VCAP 6.5 DCV – Design

A couple of weeks ago I sat the VMware VCAP 6.5 DCV – Design exam as part of the process of completing the prerequisites for submitting for VCDX.  I don’t have a lot of insight to add beyond the excellent post by vHersey.  I did want to jot a few notes to help relieve the dearth of information out there on this exam.

The things that really stood out to me:

  • Read the questions carefully
  • Practice, practice, practice identifying RCARs
  • Understand the difference between functional and non-functional requirements
  • On several questions it was easy to eliminate answers simply by being able to identify technical non-starters

Beyond that – manage your time well.  Overall I found the exam to be much less technical than the VCP 6.5 DCV exam, but the VCAP 6.5 DCV – Design was significantly more intense as I felt the devil was in the details of many of the questions and answers.

Hopefully the 6.5 Deploy exam will be released shortly so I can say on track for my submission goal date.

 

Let’s Build an image pipeline! (part 2)

Sorry for the delay in getting part two published, life had been busy the past week or so.  Today we are going to build upon what we covered in part one, namely the pieces of the code and/or things you need to adapt about the packer template file for it to be functional for your environment.

This is the second post of a planned 4 part series:

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Let’s Build an image pipeline! (part 1.5)

As I was working on part two of this planned four part series about packer, I realized I forgot a crucial step in setting up Jenkins!  Due to part of our pipeline including deployment to an artifact repository and a vSphere environment, we need to create some credentials within Jenkins.  I have also created a friendly link to all parts of this walk through.  I will retroactively edit the links as the posts are written.

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Let’s Build an image pipeline! (part 1)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodhead/

Imagine a world where the next meltdown level vulnerability is announced and you have to patch your image 5 minutes ago. You  calmly run a script to force approve patches in your patch manager  and 45 minutes later the base template you deploy from in vSphere is updated and all new machines are based on the new image, all while you drink coffee and play the Block Game.  Sounds pretty cool right?  It’s definitely better than the old school way of:

  • Installing Windows or Linux to a new virtual machine
  • Performing your organizations steps to customize it
  • Install patches
  • Stage the system for customization
  • Shut it down
  • Mark it as a template
  • etc
  • etc

While the steps may very slightly depending on the exact platform you are leveraging: Linux, Windows, KVM, Azure.  Or maybe you’ve scripted some of the steps.  No matter where your process stands, at the end of the day this activity is a huge time suck, a huge potential for mistakes, and in no way contributes to a cloud way of working, which results in your platform looking like a pretty poor option to those desiring to do “cloud first.”  Not only that, how can you prove to yourself or auditors that a given image is properly built according to defined standards and controls?

There are potentially many tools out there to help automate the image build process, and like many things in life; some are better than others.  I’m about to walk you through the recipe I settled on and I think is best.  Your mileage may vary.
This is the second post of a planned 4 part series:

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VCDX – my kind of stupid

vcdx

I have always been one to pick stupid goals and then make it happen, fortunately for me as I’ve progressed in life from childhood to adulthood I actually learned that when you set an outlandish goal, you probably need to do things bordering on outlandish to accomplish them.

After gaining my MCSE 2003 certification, I pretty much swore off certifications.  To much work, not enough reward, etc, etc.  Then over the last 18 months or so at work I have had the fortunate opportunity to play a significant role in some incredibly awesome efforts: Always-on Horizon implementation, and SDDC/Automation PoC, and the design and implementation of a full on SDDC.  While shooting the breeze with a co-worker numerous times throughout this period we have discussed that much of the work we have executed for these efforts would make a hell of a VCDX design submission – for the track of our choice.

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Blog 2.0

A log time ago, in a place not very far a way, I had an irregularly updated blog dedicated to tech stuff that I encountered at work and in my lab, which I unfortunately abandoned (the blog). Recently work has gotten exciting and at the same time I’ve been “forced” to rebuild my home lab, resulting in me deciding to revive said blog.

This is the story of that adventure.  There will be stories of intrigue, heartbreak, and magic involving dragons, progress bars, Nutanix, vSAN, NSX, Openstack, vRA, and lots of other buzzwords.

Enjoy.

Accountability

An important aspect about the SAFe framework, which I talked about a little last time, is accountability.  Namely, holding yourself accountable for accomplishing the things you have committed to.  This is done by defining clear acceptance criteria around that commitment.  The acceptance criteria describes why you are doing something, what you are doing, and what the end result of that will be.

Three weeks ago, I stated that the first thing I needed to correct was my bike fit and return me to a state where I am comfortable, confident, and that I have faith in my fit; all with a target date of the end of October.

Now that it’s November 4th, the important question is, did I do it?  Yes, thanks to Todd at TTbikefit, things are in a much better place.  I think there is still a bit of work to do in terms of me adapting to the position and revisiting it after some rides on the road, but we made a few surprisingly simple changes and things are now back to a position I feel comfortable and happy with.  It will be interesting to see how it progresses as I ramp things up over the next week or two after I end the break period this weekend with a 50k trail run.

So what’s the next step of action am I taking?  Much like last time, it’s pretty straight forward, primarily a return to normal training after a pretty relaxed 4 weeks post Kona.  So 3/4 swims per week, 6/7 runs per week, and 4 rides per week.  I am planning to focus pretty strongly on the bike with the goal of getting adapted to the position and making some gains in specific areas on the bike.  I’m going to focus on three key bike workouts most weeks, with running being nothing but easy running, and a typical swim program.

I am looking to judge myself not by absolute gains, but by my ability to execute those three key workouts each week, using the gains I’m looking for as not the success/failure point but as a light house guiding the way and using it and the calendar to tell me when it’s time to change focus.  Process, not outcome.

At this point there is not a need to do more than simply run, as while my running wasn’t “on” this year, it’s in my body, and a stronger bike will lead to a stronger run, regardless of absolute run fitness.  The primary target is 23 months away, so there is no pressing need to try to kill all the required birds with the first handful of stones.

Inspect and Adapt

“Fuckity fuck fuck.”

“This is such a disappointment.”

“I need to get off this bike.”

“I need a hug.”

These are all words that have come out of my mouth in the last 36 hours or so.  All of them the result of Ironman Hawaii and my poor performance.  I don’t want to dwell more than a paragraph or two on Kona;  If it isn’t obvious, I sucked.  Badly.

i-sucked

The race had three redeeming qualities

  • My swim wasn’t horrible, perhaps not quite what I was hoping for but squarely in the acceptable category.
  • It wasn’t a personal worst time.
  • I got to hang out with Ben Meer a lot.

Now that the pity party is out of the way, let’s get my hands dirty and go back to the subject of this post – Inspect and Adapt.  What am I talking about?  Inspect and Adapt, I&A, is a mechanism of the SAFe framework. Which is an exceptionally buzzword filled method for accomplishing things effectively in a modern Information Technology workspace.  It boils down to breaking larger projects/efforts (features) that can be completed in a “Program Increment” into smaller components that can be delivered in full at the end of each “iteration” of the Program Increment.  A typical duration of an iteration is two weeks, and a program increment could be twelve weeks.  During each iteration you partake in mid-block reviews and retrospectives.  The focus is on accomplishing the work you commit to and minimizing outside interference.  I&A comes at the end of each program increment where you review what worked, what didn’t, and make adjustments to your program to improve it and go at it again.

Now that I’ve totally lost you, I’ll stop the buzzword bingo.  Hopefully, some of those things I described trigger the words planning and periodization to pop into your head.  The number one goal of SAFe is to enable organizations to deliver expected, desired, and valuable outcomes in a predictable and cost effective fashion.  The same is true of periodization, and the associated planning process for training.

So back to Kona: I sucked. Again. I put in the work. Again. I didn’t get the outcome I expected. Again. Which means something went wrong in the process. (Again.)  What went wrong?

I am going to chalk it up to one thing:  riding the trainer too much.  Not for the usual reason that I don’t feel comfortable in the wind (I do), or I’m a panzie on downhills (I am), but simply that the bike fits differently on the trainer than it does on the road.   Most likely resulting from me setting my fit to be comfortable on the trainer, without frequent enough or long enough outdoor sessions to provide WTF feedback.

The hot spots on both my feet from last minute new shoes (not by choice), and my inability to tolerate my position on my bike led to me being just miserable.  And unwound my day.

Aside from Kona, I am really tired of my inability to deliver consistent performances.

I have been the top amateur at WTC events.  Twice.

I have gained eligibility for a USAT elite membership.  Three times.

I have finished high enough, at the right races, to earn a Kona slot. Eight times.

I should not consider 4:28 a good day.

I should not finish 44th in my division at USAT Nationals.

I should be ashamed I can’t qualify for 70.3 Worlds when that is the reason for putting my wife and child through ~22 hours of driving.

I am sick of the trend line going in the wrong direction, with a year or two between upticks.

I bitch and moan a lot on this blog interspersed with thoughtful and helpful posts, and to share stories of my success.  For better or worse a lot of those whiny blog posts center around a lot of similar things: Wah I suck or wah my bike fit sucks (I didn’t do a through review so there could be lots of other WAHs out there). With a lot of fluffy talk, then usually with a performance good enough to forestall serious action.

I need to fix these two problems, because not enjoying my bike and not having fun are killing my enthusiasm for the sport and are resulting in me questioning if putting my family through the stress of training for anything less than what I am capable of is worth it.  Both my family and myself do not deserve outcomes like yesterday for the effort we have put into it over the past year.  If I can’t do my family and myself justice come race day, I need to search elsewhere for self-validation.

Shit or get off the pot.  At 37 I have only a handful of years, if any to maximize my racing before it starts to taper off despite what I wish.

The first order of business is to fix my fit.  I’m going to set a goal of making this happen by the end of the month.  That gives me two weeks after I get back from Hawaii to get myself to someone and do something about it.  Most importantly I am giving myself a hard deadline to do something, with a short enough target window that I can’t have some lucky coincidence leave me thinking action doesn’t need to be taken or it can be delayed.  Accountability.

After that we will have to inspect and adapt to fix the consistency of performance issue; Weighted Shorted Jobs First.

Last Call

IMAZ Finish

Despite having been an athlete for 25 plus years, having experienced upwards of 35 maybe 40 tapers (and their associated prep), I have yet to encounter one that fits a mold.  Some I feel awesome all the way through.  Others have left me in tear filled despair part way through, only to be redeemed with an unexpectedly grand performance at the end.  And still others feel good in the middle only to fizzle to disappointment come race day.

From a pure metric perspective the key workouts of this prep and taper were not confidence inspiring and left me sitting on the plane to Hawaii doodling some notes about just wanting to have a positive experience, pondering the meaning of triathlon and the pursuit of crazy goals, and if I actually was capable of achieving those goals before the cruel hand of time forces me to revise my goals.

Then a few interesting things happened – in no particular order:

  • I got sick
  • I had an incredibly disastrous workout
  • I had some great workouts
  • I relaxed and did a lot of thinking

The last few trips to Kona, I’ve attempted to do my last “long” ride on Sunday morning, after arriving on Saturday.  I’ve done this mostly out of a desire to ride my bike in Hawaii, and only partly out of a desire to get that last workout in.  This has usually served me well, but this year I ended up limping home seriously dehydrated, more so than I can recall in a long time.

What really stood out about that experience was how difficult it was to produce power on the bike and how miserable I felt.  This coincided into relaxing and thinking about my last race in Kona and the follow-up in Texas, where I had issues on the tail of the bike sustaining power and had really rough runs.  Perhaps my issue wasn’t one of fitness, but simply not staying hydrated enough.  Both in an absolute sense and a sense to allow me to process my calories.

I arrived at this line of thinking after thinking about past IM performances and the key workouts leading into them.  What I observed in an absolute sense is that I’ve been able to average 230 watts on the bike (and run well) with key long rides having 4 hour powers in the range 200 watts to 245 watts, leading me to the conclusion that much like the difference between Elkhart Lake (terrible) and IMCDA 70.3 (solid) two weeks later that my fitness has not been noticable different between my Ironman races for the last several years, the difference is likely to solely lay in mental and physical execution.

After recovering from my dehydration episode I had some solid workouts, including a swim with some simulated race starts where I was trying to slow down yet swim the 100 + 400 significantly faster than I have in the past.  Additionally, some comfortable and fun bikes/runs took place.  All of which leaves me feeling content.

Finally, on Tuesday I started to feel the beginnings of a cold that I got from my lovely daughter, forcing me to rest more and get a lot of sleep in an effort to get it cleared out by Saturday morning, which it is looking like it will.  Even if it isn’t completely cleared out I’ve done hard workouts feeling worse, and I feel better than I did on race day in 2012.

All in all I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the opportunity to race and execute a strong race.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program

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I started off writing this post yesterday.  A day where I showed up at the YMCA – at zero-dark AM – to swim indoors for the first time in weeks, only to find the pool closed for some maintenance issue, leading me to toss on my running clothes and do my hard run for the week, with the plan of finding a different pool to head to in the afternoon.  That run was a total fizzle, one of those workouts that leaves you questioning yourself.  “How could I not make this run today, when several weeks ago I ran the same target pace, for nearly twice as much cumulative time?”  Am I doing too much?  Am I sick?  Should I back off of some workouts?  All of those thoughts plowing through my head, triggering a massive FUD cycle, and the beginnings of a whiny, woe is me blog post full of the usual drivel:

  • My bike fit is pissing me off
  • My run form sucks, and my glutes aren’t engaging
  • My long rides have been sucking ass
  • I had a good race at CDA 70.3 but everthing else has been pretty crappy
  • Waaaaah
  • Waaaaah
  • Waaaaah

Real life (work) then kicked in and the day proceeded to keep me really busy. Once that business was done I dragged my sorry ass to the pool, where I proceeded to destroy the planned set for the day.  This being completely unexpected, I was smugly glad that I didn’t skip or shorten the swim, until I saw the text from my wife wondering if I was going to be home in time for her to make her PT appointment. 45 minutes after her appointment. Whoops.

I went home did my night time stuff, went to bed, woke up and proceeded to execute the planned workouts for today pretty much like I would have wanted to in a perfect world.

Which leaves me sitting here 36 hours after a fizzled workout realizing, what I’m not quite sure, but knowing that I narrowly averted an implosion of my confidence and a likely unneeded course correction just one month out from my target.  I know where that path goes and it’s pretty guaranteed to not get me where I want to go.  Back to your previously unfuckwithable program.

All that said – I did want to post a quick summary of the season to date.  I did a pretty miserable job of preparing myself for the Triple T this year, and I more or less made my way through it in training event and family vacation fashion.  This left me with a good deal of fitness and form a few weeks later at IM CDA 70.3, where I turned in a very solid performance.  A good swim, a solid run, and while a solid bike power wise, it was a pretty slow split.  I blame some unwise tweaks to my bike fit, which negatively impacted my aeroness. Being 10 pounds over a healthy race weight didn’t help me out at all, but it was a good race, and comparing it to IM Racine 70.3 the year prior with both having relatively close timing to the target race of the year things seemed to be good.

On to Racine, well that just a bad day.  While I had intended to do the race for a long period of time prior to the race, I didn’t register until only a week or three prior, putting me in the nose bleed bib numbers.  Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal.  Then they cancelled the swim and sent us out in time trial format on the bike.  By bib number.  I suspected it would be interesting, and it was.  In fact it was downright crazy and dangerous.  I checked out mentally around mile 8 or so (of 30) on the bike when I saw James Burke heading back towards transition, nearly done with the bike – completely by himself – safe with no congestion, while I weaved and dodged my way through 30 miles of oblivious riders.  I told myself that he and others in my age group were experiencing completely different races than I was and there was no way I would be able to have a level field against them.  Not only that, I wanted to survive the bike ride.  So I checked out.  Lesson learned – register for races you intend to do.  Early.

And that is pretty all that is worth mentioning about races.

The prep for Hawaii is going well.  While there have been a few exceptions things have been falling into place pretty well.  Swimming gets an A+.  Cycling is a solid B, and my run is probably a B+ right now, but each week things keep coming together and trending in the right direction, I’m confident that barring any set backs, I’ll arrive at Race Day with things being a A+, A-, A.  Pair that fitness and form with solid execution and the result should be grand.