Today it is my pleasure to review a book, specifically “vSphere Design Best Practices”, recently published by PACKT Publishing and written by Brian Bolander and Christopher Kusek (the latter well known as @cxi in the virtualization community).

I consider myself a seasoned VMware infrastructures administrator, now aiming at becoming a better designer and – as part of this evolutionary process – I am looking for good material to study for the VCAP-DCD certification. So, when I had the opportunity to put my hands on this new book I made sure not to miss it.

This book has one big merit, which, at the same time could also be considered as its limit: it is a quick, easy to read, no frills, straight to the point, well organized collection of vSphere design principles. It is a breath of fresh air in a world of technical books usually the size of the entire “Lord of The Rings” saga that become obsolete before you actually manage to finish reading them!

This book can be easily read and digested in one weekend, but this does not mean that there is any missing or overlooked topic or that this book is somewhat superficial: on the contrary this book, or at least this was my impression, is the perfect stepping stone for any vSphere administrator who’s willing to begin the journey to become an Architect.

All the relevant topics are discussed and dissected into seven chapters, all of them easily and quickly readable:

  • Chapter 1, Virtual Data Center Design;
  • Chapter 2, Hypervisor Design;
  • Chapter 3, Storage Design;
  • Chapter 4, Network Design;
  • Chapter 5, Virtual Machine Design;
  • Chapter 6, Business Critical Applications;
  • Chapter 7, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.

A couple of appendixes are there for those who are willing to explore beyond the main topics:

  • Appendix A will briefly introduce topics like vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) and vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) as no vSphere specialist can seriously consider today not to embrace and master automation technologies;
  • Appendix B will tell you more about VMware Certification paths, the vExpert program and some useful community resources. As an active community member and vExpert myself, I particularly appreciated the mention of the above resources.

A warning though: I said that this book is easy to read, but it does not mean it is for the beginner. You need to already know your stuff as you won’t find here any detailed technical explanation for things like DRS algorithms or Distributed vSwitches advanced features, that’s all taken for granted.

But you should also consider that usually the mindset of an administrator is somewhat different from the designer’s, so what you might know from the administrator perspective – no matter how well – could be of no use if you do not start to think as a designer. The strength of this book is indeed that it will collect and organize for you all the technical topics that a vSphere Architect needs to consider before diving into the design of a new infrastructure: it will put all the bits and pieces you are already familiar with in the right perspective for your new, exciting, future role and it will do so without wasting your precious time. As soon as a topic is introduced and discussed enough (sometimes with the help of real life examples), the reader is left with some additional “food for thought” to further scrutinize it: this can be in the form of a VMware KB article, a link to a blog or any other useful reference.

So, once again, this book will give you a push in the right direction, and then it’ll be up to you to keep walking this long and sometimes complicated path. My recommendation, if you are considering the Designer/Architect professional career, would be to start from this book: the path won’t be easy to follow, so better start it with confidence and “vSphere Design Best Practices” will just be what you need to make the first step!

Disclaimer: I have received a complimentary copy of this book from PACKT Publishing, but I was not asked to write a biased review of it. I have read this book in my spare time, for my personal pleasure and the opinions expressed in this article are strictly personal and faithfully represent my thoughts.

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