Upcoming Event – North East England VMUG June 2017

On Thursday (22nd June) I will have the pleasure of presenting at the North East England VMUG (NEVMUG), on the topic of AWS for VMware Admins. It will be a great event with an outstanding lineup despite my attendance, so I’d recommend attending if you can. I’ll be presenting solo this time as Alex Galbraith, my copresenter for the last two events, is unable to join in this time. 

Sign up here!

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Upcoming Event – North East England VMUG June 2017

Scottish VMUG April 2017

Two months ago in April (yes, it’s taken me far too long to write things up!), I managed to attend the Scottish VMUG in Glasgow, and was also privileged enough to co-present a repeat of the AWS for Beginners presentation with Alex Galbraith. Thanks guys for having us! It was a long day as I was up at 4.30am and not back home until gone midnight, but absolutely well worth it.

Chris Storrie; Intro

The day was kicked off by Chris Storrie from the Scottish VMUG team. A quick straw poll from Chris showed that there was a large number of first time attendees.

Meet The Leaders

Chris introduced the leadership team, comprising of Sandy Bryce, Ian Balmer, James Cruickshank and himself, and joked that the slide listing the team was ordered in worst to best beard!

Chris went on to state that the agenda was perhaps the most community driven agenda that the Scottish VMUG have run, something I am happy to have helped with and proud to have been a part of. He then went on to encourage attendees to continue the community spirit by trying to meet someone new outside of the sessions. Chris wrapped up the session by advertising the new Slack team, scottishvmug.slack.com, and that to sign up you should drop the team an email at scotland@vmug.com. Finally, he thanked the sponsors, who were Zerto, Morpheus Data and Pure/Capito.

Joe Baguley; Keynote

After Chris, VMware’s VP and CEO for EMEA, Joe Baguley, presented the keynote. Joe’s keynote was very informative and made a lot of sense. He started by talking about industry buzzwords and how some conversations VMware have with their customers involves a desire from customers to ‘do’ digital transformation, digital strategy and digital business, without them really understanding what those terms mean and why these things are desirable. Joe said that successful transformation starts with the user, which means VMware’s discussions are becoming more and more with their customer’s customer.

Digital Transformation Agenda

From VMware’s perspective, in 2017, digital transformation is about business outcomes, in particular Business Agility and Innovation, Exceptional Mobile Experiences and Protection of Brand and Customer Trust. Those outcomes when distilled down to 4 priorities for IT end up being to Modernise Data Centres, Integrate Public Clouds, Empower Digital Workspaces and Transform Security. Joe then outlined how each of these priorities aligns with VMware’s solution set.

Application Cycle

Joe talked about the cycle of how changes occur in business IT, and that many organisations only go through this loop every 4-5 years when they are forced to, perhaps due to an application going EOL (e.g. Exchange 2010). When they do go through this loop, it can take 18 months. Joe contrasted that to more forward thinking organisations that see the ever increasing benefits of going through this loop as quickly as possible, sometimes many times a day.

State of Cloud - 2021

Joe moved on to discuss how back in 2006 it was predicted by 2015 everything would be running in the public cloud. That clearly hasn’t happened, and shows that the benefits of cloud don’t suit every application and that moving applications to the cloud is not straightforward. Joe discussed recent analysis which predicts cloud (both public and private) would cover 50% of all workloads by 2021, with 30% of that being public cloud, which would split roughly 50/50 between IaaS and SaaS. Clearly on prem infrastructure will be with us for sometime.

Cross Cloud Architecture

On the back of the public and private cloud growth, Joe stated that VMware’s goal is to provide a ‘RAID’ like availability for services across datacentres and in future across clouds, and that NSX and Cross Cloud Architecture are a big part of that goal.

He then wrapped up talking about what is next for VMware, which includes NFV, AI, IOT, Serverless, PaaS and Unikernals

Zerto (Sponsor Session)

Joe was followed by one of the day’s sponsors, Zerto. Zerto ran through an overview of their data protection and disaster recovery product, of which I’m sure most of the community are aware of as Zerto have been around for a while now.  You can find more info on Zerto at their website.

After all of that, it was then time for a coffee break.

Adrian Hornsby; AWS Session on Integrating AWS and VMware Cloud on AWS

The main sessions tracks then begun. I headed back to the main room to listen to Adrian Hornsby who is a Technical Evangelist for AWS. He asked the room who is using AWS which showed a mixed room of AWS users and complete novices, leaning mainly towards people who haven’t used AWS before. Adrian outlined AWS’ ‘customer backwards’ approach, where features are delivered based on customer requests and demand. He attributed the growing demand from customers for hybrid cloud to one of the key drivers behind the AWS and VMware relationship. Adrian outlined the common challenges with hybrid cloud and that VMware Cloud on AWS will allow AWS and VMware to overcome these. The challenges being the following;

  • Multiple virtual machine formats
  • Different networks
  • Operational inconsistencies
  • Differing Security baselines
  • Multiple monitoring and control Mechanisms

Whilst I agree with much of that sentiment, hybrid cloud has many different definitions and the AWS/VMware approach is tackling one, perhaps more focused but restricted view of hybrid cloud. VMware Cloud on AWS will allow you to run VMware workloads in the ‘cloud’ without retooling or importing virtual machines, but it still remains a traditional vSphere setup, albeit one that is now very close to an AWS datacentre (i.e. inside it). You do get Elastic DRS and on the fly cluster resizing, very cool features but ultimately its still vSphere workloads, albeit easy to consume ones, that are very close to AWS native services. And you have to manage the two separately, vCenter for vSphere, AWS console and API for AWS. VMware are also tackling hybrid cloud in another way with the very interesting Cross Cloud Architecture; being able to perform holistic management across multiple public clouds and on premises infrastructure.

Anyway, back to Adrian’s session. After the intro, he outlined some common scenarios which AWS perceive customers will look to use VMware Cloud for;

  • Maintain and expand
  • Consolidate and migrate
  • Workload flexibility

With the intro out of the way, Adrian then did a bit of a technical drill down, outlining how the account structure would work. VMware Cloud gets its own VPC, which is managed by VMware, and then the customer needs their own standard VPC in a AWS account, which is used to for transit connectivity into the VMware Cloud VPC. There is a new type of AWS endpoint for VMware Cloud, which will be interesting to see how it works, as there is currently no transitive routing across a VPC to another VPC, unless using a third party router within the VPC. Perhaps that is what the new endpoint is doing?

Deploy and Consume native AWS Services

Arian talked through some examples of mixing VMware VMs with AWS native services, such as using S3 and an S3 endpoint to keep this all within AWS with no internet breakout required. Other examples included being able to quickly get data into Amazon’s data warehousing service, Redshift, and being able to migrate database workloads to RDS whilst keeping the application components on VMs in VMware Cloud.

Amazon AI Demo

He then ran through an overview of Aurora, Redshift and some of the new services such as Polly and Rekognition. To wrap things up, Adrian performed a cool demo where he created a webpage in S3, uploaded a photo to the page which was then analysed by Rekognition after which the results were read out by Polly.

Community Round Table on vCenter Updates

The next session for me was a community round table on vCenter Updates, which was being hosted by Sandy and Chris from the VMUG leadership team, with attendance from a VCDX in the form of Rebecca Fitzhugh and representation from VMware in the form of Paul Nottard. It was a very useful session with inputs from a number of people in the room, and the topic moving around between certificates in vCenter, 6.5 upgrades, the use of management clusters and vCenter HA and its requirement for an external PSO. I also banged on about Auto Deploy for a short while :).

It was then time for lunch.

Mark Brookfield; vRealize Automation with SRM and Puppet

Following lunch the session tracks continued, I headed to Mark Brookfield’s session on automation. Mark’s session was on using vRealize Automation in conjunction with SRM and with Puppet. The session was interesting to see vRA in action, something I’m not at all familiar with. The SRM piece is useful to see as SRM traditionally has been hard to work with outside of the GUI, although Mark did caveat that you need to be careful who you give automated DR tools too, giving an example of a customer doing a full invocation rather than a test failover. The two demos Mark ran with vRA and SRM were to pick up replicated datastores so these could be filtered upon and selected when creating a new VM, and using vRA to trigger an SRM failover.

Mark also covered using Puppet in vRA. He used vRA to spin up a VM and have the Puppet agent installed with the configuration in place so that VM could then connect to a Puppet Master and continue its configuration from there.

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Mark started the session with a slide joking that on average only 8% of his demos successfully work. Unfortunately for Mark, none of his demos worked in this session. He took it with good humour though, bring up the 8% slide and changing it to show 0%! Although the demos didn’t work, it was still an informative session and there was also good interaction from the audience.

James Smith; Morpheus Data (Sponsor Session)

Then it was time for a session from one of the day’s sponsors, Morpheus Data. James Smith showed one slide and then jumped straight into a live demo of the product, which is essentially a very powerful multi cloud/on-prem provisioning portal, which also supports logging and backups. I wrote about Morpheus earlier this year in my London VMUG post so I won’t repeat myself. Having not had chance to see the actual demo in London it was good to see it this time around. Definitely something to look at later in the year.

Wrap up

And for the final session of the day it was time for Alex and I to step up and present our own session. We had about 20-30 attendees, of which only a couple really had any prior AWS knowledge. I think the session went well and we had some good questions at the end, even though we over ran. The slide deck for the session can be viewed here.

With all the session tracks complete, we headed back up to main room for a wrap up and prize giving, then it was off to the pub for vBeers.

After vBeers, the final part of the day was the short bus/flight/train/bus home.

Slides from the days event can be found here.

Thanks for reading! Next time I hope to publish a little quicker! For some reason I have been persevering with the Windows WordPress App, which keeps crashing on right clicks and editing images. I’ve switched back to using the WordPress site directly and everything works as expected, funny that!

Cheers

Chris

Scottish VMUG April 2017

Two Recent Podcast Appearances

A quick post to mention my recent first and second appearances at taking part in two podcasts; Open TechCast and ExploreVM. This is something I have been interested in doing for a while but hadn’t yet had the opportunity, then suddenly, two come along at once!

Podcasts

Firstly, I took part in a roundtable with the Open TechCast crew at the London VMUG last month. You can read about the event in my blog post here. We discussed VMware’s various cloud offerings and recent news, plus my real desire to try and avoid having to rack and cable datacentre kit!

The podcast can be found at either http://www.opentechcast.com/2017/05/04/spe-london-vmug-april-vmware-in-the-cloud/ or on iTunes via https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/open-tech-cast/id1149366895?mt=2&ls=1#

My second appearance was a chat between myself and Paul Woodward Jr, for an episode of the ExploreVM podcast which Paul hosts. We chatted about VMware Cloud on AWS, exploring the definitions of the different types of cloud and where VMWonAWS might fit, and whether those definitions are useful at all (preview; not really!). We also discussed becoming a vExpert and participating in the VMUG scene. I had great fun and hopefully it made for good listening.

The episode can be found on the ExploreVM website at http://www.explorevm.com/2017/05/explorevm-podcast-episode-5-vmware-on.html or on iTunes via https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/explorevm-podcast/id1226483860?mt=2#.

As these are my first podcast appearances, I’d really appreciate any feedback if you have time to listen and drop me a comment here or via Twitter.

Cheers

Chris

Two Recent Podcast Appearances

London VMUG April 2017

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photo by @LonVMUG

I was lucky enough to attend the London VMUG last Thursday, which makes probably a record three VMUGs in a row for me (if I include the UK VMUG last November!). It was as ever an informative and fun event, and I’d encourage anyone to attend in future if they can.

The event was kicked off by Simon Gallagher, London VMUG leader, with the normal housekeeping and also a good recap of recent VMware related news, such as the vCloud Air sale (good piece on that here), and the removal of allowing third-party switches in ESXi (KB article here). Simon also explained that due to a scheduling clash with Easter half term, a lower than normal attendance meant they would be only running one session track, rather than the normal two. However, in place of the second track would be a number of roundtable sessions run by the guys from Open TechCast. More on that later

After the intro, it was time for a session from one of the event’s sponsors, Bitdefender, represented by Andrei Ionescu. Somewhat unfortunately for Bitdefender, a quick straw poll at the start of the session showed there didn’t seem to be anyone in the room actually using their product, although in another way that presents an opportunity for them as well.

Whilst AV isn’t really my area of concern/influence, there were still a couple of interesting take aways from the presentation. Firstly, something I wasn’t aware of is that Bitdefender are a huge OEM software provider, with many vendors taking parts or all of their technology and re labelling it. Check out the ‘third party engine’ column on the list of AV Vendors over at AV Comparatives. This means Bitdefender have over 400 million end points running their software worldwide, more than any other AV vendor.

The second interesting takeaway was that they have taken the idea of a centralised scanning appliance with lightweight local clients, and then expanded this to support multi hypervisor, rather than just NSX. Admittedly the scanning traffic for non NSX machines travels over the network, rather than within the hypervisor but it’s interesting seeing the expansion of this type of architecture outside of ESXi.

One item of clarification for Andrei and Bitdefender. I asked Andrei during the session if an NSX license is required to run AV guest introspection and he said that it was. On further investigation, I don’t think this is the case. Bitdefender will be using vShield Endpoint, which comes free with vSphere Essentials Plus and up. NSX Manager comes with an embedded, unlimited license for vShield Endpoint, so NSX licenses are not required for AV guest introspection. More info from VMware here.

Next up was vSAN, more specifically, Mr vSAN! Simon Todd from VMware gave a great update and roadmap overview for vSAN. He talked about how vSAN now has over 7000 customers and continues to grow impressively. He also mentioned a couple of interesting customer deployments. He has talked about Sky’s use of vSAN before, but he mentioned it again as it’s a massive vindication of the trust that can be placed on the product. Sky has over a petabyte of data in vSAN, running all their streaming and catch-up services in the U.K., including Now TV and Sky Q.

Two new customer deployments he talked about were a large retailer deploying 2 node ROBO using Direct Connect to reduce the costs associated with a 10Gb capable switch, and an airline which amasses 100,000 of data points during the flights of its A380 fleet which is stored on vSAN.

Simon did a refresh of some of the new features in vSAN 6.5, such as iSCSI and two node direct connect. He then talked about some of the advances coming with the next vSAN release, which to me look to be some very important new capabilities which will allow vSAN to meet feature parity with any enterprise class array. The release should be out soon, so there will be more on those features shortly I hope.

After Simon’s session I skipped the vendor session by Morpheus, although I did talk to them later in the vendor room. Instead I headed off to take part in a community round table session that Gareth and Amit from the Open TechCast podcast were running. Along with those guys, myself and Erik Bussink, we chatted about VMware and cloud, including the announcement about VMware Cloud on AWS and the recent sale of vCloud Air. I think the Open TechCast guys were planning on putting our discussion, and the other two on certifications and homelabs, out as podcasts soon.

After that session it was lunch, and then on to the first community session of the day from Gary Williams on his experience with Docker. I was a little fearful at first due to slides showing code snippets which in some presentation can struggle to hold a room but there was nothing to fear as everyone paid attention and it was a thoroughly useful session. Gary described how VMs and containers differ, always useful for a VM centric crowd. He then walked through the concepts in Docker and how it all fitted together, before kicking off a live demo. In the demo he built a container image and span up a container from that newly created image, then attempted to upload the image to a repository in AWS ECS. Unfortunately for Gary at that point the demo gods did not shine on him, but fair play for being brave enough to perform a live demo in the first place!

It was good for me to see how Gary had been successfully working on containers in the workplace and gaining the benefits of doing so, without having first trying to plan everything before implementation, so he could then work through ideas as they occurred. For example, next on his list was how to establish trusted registries and regulate the use of Docker Hub, and then to look at schedulers such as Swarm.

Part way through the session, the room had a good discussion on the merits of Docker containers on Windows, and that despite all the fanfare of support in Windows 2016, few had seen any headline grabbing reports of interesting or large-scale use of Windows containers – I guess it’s still early days.

After Gary’s session there was a break, so I took the time to catch up with James from Morpheus in the Vendor room. Morpheus have an interesting back story (as does James, being recently ex Pernix), and an interesting product, of which you can see a demo by James on YouTube here. Morpheus provide a portal for provisioning and operating servers and databases across a number of different infrastructures, including on premises VMware and OpenStack, and public clouds such as AWS and Azure. They also provide monitoring, logging and backups of systems on those infrastructures, all within the same tool. It looks a very nice product and something I will be checking out in more detail in the future. Morpheus do operate in a rapidly crowding market, competing against the likes of Rightscale, Scalr, Cisco CloudCenter (aka Cliqr), ServiceNow and the upcoming Cross Cloud Services from VMware, plus vRealize Automation, to name a few.

For the final session of the day I attended a vendor session by Stan from Runecast. Runecast have a very interesting product and it is one of those ‘why did no one else think of that before’ ideas. In a nutshell, it come as a virtual appliance which scans your vSphere infrastructure and cross references your environment against VMware’s knowledge base, Runecast’s own catalogue of best practices and also the hardening guides for vSphere. This is especially useful for the VMware KB articles, the idea being you don’t normally look at these until after an issue occurs, even though they were out there telling you about an issue you were going to encounter, yet you knew nothing about. Runecast are another product I will be investigating in the future.

Perhaps the best was saved for last, with the day being wrapped up by a community session from Sam McGeown about his use of Amazon Alexa in his home lab. Sam’s session was engaging throughout and it was interesting to see his thought process in finding a suitable solution which avoided exposing his homelab to the internet. The use of ha-bridge made this all work, ha-bridge being an emulator of the bridge used to control Phillips Hue lights. Due to not exposing his solution to the internet, Sam was unable to run a live demo but he did show two videos of it all working back at his house, to which he received a well-deserved applause. You can read about Sam’s setup in much more detail over on his blog; http://www.definit.co.uk/2017/04/alexa-turn-on-my-workload-cluster/. Definately something to add to the personal project backlog.

Once Sam had finished it was time for Simon to leap back on stage and wrap things up. Of particular mention was that he managed during the day to put the videos of November’s UK VMUG Usercon up on YouTube. Simon requested people go subscribe to the channel so that UK VMUG can qualify for a proper shorten YouTube url. You can find the channel here (go subscribe now!), and the playlist for the 2016 UK Usercon here.

The day wrapped up with an almost 100% great vBeers, in which I got to have lengthy chat with Stan from Runecast and caught up with Gregg Robertson about design and VCDX. The evening was not 100% all good as it unfortunately ending with some laptops being stolen – definitely a reminder to keep bags with you at all times when in busy pubs.

So that rounded up a busy day, thanks to Simon, Linda and Dave for all the hard work in putting on another fantastic event. Hopefully I’ll make the next event in London on 22nd June, which if it follows the last two years will be followed by a luxury vBeers. My next VMUG is actually a lot sooner, as I’m flying up to Scotland next week (20th) to present on AWS with Alex Galbraith at the Scottish VMUG in Glasgow. Which should be a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading this far. Next time I’ll try and make some outline notes during the event itself and take some photos, should make writing the next post a little quicker! Maybe!

 

London VMUG April 2017

VMware Cloud on AWS – Resources

I’m presenting at the London VMUG next week, the subject being AWS for VMware admins, with Alex Galbraith. We thought it would be useful to include a small section on VMware’s new partnership with AWS. However, details are kinda lite at the moment, so I’ve been scouring the web for info to use in our session.

Image result for vmware cloud on aws
Image from ZDNet
The two resources I have found with the most detail are videos of sessions from VMworld and re:Invent. These two sessions are really good and start to give a relatively technical view of whats going;

On the video from re:Invent, jump to 48 minutes (https://youtu.be/_Rqv5Gg1VSk?t=48m11s), for a cool demo using Amazon Alexa. 🙂

A couple of other useful resources are;

Apart from that there isn’t much else with any useful technical info. For a more broad intro, these links are useful. And also fascinating to see two huge traditional rivals on stage together!

Still, there are lots of unknown such as price, how frequent are updates and can you postpone them, can you spread VMs across different AWS Availability Zones, is there support for stretched vSAN, support for SRM – to list a few! It will be exciting to watch as more details become available.

VMware Cloud on AWS – Resources

VCAP 6 DCV Deployment Certification–A Plan

After passing my VCP 6 DCV in early September and recently attending the VMware vSphere Design and Deploy course, I’ve decided to study towards the VCAP 6 DCV Deployment certification.

I’m planning to take the exam in mid January 2017, so that gives me just under three months or around 11 weeks to study the 8 sections that the exam covers. Those sections are as follows;

  1. Section 1 – Create and Deploy vSphere 6.x Infrastructure Components (4 Objectives)
  2. Section 2 – Deploy and Manage a vSphere 6.x Storage Infrastructure (3 Objectives)
  3. Section 3 – Deploy and Manage a vSphere 6.x Network Infrastructure (4 Objectives)
  4. Section 4 – Configure a vSphere Deployment for Availability and Scalability (3 Objectives)
  5. Section 5 – Configure a vSphere Deployment for Manageability (4 Objectives)
  6. Section 6 – Configure a vSphere Deployment for Performance (2 Objectives)
  7. Section 7 – Configure a vSphere 6.x Environment for Recoverability (3 Objectives)
  8. Section 8 – Configure a vSphere 6.x Environment for Security (3 Objectives)

Reference; Exam Topics by VMware (https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=88753&ui=www_cert)

My plan is to study 1 Section a week, using the following resources;

  • The Tools listed under Exam Topics > Section > Objective at https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=88753&ui=www_cert
  • My ‘home’ lab (My employer allows me to run this hosted at my workplace, so its not technically a ‘home’ lab)
  • VMware Hands on Labs
  • Materials from the Design and Deploy training course
  • Mastering VMware vSphere 6 by Nick Marshall
  • Essential Virtual SAN by Cormac Hogan and Duncan Epping
  • vSphere 6.0 U2 HA Deepdive by Duncan Epping
  • Additional resources where relevant for each Objective

Hands on labs will be particularly useful as the Deploy exam uses the HOL engine for the actual examination. Getting familiar with the HOL interface will be very useful.

The first step is to get my lab up to speed and then kick off Section 1. More on that soon.

Cheers

Chris

VCAP 6 DCV Deployment Certification–A Plan

Passing my VCP6-DCV

As of Thursday 1st September, I’m now VCP6-vmw-lgo-cert-pro-6-data-ctr-virtDCV certified! That adds to my VCP4 and VCP5/5.5 certifications.

Now that VMware expires VCP certifications every two years, I realised recently that I had until November 2016 to renew my VCP. My plan was to study over the next few months and take the exam in October/November time.

However, as I was lucky enough to be attending VMworld in the US, I decide to chance my arm and have a go at the VCP6-DCV Delta exam whilst there. The main driver behind this was the 50% discount on the exam cost; with the full US exam cost already being cheaper than the equivalent in the UK, and then subtracting a 50% discount, it was about 40% of the cost of sitting the exam in the UK. I thought it would be good prep for sitting the full exam later in the year, and if I took the exam towards the end of a week having being blasted 24/7 VMware, I might even pass it.

I’d spent the couple of weeks prior to VMworld on a VSAN 6.2 PoC, so had done a couple of vCenter installs with an external PSC and setup/destroyed VSAN. I’m also fortunate to use vSphere Enterprise Plus at work, including all the bells and whistles such as Distributed Switches, Network I/O Control, Auto Deploy, Host Profiles etc, so I was in some shape prior to heading out to VMworld. I hadn’t done any exam specific study however.

On the flight over I read parts of Nick Marshall’s excellent Mastering VMware vSphere 6 book and the great, free, VCP6-DCV unofficial study guide from Jason Langer and Josh Coen. During VMworld, when I had a spare few minutes in between sessions I spent some time taking the official test exam, plus studying some sample questions online (Paul McSharry has a great set on his blog here; http://www.elasticsky.co.uk/practice-questions/). I wasn’t doing well at those so didn’t have a lot of confidence going in to the exam. And it was 9am on the Thursday morning after the VMworld party the night before…

Throw all of that into the mixing pot and I came out 75 minutes later having passed the exam, which considering the prep I was very pleased with. I’m terrible at remembering the questions from an exam (probably a good thing in relation to the NDA!), but I recall having questions on Auto Deploy, VSAN, multi level resource pools.

So with that done, now on to the next challenge. I’ve been deliberating on that and think I’m going to tackle the VCAP6-DCV Design certification next. I’m just about to kick off a vSphere 6 design so that fits nicely with studying, hence picking the Design VCAP ahead of the Deploy version. Unlike the VCP6 exam, the VCAP will need some serious study. More on that another time.

Cheers

Chris

Passing my VCP6-DCV