Take Five With Tom Fenton

5 VMware Hands-On Labs You Can't Miss

The best part? They're free to use.

VMware uses VMworld to inform the public about its latest releases and give the public a glimpse of its road map. This year VMworld had more than 23,000 attendees, 240 vendors displaying their wares, and held 450 informative sessions. VMworld attendees also had a chance to work with the latest VMware and partners' technology with hand-on labs (HOLs), and this year the attendees completed more than 9,000 labs.

After VMworld, VMware gradually releases their new HOLs to the public so that it can get experience with the latest VMware technology. The cost to use the HOLs? Free. Simply create an account, and you can begin using the HOLs right away.

As of this writing, VMware has released 18 new labs. Here are the five I'm the most excited about.

1. HOL-SDC-1627 - VVol, Virtual SAN & Storage Policy-Based Management: I thought this lab would be an update to some of the older VVol and vSAN labs. I was wrong. This lab not only covers the basics of VMware's software-defined storage product line, but goes deeper and takes you through using automation, data protection and a new feature in vSphere: vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO). This lab will be beneficial to beginners and advanced users alike.

2. HOL-SDC-1625 - VMware NSX Advanced: NSX is starting to come into its own, and VMworld attendees were talking a lot about NSX this year. Having previously taken "Intro to NSX" (HOL-SDC-1603), I was glad to see this lab show up. To get the full benefit of this lab, I'd suggest taking "Intro to NSX".

3. HOL-MBL-1651 - Advanced Technical Concepts of Horizon 6 from A to Z: If you're more interested in end user computing, and would like to stretch your knowledge, this is the lab for you. Its 10 lab modules cover a lot of ground. From troubleshooting to Linux desktops to sizing Horizon deployments, it should have something for everyone.

4. HOL-CHG-1695 - vSphere 6 Challenge Lab: This lab is a little bit different others, by challenging you to fix common vSphere problems. Being a recovering technical support engineer (Sequent, IBM and VMware), I found this lab very interesting. If you want to get a feel for what it's like to sit on the other end of the support line, I encourage you to take this lab; you may have a little more empathy for tech support after taking it.

5. HOL-SDC-1620 - OpenStack with VMware vSphere and NSX: VMware Integrated OpenStack, which this lab uses, is currently only compatible with vSphere Enterprise Plus, vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus, and vCloud Suite; however, still having the opportunity to work with OpenStack in VMware is powerful draw. That's why it's the next lab on my to-do list.

VMware deserves credit for providing this resource to its community for free, and without a mind-numbing registration process. You can literally be using the labs within two minutes. The list of available labs is impressive, and this is just the first batch of new labs to be released.

Be sure to check the lab homepage in the coming months to see when other HOLs from VMware and their partners have been released. New labs will carry the number 16xx.

About the Author

Tom Fenton has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 30 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 20 years focusing on virtualization and storage. He currently works as a Technical Marketing Manager for ControlUp. He previously worked at VMware in Staff and Senior level positions. He has also worked as a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, where he headed the Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on X @vDoppler.


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