Opinion

How To Become an NSX Expert in 72 Hours

My journey toward NSXpertise started with a Tweet:

“So, if I had 72 hours to go from 0 to NSX expert, where would I start?”

Despite what the “Learn C++ in 24 hours” books of old would have you believe, a long weekend is not enough time to gain more than a passing knowledge of a topic. That did not stop me from trying, however. In the 72 hours that followed on from that Tweet, I endeavored to go from “0” to NSXpert.

What follows are the resources, process, and some brief notes on my NSX journey.

Resources Used

Summarized here for you are the resources I found most useful. A full list of resources I attempted to consume can be found here.

  1. The #vBrownBag NSX Series by Tim Davis (@ALDTD)

These three videos, about an hour each, provided a much-needed high-level introduction, as well as a foundation on which I could seek out additional information.

  • NSX Component Overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPax2KTQzpA
  • NSX Edge Gateway & Distributed Firewall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IR5s61uC-vY
  • NSX Switching and Routing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxvRt_Li7GA
  1. The VMware document “Architecting NSX for Service Providers”

This document picked up where Tim left off, and provided additional foundational knowledge. Specific sections of the document to pay attention to: “Design Considerations,” “Key Use Cases: Micro-Segmentation,” “Availability,” and “Operational Considerations.”

(Note: The VMware Validated Design for NSX is another good design-level document. https://www.vmware.com/solutions/software-defined-datacenter/validated-designs.html)

  1. Hands on: VMware Hands On Labs

Hands on experience builds on the foundation with practical experience and gotchas. To get hands on with NSX, the VMware Hands On Labs are well curated, the lab guides well thought out, and the labs themselves are fully functional.

  1. Bonus: NSX Certification Guides

My end goal is not certification, so why study certification guides? Because they provide the glue, from foundation to building hands-on experience. The three guides I found most useful:

Learning Process

With the pace of change in IT, we are often tasked with having to become, if not an expert, passingly knowledgeable on a topic or technology in a short period of time. I discuss my process in depth on episode 21 of the Full Stack Journey Podcast. Applied to NSX, the process was as follows:

  1. Gather Materials

This phase started with the tweet that also starts this blog post. That is, I asked the community what materials they found useful. Using this as a starting point, I was able to add some additional resources with some targeted searching.

  1. Skim Materials

Once I had a list of materials, I skimmed the materials with the goals of identifying the best resources, gaining familiarity with NSX, and producing a list of areas of interest.

  1. Targeted Depth

After skimming the materials, and with my areas of greatest interest picked out, I went topic by topic, reading, watching, and using the Hands On Labs.

What I Learned

Did I become an NSXpert? Not as yet, no. NSX is too large and deep to do that in 72 hours. That said I did manage to build a base level of knowledge on NSX, the sort of foundation where I can talk about it at a high level and know where to go for answers if I am out of my depth. In the 72-hour window I gave myself, I was able to learn some of the lexicon, the concepts, and use lab time to become familiar with NSX.