Infrastructure and Cloud for Enthusiasts

[blog 03]# git commit

NSX Ninja Program Week 3

Well after 3 months of UTC/GMT -5 time zone I finished up the third week of the NSX-T Ninja Program. This time round it was hosted by Brandon Neil who is a Consultant and VMware certified instructor for the past 19 years and specialising in NSX-T Advanced design. Our other host was Rodney Mcintosh who is the Director of Operations @ 27 Virtual and VMware Specialist. Both these guys have an amazing depth of knowledge around Advanced NSX-T Architecture and Design which was the premise for the third week.

After I injected coffee into my eyeball and got myself comfortable without waking the rest of the family up at 1am in the morning we were presented with the outcome of the third week. This week was not so much around learning concepts and architecture, however, about how to architect large enterprise and Cloud Solutions at scale, and I am not talking Australian scale but Global scale. Sorry Australia, we are just a little blip on the map compared to the rest of the world but at least we are leaders in the industry and embrace and deliver the latest technologies.

As more information came to hand, documents handed, and we all did a stand up on our daily work life to gauge our skillset we were broken into groups and given our task for the week. My group had to Architect a Cloud Solution for South African Cloud Services – “ZCS”. We presented it back to the instructors and the rest of the other students where our solutions were grilled, pulled apart, and justified. The experience reminded me of the Protomolecule in the Amazon series “The Expanse” which “disassembles” human bodies and space craft.

So, in a very collapsed version here is the overview of what was required.

“Zilungele Cloud Services is a VMware Cloud Provider partner providing Cloud services to Sub-Sahara Africa. Zilungele provides Shared and Dedicated Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Object Storage, Desktop-as-a-Service, Endpoint Management, Managed Services, and Professional Services. Zilungele is Head-quartered in Johannesburg, South Africa where they have provided services over the past 12 years. Zilungele also has a presence in Luanda, Angola. ZCS has capitalized on the continent’s late entry into data center and inter-networking services. Providing its above-listed services to Financial Institutions, Governmental institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Multi-National Organizations, as well as local small and mid-sized businesses in need of IT services to facilitate their business objective in a global economy.

Zilungele intends to extend its presence into Eastern and Western Africa with data centers in Nairobi, Kenya, Addis Abba, Ethiopia, Abuja, Nigeria & Dakar Senegal. ZCS plans to maximize their investment in the VMware Cloud Provider program by implementing an asset-heavy solution using the Cloud Provider Pod Stack which includes:

  • vSphere
  • vCloud Director
  • NSX-T Datacenter
  • vSAN
  • Cloud Director Availability
  • Etc…

The use of the VMware Cloud Provider Pod stack will allow ZCS to provide:

  • Multi-Tenant Resource Pooling – create virtual data centers from common infrastructure to cater to heterogeneous enterprise needs.
  • Operational Visibility and Insights – refreshed dashboard and single pane of glass to provide centralized multi-tenant cloud management views.
  • Container-as-a-Service – onramp for enterprises leveraging flexible, on-demand containers and VMs in the same virtual data center and faster time-to-consumption for Kubernetes.
  • Data Center Extension and Cloud Migration – secure VM migration and data center extension
  • Multi-Site Management – Stretch data centers across sites and geographies.
  • Data Protection and Availability – run simple DRaaS offerings that are compatible with enterprise environments.

ZCS intends to begin this implementation in their Luanda, Angola Datacenter, and with the success of that implementation, replicate the roll-out in the new markets they are currently courting.

ZCS has 430 IaaS tenants in Angola 95% of whom leverage the shared IaaS solution. The remaining 5% subscribe either exclusively to their dedicated IaaS solution or a combination of both the shared and dedicated IaaS. The average Shared IaaS tenant runs 10 virtual machines. Clients with a dedicated Private cloud (IaaS) are provided a dedicated vSphere cluster with a minimum of 4 ESXi hosts configured with vSAN.

ZCS expects to increase its customer base by 200% over the next 18 months and needs a solution that will scale accordingly.”

As part of the presentation, we had to produce typical formal documentation which included risk, assumption, constraints, design, decisions, and technical diagrams all of which had to be defended.

So, in a group of 5 people this was going to be achievable as the other members that were in my group were like me, VMware Cloud and Network Architects from other parts of the globe so we should nail this right?  Wrong “<button>Push for Ejection<button>”. Unfortunately, by day 2.5, I was the only person left in my group on the course but that is not to say I did not forge ahead. My 9-hour days turned into 12-hour days as I accumulated all the documentation required for the presentation. On Saturday morning I delivered the presentation first up to my peers which was a 1 ½ hour time slot.

So how did go? I will give myself a solid “B” not just for the effort I put in but how I was able to defend the solution. This was my first time in a public forum doing this and presenting under pressure. I did get caught out with some scaling issues and while being under pressure, curve balls thrown at me to intentionally make me trip up, re-think parts of my solution and get smacked back down again, but this is the same thing that happens if you sit for your VCDX.

Overall, I am extremely proud of the effort that I put in over the last couple of months and I recommend especially to people in Australia to try and get on this course. It is not offered inside Australia so you will need to either try and get in through VMUG USA or be part of a Multi-national company. The amount of knowledge that I have gained, training material, best practices, and real-world reference architectures around NSX-T I have accumulated over the last 3 months is staggering.  It is a shame though that a few people who got the opportunity in the USA to attend the NSX Ninja Program took it for granted which prevented other people getting on board.

A quick shout out to Paul Mancusco who is the Technologist Director for Networking and Security at VMware for his presentation on Cisco ACI with NSX-T. It was an excellent presentation. I will sign off this blog with a “Witching Hour Blackberry Sour” from Aether Brewing Company here in good ol Brisvegas. 8 IBU Wheat Malt Base, Motueka Hops and Blackberries. Sours are not for everybody but give it go, you just never know.

[blog 02]# git commit

NSX Ninja Program Week 2

Recently I was back on UTC/GMT -5 time zone for the second installment of the NSX-T Ninja Program proudly hosted by James Asutaku and Isaac Valdez. James comes at us hard, fast and with massive amounts of architecture, while Isaac takes us into the technical weeds with an amazing ability to destroy a PowerPoint slide with amazing detail and the use his magic Zoom marker. 9-hour days starting at 1am AUS EST and the amount you brain is trying to take takes a toll on my middle-aged body I must admit.

Isaac Valdez Art Work

So, for the second week we had quite an expansive course covering VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0 Deep Dive, VCF Multi-Cloud Architecture, NSX-T Application protection with L3 to L7 DFW, NSX-T L7 Protection, Identity Firewall & URL Filtering, Distributed IDS, Rest API, Tanzu Kubernetes and NSX Intelligence AVI Networks and Advance Routing Design. Phew did you get all that.?

 I absolutely loved the Advanced Routing Design as that is my core with NSX-T and have since implemented it in a production environment with outstanding results in performance and cross availability zone redundancy.

On top of all the lecturing the days were backed up with a huge amount of hand on labs to reinforce what we had mentally ingested. This meant extensive amounts coffee was required daily and frequently. There was no room for the ol “She’ll be right” on the labs as if we did not complete the labs on the day, it effected your labs and progress for the next day. This meant plenty of after hours lab time was on the cards, so you did not get behind (lunch time in my case).

The hardest part of the course I have so far was the 2 days on L4 to L7 security. Not because I could not understand it or fathom concepts, but have you ever tried to do serious security while you half a sleep. I take my hat off to all you Security Engineers and Architects out there for your dedication and sacrifice to the security cause, and I will admit, you are a special breed. It did my head in.

On the fourth day we had a 2-hour engineering presentation and demonstrations by the kind folk at ReSTNSX . These guys automate your life with NSX-T from Security Workflows, Day 2 Operations, Deployment, Migration, Object and Policy Mobility and across multiple deployments of NSX-T. In a nutshell these guy’s rock as it would take a full-time crack team of developers to produce the same results in house.

The best part of the NSX Ninja Program is also meeting like-minded people, and both James and Isaac encourage open dialogue and discussion on the topics including people’s experiences. There is a mountain of knowledge from people attending the course whose backgrounds are Network Engineers, Infrastructure Engineers and Architects. One such person I met this week was a gentleman by the name of Tom Grisham. Anybody who has dealt with NSX over the years will know him from his blogs and articles. Thanks Tom for connecting with me, the conversation, and pictures of cold Texas nights.

So just as by body has recovered from non-traveling jet lag and I had my head back down in my day job, the Ninja Program week 3 is about to start up again so stayed tuned for the review. Week 3 is going to be just as full on with Solution Architecture and having to present designs back to my peers on the program.

I will sign off this blog with a “Hop Smith IPA” from Akasha Brewing Company in New South Wales Australia. A nice West Coast style IPA @ 6.8%ABV and 60 IBU which I thought was fitting since I have spent so much time recently in USA hours.

[blog 01]# git commit

The first of many blogs


In my day to day life I work in the Service Provider space as a Cloud Architect providing Cloud, Storage, Data Protection, Networking and Disaster Recovery Solutions to Government and Enterprise Customers.

In my personal time I like to dive into the Open Source world with Virtualization, Storage and Networking, sprinkled with a little DevOps.

Techaspire is about sharing my experiences, personal projects and the knowledge of other like minded individuals with the occasional review of craft beer.

As this is my first time blogging and building a website come along for the ride while I break, improve, add content and the break it again with the occasional shaking of fist. Please feel free to comment and share the content.