VMware VCIX6-NV Unlocked – Experience and Tips

I am happy to state that I passed my VCAP-NV and will be achieving VCIX6-NV.

This was an exhausting test – and sometimes frustrating. I even had a PSOD on one of my hosts that I had to resolve (pretty sure that was not part of the lab test)!

I have many people to thank but there have been some great guides out there. I posted a blog article on links I collected for preparing for my VCAP-NV.

I’ll be the first to admit this was my second attempt at my VCAP-NV: the first attempt one just got to me. Not to make any excuses, but my background isn’t networking/routing, so many of these topics were green to me.

I dusted myself off and said I’ll knock the second attempt out of the park. As you can see, VMware does document the blueprint objectives you missed on the test.

So what did I do? Before I start that, here’s a summary of my experience:

Summary

  1. This test will frustrate you. Yes, it is meant to. Accept it and embrace it.
    1. It is a nested vPOD/Lab environment. ProTip – for East Coasters, schedule your test first thing in the morning before the West starts working – much more responsive!
  2. It will attempt to confuse you. Take a deep breath and look at the overall question – what are you trying to accomplish?
    1. Also, sometimes the simplest answer is all you need. Don’t overcomplicate things (I have a tendency to do this).
  3. Do not spend too much time on a specific problem. If it’s not working as expected, make a note of it and move on.
    1. This was my problem with the first attempt. I spent too much time on a specific set of questions and ran out of time.
  4. Stay true to the Blueprint. If you practice and study using its guidelines, you will be okay.

First off, I wrote the entire Blueprint on my whiteboard with the main tasks. Excuse my handwriting, but you get the gist of what I was trying to accomplish here. I notated how many times I did a specific item.

After I didn’t make it the first attempt, I circled the sections I missed in black (even though half of them were because I just ran out of time). These were areas I focused on for the second attempt.

Focus Areas

  1. Lab, lab, and lab. This is a test you cannot dump your way through. I don’t see how it would be possible to pass this without hands-on experience, especially with routing protocols and how NSX interacts with them.
    1. Labs of Focus
      1. The VMware Hands-On Labs (HOL) is FREE! You would be crazy for not using these and getting some insight/guidance on how things work. I primarily used the 1803 and 1825 labs on VMware HOL – link here.
      2. VMware Education – NSX Install, Configure, Manage – Lab Connect.
        1. I thought this was a great, self-paced, approach to a vPOD environment with 22 guided labs. There is a cost to using this, but I believe there may discounts for Partners.
        2. VMware Education – Install, Configure Manage – Lab Connect Link
      3. Josh Andrews’ VCIX6-NV Practice Exam
        1. I thought this was a very nice addition from SOSTech / Josh Andrews.
        2. Josh provided 9 sample “test” questions using the 1703 (or 1803 which is the new version) lab.
        3. Definitely test yourself and document where you may struggle.
        4. Link to the SOSTech VCIX6 Practice Exam
    2. Existing Blog Guides
      1. I thought Clinton’s VCAP6-NV was the most comprehensive guide out there. I used this as a rule of thumb and mimicked many of the things he documented in his blog series. DEFINITELY spend some time here.  
      2. Other Guides I went through:
        1. Chestin Hay / v4Real – Link
        2. Lostdomain.org – Study Guide ( a little dated, but still pertinent info)
        3. thecloudexpert / Chris Lewis’ guide – Link
      3. There are probably others I’m missing, but definitely leverage what’s out in the community – thank you to those of you that have published and spent a significant amount of time documenting!
  2. Practice and get involved. Read all of the publications out there on VMware’s site. Build out designs for customers. This will take time but provides further exposure and compounding of the topics.
  3. Break stuff. You need to see how NSX works when you start “pulling cables” if you will. I spent countless hours just doing this. There are several troubleshooting topics so you’ll need to understand what happens when things go awry.

What’s next? I will continue to focus on VMware NSX, but may attempt one of the VCAP-DCV’s. I hope this post will benefit others – cheers!

-Daniel

 

VMware NSX Reminder – With ECMP, no Edge Firewall!

This was something I ran into a week or so ago in an NSX design – obviously not thinking right!

As a friendly reminder, disable the Edge firewall if you will be using ECMP mode on VMware NSX! There isn’t any message or warning if you enable ECMP mode with the Edge Firewall still on.

Here’s my understanding – since the firewall is a stateful service (this also applies to NAT/Load Balancing), it cannot work with asymmetric routing. For example, the 2nd Edge cannot be aware of a session that was started on the 1st edge (no SYN), so the traffic is dropped.

In my testing, it seems this impacts traffic traversing North to South, but routing South to North seems to work.

I did a quick video of my testing with my current lab environment to depict the results I see – which is the loss of network connectivity and pings from another routed segment.

Enjoy!

-Daniel

Preparing for my VCAP-NV…

So I’ve been in the process of preparing for my VCAP-NV (3V0-643) to earn my VCIX-NV.

There’s been a lot of great material that’s been posted online, but I’m going to share my study plan so it’s documented for others. My goal is to take this by calendar year end if possible.

  1. Clinton Prentice did an amazing job with his study guide – I’ve been working on his guide posted here – https://vzealand.com/category/vcap6-nv-study-guide/
  2. There was a beta Blueprint that’s still really valuable – I could never find the live version of the blueprint, so using this as part of my plan. It’s attached to this post but also link here – https://blogs.vmware.com/education/files/2015/12/Exam_Prep_Guide_3V0-643_v1.2.pdf
  3. vCloud Director nested environment
    1. You won’t be able to prepare sufficiently for this test without hands-on experience.
    2. Currently, I have a 3 node nested ESXi environment with 6.5 ESXi and 6.3.3 NSX running on a vCD environment. I will be expanding this further and probably may follow Clinton’s lab design too – but trying out different things.
  4. Got a new addition – Ryan Johnson shared Iwan’s study guide that will be part of my regiment – http://www.vcix-nv.com/vcix-nv-study-guide/

More to come – but this is definitely exciting (and scary)!

-Daniel

Exam_Prep_Guide_3V0-643_v1.2

VCP6-NV – Unlocked

I took the new 2v0-642 NSX certification on Tuesday and lo and behold, I passed!

I am going to very careful so I do not violate any NDA, but I wanted to provide an updated perspective on the 2v0-642 test. As many of you know, 2v0-641 test has been around for several years and has been recently retired.

Moreover, many of the study guides available are on 641 – my understanding is 642 was quite different.

642 focuses on NSX 6.2x feature-set – one of the biggest changes is the addition of cross-vCenter vMotion.

So what did I do to prepare for this?

Preparation Steps:

  1. I took the VMware NSX for Internetworking Experts Fast Track [V6.1] Class. Yes, that’s right – I took the older class. Why? Well, I wanted to take a remote class and this was the closest thing available. I also don’t believe the Fast Track class is updated to 6.2, but I could be wrong.
    1. However, this was a VERY good class that laid out many of the fundamentals I needed.
    2. My instructor was good and even went over cross-vCenter vMotion and some of the changes for 6.2, which was not in the curriculum but very valuable.
    3. Moreover, when I take any kind of class, I screenshot EVERY slide and write notes the instructor states. I reviewed ALL of this material for my exam preparation.
  2. Labs, labs, labs. I can’t stress this enough – PLUS IT’S FREE!!!
    1. A few labs I did over and over again – mostly focused on the 1725 labs:
      1. HOL-1725-SDC-1 – VMware NSX Advanced Consumption
      2. HOL-1725-USE-2 – VMware NSX Multi-Site DR with SRM
      3. HOL-1703-SDC-1 – VMware NSX: Introduction and Feature Tour (while I did this in my class, it was a good refresher)
      4. HOL-1703-USE-2 – VMware NSX: Distributed Firewall with Micro-Segmentation
    2. VMware Hands on Lab Link: http://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/catalog/681
    3. Since I deal with vCloud Director, I had a prebuilt vCD/NSX environment so I tested several scenarios also. However, the HOL give great guidance
  3. I used Gregg Robertson’s blog as an addition to my overview – I went through the podcasts but did not read the book he referenced. Many thanks to Gregg for this insight.
    1. Link: Gregg Robertson’s Blog on VCP-NV Test
  4. READ THE DANG PRODUCT DOCUMENTATION! 
    1. This can’t be stressed enough. Even though it is long, some parts boring, there was some VERY VALUABLE insight, especially on the cross-vCenter vMotion setup and considerations.
    2. Docs I really focused on:
      1. VMware NSX Network Virtualization Design Guide – VERY IMPORTANT
      2. NSX Installation Guide
      3. NSX Administration Guide
      4. Cross-vCenter NSX Installation Guide
    3. Furthermore, with the admin guides – I took the labs and went through the basic administrative functions so I’m aware of steps.
  5. VMware VCP6-NV (2v0-642) 6.2 Practice Exam
    1. This was good – but obviously take it with a grain of salt. You can’t just take this expect to pass the test.
    2. Link to VMware myLearn VCP6-NV 6.2 Practice Exam
  6. I’m someone that needs to write/type things out and make a mental map of the technology and components. Therefore, I created this note sheet that I typed up a few days before the test: 2v0-642-UNOFFICIAL-StudyNotes
    1. PLEASE take these notes as they are – it’s my (weird) way of studying for a test and how I interpret NSX.

The Test:

  1. I went through the test and flagged questions I was not entirely sure.
  2. First pass took me maybe 35 minutes to complete – then I went to the beginning and went through the test again, focusing on the flagged questions I wasn’t too sure of.
  3. Read each question CAREFULLY and eliminate the ones you know aren’t true.
  4. Overall, I think I finished up with 45 to 50 minutes to spare.

Overall, I thought the test was challenging and asked very fair questions. It also made me kick myself on things I should have reviewed further – but that’s what a test is!

Next Steps:

I’ll be working on my VCAP next – TBD if I’ll switch over to DCV or stay on NV. But I truly enjoyed the experience and look forward to the next test preparation.

-DCP