I first commented on the VMware communities forums back in 2006 on an ESX 2.x related issue someone was having. I had a 7 years hiatus from 2007 to now :-)

I decided to start trawling the forums to answer people’s questions as part of my VCP5.

What?  I hear you say.  Isn’t that eating up into valuable revision time?  Well I don’t think so and here’s why.

I use forums, and Google.  Any engineer who says they don’t is either a liar or has Rainman like memory retention.  When I find the answer it saves me time.  It saves me logging that support call, waiting that wait, sending those logs (after sanitising them!) and then patching up to date, still not solving the problem and finally getting a resolution.  Time saved?  Could be weeks…seriously (note to self to write a post about downgrading UCS blades to have a consistent environment)

So I dived in, I did have a minor ulterior motive.  Get vExpert status.  There are a few different tracks to attain this badge of honour, the main two being a Partner of VMware who pushes the use and innovates around VMware in their company and with their customers, the other is evangelising VMware on the interweb.  Well this blog is a small start on that.  But giving something back to the forums and KBs I’ve pillaged in the past is another way.

For that reason, and also as it definitely meant they still wanted help I chose to assist those posts with zero replies.  The sideline here being that the coveted “helpful/correct answer” bonus points were still on offer.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for points/rewards etc.  Some of the posts were about areas I wouldn’t consider myself well versed in or had issues around specific hardware which I felt I wouldn’t be able to assist with but I found a good few that I thought “I know that”, or “surely that’s got a KB”.

Sure enough I rattled off a number of replies/responses pretty quickly and waited.  I was particularly surprised at the number of people asking “can you help I have this problem!” but without posting what version of esxi/vcenter they are on etc.  So asking that is often the first step.  Then it makes it easier to see if a) I know off the top of my head a solution b) Confirm any more info with them c) Check VMware’s KB d) Check the omniscient Google There are only a few things I’ve found I couldn’t answer so far, e.g. where it’s hardware specific.  I’ve answered some queries around homelabs as I’ve got one.  I learned that you can run a “homeserver” or esxi install and spin up a windows/Linux VM on it and configure passthrough (assuming your physical supports it) and redirect the VMs console to the GPU.  Nice but I think I’ll stick to the pretty orange/grey of the DCUI ;-)

So I’ve helped, I’ve failed and I’ve learned.  It’s that latter surprise that made me want to continue.  I’m more than happy for another vPerson to correct me (I will of course fact check them!) or even root out a solution for someone else’s issue myself and learn in the process.  It gives you practice exam questions “If bob on the forums is trying to migrate his standard switches to a DVS and is getting error X what should he do” and in this case….there’s no multiple choice…but you do have the internet to consult.

So, despite never having seen the film, I can thoroughly recommend the Pay it Forward idea!