Thursday, September 6, 2018

My first ever VMworld 2018 US: Recap

Well, now that the Virtual Mecca is behind us. It's time to recap my experience at VMworld, in Las Vegas. Before I go any further, I would like to take this opportunity and thank Gigabyte (@GIGABYTEServer) for their generosity to this year's event. If it wasn't for them, I would have not made it to VMworld. From the bottom of my heart, Thank You!. More on that later.

How I got to Vegas:

VMworld 2018 US was my first experience at any tech conference ever. So please bare with me, as I explain my experience from a novice point-of-view from the most coveted tech venue (my opinion) in North America. First I would like to explain how I even got to the event. Leading up to VMworld, I was hesitant to ask my boss to fork out the monies from out 2018 budget for Las Vegas. See I am a Business Analyst by trait, and though the company I work for is a VMware customer, I don't manage our virtual infrastructure at all. I can speak and write about it, but that is the extent of my involvement with our infrastructure. I digress, a month before the event, I mustered up enough courage to ask my boss to pay for the trip. I used the VMware template to justify my attendance and did all the research on the cost. Long story short, he came back and said, it's not in this year's budget......Rats! That was the end of that.

A couple of days later, I vented my frustration and disappointment to the #vCommunity, and asked them to take pictures so I could relive the event through their eyes. A lot of them sympathized with me, and others mentioned vendors/partners giveaways. Really?... I proceeded to entered in as many contest I could get my hands on in a last ditched effort to make it to VMworld. I did what I had to do, and left it at that. A couple of days went by and someone tags me on the GIGABYTE contest. I did what was asked, then a few weeks went by, nothing, crickets..In my mind, I wasn't going to attend VMworld. My mind was on 2019, until the week of, I hear the news. I WON! the event started on 8/26 and I heard the news that I won on 8/22. Yup you guess it, I was scrambling to workout the logistics on short notice. Thankfully all of it worked out, and because of my involvement in the community, I was able to bunk with a good friend of mine. Cool! The community saved me, big time.

My experience:

My VMworld experience was awesome! I've only been part of the community since I've only been part of the community since April of this year, after UserCon. Since then I've been introducing myself to people virtually. Since this tech conference is where everyone congregates, my agenda for this year's event was to meet everyone or at least as many people I followed on Twitter. I networked the heck out of the show, I finally got to meet the host of the @vGigacast podcast Britton Johnson and Tony Reeves. I met so many people that mid-way through the event I lost my voice, and slowly got it back thanks to the coffee and tea served everywhere. I met the VMUG folks, as a leader of my local VMUG, that was a priority for me. I also met leaders from other VMUGs and connected with some of them instantly. So much that we hung out most of the event.

I did make it to a few sessions. I saw Kyle Ruddy's intro to PowerCLI, something I am really passionate about and want to pickup soon, and I saw Kyle Ruddy's beard in-person (Nooice). Another session that resonated with me was from my fellow Coloradan, Amanda Blevins, who works for the Office of the CTO. Amanda's session Achieving Happiness: Building your brand and career, had good insights for me, as I am trying to build my brand and branch out to something different. Most of my time was spent at the VMVillage, in the vBrownBag booth. A lot of folks from the community where trickling in/out of the booth. Which worked out in my favor, because every time someone I followed walked-in, I would take gander at my twitter account, lookup and look back down at my phone and made my move. Some people were already following me, and I didn't have a clue. Social media is great, but nothing beats that face-to-face interaction.

Some of these guys and gals are so down to earth, for the sake of hanging out, I stayed up late every night. Two in the morning (2 AM) was the average time frame I would go back to the room and crash, only to wake up a few hours later to do it all over again. It was great!

What else besides networking:

In July, I was awarded the honor of being a vExpert for the first time. There are some perks that come with this award, and it was evident at VMworld. Vendors in the Solution Exchange has swag for those who made vExpert, and I was invited to a BBQ at the pinball museum in Las Vegas. Shout out to Cory Romero (@communityguy) for putting all of it together, thank you. I also attended the Hackathon which was a great experience, next year I will partake in the nerdiness 😀Then there were the parties, wow. Felt like vendors where in competition with each other, not that I am complaining. Rubrik had RUN DMC, Cohesity had Snopp Dogg, and the Veeam party was really green. It was crazy.

Final thoughts:

What a great event. I had so much fun talking, getting to know everyone from the community and those working at VMware. John Nicholson (@Lost_Signal) is a funny dude. I never been to Moscone, but I am looking forward to VMworld 2019. Oh and I did a #techconfession on camera, and tagged on the VMUG lounge board, it was fun.

 I'll leave you with pictures of some of my encounters and of the event. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

VMware vExpert....Who me?

This is long overdue, but a couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to be a part of a group of people known as the vExperts. I was encouraged to apply to the program (vExpert program) by people I've met from the #vCommunity. I wasn't sure if I would even get in, because I haven't been part of the community that long, and feared people didn't know who I was. Despite all that, I applied anyway. I thought, what's the worst that can happen, a "No", it’s OK just apply next time. I still remember vividly, it was late Friday night as I waited my wife to come home from a well-deserved and needed girls night out. I was browsing through my social media accounts. It was 11:20 Mountain Time (MT), when I saw the email come in "Welcome to the vExpert Program", I was like WHAT! I quickly took a screenshot of the email and sent it to Ariel (@arielsanchezmor) Sanchez, the one among others who encouraged me to apply. I was thrilled. Thank you, VMware. 

By obtaining vExpert, VMware recognizes your contributions to the community and willingness to share your experience with others. But there's other goodies as well. For starters, you get the use the badge, like the one you see above on your blog, LinkedIn, or any virtual platform to build your brand. You also get a signed certificate from VMware's CEO, Pat Gelsinger which is a cool addition. Another great perk is access to the vExpert slack channel. There you can connect with other vExpert across the globe and ask questions or get advice. There are so many perks, Romain Decker, Senior Solution Architect at VMware has a nice link break down of the vExpert goodness (Link). For me, the Pluralsight year subscription is gold! I'm going to leverage this resource to help with my VCP6-DCV training. 

vExpert For-the-win! (FTW). 

See you soon, cheers. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

On the road to VMware Certified Professional (VCP)

Today I want to talk about my first step in my journey towards VCP. Today, marks the end of my first step. I have completed my first ever, Install Configure Manage (ICM) class, from Stanly Community College. I good friend of mine (@al_rasheed) from the #vCommunity recommended this course, post found here.

The course was great, it did leave something to be desired, but for a complete noob like myself it did was it was designed to do. The course gave me a foundation to build my preparation blueprint. One thing to note that is of great importance, this course meets VMware's requirement. Now that Step 1. is out of the way, my next task is preparing for the foundations exam. Then, I have a date with destiny, slay my VCP6-DCV exam and become part of the professional fabric that makes the #vCommunity great!

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How the #vCommunity changed everything!

   In the first quarter of 2018, I made the decision to pursue VMware certifications, and eventually land a Virtual Machine (VM) administrator role. My search for a well of knowledge led me to use my existing twitter account (@vGonzilla) where I queried "VMware" in the search bar looking for people who I could connect with. The search resulted in a lot of people who were either #vExperts, had their VMware Certified Professional (VCP) or VMware Certified Advance Processional (VCAP) in various VMware disciplines. I was intrigued, I soon began to purge my account of frivolous and unimportant things I was following and replace them with people who I could reach out too and ask questions.

   Upon following these folks, I noticed their tweets had a hastag "#vCommunity" in them. I thought, what is that. So, I searched the #vCommunity hastag, and found more folks in the VMware ecosystem. There I met two (2) awesome resources who reached out to me on the spot. Here is where my life changed in an instant. Yup you guess it, I met Ariel (Ah-ri-el) Sanchez Mora (@arielsanchezmor) and Wisconsin's finest, Tony Reeves (a.k.a Mr. vSAN) (@importcarguy). Tony reached out to me one day via a Zoom meeting and introduced himself and talk VMware. I was amazed how a complete stranger, (a stranger no more) would reach out to someone they don't even know and help me out with my lab. At the time, I was struggling with configuring and applying my licenses, acquired through the VMUG Advantage membership to my vCenter. In the Zoom meeting, Tony set me straight and my lab was up and running. I haven't told Tony this, but I was super nervous during the meeting. I felt star struck and tried my best to keep my composure. Since our introductory meeting, Tony and I have had others but the feeling remains with me. I know Tony is a down to earth guy, and his motive are pure but I couldn't fandom the though. 
   On a personal level, I've never experience that type of genuineness in my career before, academically and job-wise. I've always been self-motivated and pushed through even on days where I just wanted to give up. I was blown away having someone help me out without seeking anything in return. Tony, Thank You!. Look forward to meeting you in-person, someday.

   Ariel, wow! what can I say about this guy. This dude is a great contributor to the #vCommunity, I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time at the Denver UserCon. However, before the event, Ariel and I hung out at my home, where I knew I would hit it off with him. See Ariel is Costa Rican, I married a Costa Rican, BOOM!, instant connection. My wife Gina cooked typical Costa Rican dishes for my man Ariel. Sopita Negra (Literal translation folks, sorry Black Soup), it's a black bean soup cooked and served with a hard-boiled egg, cilantro, and dice onions. Also, every Costa Rican's favorite. Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice). Ariel and I had a great time, he met my entire family, we talked vSAN and vSAN accessories, and I got to show off my homelab.

   The next day was UserCon. I didn't know what to expect because it was my first one. Last year, I didn't know VMUG even existed and here I am, attending my first ever UserCon. It was at this VMUG meeting, where my eyes where opened to what these events really where about and how they were ran. It was great, the keynote was cool, the breakout session were sweet as well. People in the community call them Mini-VMworlds, and I see why (A future goal). UserCon was a neat experience, I met a lot of folks there, networked with people in my area, met Matt Heldstab (@mattheldstab) who I must thank. He encouraged me to start blogging. Thanks Matt, the #vCommunity at work. 

   You meet a lot of people once you put yourself out there. It's great, because I wasn't (past-tense) :) use to it. I was never the person to reach outside of my circles, the grade-school person in me wouldn't let me. While chatting with Ariel, he introduced me to Scott Seifert (@vscottseifert) the local leader here in Denver. The conversation between Scott and I began to flow, when suddenly. "Hey Scott, you know what. I heard you were looking for new leaders to help. Tony is interested and would be a great fit"...Thanks Ariel. In my mind, I was like, ahh what. I just learned what a VMUG is and now you want me to co-lead it.. Again the #vCommunity at work. Long story short, Scott and I exchanged numbers, we got together after UserCon at a local brewery and now I can officially say, I am a Co-leader at my local VMUG. Hope I don't disappoint, still learning folks. Looking forward to serving the Denver VMUG. Gracias Ariel, eres Pura Vida!  

   I want to end with this, with all the activity surrounding the #vCommunity, it feels like drinking out of a fire hose. But none of this would have never happened, if I didn't put myself out there. Surround yourself with smart'er, fun'er, and cool'er people. The #vCommunity is full of these folks. I found them, and so can you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Beginning of it all!   

 My passion for VMware and the whole virtualization thing began while working for a healthcare hosting Information Technology (IT) company in Englewood, CO. Since we hosted our client's healthcare applications, mainly on windows, VMware was the preferred virtualization platform in our ecosystem. There I served as an Environment Manager (EM). Environment Manager? what is that? I'm glad you asked, an EM was sort of like a Technical Account Manager (TAM). Any change to the environment requested by someone in-house, (Client facing person) or the client (Customer) would be vetted by the EM and presented in the daily Change Approval Board (CAB). 

   In this role, is where I was exposed to a lot of the theory behind of what makes the environment I was managing, go. This place didn't mess around, each customer had their own Development, Test, Pre-Production (a.k.a DR), and Production instances. Every time a change was introduced, it was deployed to the lower environments, vetted out then eventually promoted to Production. I remember each environment having their own SQL database, Web, and Application servers. All Virtual Machines (VM) running on VMware's hypervisor, my interest was enticed. 

   Now as a Business Analyst in my new role, I encountered the VMware stack once again. I felt like the universe was trying to tell me something…. nah, I don't believe in that (another story for another time). But seriously, during my tenure as an EM for the healthcare hosting company. My technical aptitude increased, but there was still something missing. I felt an inclination to put my what I learned to practice. So, I purchased enterprise level hardware from eBay, and began searching the interwebz for information that would help increase my practical knowledge. 

   Now that you know the origins of my VMware fandom. I will explain how I got into the #vCommunity and connected with excellent people, while ignoring my natural tendency to keep everything close to the chest (Inside joke), to helping my local VMUG. What are crazy 2018 I've been having thus far, and am excited to future endeavors. 

Stay tuned