A Fast-Riser Finds His Focus in VMware NSX

Looking for proactive movement that would lead industry change, Ryan Winston was quick to develop an NSX Mindset.

“Thank you for calling the help desk…” With those six words, Ryan Winston became an IT professional. That humble—yet helpful—beginning launched him on a career path that lead to systems engineer at RoundTower Technologies, Inc.
How much of your career has been reacting to change vs. leading it?

At this point, it’s probably about a 75/25 split. I’m sure like many others, early in my career, there was a lot of firefighting and learning on the fly. It wasn’t uncommon to have to study the night before what I was expected to work on the next day.

Getting ahead of the curve (and staying there) to leverage new practices and technology takes effort and time. The skills to build comprehensive solutions that don’t just solve the problem for today, but rather have the future in mind, develop with experience. As I gain more experience, the split continues to shift.

What does NSX Mindset mean to you?

The NSX Mindset is one that not only embraces the challenges posed by change, but maintains a willingness to bridge knowledge gaps and continually learn. As new paradigms such as those created by NSX are realized, individuals with the NSX Mindset see the opportunity for growth both technically and professionally, and rise to meet the demands.

As new paradigms such as those created by NSX are realized, individuals with the NSX Mindset see the opportunity for growth both technically and professionally, and rise to meet the demands.
The NSX Mindset is one that not only embraces the challenges posed by change, but maintains a willingness to bridge knowledge gaps and continually learn.
What does a united IT strategy mean to you?

A united IT strategy is one that breaks the walls between technical groups, allowing for the greater free flow of knowledge and shared skills. The results of which have unquestionably positive business impacts–all because IT is able to react and provide solutions more efficiently than when knowledge and skills are siloed.

How has network virtualization changed your organization and your career?

My organization embraces not only the technology, but the values embodied by the NSX Mindset. Meeting customer problems with NSX-centric solutions is becoming more and more common. In terms of my career, network virtualization has proven to be a defining factor and a differentiating point.

How do you stay ahead of the constant changes and advancements in IT?

There are several contributing factors. The South Florida VMware User Group (#SFLVMUG) has played a vital part in keeping me current with trends and tech. And it gives me access to training resources such as VMware Hands-On Labs –there is nothing like the freedom to break something without fear of taking down production.

Undoubtedly, the most impactful resources are those that I would consider thought leaders–in terms of VMware solutions, being able to follow rock stars like Luc Dekens, William Lam, and Duncan Epping is tremendous.

As I was taking on environments that had invested in NSX, it was becoming readily apparent that the lines delineating the roles between compute and networking were going to be forever blurred.
What was your aha moment while studying for your VCP-NV?

Wrapping my head around the distributed routing. It took a little bit longer than it should have to sink in. Once it clicked, it was like a light bulb turned on in a very dark and cobweb-ridden attic.

How did getting your VCP-NV provide value for you in your career?

Without a doubt, it built my confidence up and made me hungry for more. I see it as a path towards greater success. As the technology grows and gains wider adoption, those with the knowledge and experience with the platform will be in a greater position to meet the

What advice would you give someone pursuing their NV?

Work to have a baseline understanding of VMware vSphere and networking. While I don’t doubt some will be able to jump right into NSX with no prior experience with either, most will get more value from the VCP-NV if they understand core concepts.

What are the top three study materials for studying to get your VCP-NV?
  1. Hands-on Labs. These in particular gave me the confidence boost I needed before the exam.
  2. VCP-NV Official Certification Guide. It helped with many of the core concepts and got me comfortable with the exam and format.
  3. Writing out the exam objectives and using the various documents to find the answers. Documents such as the NSX Design Guide and Administration Guide were very useful for this.