I’ve just completed a MOOC and earned a Virtual badge

emc-educated-modern-data-center

I’ve just completed a MOOC on Exploring the Modern Data Center from EMC. What is a MOOC I hear you shout well it’s apparently a Massive Open Online Course, and the open bit means it’s free.

The course is available to anyone with internet access, Conducted over a six-week period, the course will require Students to invest approximately two to three hours of work per week.

Sutdents will be engaged through a blend of online content in the form of educational videos, recorded whiteboards, documents, and assessments. Students will also have opportunities to interact with others and learn through group discussions.

This was released as a 6 week course, and I enrolled right at the start on the 19th of July, and each week there was a new topic, each week took me about 2 hours of watching videos from various sources at EMC to cover the subject, so a little bit of marketing videos and some more technical ones.

The course covered the following topics.

  • Week 1: Introduction to Modern Data Center
  • Week 2: Technologies of Modernized Infrastructure: Flash and Scale-out Storage
  • Week 3: Technologies of Modernized Infrastructure: Software-defined and Cloud-enabled systems
  • Week 4: Technologies of Modernized Infrastructure: Trust
  • Week 5: Technologies of Modernized Infrastructure: Automation
  • Week 6: Transformation of People & Process, and Next Steps

I will say that this wasn’t a really full on technical course so if you’re starting out in IT and want to get in to storage and cloud systems you could do a lot worse than take this course, it’s still available to sign up for it here.

For more information I recommend you watch this 4 minute video:

There is a small test at the end of the course which is online and free but more importantly one of the rewards for completing this course and passing the exam, is you get a digital badge, now again what is a digital badge I hear you shout, well a digital badge is a new way to recognize your earned knowledge, skills, and certifications and share them online with verification.

Initially I was quite excited about this concept it certainly appears to be a way of linking all those certifications you earn in one place. You can take a look at someone’s public profile and immediately get a look at the badges and therefore the qualifications they have, and by clicking on the badge learn more about want that badge was awarded for and even where you need to go for more information.

The badge for the MOOC is managed by a badge vendor Acclaim and I was pleasantly surprised to see this is a part of Pearson who we all know have been managing our IT Technical exams for a while. Now EMC and I know VMware (thought Cloudcred) are looking at using badges from Acclaim so I thought that there was a chance that there would be a true unification of the certifications that we own.

Since looking in to this I have discovered that there is even an open badge standard which although hosted by Mozilla, they are keen to say is not proprietary, and an open technical standard any organization can use to create, issue and verify digital badges. However further research would appear to tell me that Acclaim badges are not truly open badges and now it would appear that Microsoft are also going to be using badges, however I think they are also going to be a proprietary, so I’m a little concerned that we are just going to end up with vender portals for each of our badges but only time will tell. If you want to see my Acclaim profile then click here.

For more information on Acclaim badges please take a look at this two minute video:

For more information please see the following links:

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Nutanix Platform Professional (NPP)

NPP

This week I passed my newest Certification the Nutanix Platform Professional (NPP) certification, this is the Nutanix entry level qualification the others being:

  • The Nutanix Platform Professional (NPP) certification confirms your ability to install, configure, and manage the Nutanix environment.
  • The Nutanix Support Specialist (NSS) certification verifies the skills necessary to provide Level 1 & 2 support for a Nutanix cluster.
  • The Nutanix Platform Expert (NPX) certification is a peer-vetted, hypervisor agnostic certification designed for veteran solution engineers.

More Information on Nutanix Certification can be found here

To prepare for the exam you can attend a 2 day course or there is an Online course available at the education portal rather snappily called Nuschool

Nuschool

Which Nutanix Superhero are you?

Unfortunately you need to be either a customer or partner to get access to the course for free, or I believe there is a charge of $500.00, luckily for me my company now has a couple of Nutanix Blocks so I was able to get access to the course through my account team.

There are three modules for the course:

  • Architecture, Platforms and Management
  • Installation, Configuration and Maintenance
  • Monitoring, Troubleshooting and Data Protection

Nuschoolcourse

I found the course to be well structured and enjoyed working through it. Through the practice questions at the end of each module I learnt that the moment you select an answer it’s instantly marked. So no chance of any doubt or mouse issues here. By the time I took the exam I was well prepared for this subtlety.

Andrew Nash_NPP Certification Exam (4.5)_Certificate

Personally I’m very impressed by the offerings from Nutanix, I find that the Nutanix system is a good offering in the HCI (Hyper converged Infrastructure) sector and coupled with their own Acropolis Hypervisor I see them as only growing in this sector and potentially wooing a few customers who have expensive or Legacy hardware. The potential ability to use their own Acropolis Hypervisor  surely has a big future ahead of it as they grow and mature the product.

Is this the Cheapest VCP Course available.

Over the last 6 weeks I have been completing the Stanly University, VMware 5.5 Install, Config and Manage course. This course is distance learning course covering the requirements of the VCP exam. Importantly this is a VMware sanctioned course as part of the VMware IT Academy, meaning that it qualifies you for the Attending the course part of the VCP. More information can be found on their web site here

vmware IT Academy

There is a wait list for the course as it basically runs in terms. I registered on the 1st of September and on the 6th of October received an offer to sign up for the October session starting on the 27th of October and ending on the 15th of December so a 7 week course. So if you are considering the Stanly course I would strongly recommend that you get on the wait list ASAP, it’s not a commitment you can skip the dates if you can’t do it and apply for the next session.

The Cost is the biggest attraction to this course as its basically cost $185.00 so for me £121.25

After that I received a logon to the Stanly Moodle site, and was able to start working through the course at the rate of 2 chapters a week. Each week taking between 5 to 10 hours to complete. The Moodle course was well structured with between 1 and 5 videos presentations to watch per chapter, with a companion web site running the Labs,

module1.1

module1.2

module1.3

To successfully complete the course you must complete all required quizzes, maintain active status in your course, and complete a minimum of 18 Labs (completing all 22 labs is highly recommended). Whilst there is no official timetable you could for instance work hard and complete it all in couple of weeks. There was a warning stating “Please do not wait until the last minute to do your labs for the VMware course!” so I would strongly advise not to put it off and try to keep to the official schedule.

Having already read most of the official VMpress VCP5-DCV Official Certification Guide by Bill Furguson I Personally think that the Stanly course left out a few of the exam objectives listed in the Latest Exam Blueprint, in particular Distributed Switches were not covered, but then I am expecting to complete further studies to pass this exam, and given the cost I will forgive this oversight.

vcp book

The Labs I will say were very good, whilst they weren’t VMware HOLs, they were run on a NDG NetLAB + platform. More information can be found on their web site here

The labs were built with 2 ESXi servers, some shared storage, a VCSA and a Ubunto desktop. As the client runs on a Ubuntu desktop it forces you to use the Web client for all tasks which has now greatly improved my confidence with this interface as it’s all too easy to drop back to the traditional vSphere C# client

vmware_icm_pod

Lab Topology

After successfully completing the VMware course through Stanly Community College, you are eligible to access the Stanly VMware Store which grants you the opportunity for free software and a 70% exam discount voucher code. This now brings the cost of the exam down for me from £162 to £48.60

Whilst we are talking about the exam it would appear that the exam discount for the VMware IT Academy is applied to a special exam, VCP550PSE which stands for Proctored Exam so if you have already taken VCP550 it won’t count towards your VCP for this course.

The store lets you download VMware software for free (with one year licenses) such as vSphere 5 and 6, VMware Workstation 12, and Fusion.

stanly vmware store

Additionally being a Stanly student gives you access to the Microsoft DreamSpark program. DreamSpark is all about giving students Microsoft professional-level developer and designer tools at no cost so that students can chase their dreams and create the next big breakthrough in technology or just get a head start on their career, More information can be found on their web site here So I can also access the latest Microsoft professional developer tools at no-cost, including:

  • Microsoft Azure cloud services (no credit card required)
  • Visual Studio Community 2015
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition
  • DreamSpark also get me an access Key to Pluralsight for 90 days

So was it worth it, well yes lets just summarise what I got for my outlay of $185.00

  • A VCP qualifying course
  • Access to VMware software and Licenses from the VMware Academic Program
  • Access to the Microsoft DreamSpark program
  • Access to Pluralsight for 90 days
  • 70% of the VCP exam.

So my next few weeks will hopefully be spent studying for the VCP exam, I’ve already been building / upgrading my home lab and now its up and running so I now have no excuse to get my head down.

AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Professional

AW-EMP

So as I found myself with not a lot to do between Christmas and New Year, I thought I would pull my finger out and complete the studying for my next AirWatch certification the AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Professional.
As I commented when I passed the Associate exam, the Professional requires study in 16 modules. So imaging my delight when reviewing the Study guide from AirWatch (on my links page) that there were no questions on VMware Identity Manager and Socialcast, so that removed two modules from my studying.

  • AirWatch Cloud Connector
  • Integration with Directory Services
  • Securing Mobile Devices with Certificates
  • AirWatch Mobile Access Gateway
  • Enrollment Options for Mobile Device Management
  • Creating Web, Application and Device Kiosks
  • Deploying a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program
  • Reporting, Analytics and Telecom Management
  • AirWatch Secure Email Gateway
  • Apple Volume Purchase Program: Apps and iBooks
  • VMware Identity Manager
  • AirWatch AppShield
  • AirWatch Content Locker Collaborate
  • Advanced Content Settings and Security
  • Socialcast
  • Laptop Management

So after watching the 14 video training modules on  my.airwatch I decided to take the exam , now the exam like the associate exam is also completed on line at my.airwatch The exam is made up of 45 questions to be taken in 90 minutes the pass mark is 70%. I will say that boy that time flies by, these questions are not that straightforward and I found myself almost taking the 2 minutes per question to just read and process some of the longer questions. Still I was presently surprised when after 89 minutes I managed to pass with 78%

I will say that the exam appeared to be heavily focused on Content Locker and Enrollment Options so in hindsight I would of liked to go through both of those modules in greater detail and I would encourage anyone else thinking of taking this particular exam to do the same.

As per other certifications you can logon and download your certificates, logos ect from my.airwatch

professional cert
There is also a handy link which can be used to verify the accreditation so I guess this would be for prospective employers to confirm your status. so check out my airwatch accreditations here

One point to finally mention is that the certification is only valid for a year and AirWatch encourage you to update your accreditation as new versions of the AirWatch solution become available. As I’m currently certified on the latest version 8.2 I will have to wait for a new version to be released and see how the upgrade exams work. Whether they are a full exam again or just an incremental exam, will I need to take both associate and professional exams and are there any costs are all questions I don’t know the answer to at the moment so if anyone can tell me please get in touch.

So what’s next for me and AirWatch well that’s it’s from an certification point of view, pending any upgrade exams so my next challenge is to put the training in to practice and build a production environment for my employer.

AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Associate

Following on from attending the AirWatch Connect Event in London last month, I have just passed my AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Associate Exam, my first AirWatch Certification. By attending the conference certification workshop I am eligible to take both the Associate and Professional exam within 45 days of attending the event so one down and one to go.

AW-EMA

AirWatch Training can be found at https://my.air-watch.com/ where I believe anyone can register for an account, however from my experience AirWatch training appears to be only available to customers or AirWatch partners as you need to have the AirWatch Academy available in the AirWatch portal.

Information on AirWatch training and certification can be found at http://www.air-watch.com/services/training/ There are three levels of certification, Associate, Professional and Expert.

  • AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Associate: This accreditation will prove you understand the fundamentals of device, email, application, and content management and broaden your experience with the AirWatch console and mobile security.
  • AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Professional: The Enterprise Mobility Professional accreditation identifies you as a leader with the skills necessary to meet most of today’s challenges around device management, mobile email, mobile applications and more.
  • AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Expert: By becoming an AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Expert, you will prove your expertise of not only the AirWatch solutions, but also installation and deployment architectures, enabling your organization to install and upgrade the admin console and associated solutions. This is designed for people who use the On Premise edition of AirWatch.

By logging on to my.air-watch and entering the Academy you will find a number of online Video courses to watch which I found to be very good and there are now even Labs available utilising the familiar VMware HOL engine something that I guess has come out of the merger of VMware and AirWatch training departments. You will need your own mobile device so I recomend that you have a spare device to use that you can reset again once you have finished the lab. The training options are well laid out and structured, allowing you to even log off and back on again and pick up the video course from where you left it.

airwatch labs

Does this interface look familiar!

For the Associate track there are 6 courses to take totalling around 7 hours of video and 5 hours of labs.

  • Introduction to AirWatch
  • Mobile Device Management Fundamentals
  • Mobile Email Management Fundamentals
  • Mobile Application Management Fundamentals
  • Mobile Content Management Fundamentals
  • Platforms: Managing iOS, Android, & Windows Phone

I must confess that after siting through the certification Workshop by Dor Zakai at AirWatch Connect and then running through the courses again I was quite confident. But then you start to realise about all the things you don’t do with AirWatch. My organisation is trialling AirWatch at the moment and we have configured mainly Email, some basic lockdown and browsing on a few apple iPads and android phones. So there was a vast amount of content that I have never implemented, so content locker, or any MacBook, Windows devices and yes the are questions on all this and more.

The exam is made up of 45 questions to be taken in 90 minutes the pass mark is 70% I must admit that about half way through I wasn’t confident at getting that 70% so was presently surprised to see that I had passed with a score of 84%.

exam pass

So next is the AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Professional exam, I now have 16 modules to work through so around 12 hours of Video plus labs. Some of these I have experience of I should be able to cover quite quickly other will be new to me. I will update the Blog once I have hopefully passed this exam.

  • AirWatch Cloud Connector
  • Integration with Directory Services
  • Securing Mobile Devices with Certificates
  • AirWatch Mobile Access Gateway
  • Enrollment Options for Mobile Device Management
  • Creating Web, Application and Device Kiosks
  • Deploying a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program
  • Reporting, Analytics and Telecom Management
  • AirWatch Secure Email Gateway
  • Apple Volume Purchase Program: Apps and iBooks
  • VMware Identity Manager
  • AirWatch AppShield
  • AirWatch Content Locker Collaborate
  • Advanced Content Settings and Security
  • Socialcast
  • Laptop Management

VMworld and VMware Certified Professional 5 Exam

I’ve decided as I’m off to VMworld that I will give the VCP5-DCV exam a go. Given that there is a massive discount of 50% available and this can be combined with a VMUG discount it’s a no brainer, I was able to get the exam for £46.46 as opposed to a UK retail cost of £162.00.

I’ve brought the VMpress VCP5-DCV Official Certification Guide by Bill Furguson to help me prepare and I have all the CloudCred DCV tasks to help me through the blueprint.vcp book

So the exam is booked at Barcelona and the book has arrived so I now have three weeks to study so I better get on and pull my finger out if I’m to stand a chance of passing.

VMware Certified Associate – Network Virtualization (VCA-NV)

Following on my VCA quest I can report that I have passed VCA number 5 VCA-NV. This is basically all about VMware NSX. I know the exam and certification is being retired soon (November the 30th) but this is the last of the Version 5 VCA’s to complete my set of 4.

As per the previous VCA’s I ran through VMware Network Virtualization Fundamentals which although is supposed to take 3 hours I spent a great deal more time taking notes. I must say I have found this the hardest to date but maybe that’s because of the lack of networking skills on my CV. I set about some pre exam revision using my notes and the excellent resource I found online (Here) from Dean L @saintdle so many thanks Dean. I was able to pass the exam with a score of 360 (The pass mark is 300) which I was very happy about.

I’m going to move on and take the Version 6 exam (VCA6-NV) in the next few days as the study element is the same CBT course VMware Network Virtualization Fundamentals.