Genuine Surprise, Thanks Nintendo!

If you keep up with the tech blogs, you would know last week was E3 week. E3 week is something that I have looked forward to every year for as long as I have been a gamer. I remember fifteen years ago in middle school getting my copy of Electronic Gamer Magazine, Nintendo Power and Game Informer to read as much as I could about the games I was going to want to buy with my paper route money. Without the luster of new consoles, the past few years hasn’t brought anything exciting to E3. Every year, like clockwork, we see a new iteration of Call of Duty, a new iteration of Battlefield, a new iteration of Assassin’s Creed and a new iteration of a long standing franchise that I couldn’t care less about.

Nintendo has, for the better part of a decade, been an outlier. Nintendo has never had the most powerful console on the market. Nintendo has always had unique ways to play games across the Wii, Wii U, 3DS and Switch. Nintendo had the market in the palm of their hand with the Wii but couldn’t capitalize on the Wii U and has experienced a shrinking handheld market thanks to the rise of the smartphone. Nintendo, to their credit, found their niche in amazing first part properties (see: Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, etc.) and third party titles that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Nintendo has even gone to the extent of creating new IPs, like Splatoon, to bring new audiences into their ill-fated Wii U.

One thing that the last ten years was missing was a new Metroid game. Ok, that isn’t entirely true. Metroid: Other M and Metroid Prime: Federation Force are two entries in the Metroid franchise that people would rather not discuss. Metroid: Other M was a strange title that came with mixed reviews and played more like Ninja Gaiden than Metroid. Federation Force was a handheld game that had almost nothing to do with Metroid. It was almost like Nintendo wanted to create a new IP but decided late to slap the Metroid name on the title and call it a day. Did you know that Metroid turned 30 last year? It’s not entirely sure that Nintendo did, as they focused on Zelda’s 30th anniversary instead. It’s almost as if Nintendo wanted us to forget about Metroid.

Entering E3 for the last ten years, many people’s dream Nintendo announcement was a new Metroid Prime game. The Metroid Prime series debuted on the Gamecube and was the first of a series of first person adventure games. It was very similar to the adventure platform game of NES and SNES past. The series spanned three titles. They were all excellent. After Other M flopped, every E3 people wanted a new Metroid game. The Wii U came, the Wii U went. No new Metroid game. At E3 2015, Nintendo trolled everyone with the announcement of Mtroid Prime: Federation Force. A large part of the community though that maybe they were only showing the mech gameplay off and that a real Metroid title was just not being shown off. That wasn’t the case.

June 13, 2017. Almost 10 years after Metroid Prime 3 was released, Nintendo surprised the fans of the Metroid series. After confirming that the first ever core Pokemon RPG was coming Switch, a first for the series, Nintendo dropped a teaser trailer for Metroid Prime 4. A new Metroid game coming in 2018. Later on in the day, a new Metroid game was announced for 2DS/3DS that is a retelling for Metroid II.

I was genuinely shocked that, at an event where we all thought we were not going to get a great showing from Nintendo, after they tapered expectations with a less-than-stellar Pokemon Direct a couple days before E3, blew all expectations out of the water. Between two new Metroid Games, a Switch Pokemon title confirmed, fantastic gameplay from Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey and all the fun “eSport” competitions that they had on the show floor, Nintendo won E3.

So you want to become a VMware Certified Professional…

Last Friday I obtained my fourth VCP certification, VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization. While my motivations for obtaining this certification was renewal of my other three certifications that I have, it also made me think that I should really start thinking about getting a VCAP, the VMware Certified Advanced Professional. There are two variants, design and implementation. However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How do you become a certified Professional?

The prerequisites for this are as follows (for new or expired certification holders):

1. Take a VMware sanctioned training.

2. Complete the vSphere 6 (or 6.5) Foundations Exam

3. Complete the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Exam

Sounds easy, right? Right? Wrong. I spent over 60 hours studying for this exam, possibly more if you counted al the work hours architecting and designing a greenfield deployment of vSphere and vCenter 6.0 U3. Having 8+ years of experience helps but there are parts of vSphere 6, like vSAN, which I didn’t know a lot about. The jump from vSphere 5.5 to 6.0 is actually much more significant that I remembered thinking it would be. Yes, the vCenter jump is quite extraordinary but I remember thinking, “There isn’t that much new in vSphere 6.0, right? Right?” Wrong.

There are many ways that you can study for this exam. While my path is unique to me, there are several different ways that you acquire this knowledge. Find what works for you. If reading tombs of text isn’t your thing, use vBrownbag sessions, the VMware HOL and sites like Pluralsight to supplement the required classroom work. That said, read every last piece of documentation that you can. It’s a non-negotiable requirement. The amount of little tidbits that you’ll come across that will inevitably end up on the exam.

Here is the list of materials I used to study for my exam:

You may be asking yourself, “No labs?” Labs are a very important art of studying for this exam. If you have the resources to set up a lab, do it. It’s great experience that you can’t get from reading or listening to lectures. I had the opportunity at work to architect and deploy our new vSphere 6 environment from the ground up. We are a big enough VMware deployment where we use Auto Deploy and PowerCLI non-stop.

Another thing to note is that, if you are a complete newbie at this, the vSphere 6 Foundations course that Pluralsight access would get you can assist in building  a nested lab. While I’m not going to say it’s something everyone can put together easily due to resource constraints, it does look to outline the process. For anyone wanting to see the power that VMware Workstation has to offer, this would be it.

In the event that you can’t build a lab, go to the VMware Hands On Labs. Their hands on labs are actually quite fantastic. When I was studying for the VCP6-DT test, I used the HOL portal quite a bit. The HOL portal has labs for days. It’s just a matter of finding the ones that you want to focus on.

Edit: You’ll need keys for you lab. I suggest getting the VMUG Advantage, which will get you lab keys. Here is what the EvalExperience gets you. It’s very much worth the cost of admission (and see if your employer will pay for this!)

Now, you may be asking yourself another question: “You have to renew these?” Indeed you do. When I got my first certification, I was told that certifications expire “when the next major version comes out.” Then, about six months later, VMware instituted a 24 month expiration for all their certifications. While I look at it as a reason to continue looking at VMware’s stack and attempting to get better at it, others complain it is a money grab. I get it. Hopefully if you’re looking to get this certification, your employer will be picking up the tab.

Another thing I ought to mention, is that after you get your first VCP certification, you drop two requirements of taking the next exam. With a renewal, you don’t need to take a course or take the foundations exam again. However, if you let your certifications expire you need to retake the Foundations exam and take a course to obtain the certification. I always put a calendar event for 6 months before the certification expiration date so I know I need to start thinking about this.

I ended up getting a 425. You need a 500. I know the questions I didn’t get because they were areas that I didn’t study or review as thoroughly as I would have liked. I was really hoping for a 450 but I can’t complain. I came, I saw, I passed this exam. I hope this guide gives you a starting point to becoming a VMware Certified Professional!

Edit 2: You need a 300, not a 500 to pass. 500 is the max score you can get on the test. Thanks /r/vmware for pointing this out. I am fail. :p

I wen’t away…

So, there doesn’t seem to have been any activity on this here blog.

I wen’t away.

Ok, I didn’t go away but I did have a major project that I had to get started on that took over much of my time these last couple months. The result of that project was a new VMware certification, so I can’t complain too hard. 🙂

Expect more content to land here now that I will have a lot more free time to write down my thoughts.

First up: a new challenge I am going to undertake. More on that tomorrow (well, later today since it is already well past 0:00 local time).