Further Lab Enhancements

After the initial post regarding my home lab, not much has changed and to be honest, I’ve not done much with it.  Having passed the VCP I’m deciding whether to keep the vSphere 5.5 setup and work towards VCAP or rebuild with vSphere 6.0!  My current contract is based around 5.5 so that’s a tick in the ‘keep it’ box!  At present, the lab is using a single network alongside my general home devices, so it’s not a true reflection of a live environment as I’ve not got VLAN’s and don’t have any devices capable of internal IP routing without setting up another VM/Physical system to handle that.

Needing to learn Cisco’s IOS since that is the most common network vendor used all contracts I’ve applied/interviewed/accepted, I’ve decided to splash some business cash and procure a layer 3 Cisco switch to help further develop my lab and skills……two birds with one stone so to speak.  I wanted 1Gb capable connectivity on all ports (I’m not just learning for CCNA!), and therefore had to spend a bit more to get it.  Ebay had a few 24x 1Gb port switches and I opted for a 3750G-24TS-S which also comes with 4x SFP ports should I ever need to experiment with that!  It was actually cheaper that the base 3750G-24 switches though so I’m pleased with my purchase.  In all, £275, but I do need to get hold of a Cisco serial cable so perhaps my new client will have one spare!

With this new switch, arriving tomorrow, I’ll be placing it directly behind the BT home-hub and running the entire network from it with IP routing enabled.  I’ll VLAN off the general network (using the existing IP range), storage, vSphere Mgmt, vMotion and Lab networks.  It will be especially useful since I’m currently involved in low-level/system-level design with vSphere and Cisco switch/firewalls.

Planned Training Path

Well, still struggling to get a contract and getting frustrated with agencies at present.  Very few actually call you when you’ve applied and some never get back to you when your CV has been submitted to the client!  I need the feedback to establish why I’m being rejected!  I believe I have a strong enough experience/skill set so maybe I’m too good for the roles I apply for….maybe I don’t have the right experience/skill set!  Either way it’ll be nice to know so I can tailor my CV to suite.

Once I get some contract money coming in through my Ltd company I’ve got a plan for personal training.  To start with, I need to update my VCP and sadly I’ve slacked in revising for the exam due next week because I’m getting a bit down in the dumps for struggling to find work despite trying for at least 6 weeks.  Once my VCP is secured, I was planning on the following:

  • CCNA
  • MCSA Windows Server 2012
  • MCA SQL Server
  • VCP-DT
  • Prince 2
  • ITIL Foundation

I hope that by working on these and passing exams I’ll have a proven record of understanding in all the areas.  Currently I’m going on hands-on experience which, as a recruiter in my time at SSTL, I felt was far more valuable than a piece of paper.  However, the certificate does prove one to be capable of absorbing information and extracting it correctly in a formal examination environment, a personal capability rather than defined technical ability.

I’ve fingers in so many pies at the moment, surely one has to be ready for eating!  I just can’t believe that my CV is not getting me interviews all the time based on the feedback I get about it!

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.