Today was the first day of VMware EMPOWER in Lisbon, Portugal! We were fortunate enough to be able to go and attend this conference. This conference is more or less the same as the VMware VMworld conference with the difference that basically all content is targeted at VMware Service Providers (for which we work). So going to this event seemed to be a logical choice. We will follow several technical sessions each day and we try to keep some notes that will be published on our blog. Below will be a summary from day 1!

Session 1: So you think you want to be a VCDX? What it really takes.

We wanted to listen to this session because we are both at some point going to go for the VCDX certification, since we are both VCIX-DCV certified we could already start the journey for this. This session was given by four different VCDX certified architects. All the tracks were present. Below is a short summary of this session:

At the moment there are 4 tracks to get VCDX certified:

  • Datacenter Virtualization (VMware vSphere Based).
  • Desktop (VMware Horizon and can support Workspace one based).
  • Cloud (vCloud Director or vRealize Automation based).
  • Network Virtualization (VMware NSX based).

Things you would have to pay attention to are mentioned below. This is not a complete list but a list of items we thought are going to be useful to us in the future once we are going to try and get VCDX certified.

  • A common misconception is that you need to know all the advanced settings off a product. As long as you can describe the actions you need from an architectural view, it will be sufficient enough.
  • Read the blueprint to start the journey!
  • A short summary of the road to your VCDX:
    • Review/study the VCDX blueprints for 2-5 hours.
    • Prepare and submit application & design for 90 to 150 hours. But most likely it will be far more. Some people said 300-500 hours.
    • Your application gets accepted or denied.
    • Attend the VCDX Defense Prep training for 3 days. This is optional.
    • Prepare and Practice your VCDX interview for 20 hours.
    • Attend Design Defence sessions for 3 to 4 hours.
  • If you want to have multiple VCDX certifications, the process is a lot easier than the first one. You have to submit a design and go through the following stages:
    • Phone calls to defend your design.Interview to defend your design.Have your design defence session.You will receive a Pass or Fail result.
  • Things that you need to account for when you are preparing for the certification:
    • Consider your work/live balance. Stick to your planning!Try to get a mentor that knows this process.Reach out to the community. There are a lot of people that are willing to help. Real live experience in designing and architecting solutions is really required.You need to be willing to seek out solutions to problems when they are presented.You need to be customer focussed.Learn to think beyond the reference designs and best practices. Know or understand why they are reference designs or best practices.Once you are the defense stage, the VCDX panel is there to help you. Not to burn down your design!If you want to get a new version of the VCDX program, you should do an exam that is required for this.

These points really helped us to gain some insight in the process that is needed to go through to acquire the VCDX certification. I hope this information helps you too!

Session 2: NSX-V to NSX-T: Migration Strategies and Steps

This session tickled our interest because we have been working with the NSX-V software for a while now, but not really in production. Since we don’t want to do double work when in some time we would be forced to migrate to NSX-T we listened to this session. Below are some notes we made during this session:

  • NSX-V goes end of general support january of 2021.
  • So if you are starting to deploy NSX at this moment, they mentioned you should start deploying NSX-T instead of NSX-V.
  • Components got renamed in NSX-T:
Component in NSX-V Component in NSX-T
NSX Manager NSX Unified Appliance (Manager/Controller)
NSX Controllers NSX Unified Appliance (Manager/Controller)
Distributed Logical Router (DLR) Tier-0 and Tier-1 Gateway
DLR Control VM N/A
Edge Services Gateway NSX-Edge Node – Running Gateway/Centralized Services
Single vCenter Multi-vCenter (16 max)
Universal Objects N/A
  • The DLR control VM is gone and is distributed across the NSX-T components.
  • NSX-T has Azure and AWS workload support.
  • NSX-T has KVM support.
  • NSX-T has bare metal server support.
  • NSX-T has Kubernetes and Pivotal Container Services (PKS) support.
  • Start to have real live experiences on both NSX-V and NSX-T to be able to understand how both of these products work.
  • Optionally you should go and attend a training about NSX-T.
  • vCloud Director is fully compatible with NSX-T (without migrations though).
  • vRealize automation is also supports NSX-V and NSX-T.
  • Separate vCenter for NSX-T and NSX-V for vRealize Automation support.
  • You can have NSX-V and NSX-T in the same vCenter, but you can not use both in the same cluster.
  • So this means you will probably have to get new hardware to enable NSX-T next to your NSX-V workloads and be able to migrate the workloads.
  • You cannot have NSX-V and NSX-T enabled on a single host.
  • Migration Tools:
    • Lift and Shift (deploy greenfield NSX-T on new hardware)
      • Old environment can be used for rollback.
      • You need new hardware.
      • VM needs to be shutdown to be able to boot up in the new network.
      • Update routes on a per subnet basis.
      • L2 segment on NSX-V and NSX-T are not in the same broadcast domain.
    • Migration Coordination:
      • An automated migration tool with pre-migration checks to ensure migration success.
      • Single change window, all the changes are at once and you have to be at NSX-V 6.4.4. And a maximum of 64 hosts is recommended in the Migration tool.
      • Only the vSphere 6.5 and 6.7 workloads can be migrated.
      • DRS should be set to manual during the migration.
      • No cloud management solutions such as vRA.
      • Can be done on existing hardware.
      • During the host migration phase the NSX-V vibs get replaced with NSX-T vibs.
      • At the moment the Migration Tool does not migrate cross vCenter networking configurations, OSPF configurations, L2 bridging, Hardware VTEP (because it does not exist in NSX-T), SSL VPN, Guest Introspection and Network Introspection. But they might in the future.
      • It should not place the ESXi host in maintenance mode during the migration process.
    • vMotion and HCX:
      • Minimize data plane outage.
      • 10-20% extra capacity.
      • Only the vMotion dataplane outage during migration.
    • Partner tools:
      • Only configuration migration.
      • You need to buy third-party software solutions which could be expensive.

I think this session provided us with some useful insights in regards to NSX-V and NSX-T readiness. If you are looking at implementing NSX at this time, I’d say have a look at NSX-T before anything else. It will save a lot of migration headaches and downtime!

Session 3: VCAP Exam Tips & Tricks: VCAP-NV Deploy

Today at VMware EMPOWER I finally did my VCP-NV. I’ve been wanting to get this one but never actually had the time. Rudolf already took this exam a couple of months ago so it was about time I also did it. And I passed! Since our goal is to get double or maybe even triple VCAP certified we went to this session to check and see what we should focus on when preparing for the VCAP-NV exam. Below are our notes in regards to this session:

  • If you want to start the journey for this exam you should ofcourse be VCP-NV certified first.
  • You could optionally attend the VMware NSX Troubleshooting and Operations training to prepare you for the VCAP-NV Deploy Exam.
  • In the NV track you are automatically a VCIX-NV. Normally you would have to do a VCAP Design and Deploy exam, but since the NV track does not have the Design exam you get it automatically.
  • At the moment there are only 2.000 VCAP certifications released in Europe. This does not mean that there are 2.000 individuals that are certified since you can have more VCAP certifications. Like Rudolf and I.
  • Recommended learning sources for the VCAP-NV exam:
    • VMware HOL’s:
      • 1903-01-NET
      • 1903-02-NET
      • 1925-01-NET
      • 1925-02-NET
  • VCAP-NV Deploy Exam Preparation Guide.VMware Certification Platform Interface.On-demand lab for NSX ICM.VCAP community on the VMTN forums.
  • Learn the exam for NSX-V 6.2! Since this is the version that is used in the exam.
  • Iterate through the Exam Blueprint (now called Exam Preparation Guide) until you can do each task quickly.
  • The exam consists out of 23 questions, with 205 minutes of time for them which means that you only have 9 minutes for each question. You are able to receive more time if your native language is not English.
  • A tip is to do the questions in your own order. You don’t necessary need to follow the order that VMware lays out for you.

Session 4: VMware EMPOWER General Session Day 1

This was the last session today and concluded our day at VMware EMPOWER. This session is automatically placed inside each personal schedule, so somewhat required to attend. We didn’t really make notes during this session because the room was so crowded and I didn’t really have any space on my lap to open up the laptop. But the key takeaway for me was that VMware is actively trying to engage with its partners to let them gain the ability to deliver better and more services to their end-customers. One way they are doing this is through a completely revamped partner system, which will release in the next year. More on that in a later blogpost.

The other way is through Master Services Competencies which prove how much knowledge you as a company have on VMware products. The company we work for has acquired the Datacenter Virtualization Master Service Competency and we were really proud to have our company logo on the big stage today as one of the 164 company’s with Master Services Competencies.

As you can see the first day was already very busy and interesting for us! If you have any questions about the above just leave a reply and we will get back to you. Tomorrow day 2 with even more sessions!

Bryan van Eeden

Bryan is an ambitious and seasoned IT professional with almost a decade of experience in designing, building and operating complex (virtual) IT environments. In his current role he tackles customers, complex issues and design questions on a daily basis. Bryan holds several certifications such as VCIX-DCV, VCAP-DCA, VCAP-DCD, V(T)SP and vSAN and vCloud Specialist badges.


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