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F5 Foray: Final Thoughts

Editor’s Note: This is the final post in a series of posts from CBT Nuggets trainer Scott Morris about his experiences learning and working with F5. 

So, by this point my F5 Local Traffic Manager course is actually out of the gate and released to the public! It has been a whole lot of fun and empowering. Having been through each of the videos and watching the storyline grow and the ever-expanding lab setup move forward along the way has been a cool thing even for me to watch — and I certainly hope that it’s as exciting to you, as you build a fully functional system that you can replicate over and over at your office!f5-blog-series_EMAIL

There are always things that COULD be added in. Believe me, I have a huge list of them. There will always be more, and that is what moves us forward into working with our never-ending thirst for knowledge!

When it comes time to prove things, there are multiple things that come to mind. First and foremost, is that people like to look at is certification exams. While these should never be looked at as an end goal, it’s a place to measure one’s progress. As I shared before, the 101 exam was a successful venture, and I made sure to work some of those “things I learned” during the exam into the course before releasing it! So that part of validation should be just as thrilling for you as it was for me!

Now, next in line was the 201 exam, covering TMOS Administration. Interestingly enough, their definition of “administration” is a little different than what most people would think. There are good sides and bad sides to this. Bear in mind, I am not disparaging the exam at all!  It was 80 questions in 90 minutes. Interestingly enough, 10 of those questions apparently aren’t scored, but you don’t get to pick which ones!

This exam is much more detailed than the first one, and presents many scenarios of implementation and troubleshooting, and asks questions a bit differently. This was an exam that tests your ability to administer a live system, and based on the questions, makes the assumption that you ARE or HAVE been administering one already! The results for me did not turn out the way that I would have liked. As much as I hate to admit it, I failed the 201 exam. While I didn’t think I aced it, I really didn’t think I had failed either…

One important thing to know about F5 exams compared to other networking vendors: You do NOT get a score report (in other words, I have no idea whether I “barely” failed or whether someone should send me back to be a truck driver). So I have no idea which specific area(s) that I did not do well in. It’s frustrating. That, and there is a forced moratorium on when you can take the test again.

Remember that you can’t even sign up for it until F5 tells Vue you are “eligible” to test. There’s a minimum two-week gap after failing the first time, and it increases from there. Kudos for them not wanting people to brute-force the exam, but not so helpful on the giving me an idea of what to review!

So, while playing in the lab is nice, I would strongly suggest finding someone to work with on a real live production system to help you understand the intricacies of issues that may show up on the exam. Based on my performance, I can tell you that having experience with other vendors’ load-balancing equipment did not help as much here! My next date for taking this exam is March 18, and hopefully with a different outcome! I have been reviewing the exam blueprint and the videos that I created and thinking about details in regards to the blueprint.

I also have spent some time with an old consulting client of mine and looking at his F5 systems. That ended up coming as a surprise to me, which was nice! I was meeting with the client on a completely different issue, when I happened to ask whether there was anything else that we could do. He mentioned a few things about his F5s. Amazingly, the answers to his questions were easy to get to, and I remembered examples I had done in the videos. We solved the problems in no time!

With a different client, I was suddenly asked about updating the software and hot fixes for an F5. Even though I had not put a module in the course on it, it was something I remembered how to do. We ended up updating his systems successfully, and I then went home and created another video to add to the course in order to keep things useful and relevant!

There are a few other things that I hope you take away from this… First, I am indeed human. I both learn like the rest of you, and I occasionally fail like the rest of you! It doesn’t make me happy, but at the same time I won’t let it end me either!

Second, we never stop learning or applying the things that we already know into new and exciting circumstances! The more that we pay attention to the information and go through the details, the more that things will stick with us. Sometimes we will be surprised at the little things our brains hang on to in order for us to apply it later. (Although, to this day, I have never found a good reason to diagram a sentence the way we used to have to do in grade school!)

And last, don’t give up on a goal because of a hiccup along the way. There may be changes in plans along the way, but the end points are still worthwhile! I will end up passing that second test. I will find ways to make that experience valuable as well, both to my clients in any consulting that I do and to you all in the additional Nuggets that may come out of it!

Something not known is not a bad thing. It is merely a new opportunity to learn and move forward! Go forward and find ways to change the world! Just be aware that the world may not always be willing! 🙂


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