Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to start learning NSX? Free links and CloudCred tasks

Another short post but it has a lot of good information :)

The obvious way of learning NSX is to go to a VMware class. But there are several other ways of learning the theory of NSX, to go deeper and in parallel with the practice you can do in the Hands on Labs from my previous blog post.

One of the best ways to learn NSX is to check and read about the VCP6-NV certification. Hopefully the link will work but if it gets outdated, google it. Three data sources I want to highlight that are available right now:

1) Read the blueprint in the exam link as this is what VMware thinks a certified professional should be comfortable with

2) Check blog posts from people who have prepared and studied for the certification. I particularly liked Richard Dowling's posts here and Fabian Lenz has a great collection of links here

3) vBrownBag videos for VCP6-NV. You can find them here, in both english and spanish (I collaborated on a couple :) )

I also want to highlight 3 resources that are in progress or will come soon

1) CloudCred is a game-type site focused on VMware and Cloud technologies. I highly recommend playing it, but in particular for the VCP6-NV exam, there are short tasks meant to teach you concepts. For a limited time, these tasks have bonus points as well:

2) Iwan Hoogendoorn, a CCIEx6 (!) has created, an awesome video tutorial site focused on the VCIX-NV certification. He has access to the installers, deployed it in his home lab, and is now creating and sharing a video for each VCIX-NV exam objective. Follow him in twitter and YouTube 

3) The official VCP6-NV book will be released in Q1 2016. Below is my amazon affiliate link for it (means if you buy from this link, i get a very slight cut).

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How to start learning NSX? VMware's Hands On Labs

This is a very short post but I want to start pointing people in the right direction.

You may or may not know that testing VMware server virtualization is a fairly easy affair. Sign up for an account at, request a product trial for vSphere, and once you locate the downloads, you could be burning your first ESxi ISO and using it to boot almost any home computer. Likewise, you can get the installer for VMware workstation very easily and within a time limit, discover all you want from the product with no limitations.

VMware's NSX is not offered this way. There is a big reason why: there are several layers that need to be in place before you can run NSX, and being fair, you have to be fairly comfortable with ESXi and networking to be able to grasp the concepts needed to understand what NSX does. 

For your typical VCP or VCAP (VMware certified individuals) this sounds like a bother, but this is actually a good thing. NSX is a very broad-encompassing product that is useful for not just server administrators, but network and ITSEC professionals as well. Thus, reserving the actual installers is a protection from complexity - the installers are actually only available if you undergo a formal trial with VMware and they assist you in the validation and installation of your test.

So, how can anyone see and test or learn about NSX on their own? VMware has a site dedicated to Hands On Labs that has several NSX sessions. This is not a click-click simulation - this is a real lab, dedicated to you, that even has step by step explanations and tasks you must complete before moving to the next step. This is essentially free training - no need to setup your own lab, VMware provides one over the network!

The link for the "VMware NSX Introduction" hands on lab:
The lab is also not particularly restricted. You can tinker around and if you somehow make it stop working, you can end it and start over. This is quite the free service that VMware offers and their recommended path to start learning about NSX.

As a bonus, if you are totally unfamiliar with VMware's products, this is now their introductory lab for virtualization, "Virtualization 101: vSphere with Operations Management 6"

As you can tell from the links, VMware offers most of their portfolio through the Hands On Labs, and is continually adding more. You can't beat this much free training.

More posts coming soon, starting with the theory behind network virtualization. See you soon!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I always like stating a mission for my blogs. It helps keep the content focused.

I currently work as a VMware server administrator. My focus for the last 3 or 4 years has been learning and using VMware vSphere, focused on virtualizing server workloads.

I attended VMworld 2014 when NSX had been officially released and adopted by customers. I was curious about what virtualizing the network could mean (even just the concept!). Later that year, thanks to vBrownBag and following people on twitter, I started learning a bit more.

NSX has become a product in the VMware portfolio that is widely offered. My company was offered to do a proof of concept and I was enrolled in a "NSX exploration class", where I was able to learn more about the product.

It is now VMworld 2015 and I was recently named a vExpert. In the vExpert reception Chris McCain challenged bloggers to create a blog that educates about NSX. This blog was inspired by that challenge, but it also serves a personal purpose.

By the time I graduated college I had taken CCNA 1-4 and CCNP1-3. I honestly thought that my professional career would be in networking. One of the things I regret about that time is I never took the time to take the CCNA exam when I had everything fresh!

I have a networking background, but no network engineering experience. My actual work life has been a journey through the network operations center, end user support administration and lately systems engineering. The networking background has, of course, helped a lot, but experiencing more areas of IT has definitely improved my understanding of IT as a whole and also of what a good network engineer looks like.

Network virtualization for me offers a whole new way of thinking. I've learned a little of the flexibility and capabilities that virtualizing the network provides, and have found it revolutionary - I want to start learning it and hopefully begin using this new technology as I continue my career.

With all of this information, let's state this blog's mission:

     This blog takes you on my journey of exploration and discovery (ha... did you see what I did there?) of what virtualizing the network means; how do you learn about it, how do you practice what you learn, and how it is applied in the real world. 

Posts can vary widely: most will be technical or educational, with a focus on how can the normal internet user embrace this new technology, but others will explore the business or implementation challenges and how they can be overcome. 

I know this will be a fun journey, and I thank you for looking at my posts and following along. Please don't hesitate to contact me on twitter if you have any suggestions :)

Ariel Sanchez, @arielsanchezmor