A fresh appearance for the new decade ... and a review of 2019

Moving my blog to Hugo and looking back at 2019

Dominik

7 minute read

The Christmas holidays provided me a bit of time for some good old tinkering: a Python script here, a blog post there and now some Hugo. The project got a bit out of hand as I stumbled into a full CI/CD pipeline with GitLab Actions – but that is probably worth another post. I hope you like the looks – even though the appearance may change a bit over time as I adjust the theme to my needs. The old content wll be migrated as soon as possible and until then the old wordpress installation can be found here. However, this task is competing with family time, the new Raspi 4 I got as Christmas gift and a still wrapped copy of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Looking back at 2019

Since I didn't want to put up a new blog with no content I figured that I can use the post for a re-cap of 2019 from a tech/work perspective. Compared to the last year, which featured the job change to VMware, the VCDX and a lot of other stuff, it was a less eventful but nonetheless still a busy year. My focus was more on trying to keep up with my day job as I got fully embraced into two TAM engagements that are here to stay with me for the next years.

Technology

NSX-T

From a technology perspective, it was the year of networking for me. Starting from scratch with NSX-T I would say that the months since March gave me at least a proficient knowledge with the solution and I have to admit that the product grew on me. I was thrown in cold water as both of my engagements require (deep) NSX-T knowledge which I didn't have at the time. Thankfully, I always had a liking for networking and now I am trying to get even more involved. As a long-term goal, I want my NV skills to get close to my DCV proficiency at some point. For reference, I used these resources:

RTFM:

  • VMware product documentation
  • NSX-T Reference Design Guide 2.0 (!)

Books:

  • (see stack below)

Training classes:

  • VMware NSX-T Data Center: Install, Configure, Manage V2.4 - on-demand
  • VMware NSX-T Data Center: Design V2.4 - Instructor-led
  • NSX-T Livefire - Next Generation Cloud Networking - Instructor-led

Videos:

  • VMworld 2019 Networking and Security videos

Hands-on experience:

  • Homelab
  • VMware Hands-on-Labs

Other:

  • VMware internal-only resources (being an employee has some perks)
  • Blogs
  • My day job

Rating all this for effectiveness:

  1. The ICM class was a very good starting point to learn the concepts while the hands-on experience is vital to understand how things work in reality.Coming from NSX-V this was the hardest part.
  2. From there on the design guide as well as the VMworld talks helped me the most along with question to my expert coworkers.
  3. The other resources are more of a supplemental nature and helped a lot to validate my knowledge and clear false assumptions.

Other tech

But then again my year didn't just focus on networking:

  • In terms of core vSphere I didn't do too much new except a deep-dive crash-course in VVols and their architecture - sorry folks, another blog that I ever wanted to do but never saw the light :-(
  • Cloud Automation Services / vRealize Automation a thing that I use more frequently than I would have ever imagined :-)
  • Working with Ansible is a skill that I picked up during the year as all of my customers use it heavily and I learned to appreciate why they do it.
    • And yes, automation in general is something I learn and appreciate more and more
  • Now and then I use some of the Hashicorp products:
    • mainly packer for automating templates
    • terraform for spinning up systems
    • vault for the PKI

Books

Call me oldschool but I prefer paper over ebooks any time and do this especially for tech books. This is the stack that I acquired during the course of this year.

Books 2019

Did I finish all these books? Heck, no. Sometimes I either need a basic understand for a topic or just certain parts as a reference. On other occasions my interest or the demand shifts to another topic.

  • Routing TCP/IP: started (1/3)
  • Automate the boring stuff: not started
  • Cloud Native DevOps with k8s: started (1/3)
  • Head-First Python: Started (1/2)
  • AWS Network Specialty: Finished
  • Head-First Go: Started (1/4)
  • Prometheus: Started (1/3)
  • Container: Started (1/5? -it's really massive)
  • GCP Cloud Engineer: not started

Certifications

A VCDX sets the bar quite high and leaves you with a bittersweet feeling when it comes to certification, still I am happy with what I got this year:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate (April 2019)
  • VMware Certified Advanced Professional - Network Virtualization Design 2019 (September 2019)

Random musings

Things I didn't bring to an end

Application for the VMware CTO Ambassador:

  • The thing that held me back the most was my perceived lack of value I could add to the program. In the end I used my workload as an excuse not to submit but I think in hindsight I should have gone ahead anyway. Even the denied application would have provided me a good deal of feedback.

VMware Take 1:

  • My plan involved taking the Kubernetes Fundamentals (LFS258) class in person. After the class got relocated from Duesseldorf (an easy commute of an hour) to Hamburg (involving overnight stays) I rejected the offer and did not find a suitable alternative.
  • It really hurts me to leave this opportunity unused - but I opted against another week-long absence in favor of some family time.

AWS Network Specialty Exam:

  • My white whale - I am dragging it along since forever. Having written said, the book is a valuable source for understand cloud/software defined networking better (yes, even for NSX-T)

VCDX panelist:

  • While I applied to become a VCDX panelist and signed some paperwork with a NDA I am still in “no mans land” with no further progress than that.
  • Having said that, I don't want to blame it on the VCDX org. I could have gotten my butt up to actively follow up but excused myself with other projects.

Public speaking:

  • Something I already planned for 2018 was a presentation at a VMUG or more recently at an internal VMware event. I guess the workload or family is a convenient excuse but for 2020 I target at least one event.

New things that I did in 2019

I picked up sports again:

  • It is not fancy but hitting the gym between one and three times a week is better than doing nothing. After $kid2 dropped I stopped exercising altogether due to time constraints but I did not realize how much I missed it.
  • And a sign that I got old: at this point I am ready to accept that I won't get back to my pre-kid schedule of four-to-five-times-a-week training in martial arts :-)

I bought a car:

  • As a family father you can expect nothing less than a MPV. It happens to be my very first privately owned car, so far I had the luxury of company cars.

Acknowledgements

A big thank you to all my coworkers and customers, I can count myself lucky on both accounts - from a personal and professional level. At VMware my TAM teammates, manager, PSO-folks and pre-sales team are a blast to work with and everyone else I came in contact with was helpful and supportive. Another important factor in a field role is the customer relationship. I spent most of my days on-site or interacting with my customer so I really appreciate it that I am made a part of their teams. Last but not least a shout out to vCommunity/vTwitter, you folks keep my imposter syndrome fueled - I am always amazed at what people put out there as blogs and projects.

Summary

Thanks for sticking with me through my ramblings. Overall, 2019 was a good year and writing it down helps me to appreciate it. Everyone in my family is healthy (except the usual kindergarten stuff) and that alone is something I cannot be thankful enough for. Let's see what the next year brings, I except some hot stuff from Project Pacific. Also, the times of a “no cloud”-strategy are coming to an end even in Germany (!) and the change in infrastructure operations is in full swing. That doesn't mean everything is moving to the public cloud but there is certainly a change in the way customers expect to consume IT (infrastructure).