02-03-14

VCAP-DTA – Objective 3.1 – Configure Pool Storage for Optimal Performance

So this objective sees us moving into section 3 which is entitled “Deploy, Manage, and Customize Pool Implementations”. This objective deals with how we use storage tiers for different virtual disks and use cases, and the sub settings within them. So as usual, let’s run through the skills and abilities for this objective :-

  • Implement storage tiers – When creating a Composer based pool, select the option in the Storage Optimization wizard screen to separate out disks to different datastores. Depending on the exam scenario, you may be asked to separate the Persistent Disks and/or the Replica Disks. Depending on what you select, when you click Next you will get a differing set of options. Assuming you select both, on the vCenter Settings screen, use options 6, 7 and optionally 8  to choose which datastores are used and for which purpose. Once you have completed your choices, complete the wizard out to create the pool.
  • Optimize placement of replica virtual machine – The replica disk is the disk that gets hammered for read read requests from users, so you will be asked to place this on high performance storage, most likely SSD. Using the steps detailed above, use the vCenter Settings screen of the pool wizard to choose a high performance datastore for the replica disk. The diagram below illustrates this point.

replica-ds

  • Configure disposable files and persistent disks – Again this is selected in the pool wizard. You can see from above that there is a View Composer Disks section. This defines how disposable (so think temp files) and persistent disk (user profile) are handled. So for the Persistent Disk, you can select a disk size and drive letter and to redirect the user profile to this disk. The same goes for the Disposable Disk, select the size, whether or not to redirect and which drive letter to use. See below for an illustration of this.

composer-disks

  • Configure and optimize storage for floating or dedicated pools – This is pretty much covered by the first section, Implement Storage Tiers.
  • Configure overcommit settings –  This setting is used when using View Composer. The purpose of overcommit is to allow more disks to be created than physical space exists on the datastore. This is because the disks are sparse disks  on the datastore. The choices for overcommit are None (x0), Conservative (x4, default), Moderate (x7) and Aggressive (x15).  Select the datastore and choose the level of overcommitment from the drop down menu. These choices are only available for OS and Persistent Disks. See below for an example of the dialog.

overcommit

  • Determine implications of using local or shared storage – So in most cases you will be looking to use shared storage, but there may be occasions (and exam scenarios) where you will be asked to use local storage (or it’s use is implied by the question). Bear the following in mind from the View Administration Guide :-
    • You cannot load-balance virtual machines across a resource pool. For example, you cannot use the View Composer rebalance operation with linked-clones that are stored on datastores
    • You cannot use VMware High Availability
    • You cannot use the vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)
    • You cannot store a View Composer replica and linked clones on separate datastores if the replica is on a local datastore
    • When you store linked clones on datastores, VMware strongly recommends that you store the replica on the same volume as the linked clones. Although it is possible to store linked clones on local datastores and the replica on a shared datastore if all ESXi hosts in the cluster can access the replica, VMware does not recommend this configuration
    • If you use floating assignments and perform regular refresh and delete operations, you can successfully deploy linked clones to local datastores.
  • Configure View Storage Accelerator and regeneration cycle – The View Storage Accelerator is also known as the Content Based Read Cache (CBRC) on the ESXi host. This is especially useful as common read based requests are cached into host RAM and is useful for use cases such as desktop boot storms. Configuration is pretty simple – in the pool creation wizard you make your choices in the Advanced Storage Options screen. Check the box to Use View Storage Accelerator, choose between OS Disks  or OS and Persistent Disks. The default is OS disks as this is the usual use case. You also have the option to set a default value for Regenerate Storage Accelerator after days. This basically creates new indexes of the disks and stores them in the digest file for each VM. It’s also worth noting you can configure blackout periods when storage accelerator regeneration will not be run. An obvious example is to suspend this during backups. You may be asked this in the exam. See below for an example.

cbrc

22-02-14

VCAP-DTA – Objective 2.5 – Configure Location Based Printing

So we come to the final objective in section 2, configuring location based printing. In essence, this is harnessing the abilities of ThinPrint to enable printing from the View environment, using physical printers located nearby to the end users. There are three measured skills and abilities in this section, and are listed below.

  • Configure location-based printing using a Group Policy Object – To start with, you need to register the ThinPrint DLL on an Active Directory server to enable the functionality within MMC. To do this, go to any of your Connection Servers and find the file TPVMGPoACmap.dll. There are both 32 bit and 64 bit versions. This file is located under C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\extras\GroupPolicyFiles\ThinPrint.
    • Copy TPVMGPoACmap.dll to the Active Directory server (choose the appropriate version, 32/64 bit)
    • Register the DLL by running regsvr32 “C:\TPVMGPoACmap.dll” from a command prompt
    • Start Group Policy Management from Administrative Tools on an Active Directory server
    • Either create and link a new GPO or edit an existing one (depending on the exam scenario)
    • Go to Computer Configuration, Policies, Software Settings and Configure AutoConnect Map Additional Printers.
    • Ensure to select the Enabled radio button to start entering entries into the mapping table. Remember that selecting Disable without saving first will delete all of your printers!
    • Printer mappings can be used to map printers depending on certain rules, as per the example dialog below

 

thinprint

 

    • You will also need to know the syntax of each column for settings to become effective :-
      • IP Range – 10.10.1.1-10.10.1.50, for example. Or you can use an entire subnet, e.g. 10.10.1.0/24. You can also use an asterisk as a wildcard.
      • Client Name – So in the above example, PC01 maps a specific printer “Printer2”, again an asterisk is used as a wildcard.
      • Mac Address – Use the hyphenated format 01-02-03-04-05-CD for Windows and colons for Linux clients, so 01:02:03:04:05:CD.
      • User/Group – Map a specific printer to a specific user or group, such as jsmith or Finance.
      • Printer Name – This is the printer name as shown in the View session. The name doesn’t have to match names on the client system.
      • Printer Driver – Simply the printer driver name in Windows. This driver must be installed on the desktop.
      • IP Port/ThinPrint Port – the IP address of a networked printer to connect to, must be prepended with “IP”, so IP_192.168.0.50 for example.
      • Default – Whether this printer is the default printer.

 

15-02-14

VCAP-DTA Objective 2.2 – Configure Administrator Roles and Permissions

Continuing on from the previous objective of setting global policies, the next objective on the blueprint calls on skills required to configure Administrator roles and permissions. The source reference for this section is again the View Administration guide and can all be done via View Administrator portal. If you’re a regular View admin, you should find this section reasonably straight forward. So to the skills and abilities :-

  • Create, modify and delete administrator roles – Roles work in much the same way as they do in vCenter. Create a role, assign it a set of permissions and add users/groups to the role. There are some pre-defined (Administrators for example) which may be just fine for what you want, but you can be sure the exam will be looking for you to be more granular than that.
    • Go to View Administrator, and in the left pane, click View Configuration and then Administrators. There are three tabs that can be accessed across the top, Administrators and Groups, Roles and Folders. In the exam, it’s quite possible you may be required to add a privilege and/or permission to a built in role as well as creating a new role. 
    • To create a new role, go to the Roles tab and click Add Role. Give the role a name, an optional description and then tick the privileges you want to be able to assign out.
  • Add and remove user permissions – Worth double checking what these privileges do, such as Register Agent, as you may be asked in the exam to add a non vCenter source such as Terminal Services. Similar steps to delete roles, if you’re asked to.
    • To modify a role, go into the  Roles tab of the Administrators view, click on the custom role and click Edit to add or remove privileges. Remember you can’t edit a built in role, but you can assign permissions
    • To add a folder, click the Folders tab and click Add Folders. Give the folder a name and an optional description.
  • Assign and Manage permissions on View folders – To add a permission to the folder, click Add Permission, find the AD user or group to add, click Next  and select the role you wish to assign them. Click Finish. This will then add an AD group or user to a folder with a set of privileges. To add a pool to a folder for administration, to to the pool and select Edit. Choose the folder you wish to assign to this pool and click OK. This will now mean you can delegate management of this pool to a role you just created.

Another short section, but roles and permissions is a relatively short topic.

 

07-02-14

VCAP-DTA – Objective 1.5 – Upgrade View Infrastructure Components

The purpose of this objective is to take all the major pieces of View, so think Connection Server, Security Server, Transfer Server, View Agent, View Client and View Composer and upgrade them to version 5.2, as this is the version the exam blueprint focuses on. In the skills and abilities section, there is basically a breakout for all the pieces as listed above.

I find it interesting that they call out specifically re-pairing Security Servers and enabling IPsec during the upgrade. This to me suggests that you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to see this during the exam, as to be honest, all the other pieces we just listed are pretty much “Next, Next, Finish” file copy jobs. You can actually upgrade the Connection Server without having to reboot at the end, but I always think it good practice to give it one last reboot afterwards to ensure you have all the right file versions loaded into memory.

  • Upgrade View Connection Server – As I just said, this is a very straight forward task, so maybe there’s an unforeseen curveball  in here somewhere. The only one I can really think of is to check 5.2 pre-requisites have been met, so Windows 2008 R2 64 bit, 4 vCPU, 1Gbps NIC, minimum 4GB RAM (you won’t be servicing 50 concurrent connections in an exam!). Also make sure you license the thing – coming from an older version (4.x series), the license key will be different. Also remember that self signed certificates are a big no no now, so you may have to make changes there (see earlier sections for details). If this Connection Server will be paired with a Security Server, check Windows Firewall is set to on as IPsec requires this. Potential test scenario right there! Know how to accept the self signed certificate if you’re asked that on the exam. View Administrator, click Verify on the alert.
  • Upgrade View Security Server – Check the Connection Server you pair with has already been upgraded first. Configure the pairing password in View Administrator before running the installer. The installation guide suggests checking the Security Server shows the correct version after the upgrade in View Administrator and remove any duplicate entries which can sometimes occur. With regard to IPsec, select the Security Server in View Administrator and select More Commands, Prepare For Upgrade or Reinstallation. If the old IPsec rules have not been removed, the  pairing will fail. Sounds like another potential exam pitfall!
  • Upgrade View Transfer Server – As a pre-requisite, ensure that Connection and Composer servers have been upgraded to 5.2. Backup your CA signed certificate first if you’re using one, it’s stored in install_directory\VMware\VMware View\Server\httpd\conf.
    • Put the Transfer Server into maintenance mode, go to the Transfer Servers tab, select the Transfer Server you plan to upgrade and select Enter Maintenance Mode. Wait until the status changes before continuing!
    • Run the installer as administrator and once completed successfully, go back into the Transfer Servers tab, select the server you just upgraded and select Exit Maintenance Mode.
  • You may be asked to install a net new Transfer Server – this is pretty straightforward. Go to the VM on which you want to install the Transfer Server and run through the short installer. Once complete, go to View Administrator and the Transfer Servers tab. Configure the new Transfer Server to use the file repository if that is what the scenario demands. You can then remove the old Transfer Server instance and uninstall the software from the original VM. I like the sound of this for an exam scenario!
  • Upgrade View Agent – Again meet the pre-reqs which state at least one Connection Server in the replicated group is at version 5.2. If local mode desktops are also in the mix, check View Composer and View Transfer Servers are also at 5.2. The installer also needs local admin rights on the VM.
    • Run the short installer to upgrade the View Agent piece on the desktop VM
    • If you have a linked clone pool, you will need to upgrade the master image agent, take a snapshot of this and then recompose the pool. Sounds like something you’d find in the exam to me!
    • Full clone desktops will need to be upgraded one by one by hand (doubt there will be SCCM in the exam!)
    • Once complete, verify connectivity by logging into the desktop. You can quickly check the version of agent in the View Administrator, Desktops dialog. Ensure the VDI status reads “available”
  • Upgrade View Client – Again another very straightforward task. Remember you can get the latest client by hitting the Connection Server with a web browser which gives you the View Portal. Select the appropriate client version (32/64 bit, with/without local mode) and follow the bouncing ball. Once complete, verify connectivity.
  • Upgrade View Composer – There’s no mention of migrating View Composer to another server, but that’s been covered previously. You may need to configure a CA signed SSL certificate before you run the installer, again see previous steps on how to do this. You can then let the installer upgrade the Composer database or you can do it manually. I don’t see how the exam can ask you to do it by hand, but in case they do, remember to use the SviConfig after the installer has completed.
    • Remember the View Composer port number is 18443, in case you need it for View Administrator and hooking up to a vCenter.
    • For details on migrating View Composer to a stand alone instance, see notes for Objective 1.2. I consider it likely you’ll be asked to stand up a standalone Composer server and then upgrade it in place.

28-01-14

VCAP-DTA Objective 1.4 – Deploy and Configure View Transfer Server

So we’ve deployed Connection Servers, Security Servers and now it’s the turn of the Transfer Server. Remember this is kind of a Connection Server that has the responsibility of checking local mode desktops in and out. Thinking out loud about how this might turn up the exam, I’m thinking that you’ll probably have to run through the installation of one, but I’m struggling to think that you’ll be asked to check a desktop out simply because of the time it takes. I could be wrong, but three hours is not long to get all of this stuff done!

So again a Transfer Server is stood up by running the Connection Server installation executable. No seperate installer for this component. There are a number of things to bear in mind, which hopefully will be covered below in the skills and abilities section of the exam blueprint.

  • Configure storage for View Transfer Server and the repository – OK, so this strictly doesn’t say you’ll be installing a Transfer Server, so do we assume it’s already stood up? Remember from the install and architecture guides :-

    • Must be a virtual machine, for the exam I think that’s a given!
    • Requires Windows 2008 R2 64 Bit, 4Gb RAM, 2 vCPU, 20GB disk space, LSI Logic Parallel or SAS adapter (sounds like something that might come out of a troubleshooting scenario – “Why won’t Transfer Server install?”), 1GB E1000 vNIC (you need bandwidth to check desktops in and out, of course)
    • Must be managed by same vCenter as the desktops you want to check out
    • Must have static IP address and does not need to be domain joined
    • Can’t co-exist with any other View component such as Connection Server, View Client etc
    • The installation of a Transfer Server is essentially a two step process – installing the beast and then configuring it in View Administrator. Don’t forget the second part or your Transfer Server is useless!
    • Run the Connection Server installer, select View Transfer Server and fill in details for Network Domain (somewhere.com), Server Name (FQDN) and Administrator’s e-mail address (a.bloke@acme.com, for example)
    •  Install and off we go.
    • Click Finish when the file copy and installation is complete, then we have to make the necessary changes to View Administrator
    • In View Administrator, go to View Configuration | Servers, Transfer Servers tab. Click Add and select the vCenter server your Transfer Server is managed by. Click Next and select your Transfer Server, click Finish.
    • To complete the install, you also need to create and specify a transfer repository. This can be either a local folder on the Transfer Server, or better yet, a UNC path that can be shared among multiple Transfer Servers.
    • Before you specify a repository path, you need to place your Transfer Server into maintenance mode. To do that, highlight your Transfer Server in View Administrator and click Enter Maintenance Mode.
    • In the Transfer Server Repository section at the bottom of the page, click Edit on the General Tab and select network share path or local path and select OK. Don’t forget to take your Transfer Server out of maintenance mode to complete the task!
  • Configure the View Transfer Server firewall – chances are you won’t have to do much here. If Windows Firewall is already enabled, verify that the Connection Server is allowed out over HTTP and HTTPS, paying special attention to the domain, home/work and public scopes, they might try and trip you up on this step. The good news is Transfer Server works over good old ports 80 and 443, so no wacky port numbers to remember here.
  • Configure security policies for Local Mode – Again a relatively straightforward step if you know where to look. In View Administrator, open the Policies branch in the left pane and click Global Policies. There is a specific section for Local Mode Policies, so click on Edit Policies and select the appropriate policies for the exam scenario. For example, you may be asked to change the max time without server contact from the default 7 days to say 3 days (be surprised if they ask you to go unlimited). Disks Replicated also strikes me as something you may be asked to change, for example from the default Persistent Disks to OS and Persistent Disks.

20-12-13

VCAP-DCA Exam Experience

Anyone who has studied for a VMware VCAP certification knows just how expensive they are (even when you’re not paying for it, you still have to get your employer’s approval!), so seeing as I had a VCAP discount code to be used by the end of October and sit the exam by the end of the year, I decided to have a half priced pop at the VCAP-DCA.

I’m lucky enough to already have two VCAPs (DTD and DCD) so I kind of know what to expect, but this was my first VCAP administrator exam, so in that respective, it was a new experience for me. So as I’ve said before and as many others have before me, time is of the essence in these exams. I have to travel to Leeds to sit VCAP exams as there are no longer any test centres in the North West of England that now do these exams. Bit of a pain, but it means that I can take the train to Leeds in the same time it would take for me to drive there, meaning I can do some last minute cramming before I go in there, in case there is any area I consider myself particularly weak at.

I like to arrive in plenty of time for these things, so I got there an hour early and took myself off for a coffee and some food. As the exam appointment spanned lunchtime, I did not want to start feeling hungry half way through, and as for coffee, well you find me a good techie who can’t survive without it!

After the standard checkin process of ID and photographs, I got sat down to do the exam. There’s the usual survey before you start. I know they always say it has no bearing on your exam, but I’m paranoid. I always tick the box that says “I don’t even know what a virtual switch is” on the off chance I’ll get an easier set of questions!

So the exam started. Nothing new to say here, 26 questions in 3.5 hours. So far, so blueprint. As usual with VCAP exams, watch the time like a hawk. I worked out later is something like 9 minutes per question. I’m sorry VMware, but even if you really know your stuff, that’s still not enough time. After one hour I’d done only 8 questions! This promotes speed over accuracy and also really dissuades you from checking your responses, in my opinion. It’s meant to mimic real life and in many ways it does, but the time constraint I think is weighted too far one way. Either a couple of questions fewer or a little more time, either way would be good.

Anyway, the exam itself was a broad mix of skills tested across a variety of areas – storage, networking, cluster configuration, VM configuration. I know I’m being deliberately vague but I don’t want to break NDA. Again some sage advice with VCAP exams is to do as much as you possibly can. Even if you don’t do all of the question “right”, you should still get credit for the bits you do. And also remember there are usually more than one way to skin a particular cat. So for something you’re asked to do, remember you can probably do it through the VI client, PowerCLI or even host command line/vMA. Doesn’t matter how you get there, just matters about the end result.

Another common comment – read the question! Sounds a bit stupid I know, but there were a couple of questions where some added detail that seems a little insignificant makes a big difference to how you complete the task. Some questions have several subtasks, so again, make sure you do what you can and pick up marks along the way.

I read some comments in advance about latency between screens taking too much time. I have to say I didn’t really experience that, the whole thing was perfectly usable and being able to flick backwards and forwards between the questions helped when I was waiting for a task to finish. If you’re asked to run something that might take a minute or two, go to the next question and make a start or drop back and go over something you might have passed on. One comment here, and let me phrase this as generally as possible so as not to break NDA – VMware, please don’t ask candidates to make changes to VMs that detrimentally affect the operation of future tasks. I’ll leave it at that, hopefully anyone who knows which question I’m referring to will know what I mean. This cost me a few minutes and to be honest, pissed me off a little bit.

Other than that, it was a highly enjoyable exam and very challenging. Have I passed? Ask me again in “up to 15 business days”. My gut feeling leaving the test centre was that I’d done just about enough to get through, but you never know. I missed two questions completely because the first one was a topic I’m useless at because it’s a feature I’ve never used and the second because I was literally out of time. Two things I got stuck on I remembered almost instantly I left the test centre, once the pressure was off! Bugger!

I think you need 300/500 to pass, I’d like to think I’ve just about done that, but let’s see. If I have to resit, I’m confident I’d pass it second time around. Totally different than the design VCAP exams, but fun none the less and an exam you can’t wing your way through.

Tips? Advice?

  • TrainSignal’s VCAP-DCA course with Jason Nash, excellent as usual
  • ValcoLabs Study Guide – I had a quick flick through this and it’s pretty good as a source of reference or a quick skim before you go in
  • My good friend and ex-colleague Gregg Robertson recommends doing each item on the blueprint 5 times in your lab to reinforce the methods of completion. I think that’s not a bad shout, although I didn’t do this. No time as usual!
  • Watch the time, yeah I know it’s standard for VCAP exams
  • Complete what bits you can, don’t freak out if they ask you something you’re weak on, we can’t know everything
  • Read the question! Obvious again, but in a couple of cases for me it affected how a feature was configured
  • Breathe!

So we’ll see if I passed or not. I’m not going to get hung up about it if I haven’t. Then what? I don’t know right now. I see the VCAP-DTA has just been released, so I might have a go at that if another discount exam voucher code does the rounds early next year. As for VCDX, well let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I want to see if I’ve passed the DCA first!

Thanks for stopping by, hope this was useful if you’re considering sitting this exam. Do it, it’s a great challenge.

26-08-12

On the move again…

Well Wednesday was my last working day at Xtravirt and I’m preparing to move on to yet another employer (saying that, I’ve not had so many in my career that I’ve lost count!). From 3rd September, I’ll be working at the Marsh and McLennan group in Liverpool, doing various VMware related activities.

As always at times like this, I find myself going to great pains to say that there were no ulterior motives for me leaving Xtravirt. They’re a great bunch and very skilled, so I would without hesitation say that if you ever get chance to work with or for them, take it, you won’t regret it.

For my part, I’d bitten off a little more than I could chew from a lifestyle point of view. I’ve had fun travelling the UK and further afield over the last couple of years, but I realised that I wanted my own bed back and to spend more time at home now my kids are a little older and somewhat more “challenging”. Getting an opportunity in Liverpool is perfect, far enough away but close enough to home that I can commute and see more of one of our finest cities close up. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve been to Liverpool less than half a dozen times in my life.

It also occurred to me after the interview that I could do without that level of stress for a while, so I certainly don’t plan on making any further moves for quite a while. It’s about time I got to own something over a period of time. Consulting is great fun and really takes you out of your comfort zone, but in the end, you walk off into the sunset never knowing how “your baby” turned out. Hopefully that won’t be the case at MMC, I’ll see things start from an idea and go through to design, procurement, delivery and a full life cycle after.

Can’t say I’ll miss motorway service stations too much, but I’ve learned in this life to never say never. There’s a good chance I’ll be back out on the road sometime in the future, but not for now.

 

04-05-12

I’ve been in new new role with Xtravirt now so seven weeks or so now, and it’s interesting at this point to take a quick checkpoint and look at what I’ve observed already. I’ve been in the End User Computing game for some 14 of the 16 years I’ve been in the IT industry, in fact, it wasn’t even called EUC back then. I think the euphemism was something like “bloody end users!”, but of course we live in enlightened times these days, and we have to give them a more businesslike moniker.

The point is that EUC now is primarily a virtualised environment. Since I started my new role, I’ve been exposed to XenDesktop, XenApp, Login VSI and a whole raft of other tools. The interesting thing about the “new” EUC space is that it forces you to turn traditional desktop approaches on their heads. For example, Windows is written based around the fact that it usually has a local disk all to itself, that it can thrash to it’s heart’s content, without having to worry about running into other resources trying to land grab from it. In a virtualised EUC environment, this is no longer true. There can be several dozen virtual machines booting at once, logon storms, anti-virus scans and a whole batch of other processes going on simultaneously that are competing for the same disk resource.

Additionally, in the days of server consolidation (the phase 1 of mainstream virtualisation, if you will), capacity planning tools such as VMware Capacity Planner or PlateSpin Recon would be set up to capture performance metrics from physical servers, to essentially baseline what CPU, disk and memory resource was being used, so that the virtual equivalent could be appropriately sized for performance. In the EUC space, this is no longer sufficient. As well as capturing the previous metrics, we also need to look at additional detail based around the end user experience. If logon to a server console is slow, generally no-0ne but the admin would notice, and as frustrating as it might be, it’s generally tolerated and goes unreported. In the EUC world, when several dozen users logon at the same time and experience is degraded, IT will get to know about it pretty quickly.

As such, the likes of Login VSI help to determine the performance of the EUC experience using real world examples such as Outlook, Flash and manipulation of large spreadsheets. Traditional capacity planning tools are very useful for obtaining basic figures on specifications, but lack the insight to analyse application performance and the impact on a virtual desktop environment.

Away from such matters, it’s also interesting to look at applications. As I remarked at a BrainShare event presentation several years ago (before iPads and VDI in 2007), the apps drive the platform, not the other way around. Generally, users don’t care if it’s Mac, Linux, Windows, iPad, Android or Etch a Sketch, as long as they can get access to their line of business applications in a usable manner. The underlying layer of the OS generally just becomes another commodity item. I didn’t think I was being particularly visionary back then, just a pragmatic view based on the way I approached things as an end user.

Whilst enterprise applications such as Microsoft Office come with tools for the virtual environment, many core business applications are written in house and are proprietary to the business. As such, they tend not to have enterprise deployment tools, have extensive user communities or knowledge bases, and are written on the “good enough” principle. Again these apps are written with the assumption that the endpoint is a largely static thing, that the hostname doesn’t change and that it never moves around the network or across continents. In the virtual EUC space, this is no longer true and we must now be creative into fooling the app into thinking it’s still living in the traditional desktop environment.

It’s been seven weeks of change, steep learning curves and a change of thinking, but I’m enjoying every minute and it’s certainly the challenge I was hoping for.

13-3-12

Yesterday was my last day at NDS8. I can’t believe it’s been a little over two years since I decided to have a go at life on the road in consulting. It’s been a fun and tiring time, and I’ve learned so much. Not just about technologies, but about project management, business process, other people and mostly myself. I’ve managed to get customers out of some of the strangest of scrapes. I’ve worked late and travelled during my own time at weekends, just so I can turn up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 0900 on Monday morning so that the customer is left with a positive impression.

So why the move? Well it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of months and an unbelievable opportunity came up that I simply could not turn down. From Thursday, I will be employed by Xtravirt Consulting, who are VMware’s EMEA Consulting Partner of the Year 2011. As I remarked to them at my interview and without being sycophantic, this to me is the Champions League of virtualisation jobs. It will take me in a direction far beyond where I am now, making me a far better consultant and giving me some real cutting edge technical skills.

It’s no great secret that the Novell space is shrinking and I’ve been really into virtualisation for years, cloud in the last 6/9 months. I’ve had the privilege of attending VMworld EMEA, and just seeing what a vibrant community of partners, vendors and customers has sprung up around VMware just made me want to be a part of it. It’s where all the innovation is happening right now, and the pace of change is electric. It also means I’ll get a lot more involved in things like storage design, which up until now, had only been at a high level.

In this business, if you fail to evolve you soon get left behind and I’m determined that won’t happen to me. I’m excited, nervous and slightly intimidated about my new role, but that’s how it should be as it will put me on my toes and keep me there!

 

08-11-11

For those looking for it, here is my response to Virgin Media’s “Did we answer your question? How are we doing?”, which was too long to publish on Facebook, Twitter or anything else pithy :-

 

It’s usually a joy to ask a question as one finds the customer service representative doesn’t read it before ploughing headlong into an answer. I’d love to engage them in some badinage and spend three hours re-iterating my initial (simple)question, but I worry life is too short. I still feel that offshoring customer service to India is a fundamental mistake. 
 
They’re polite and courteous, but don’t understand spoken English nuances and it’s a problem that won’t go away until CS returns to the UK. You may think you’re saving company pennies doing this, but it doesn’t help customer loyalty and despite everything, has not improved customer service. I’d wager your budget would be better spent hiring a few of the millions unemployed in the UK to provide a better service at probably the same cost.
Of course I open myself to accusations of racism, but we know in our heart of hearts this isn’t true. It’s generally an excuse peddled by the lazy, who don’t wish to engage in meaningful discussion on the topic. I’ve been to India and they’re wonderful people with a fantastic work ethic but offshoring customer facing operations has been fundamentally flawed from the outset, a fact only a handful of UK companies have grasped.

I’ve opined similar sentiments on previous occasions only to be met by a standard corporate response. I’m happy you’ve read this far, so there is no need really to follow up further. Hopefully it’s entertained as well as informed. This is my raison d’etre!