It’s been an age since I blogged on this site. I do have a reasonable excuse though, I’ve spent the last 9 months writing a book on vRealize Operations. Here’s a quick post on the writing process…
I always thought I would write a book at some point and after some pestering by colleagues and Packt publishing I finally agreed. I don’t think I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for!!
I live and breath vRealize Operaitons so that was the topic of my book – the outline had already been written by someone else (who presumably pulled out of writing) so I accepted it and signed the contract.
In hindsight I should probably have put a bit more thought into the outline- there were bits of it I didn’t fully agree with and some bits were missing. I also knew that vROps 6.1 would probably launch before the book’s completion and really should have planned for those changes up front.
Writing the book
I started in April and was soon churning out chapters about every two or three weeks – lots of evening and weekend work. Each chapter is 20-40 pages long which doesn’t seem much but they take an absolute age to write.
Yes, it’s just a technical manual but…
My role in Presales is often as ‘Story Teller’ – I try and bring technology to life and that’s what I wanted to do in the book. If you read it and you’ve worked with me, you’ll probably recognise some of the scenarios in the book – they are areas that I have found that are easy to comprehend and demonstrable of the value or technology being discussed.
For example – when I talk about Compliance I always show how easy it is to create an Alert based on your required compliant configuration of ESXi NTP.
So all was going really well until…
We got to Chapter 8 which was going to be about Management Packs for Storage Devices (MPSD) – but what a dry topic!! I couldn’t think of a way to bring it to life and….really…..30 pages on MPSD wasn’t going to fly. So I ummed and ahhed for 4 weeks and finally took the executive decision to write about vRealize Infrastructure Navigator instead. It was my book after all – so I changed the plot!!
vROps 6.1 was also just about out so I also decided to base chapter 8, 9 and 10 on that code. It meant I would have to go back and rewrite the first 7 chapters but it had to be done.
This all sent me a month behind but I finlly caught up – the last few pages were written during quiet times at VMworld in Barcelona and I thought I was just about done!
Final step was to ask Joe Baguley our EMEA CTO to write the foreword – I think he found time to do this during a week off work – thanks Joe!!
Rewrites, Dodgy Images and more Rewrites
Or so I thought!
The first thing I got back was each Chapter in turn with a full critique from the technical reviewers. These are independent (from me) folks who are experts in the technology – you do need quite a thick skin when you get a review of 6 months hard work covered in (virtual) red ink!!
Thankfully the general content and flow of the book was good and the comments from the reviewers were pretty much spot on and helped me improve each chapter. Thank you to Rebecca Fitzhugh and Brian Ragazzi for taking the time to review the content. 🙂
During the rewrite, I had to ‘upgrade’ chapters 1-7 to 6.1 but after a couple of weeks of solid rewriting, the chapters was done and they were sent back. Surely I’m done now?
Next, the graphics folks decided a third of the images were not good enough. Grrrrr. (Much swearing at this point 🙂 ) Throughought the book I had staged a lab to tell the story of each chapter. With vROps it’s not easy to ‘make’ a screenshot look how it was so a further couple of weeks of lab work and recutting images was needed.
And then Prefinals – these are PDFs of each chapter for final proof-reading – hours and hours of poring over content that I knew backwards by now. It was brain-freezing work.
And then Finals – these were the finished product for approval – of course I kept finding minor errors (and one quite major one) but I finally got through these the week before Christmas and we were done….. finally done…
So finally, the book is out. You can even buy it on Amazon!!!
Why should I buy it?
A couple of reasons…
Although I say so myself, it will really help you get to grips with the entire vRealize Operations Solution – from designing and standing it up, to understanding key constructs such as Content, Alerts, MPs, Views and Reports to some of the adjacent technologies such as VIN and Log Insight.
The other reason is a bit more personal.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the last couple of years supporting the Prince’s Trust in Scotland. They are an organisation who provide practical and financial support to thousands of disadvantaged young people and it has been an absolute privilege to be involved in some of their programs.
So I have decided to donate my royalties to the Prince’s Trust – the VMware Foundation will match the donations and I have set myself a target to raise £5,000 over the next 18 months.
It will make a real difference to a lot of poeple if we can raise that much so please, please, buy the book!!!
Will I do it again – what about you?
I don’t know – it was very rewarding but a massive effort. I think next time I will collaborate with someone (i.e. give them all the hard work to do 🙂 )
If anyone else is interested in writing something please let me know – I would be more than happy mentoring you through the process…