Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: "Critical VMware Mistakes You Should Avoid" by Larry Loucks

Awhile back I was doing some shopping on Amazon for a few technical books that I could read in my free time, co-workers of mine had recommended a handful of books that they thought I would like. My day job provides a book allowance for employees and I had planned to take advantage of the whole shabang at once. I had funneled down to the last bit of allotted money, and had stayed true to the list compiled by co-worker recommendations, as I poked around some VMware related books, Larry Loucks' "Critical VMware Mistakes You Should Avoid" popped up as a recommendation, "Buy this book and get this one with it for a crazy deal!". I decided to check it out and while glancing at the details page I wondered what a 115 page book could really cover in comparison to 700 page books detailing all things that had anything to do with VMware. I decided to to take the plunge and grab the book with my last remaining bit of allotment. This turned out to be an awesome idea. The easiest way for me to tell you what I think about Larry's book is to throw a bulleted list at ya, so here it is:

  1. If asked to sum up what I think about the book in one sentence I would probably say something along these lines: "This book is a must read for IT professionals dealing with VMware who would like to understand some crucial deep concepts explained in a fashion that all degrees of understanding can benefit from."
  2. The books starts slow, at first I found my self thinking, "OK I get what you are saying, lets move on", but after a few pages, I could not put the book down. I was traveling at the time I was reading the book, and if I wasn't working I was pretty much trying to spend my time reading this book. Basically you start a section and the section starts relatively slow by explaining the basics and in what ways people do things incorrectly, and then he goes in for the deep dive and he explains why you do it the way he suggests and ties it all together. This is the prime reason this book turned out to be so valuable to me, to see how the simple creates the foundation for the complicated, and then getting the explanation how the complicated works.
  3. One of my favorite things about the book is the real world stories he shares from his consulting experiences. Larry Loucks has been in IT for over 24 years and for the past seven has specifically focused on virtualization and worked for VMware.  And as it says in the first paragraphs of the book, hind sight is 20/20. The idea of his book is to present you with that "hind sight" that he has gained to help you now.
  4. This book expects that you already have a VMware foundation. While at times he does cover relatively simple basic things, you will need that foundation for when he hits you with the awesome stuff like broadcast storms and proper vLANing, transparent page sharing, CPU scheduling, details of performance metrics, etc... 
  5. Lets say for instance you are an IT professional with the VCDX under the belt or a certification similar to that and above, you may not get a heck of a lot out of this book. My guess is that if you are that high in the food chain the advanced topics in the book, when they come, may not teach you anything you don't already know. Having said that, I work with some of the smartest guys in the industry for VMware performance and design. While talking with a couple of them about the content in the book, they were interested in reading it, and were excited to hear some of the principles we share with our customers which we hold as best practices reiterated in this book.
  6. Pictures and Graphs....gimmie gimmie. I originally started my dive into computers and tech in the graphics and web design realm. I am right brained person whos let the left side slowly in, but I still learn best with visuals and I believe I always will. Although the graphics in this book aren't fine art or detailed beyond belief, they made a world of difference while reading through this book. Now when I think about certain deep dive topics that were discussed in this book, instantly the visuals used come to mind.
  7. Don't be surprised when the authorship of the book isn't up to par with some of the more professional, or should I say, more "Official...eehhh heemmm....Boring, but more polished" authors out there. Lucky for me, Larry's writing style is how I personally enjoy reading books. His wording and structure is easy to read, you don't need to spend time wondering what he just said every 5 seconds, and I like when the author just seems relaxed and has a good time writing, which he pulls off well. To me, and maybe I'm crazy, but I think that when an author is relaxed, can make jokes in his wirting, writes in simple terms, and can still relay an excellent message, they know the stuff better than most others do.
  8. Typos, their r qwiete aye feuw of tthem. This is my biggest complaint about the book. I am a reader that when I am in the zone reading and trying to absorb, when I hit a typo it totally throws me off. Maybe thats just me as a reader....but I dont think I am alone. But, when my biggest complaint about a book is typos, I think it has accomplished its mission.
In my next few blogs, I will take a few key topics from "Critical VMware Mistakes You Should Avoid", explain them in detail and describe why they are important to know and hopefully provide some visuals for those of you who are like me. Topics will include: Transparent Page Sharing (*sigh* vRAM licensing......YAY Its gone!), CPU Scheduling, and proper vLANing to avoid broadcast storms.

I give this book:

9 out of 10 monsterrrrrrs: "Highly Recommended"

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