Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to speak with Ross Wynne, a Technical Architect Consultant who works at one of VMware’s Premier Partners, Triangle Computer Services in Ireland.
Over the years, Ross has built skills and continued professional training through a variety of VMware educational and certification programs. Today, Ross offers consulting services to UK & Ireland-based VMware clients working across multiple products and services, including VMware vSphere®, VMware vRealize® Orchestrator™, VMware vCloud®, and VMware NSX®.
In the following interview, Ross offers his experience and insights into the value of getting – and remaining – certified with VMware.
Why is it important for people to continue building skills and training, particularly with VMware?
One thing is that the market and technology is constantly changing. That means that as a professional, it’s necessary to stay up-to-date, informed, knowledgeable about what’s new and what’s changing. A major benefit of doing a course with VMware is that you not only get outstanding, in-depth training in a particular product, but you also get the opportunity to test for a certification proving your knowledge.
What’s the value of getting certifications?
I can probably answer this best through my own experience. To date, I’ve passed about 20 different certifications with VMware. I did my first one — a VCP3 [VMware Certified Professional 3] — in May of 2009. Up to that point, I had a couple of years of job experience, but I didn’t have a way to validate my knowledge. From a career perspective, getting this certification was completely life-changing. Within a month of receiving my certification, I had a very attractive offer for a new job. This was due to the recruiter being able to simply search for VCP holders in Ireland and know that I met a particular set standard for the role that they were looking for. Beyond this, though, I had much more confidence in my knowledge when contributing to solutions within a team.
The reality is, you can say that you’re an expert in your field, but simply saying you’re an expert in something doesn’t amount to much on a CV or in an interview. What a certification does is it validates your experience to prospective employers. By definition, it creates a minimum standard by which an employer can assess your skills.
What’s your experience been like taking courses with VMware?
For me, I’ve had really enjoyable experiences taking VMware courses. There are a few different types of courses for beginning, middle, and advanced knowledge. One of the best things about the courses is that you can start off with the free online Foundation courses which you can take from the comfort of your own home or office when time allows. But when you are a bit more serious about your learning, there are whole host of excellent classroom courses. These classes have the added benefit of direct access to experts — course teachers who really know their stuff. You get the opportunity to have all of your questions answered, and then bring back what you learn to your company or employer. Additionally, VMware courses are a great networking opportunity. With the classroom courses, you get to spend time doing deep dives and sharing knowledge with peers who are as passionate as you are.
How important is it to renew your certification?
Keeping your certifications up-to-date is important because it proves that you still know what you’re talking about and are current in the market. New and updated technology stacks come along every few years, and while there are similarities between versions, there are always new features that can improve your day-to-day working life. Keeping your certification up to date proves that you know how to upgrade, fix, deploy, and manage whatever changes have come along. There was a point when I let one of my certifications expire. I was applying to a job, and it’s likely that I was well-qualified, but because my certification wasn’t up-to-date, there was no way I could prove that I had the knowledge compared to other candidates.
VMware has made it really easy for people to renew certifications. If your certification is expiring, instead of taking another course for the latest upgrades, you can just go and sit a VCP exam in the same track or a different track. Better yet, you can challenge yourself with a VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) exam. The VCAP exams are tough, but immensely satisfying when you pass!
Of the courses you’ve taken, which one stands out to you as a favorite?
I would definitely have to say that my favorite learning experience was the brilliantly titled NSX Ninja Course (aka, NSX Design & Deploy). During that course, we focused exclusively on network design. For me, it was exciting to meet so many likeminded people, get feedback on my thinking, and get to see how other people approached the same challenges. It was great to interact with people who were at a similar level and to geek out together on tech that we all get so excited about.
Click HERE for more information on the recertification process. To hear more from Ross, follow him on Twitter: @RossWynne.
Richard O’Brien – Technical director, Triangle Computer Services
VENDORS & THE CLOUD
The most difficult thing from a traditional business partner perspective is that most cloud vendors have a publicly published price list, so you have a defined percentage margin that increases with the larger volume of cloud you sell. In the past vendors sold you the hardware, storage and software, now they sell it as a service and expect you to build a service on top of that.
We see the consulting process in front of migration to cloud as an opportunity, along with the ongoing management. Most vendors support the partner staying between them and the customer. The partner stays engaged because of its local knowledge but has to find somewhere else to get the margin. The base offering is very clearly defined so there’s a lot less flexibility, which means it’s in the partner’s interest to add and wrap services around it.
For example, there are a unique set of requirements around DR (disaster recovery). A vendor can come up with a generic solution but it still needs local engagement with the customer to deliver the full stack.
Fairness in terms of arbitrating when dealing with a cloud provider is important. Recently I was at an event where a small customer asked ‘’what clout do I have with the provider?’’.
A business partner has a consolidated view of customers, so you have a bit more leverage, especially if you know how easy it is to move your customers between clouds. Partners can provide a multi-cloud portfolio with the tools to help customers move quickly.
Distributors are being proactive in this space in offering portals and configurations tools. They’re taking on a consolidating role with a one stop shop to what a cloud solution might look like that covers all the moving parts from a pricing perspective.
When it comes to managing cloud business, some distributors have been quite proactive in supporting partners. They give you a drop down menu where you can see four or five different providers, look at the price per virtual machine, location, bandwidth and I will give you a bottom line price.
But it’s not about the initial cloud footprint, it’s about growing that and adding extra capacity and solutions.
There are a number of significant changes to the storage market that organisations must take into account when deploying solutions. There are currently a proliferation of vendors providing solutions ranging from ‘’white box’’ based systems to the traditional big iron. We have seen in the market a number of the niche players balance sheets struggling to deliver profits. In additional there have been a number of mergers and acquisitions, the highest profile one is the potential EMC/Dell deal. What organisations must measure as part of any solutions is the expected longevity of a potential vendor and the vendor’s products
There is a movement towards Software Defined everything. Storage is no different here, separating the cost of storage into hardware and software enables organisations to significantly reduce the TOC of their storage platform.
Day 1 costs are similar, however, when a refresh is required, organisations now have the storage software. Software Designed Storage has, in the past, been perceived as a platform for low data clue platforms. However, with IBM delivering the Spectrum storage family line and
‘’Separating the cost of storage into hardware and software enables organisations to significantly reduce the TOC of their storage platform’’.
Almac is a contract research organization headquartered in Craigavon, Northern Ireland. The company provides the most comprehensive range of services extending from research through pharmaceutical and clinical development to commercialisation of product. Over 600 companies worldwide, including all the market leaders, use Almac’s services, testament itself to the quality, innovation and efficiency of the business over the past 30 years. Almac employs over 3,300 worldwide, xx in Craigavon. Almac has implemented interactive technology in support of clinical trials.
“We provide clinical trials for our clients that explore whether a medical strategy, drug or treatment is safe and effective,” explains Andy Hillis, Group Head of IS at Almac. “The purpose of clinical trials is research so the studies follow strict scientific standards. We needed a new technology architecture that would allow us to deliver our specialised application reliably and quickly.”
Almac had developed a new version of its clinical trials test study application and wanted to implement and leverage the automation capabilities of its virtualized infrastructure. Almac selected Triangle because of the company’s premier partnership with VMware, its expertise in the Dev Ops and Automation area and reputation in the marketplace for successful engagements with other clients in these areas. Triangle performed the business analysis of the clinical trial test study case application deployment and identified the individual steps and responsibilities required in each part of the process.
Almac chose to deploy VMware vCloud Suite Enterprise for the automation, orchestration and monitoring framework. Triangle automated many of the manual processes involved in creating platforms and applications for clinical trials by implementing VMware’s vRealize Automation solution allowing Almac to introduce Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities for clinical trials of new treatments.
Triangle designed the new architecture and implemented and configured the tools to be used for the automation including VMware vRealize Automation Center, Application Services and vRealize Orchestrator. Triangle also created the required templates for the installs and required workflows to integrate all the components according to the business processes. Almac’s clinical trials application is based on windows .NET, IIS, SQL Server, MSMQ, nService Bus and Raven DB.
“Deployment of clinical trial platforms has been reduced from an average of three weeks to approximately three hours,” adds Andy. “Applications can be deployed, updated or amended in approximately one hour and deployments can be reproduced consistently with massive reduction in the risk of human error.”
“The process of creating a new clinical trial study is now standardized and streamlined and is available as a service in a self-service portal,” concludes Andy. “We have seen great reduction times in deployment of our application and we have reliable, repeatable deployments without human intervention which reduces the possibility of errors.”
The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organisation that provides an extensive range of integrated services globally to companies within the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors. The services range from R&D, biomarker discovery and development, API manufacture, formulation development, clinical trial supply, IXRS technology(IVRS/IXRS) through to commercial-scale manufacture and companion diagnostic development
Only Almac can combine the expertise, from our specialised teams, to provide you with the right service solutions to help you across the full biopharmaceutical product lifecycle, from the preclinical stages through to commercialisation.