VMworld 2020 Odyssey Challenge Recap

 During VMworld I participated in the VMworld 2020 Odyssey Challenge. It was the first time I participated in a competition of this type and I must say it was a lot of fun.

What is the VMworld Odyssey Challenge?

This is a competition that started at VMworld in 2019. It was originally a team-based competition where each team competes to get the highest amount of points in the shortest amount of time by completing very specific VMware solution tasks (e.g. vSphere, vSAN, vRA, Horizon, Tanzu, etc.). Due to COVID-19 and the VMworld Digital Event, the Odyssey Challenge evolved to be an individual competition that was run remotely.

How does it work?

VMworld 2020 Odyssey had two separate tracks, the Americas and EMEA. Each had four rounds, with the top 25 rankings of Rounds 1 and 2 being moved into Round 3 for a total of 50 competitors. The top 25 of Round 3 then moved onto Round 4. The top 3 finishers of Round 4 received the prizes (First place: Intel NUC, Second place: Apple Watch, Third place: Bluetooth headphones). Rounds 1 and 2 were run in the previous 2-weeks leading up to VMworld and Rounds 3 and 4 were scheduled during the week of VMworld.

What does it cost to compete?

Only VMworld 2020 Premier Pass holders were allowed to register for Rounds 1 and 2. They appeared in the VMworld 2020 Content Catalog for attendees to sign up to.

What platform is used for Odyssey?

The VMware Hands on Labs is used to deliver the Odyssey Challenge lab environments. There is an Odyssey Challenge app that runs and validates that each task is completed (via PowerShell) before you can progress to the next task. Each Round of the competition typically has 4 to 5 tasks that need to be completed to finish the round.

What type of tasks do you need to complete?

It depends upon the Odyssey Lab being tested (e.g. vSphere, vSAN, NSX-T, Tanzu, etc.), but the first few tasks are quite simple (e.g. enable vSphere HA and DRS) and then the final 1 or 2 tasks will increase in difficulty and require advanced knowledge to complete. The trick to being successful, is to be able to complete the tasks quickly with a high level of accuracy with minimal use of Google. This means you need to have prepared yourself beforehand for each technology area. You can use the HOL lab that the Odyssey Challenge is based upon to practice in the days before the event. You receive points for completing each task and any additional time left on the clock from the 30-minute timer is also converted into points.

Is there any kind of live commentary while the competition runs?

For Rounds 1 and 2, no. But in Rounds 3 and 4, there was a live Twitch stream where VMware staff provide a running discussion as the Round progressed. There was also a Twitch stream where the winners for AMER and EMEA were interviewed.

How can you access Odyssey Challenge now?

VMUG sometimes runs the VMware Odyssey event as a separate competition and the VMware Hands on Labs has a library of Odyssey Challenges that you can access at anytime.

What were the results?

Screenshots of the results for AMER and EMEA Rounds 1 to 4 are below.

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Chief Enterprise Architect and Strategist, 4xVCDX#133, NPX#8, DECM-EA.