware Education Website at http://mylearn.vmware.com/portals/www/