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on 4 April 2014
I recently got my hands on a copy of Chris Wahl and Steve Pantol’s Networking for VMware Administrators and was very keen to read it – especially given the reputation of the authors. I came to the book as someone who is at CCNA level (although now expired) and someone who regularly designs complex VMware networks using standard and distributed switches. I would class myself as having a fairly decent understanding of networking, though not a networking specialist.

The book starts out at from a really basic level explaining OSI, what a protocol is etc. and builds on the foundation set out as it progresses. Part I of the book gives are really good explanation of not only the basics of networking, but a lot of the “why” as well. If you’ve done CCNA level networking exams then you will know most of this stuff – but it’s always good to refresh, and maybe cover any gaps.

Part II of the book translates the foundations set out in Part I into the virtual world and takes you through the similarities and differences with between virtual and physical. It gives a good overview of the vSphere Standard Switch (VSS) and vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS) and even has a chapter on the Cisco 1000v. One of the really useful parts of the book are the lab examples and designs, which takes you though the design process and considerations to get to the solution.

Part III is an excellent and detailed section on storage networking covering networks for iSCSI and NFS, and design and configuration of both – with use cases. If you’ve not had much experience with these protocols in a production environment then this section will be a fantastic resource.

Part IV is labelled “Other Design Scenarios” and contains a lot of reference storage design examples based on numbers of NICs available in a host and whether that includes IP based storage – again, another really useful resource.

I really like the writing style that the authors have used, there’s enough humour and anecdotal/real world reference to drag it out of the “pure technical” category and help engage the reader, without detracting from the sheer volume of information that’s contained in the book.

Throughout the book there are lots of clear diagrams which help to explain and expand on the text, and again improve the readability of the book.

I would recommend this to any VMware administrator with responsibility for designing and managing VMware networking – and also perhaps some network administrators who work with a VMware team. It will give insight into how the two relate to each other. I’d probably even recommend it to storage administrators who manage iSCSI and NFS storage networks with VMware.

There are parts of the book that were really basic and, I have to confess, I skipped over – but as I mentioned before I have a fair amount of networking experience. But there is also enough meat on the bones to make the book worthwhile and a great resource for your bookshelf.

Networking for VMware Administrators is available on Amazon in both paper and kindle versions:

[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=B00J4N8TTS]

* Full disclosure – I was sent a copy of the book for review, I will receive no reward for this and the review is my own honest thoughts and opinion.
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on 15 April 2014
I've been working with VMware products for a number of years now, from fairly simple small environments to enterprise level complex environments. The area that always crops up as my weakness is Networking. It's an area I never really had much involvement in when working my way through the ranks of helpdesk and Wintel server administration, however is an extremely important factor in a successful VMware deployment. Finally after years of waiting along comes this little gem from VMware Press authored by VCDX Chris Wahl and Steven Pantol. Being an avid reader of Chris' Blog the Wahl Network I had high hopes for this book and I'm pleased to say I was not let down.

The book is split into four sections:

Networking 101 - The very basics
Virtual Switching - The differences from physical
Storage Networking - A look at IP storage
Design Scenarios - A look at vSwitch example configurations
This to me was a great layout, starting at the very basics slowly easing you into the more technical matter.

Given the title of the book, prior to reading I would have put this in the 'deep technical' category, however both authors have a great writing style and their sense of humour really comes through making the book a pleasure to read.

This book is a must have for any VMware admin and one that I only wish was available a few years back!
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on 24 March 2014
I was fortunate enough to receive a preview copy of Networking forVMware Administrators, so bear that in mind when reading this review. However, I found it to be such a useful source of information that I would more than happily purchase my own copy. Having arrived at VMware virtualisation a few years ago from a background in Enterprise IT, this is a book I wish had been available back then.

The book takes the approach of giving the VMware team enough information about networking to be able to have a productive conversation with the network team and vice-versa for virtualisation based networking conversations with the VMware team. Often times these can be difficult conversations if one or both parties is not familiar with the requirements and challenges of the other team's specialist areas.

Back in the day when I first started with virtualisation all of a sudden I needed to know about virtual switches, VLANs, CDP, network security requirements etc, having previously only needed to patch a few cables in, some basic TCPIP and firewalling, and some networking stuff around Microsoft Clustering and NLB. This book will provide you with all of the info for those conversations with some excellent practical examples of each topic.

More than that though, throughout the book the authors will pitch in with design elements of virtual networking to give you more background and insight into why to do things in a certain way, not just how. This is followed up with excellent design based chapters at the end of the book covering different scenarios based on how many and what speed nics are available in each compute device which I'm sure I'll be referring back to.

I also found the chapters on Storage based networking (covering both iSCSI and NFS) great, since having spent the early part of my virtualisation experience with Fibre Channel storage a recent foray into the world of NFS for vSphere was a different challenge. Again, armed in advance with the knowledge from this book would set you well down the path of designing virtual networking for storage.

The book has an enjoyable reading style with the authors' humour filtering through well, which sometimes isn't always the case with tech books since tech publishers seem to think that the dryer a book the better. It's a no brainer to me that you'll learn more from a book if its a pleasure to read and you can empathise with some of the authors own experiences which I did with this book and some of their practical tales.

I did skip some of the content in the early chapters on general networking info, however not as much as I was expecting to since I found the content filled in some gaps in my basic network knowledge, often around the why rather than the how.

In summary if you work in any way with a vSphere environment then I think you would gain knowledge from this book.
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on 10 May 2014
As a VCP who has been using VMware and other virt solutions for a number of years with no real training I was always conscious that networking was a bit of an unchecked box for me - some of the terminology didn't really make sense and I was aware that it was an area on my CV that needed fleshing out somewhat. Chris and Steve's book is an excellent resource that I can't rate highly enough, explaining the basics of routing, switching, VLANs and all the rest clearly especially for those coming to virtualisation with little to no proper networking experience.

I'm now much more confident when designing and troubleshooting networking for vSphere solutions, and think I'll do some study with a view to CCNA. All in all a very happy customer!
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on 2 July 2014
This might sound like trumpet blowing but it is provide context for my review. I have both Data Centre VCAPs and am working (crawling) towards the VCDX-DCV. This book clarified a couple of networking myths for me and it endorsed the views I already had about network design. It is always good to get definite reinforcement that your understanding and reasoning are correct especially from people with proven design skills. As another reviewer mentioned, its and easy read written in a colloquial style so it is easy to pick up and useful as a reference tool. Definitely part of my recommended VMware reads collection. I found it useful at my competency level and would regard it as absolutely invaluable if I was working towards a VCP.
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on 13 July 2014
Bought it on Kindle but that wasn't enough. I needed a hard copy, don't ask why, I've just still got that tactile thing with books, but the quality of this content is second to none, and I had no qualms with buying a second copy. It really is that good. From going over the very basics to some excellent worked up real world examples, using technologies most of you will be familiar with. Its just an essential read for anyone working with VMWare. Clearly and concisely laid out, it's a fail safe answer to all your vmware networking questions.
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on 21 April 2014
About half way through. Highly recommended book to anyone interested in solidifying or expanding their knowledge in vSphere/vCenter networking. Great layout with use cases to help illustrate various topics. The way it reads suits my style very much, written as if you were having a conversation with the authors about the topic.
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on 19 August 2015
Just read for a second time in prep for my VCDX and is a great refresher for even "skilled" consultants
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on 21 January 2015
Good overview for aspiring or existing VMWare administrators, plenty of material clearly presented.
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on 14 April 2014
I always wondered why there is no book that specifically focusses on VMware networking, given its importance when it comes to deployment and maintenance of a stable virtual platform. No need for me to think that any more as this book is all that!

Given that the breakdown of parts and chapters of this book are available everywhere, I won’t bore you with that detail. Instead, I’ll just give you my thoughts on the different parts and why I think this is one of the must have books (if you’re into these sort of books, of course!)

First part consists of 6 chapters and goes through the basics of Physical Networking. If you are new to networking, this is a good place to start as it covers all the prerequisite knowledge that one must have to understand the rest of the book. It also serves as a refresher for people who are experienced in networking but for whom, it’s not their day-to-day job. The conversation starts with light-hearted layman level discussion of how networks came into existence, then slowly builds up to explain the different layers and finishes with a discussion on “Converged Infrastructure”. I think, this is required knowledge to appreciate the subtle differences between physical and virtual networking. Armed with that knowledge, one is ready to delve into the VMware side of things.

Second part consists of 7 chapters and discusses virtual networking in a vSphere environment. The first few chapters discuss the two main types of networking switches (“Standard” and “Distributed”), where they match or differ as compared to physical switches and the configuration options available for both. Throughout those chapters, there is also a brief discussion on the various configuration options and where certain options might be applicable (or not). Things are explained with the help of a “Lab Scenario”, which uses a Cisco UCS environment as an example. The last two chapters, discuss designing a network environment around a Standard or Distributed switch. It’s nice to see a book still discussing designing around a Standard switch as not everyone has Enterprise Plus licensing or might have a mixture within their environment.

Third part consists of four chapters and focusses on the two types of IP Storage supported by vSphere environments: iSCSI and NFS. There are two chapters for each type, discussing use cases and then going on to design considerations and configuration. For iSCSI, there is quite a bit of detail in terms of the components that make up iSCSI, Authentication, Initiators/Targets, Adapters, Jumbo Frames etc. That is followed by a chapter on a design using iSCSI storage. NFS discussion carries on with the same theme but it being NFS, it’s more about exports, daemons and mount points etc. In the same way as iSCSI, this chapter is followed by another, discussing a design based on NFS storage. In both cases, the chapters cover the configuration steps as well so one can see practically how those steps are carried out, to achieve that particular configuration.

Finally, there is part four, consisting of just two chapters. The first one covers some vSwitch Design Scenarios. This chapter covers pretty much all the different configurations, big or small, that one would probably encounter in the real world. If by chance a use case is missed, I am sure one can tackle that easily, having absorbed all this information. The second chapter discusses “Multi-NIC vMotion Architecture” and design considerations. It also quite helpfully discusses how a combination of NIOC (Network I/O Control) and egress traffic shaping can protect such an environment from drowning out a particular destination host. Finally, it goes into how to properly configure such a setup.

The whole book is written in a light-hearted conversational manner and doesn’t feel like heavy reading at all – unlike typical networking books. Like I mentioned before, all topics are accompanied with a healthy dose of discussion on why certain options are suitable or not and with plenty of screenshots too! I also discovered the word “schlep” (something I doubt I’ll find in any other technical book) and that “warm and fuzzies” are pretty important when it comes to VMware networking.

For people starting with VMware products, this is a must have as it will give them a solid foundation of networking concepts and how to configure vSphere networking properly. It also does a great job of bridging the gap that exists for people coming from traditional physical networking backgrounds.

Highly recommended!
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