What is a “Runner” ?

I started running again a few years ago because, well, I wasn’t getting enough exercise. That, and I didn’t have a good excuse to break free from my usual routine. We shouldn’t need excuses like that, but something has to drive us to prioritize certain actions, tasks, activities, and behaviors. In my mind, “excuse” is the best word I could come up with; others probably call it something else.

I ran a bit in high school, mostly to support maintain cardio for my swimming and soccer habits. When I got to college, I ran both for fitness and to escape. There were times when I just couldn’t sit still any more and study, so I’d head out the door and run. Nothing crazy, usually 3-6 miles at a time.

At no point did I consider myself a “runner.” Rather, I was someone who ran once in a while. After college, I got busy with work… then family… and I pretty much stopped running at all. I didn’t miss it; I was too busy doing other things. In an effort to become less sedentary, I started hiking with some friends in the mornings and on weekends, and that was great for a while. I moved to a different part of the valley and that, unfortunately, came to an end. I went back to doing nothing and I did miss the exercise. 

The VMworld 2009 conference was held in San Francisco and there was a 5K-ish “fun run” across the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought that was something kind of cool: running across the iconic bridge, so I signed up. I wasn’t fast, and the distance left me sore for a week, but that was one of the most fun activities I’d done in a long time. Ever since then, I have been running a few times a week and I have participated in several races — anything from 5K up to a full marathon. I guess that makes me a “runner” now.

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I currently work for the Technical Marketing group at VMware as an Infrastructure Architect in the Hands-on Labs area. This is a massive undertaking that would not be possible without several teams working together to accomplish the same goal: labs for everyone, everywhere and all the time.

Over the past few years, I have put some information out into the world on various sites. I wanted to capture some of those here since, believe it or not, I have used some 2- and 3-year old posts in discussions this year, and digging up material that I wrote to serve as a reference was more difficult than I think it should have been.

Plus, it would be a real shame to lose track of those thoughts I had when I was younger — hoe else would I be able to go back and prove I was right!  😉

  1. Virtual Intelligence Briefing (VIB) – when I was a consultant, I wrote a few articles and provided a VMworld overview. My author profile and links to a few of my articles is here. (2010)
  2. IT Partners Blog – I produced quite a bit of content for my employer on their blog. I have to thank them for giving me such latitude in creating and publishing content on the blog. It really gave me a chance to explore what I could do with the medium.
  3. My technology-related work will most likely be posted on the VMware HOL and vSphere blogs from now on, unless it is about is some kind of technology that isn’t related to my job. If you’re interested in VMware products or the Hands-on Labs, head on over there for some in-depth information.

I plan to use this little corner of the web to write a little more about my other favorite activity: Running!

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Top 5 Things You May Not Know About VMware Hands-on Labs

I’m a little over six weeks into my new position on the VMware Hands-on Labs team and haven’t had a lot of time for blogging lately. However, I decided to make time for a quick update and shameless plug for our group: SIGN UP! TAKE A LAB!

As you may have guessed, we are already in the process of preparing for VMworld. No doubt, that’s like our big-American-football-game-that-shall-not-be-named. What you may not know is that the Hands-on Labs group has evolved to deliver content all year via the online portal at http://hol.vmware.com/

In my conversations with folks in person, via email, and on Twitter, I’ve come up with the following Top 5 Things You May Not Know about VMware Hands-on Labs:

  1. Available 24x7x365 – We are now more than just VMworld labs. Using our online portal, you can take a lab from wherever you happen to be. Pants optional.
  2. Access is free – Request an account by providing some basic information and we’ll get you set up. No charge, no ads, no spam.
  3. All you need is a web browser – No client software installation required! Chrome and Firefox work the best. You can even use a Mac.
  4. Take a lab as many times as you want – While each lab session is limited to 90-120 minutes, you can always re-enroll and go through the lab again if you want more time or have an accident. Rinse and repeat.
  5. We deliver new content – That’s right, we have been working with product groups within VMware to create labs covering new products and versions released between conferences.

That last one is really exciting and likely the one that is the least known. Creating these labs is not something that can be done overnight, but we’re doing our best to get new ones created and old ones updated so you have fresh content.

For example, we recently published an updated Networking lab that covers some new features in vCNS (vCloud Networking and Security), including VXLAN. This lab, based on our dual-site configuration, is called An In-depth Exploration of vCloud Networking and Security and is available right now as lab HOL-SDC-1303. You can read more about it on the VMware vSphere blog here or search for that lab ID within the catalog on HOL online once you have your credentials.


Another example is the vCAC lab. This is a fairly new product that requires some in-depth understanding of the product, your environment, and how it is intended to be used. If you simply want to check it out (hands-on!) and see what the interface looks like — before you do all the work of downloading bits, preparing an environment,  reading manuals, tracing prerequisites, etc. … there a lab for that!

Once you have your HOL online credentials, look for vCloud Automation Center – Rapidly Deliver Private and Hybrid Clouds Across Multi-Vendor Environments in the catalog as HOL-OPS-04.

Bonus Tip: There is no strict requirement for you to follow the lab manual for any of these labs. The exercises in the manual are there to help you understand how the products work. If, however, you need a two-host vSphere 5.1 environment deployed so you can try something out… you can do that, too: these are live environments. Most of our labs have at least two ESXi hosts in a cluster configuration while some, like HOL-INF-05 (a.k.a the SRM Lab) and HOL-SDC-1303 (that new vCNS lab I mentioned above) have at least 3 hosts running at two “sites”

You can keep up to date with the latest Hands-on Labs information by following @VMwareHOL on Twitter.

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Moving on: Exciting changes for me

I have been working for IT Partners, a professional services/consulting group and VAR in Arizona, for the past seven years. As a Consultant and Architect, I have been able to grow a great deal during my time here and have been fortunate to work with this group of talented, solution-focused professionals. These guys are dedicated to ensuring that their customers receive a solution that meets their needs and is delivered correctly the first time. If you’re interested in reading some of my previous posts, representing the work that IT Partners does, you can do so here.

As of March 2013, I have made a decision to move on from IT Partners and to the next phase of my career. The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I have discovered over the past few years that I really enjoy enabling people to use technology by facilitating their understanding of its capabilities. I was able to do this at IT Partners via monthly “Tech Talks” and a few on-site workshops, but I have been presented with an opportunity to do this on a much larger scale.

Anything we can do to promote understanding of technologies or products and their application to solving problems can’t be a bad thing for either vendors or customers. To that end, I have accepted a position as an Infrastructure Architect on VMware’s Hands-On Labs team. I am looking forward to this next challenge and working with this incredible team of very talented individuals.


For those who don’t know, VMware’s Hands-On Labs (HOLs) have been a part of VMworld since 2004 and have evolved to showcase and provide customers hands-on access to VMware’s ever-expanding portfolio. I have had a little involvement with the HOL teams in years past and was constantly amazed by the incredible amount of work that occurs behind the scenes to prepare content and construct the environments for each conference.

Traditionally, the HOLs have been available primarily at the large conference events: VMworlds and Partner Exchanges. Feedback from the (very active and vocal) VMware community has been received loud and clear: we want the HOLs available outside the conferences! VMware has been working to accomplish just that, as can be seen by the ongoing Hands-On Labs Public Beta, and I am very excited to be part of the team responsible for this next evolution. 

For more information, check out the HOL Community on the VMware Communities Forum or the Official HOL blogYou can also keep up to date by following us on Twitter: @VMwareHOL

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