Contract Availability – IMMEDIATE

John Parsons is now available for immediate contract work and is looking for infrastructure based roles where VMware plays a key part.  Skilled in both VMware vSphere & Horizon View deployments, John has designed, developed and implemented VMware infrastructures of up to 15 hosts supporting multiple clusters.  Using top end licensing, John has utilised the many features of vSphere, including HA/DRS/FT/VDP.  Backed by both fibre channel & iSCSI SAN’s with NAS storage to provide support for ISO stores and other low level requirements, John can maintain and support enterprise VMware environments.  The infrastructures mentioned all have 10GbE support to provide high speed and shared NIC services for the critical requirements of a cluster, such as the many VMKernels to support VMotion, FT, Mgmt, NAS storage & iSCSI.  Using HP Proliant DL380 servers, a mix of Procurve/Extreme Networks and EMC VNX/Qnap NAS/HP EVA storage, John has a broad depth of experience and skills with both hardware and virtualised software technologies.

The predominant OS used has been Windows where John has built Active Directory services, DNS & DHCP, Exchange environments (up to 2003 only), WSUS and BitLocker services to support a 600 user domain of up to 1000 devices and many more separated Windows Domain based solutions.  John does have experience with Linux, RedHat and CentOS primarily, and can install servers followed up by general day-to-day management activities.

From a security perspective, John is keen to maintain a high level of IT security and has worked as part of a team to handle high profile attacks such as state-sponsored APT.  To counter this and general IT threats John has implemented perimeter firewalls and other filtering tools such as proxy servers/email gateways, end point security, Splunk monitoring services and generated IT policies to drive a safe business environment.

As an experienced team/department lead, John is also capable of managing staff and workloads.  This experience has built over the past 14 years with team sizes from 2 up to 18.  Also captured are IT Strategy development, £2M+ budget management and presentation skills.  Having group leader experience has allowed John to develop service delivery skills and a keen approach to incident management through problem and change controls.

Available for immediate start, John is looking in the Guildford area and up to central London as the primary locations for contract work.  Ideal roles include 3rd line infrastructure support, infrastructure analyst, infrastructure support team leader and any mixture of these that result in John providing hands-on services within a VMware based infrastructure.  CV & daily rates available on request, flexibility on contract and rates possible.

Career Path

Well, since I’m in the process of leaving my current employer, end of October, I’m looking around for a new challenge and am set of switching to contracting.  I’ve had a few interviews, all of which have reached at least 2nd interview which is promising, but all for permanent roles.  What is putting me off is going from one perm role and culture to another where I’ve got to work hard at fitting in and adapting to that new culture whilst maintaining a committed, dedicated attitude.  Last time I did this back in 1999 it didn’t work and I switched roles again after only 2 months!  This is why I’m edging towards contracting and believe it offers a few more benefits.  I’m not saying one doesn’t need to show commitment or dedication, but in the knowledge the contract is for a set period of time with a strong possibility of no extension, there is less worry about fitting in for the long-haul and more about doing what is needed to complete the contract.  As well as a higher take home in contracting, if you find the right contract, I believe the changing environments will improve one’s experience and allow a much quicker adoption of the different cultures as one moves from contract to contract.  Most contracts seem to require a resource for a specific need for the contract length and I think this will allow a focused energy on the job in hand whilst, if a technical role, challenge the mind and deepening the skill-set.

What I want out of a new role is a challenge where I can build experience and further develop my technical skills as I’m becoming aware they are not as deep as they should be and this is a result of becoming stale in the same environment for far too long.  I believe contracting will offer this at least for a few years.  I’m interested to hear the thoughts of others who have experience in this predicament.

New Blog Site

As you can see, this site is pretty new with not a lot of content at present.  I’m not a web designer but will try to jazz up the site a bit whilst keeping it simple to begin with.  If I get seriously bitten by the bug I’ll no doubt add lots of stuff, but short-term, it’ll be a slow build up I suspect.

Would love to hear advice from any expert bloggers to guide me in the right direction.

Home Lab Set-Up

My home lab is set up, and ready to provide the hands-on needed for vSphere skills enhancement.  It took a little while and a lot of fiddling to get it working exactly as I wanted and especially so to activate the nested ESXi 64bit guest support.  Although the Xeon E5540 CPU’s support VT-x/EPT, it is necessary to customise the virtual machine settings of the nested ESXi hosts to fully support it.  This creates a chicken/egg situation because with vSphere 5.5 you can only make the final change using the Web Client, which needs vCenter installed, which needs either a completely separate physical machine to run on, or has to be hosted on the main physical ESXi installation.

Having got all the key VM’s needed, FreeNAS, Windows Server 2008 (DNS/AD), Windows Server 2008 (vCenter/SQL Express), running on the primary host, the need for 64bit guest VM’s within the nested environment is not a requirement because 32bit will be enough for the purpose of vSphere study.  However, the challenge was there for me and if it can be done, I want to prove it for myself and get it working in my own lab!

So, I have the above VM’s running on the primary ESXi host and 3x nested ESXi host VM’s.  I have a QNAP offering NAS based NFS storage and a second NAS which is used to provide a VMDK to the FreeNAS VM which is then presented to the nested ESXi hosts as an iSCSI LUN.  The local 683Gb RAID5 is presenting VMDK’s to the nested ESXi hosts to appear as local storage and I’ve built 2x VMDK’s per host; 1x 20Gb & 1x 180Gb.  The 20Gb will be faked to represent an SSD drive and then the two can be utilised to allow VSAN support for all three nested ESXi hosts.  This gives me a chance to play with VSAN whilst providing the three main storage options to my lab, iSCSI SAN, NFS and local.  It’s a bit slow but it’s just for training!

On the nested ESXi hosts themselves I think I’ll only need Windows 7 guests to provide the material for study and I’ve created templates or exported as OVA’s a copy of the ESXi host, Server 2008 and Windows 7 VM’s.  I’m trying to put a Visio diagram together to show how things are set up but can never get it right without making look both rubbish and complicated.

Sites used to assist me:

http://www.v-front.de/2014/01/how-to-provision-nested-esxi-hosts-on.html – by Andreas Peetz

http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/08/how-to-enable-nested-esxi-other.html – by William Lam

https://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8970 – from VMware communities

VCP5-DCV (vSphere 5.5)

Having discovered my VCP3 expires completely next March (2015), I thought I’d better do something to upgrade to the latest equivalent.  Giving myself about 4 weeks to study having booked the 50% discounted exam during VMworld USA, I realised how much there was to take in and 4 weeks simply wasn’t enough.  Consequently I failed the exam with a score of 280 needing the 300 to pass.  So, despite using 5.5 every day at work with high levels of exposure to the full vSphere suite of components I have decided to build my own home lab and work through the VMware Press study guide.  Previously I used the Sybex version but decided to switch so I got a different view point and possibly different means of delivering the content.  I also got a good discount at VMworld!

I’ve now booked my retake for the 28 November and bought a refurbished server from Ebay to begin a hands-on home study.  I picked up a DL380 G6 with twin E5540 Xeon’s and a couple of SAS drives with 8Gb RAM for £350.  Having some old SAS disks lying around at work, destined for the shredder and some smaller RAM sticks from the G6 memory upgrades at work, I should be able to boost this to around 32Gb and include 4-6 146Gb SAS disks.  My lab plan will be detailed in a following post once the hardware arrives on Monday 29 September.

Should I fail again I’ll be booking in before the year is out to capitalise on the current 25% discount and then go again asap to ensure I pass before 10 March 2015!!  Fingers, toes, arms and legs all crossed.