VMware Nee – Hands on labs – First thoughts

We are the knights of Nee.. Er. I mean VMware! My hats off to VMware for coming up with an acronym that I just can’t say seriously. For those not sure what I mean, just google Monty Python and the knights of nee. Classic!

Nee actually stands for Next-Generation Education Environment and I think its very similar to what Microsoft have done with the MVA. Which I have blogged about here  Note I say similar as a lot of the MVA content was video or text based, the VMware content is full on labs, you get a full server with the full product. So if your like me and you want to click outside of the manual you can.

What you get is a clean interface that allows you to select from a small number of labs, that I believe have come from labs that were on offer at VMworld 2012(not fact checked, just my assumption). So far I have done around four labs, the screen has been responsive and the spin up time was actually pretty quick.

I do like how they have allowed you to move the manual around the screen, especially as I am not to bothered about printing them out. The lab content itself, in terms of what they have you do was good. Some of it is clearly high level entry stuff but everyone has to start somewhere and there is no harm in VMware offering a refresher for one and all.

It would be nice if the Lab manual had a content section so I could skip to particular parts but thats a minor gripe.

The one thing that I really do want is to be able to access the content on my iPad, I would hope that this is on the road map. It just says that your device is partially supported and all I can see is the lab manual. When clicking on the Open remote console option it just loads. Not had a chance to check this out as it could be my iPad!?

I also noticed some samples of the new online courses, which will count as the pre req to take the VCP exams, so no need to travel to a class room. For some that will be great news, but one of the biggest wins of class room training is the banter and experieince that the delegates bring with them. Something that could be lost in this new forward thinking NEE world?

This would also mean that certain content would be free and some paid for. I kind of hope that is the case as getting access to this kind of content helps me in a number of ways.

Such as reviewing new applications or features to bring back to the business, self learning a product that we already have, or just learning something new. Not being a “fan boy” but it also strenghens my opinion of the VMware product suite.

All I need now is a few more hours in the day so I can get a few more labs complete. The Horizon labs are next on my list.


Free Cisco Course – UCS Test Drive for technical decision makers

I was lucky enough to be invited by my Cisco account managers to Cisco House in the Olympic Village. If you ever get the chance to go then you should as if anything you get to see the park from a good view point.

Anyway, whilst there I was talking about UCS and how I was interested in the technology for our data centre road map. I was informed that Cisco are offering this free two day course run by FireFly.

The course is a high level over view that take you from the why Cisco got into the server and compute space through to the models of blade servers. It ends with a hands on session allowng you to get into the UCS manager and carry out a number of typical admin tasks.

We had Tom McDermot taking this course and this guy really knows his stuff, the insight that we got from him alone more than made the two days worth while. For me, I had a limited knowledge of the product and now I at least have a good grasp of whats what. My disappointment came with the labs.

For starters one of them was setting up Role based Admin Control (RBAC) which lets be fair is pretty standard these days and pretty dull. I think that creating vSANs or VLANs would have been better. The next issue was that the labs actually kept crashing and eventually we were all chucked out and never got back in.

The only lab that I enjoyed was creating the service profile as to me this was one of the big selling points of the product. It all seems pretty straigh forward to create and apply profiles to the blades. I must confess that I ignored the other labs and just went exploring, something that would have been fun if it were not for the crash.

I guess all issues aside, this is a free course with two free lucnhes in the Cisco canteen. I got a good over view and learnt some handy tips from Tom. Time to get the Cisco Press UCS book and get learning some more!

Free VMware Transition To ESXi Essentials Course

I first heard about this on the VMware communities roundtable pod cast. If you don’t already subscribe or listen live on Talk shoe then I suggest you take a look as they discuss some really interesting topics.

Anyway if you sign up in time and give feedback after completing the course you will get Dave Mishenkos ESXi book as an e-book. I already have this book but seeing as I don’t have a kindle so it’s certainly handy to have it available as an e-book too. It’s a good book by the way and should be on any respectable VM admins vbook shelf

To register for the course go here


I only finished my course last week and I still got the book so get in there quick.

Microsoft Virtual Acadamy (MVA)

As you may have seen in an earlier post I joined the MVA. Thought I would give some first impression now that I have completed a number of courses and also high light some up and coming courses that Microsoft are dude to release.

I found out as I mailed some feedback to the dean and said branching the courses out into other areas would be good, such as virtualization. See his/her response below.

Now that I have reached the dizzy heights of silver membership I can say that I am actually enjoying the courses and the content. It’s toatlly free and obviously part of the M$ marketing drive to pedal their solution but in my eyes as a consultant it’s always good to know about more than one product as they all have strengths and weaknesses. The questions are not great but when you’re squeezing a course into a lunch break like me you don’t want taxing. Besides these are more like sales exams anyway.

Being a 360 gamer I cant help but love achievements, whilst I am not a gamer score whore (gamers will understand what they are) I still like to see the little pop up from time to time. Its much the same with the points/rank in the MVA, and that alone will keep me coming back for more!

E-mail response from Microsoft MVA Dean about up and coming courses. Being  VMware guy I for one am looking forward to see how the Hyper-V skills transfer goes.

There are certainly more courses coming and we have them lined up to release starting from around 25th April. Below I’ve set out the roadmap for you.

May 15th                                   Microsoft Virtualization for VMWare Professional – The Platform

                                                      Microsoft Virtualization for VMWare Professional – Management

                                                      Microsoft Virtualization for VMWare Professional – VDI

May 16th                                  Success with Private Cloud

Post May 16th                       Office 365,

                                                    Office 2010,

                                                    Windows InTune,

                                                    System Center VMM 2012,

                                                    System Center Config Manager 2012,

                                                   Microsoft Cloud Offerings and the IT Pro,

                                                   Windows Azure Hands-on Lab,

                                                   Windows Azure Connect.

                                                  SQL Server “Denali”

We are also working on an update to the platform to enable you to either get emails about new courses or subscribe to an RSS feed for the same information.


Alan Le Marquand

Microsoft Virtual Academy Dean