New VCP5-DCV Delta Exam

Yesterday, I got a message from VMware Education that they are offering an online VCP5-DCV recertification exam for a limited time. For any of you who have a VCP5 that is set to expire in the spring (that is most of you!), this is a terrific way to get recertified!

Here is the information from the VMware education site: https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=51919&ui=www_cert

VCP5-DCV-Delta Exam

Download the exam blueprint here. After a quick review of the exam blueprint, it appears that the objectives are approximately the same, however the VCP550D exam has 65 questions with 75 minutes to complete, while the VCP550 exam has 135 questions and a time limit of 120 minutes.

Here is a link to the Pearson Vue VCP550D exam page: https://www2.pearsonvue.com/testtaker/registration/ExamSeriesDetailPage/VMWAREINC/200140.

Pearson-VCP550D

VMware Education’s Recertification Policy has other avenues for recertification for those of you who are interested in advancing to the Advanced Professional level (VCAP) or may be interested in broadening your certification with additional Professional level (VCP) certifications in Cloud, End User Computing or Network Virtualization.

Note that the offer is only good through November 30, 2014.

Save 15% off VMware vSphere V5.5 Training and get a Free VCP Exam Voucher and a Free Gift

As a VCI, I regularly get asked about free exam vouchers or course discount deals… VMware education has a promotion running now through June 20, 2014 that includes a free VCP exam voucher, a 15% discount on a qualifying course and an additional gift.
If you have been waiting for a “deal” to afford the VCP certification, now is the time to save an get certified!

Save 15% off VMware vSphere V5.5 Training and get a
Free VCP Exam Voucher and a Free Gift

VSAN Deploy and Manage links

Here is a collection of links for resources mentioned in the VMware Virtual SAN: Deploy and Manage [V5.5] Train the Trainer class I am attending this week. Thanks to John Krueger for starting this list and sharing it with us! I plan to add to this list as we go and based on recommendations.

vSphere storage Guide – http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-55/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-551-storage-guide.pdf
vSphere Installation and Setup Guide – http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-55/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-551-installation-setup-guide.pdf

VMware Compatibility Guide for VSAN – https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=vsan

Virtual SAN Datasheet – http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/products/vsan/VMware_Virtual_SAN_Datasheet.pdf
VMware® Virtual SAN™ Design and Sizing Guide – http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/products/vsan/VSAN_Design_and_Sizing_Guide.pdf
VMware Virtual SAN Proof of Concept Guide – http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/products/vsan/VMware_Virtual_SAN_POC_Guide.pdf
VMware Virtual SAN Quick Monitoring & Troubleshooting Reference Guide – http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/products/vsan/VMware_Virtual_SAN_Quick_Monitoring_Reference_Guide.pdf
Virtual SAN YouTube video playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9MeVsU0uG65kM9iszj5KmNj01PiAWgvf
Virtual SAN (VSAN) Beta Webinar – How to Install, Configure & Manage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLfbeFoSQaI
How To Monitor Virtual SAN (VSAN) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHofTkK6K40

HOL-SDC-1308 – Virtual SAN (VSAN) and Virtual Storage Solutions – http://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/#lab/562

VMware Product Walkthrough for VSAN – http://featurewalkthrough.vmware.com/VSAN/

Cormac Hogan’s Blog – http://cormachogan.com/vsan/
Rawlinson Rivera’s Blog – http://www.punchingclouds.com/
Duncan Epping’s Blog – http://www.yellow-bricks.com/virtual-san/ – Duncan has collected a terrific compilation of blog posts related to VSAN!
Essential Virtual SAN (VSAN): Administrator’s Guide to VMware VSAN (VMware Press Technology) – pre-order for Aug. 29, 2014 release

FREE VMware e-learning course on VSAN

Around the office and with customers, I have had a lot of questions about VMware VSAN. VMware Education just released a free online e-learning class for VSAN:

 

 

VMware Virtual SAN Fundamentals [V 5.5]https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrreg/courses.cfm?ui=www_edu&a=one&id_subject=55806

 

VMware Virtual SAN Fundamentals [V 5.5] is available to customers free of charge.

 

After completing this course, you should be able to:

* Introduce concepts related to the architecture and features of VMware virtualized storage.

* Articulate Virtual SAN benefits

* Identify the primary issues associated with Virtual SAN configuration and management

* Understand the primary use cases and customer situations when Virtual SAN is best used, including high level technical qualification criteria.

* Identify VSAN elements

* Enlist the prerequisites needed to configure Virtual SAN.

 

This training would be valuable for any engineers, salespeople or anyone else who wants a solid foundation for understanding VMware VSAN.

vSphere: What’s New [V4.x to V5.5] supplemental weblinks

Various weblinks from the vSphere: What’s New [V4.x toV5.5] course-

http://packetlife.net/blog/2008/oct/18/cheat-sheets-tcpdump-and-wireshark/

Click to access tcpdump.pdf

Enabling vSphere Distributed Switch health check in the vSphere Web Client
Enhanced LACP Support on a vSphere 5.5 Distributed Switch

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetFlow

http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2011/08/vsphere-5-new-networking-features-netflow.html

http://v-reality.info/2012/02/setting-up-netflow-on-vsphere-distributed-switch/

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2032878

https://communities.intel.com/community/wired/blog/2010/09/07/sr-iov-explained

http://blog.scottlowe.org/2009/12/02/what-is-sr-iov/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l6T7bHNKeo – Flash Read Cache

Click to access VMware-vSphere-Flash-Read-Cache-FAQ.pdf

vSphere tags – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQnSzP7kj7E

VDP Direct to Host restore – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF7TnFncsgk

New VMware VCP Recertification Policy

Today, VMware Certification announced a change to the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) program with the institution of a recertification policy. The recertification policy is posted here:

http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=46667&ui=www_cert

In the policy post, it states that any VCP certification earned before March 10, 2013 needs to be recertified by March 10, 2015. Here are the three options for recertification:

  1. Take the current exam for your existing VCP certification solution track. For example, if you are a VCP3, you could take the current VCP5-Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) exam.
  2. Earn a new VCP certification in a different solution track. For example, if you are a VCP-Cloud, you could recertify by earning VCP5-Desktop (VCP5-DT) certification.
  3. Advance to the next level by earning a VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) certification. For example, if you are a VCP5-DCV you could earn VCAP5-DCA certification.

As is described in the recertification policy, VMware has added a note to our Mylearn transcripts:

VMware_Certification_transcript_note

In my case, I earned my VCP5-DCV in September of 2011, so I need to recertify within the next year. My transcript shows the expiration date:

VMware_Certification-recert-date

Here are use cases for recertification that were provided by VMware education:

Overview_Slides_-_Recertification_pptx

I also have a VCP5-DT and a VCAP4-DCD that were earned in 2011. For me, I am looking at this as motivation to get my VCAP-DCD updated and make good on a goal of getting a VCAP-DCA before March 2015.

I support this kind of recertification requirement and appreciate the value of keeping in touch with the current technology.

 

New VMware vSphere Blog post on ESXi console lockdown

This week I am back in the classroom teaching a vSphere 5.5: Install, Configure and Manage class for VMware in Sacramento, CA. During the first few sections of the class, the ESXi user interfaces and basic configuration tasks are presented, including an overview of the tasks that can be accomplished with DCUI (Direct Console User Interface). The topic of lockdown mode is mentioned as well as how to configure an ESXI host to use Active Directory for user authentication and a little advice on user account best practices. As part of the discussion, I bring up the use of an “ESX Admins” group in Active Directory, the treatment of the Root user password as an “in case of emergency” item to be tightly controlled and the use of lockdown mode.

Today when I was leaving class, I was happy to see a new blog post from Kyle Gleed of VMware entitled: “Restricting Access to the ESXi Host Console – Revisiting Lockdown Mode” and in particular his 5 step recommendation on restricting access to ESXi with version 5.1 or later:

1. Add your ESXi hosts to Active Directory. This not only allows users to use their existing active directory accounts to manage their ESXi hosts, but it eliminates the need to create and maintain local user accounts on each host.

2. Create the “ESX Admins” Group in Active Directory and add all your admins as members to this group. By default, when an ESXi hosts is added to active directory the “ESX Admins” group is assigned full admin privileges. Note that you can change the name of the group and customize the privileges (follow the link for information on how to do this).

3. Vault the “root” password. As I noted above, root is still able to override lockdown mode so you want to limit access to this account. With ESXi versions 5.1 and beyond you can now assign full admin rights to named users so it’s no longer necessary to use the root account for day-to-day administration. Don’t disable the root account, set a complex password and lock it away in a safe so you can access it if you ever need to.

4. Set a timeout for both the ESXiShellTimeOut and the ESXiShellInteractiveTimeOut. Should you ever need to temporarily enable access the ESXi Shell via SSH it’s good to set these timeouts so these services will automatically get shutdown and idle SSH/Shell sessions terminated.

5. Enable Lockdown Mode. Enabling lockdown mode prevents non-root users from logging onto the host console directly. This forces admins to manage the host through vCenter Server. Again, should a host ever become isolated from vCenter Server you can retrieve the root password and login as root to override the lockdown mode. Again, be sure not to disable the root user . The point is not to disable root access, but rather to avoid having admins use it for their day-to-day activities.

Terrific advice and I appreciate the timing, I will definitely refer to this in class this week and in the future!

 

Here is a hidden gem from VMware!

This week, while participating in a VMware vSphere” What’s New [v4.x-v5.5] train the trainer class, I came across this site: vmwarewalkthroughs.com. The site has walk throughs for the vCloud Suite, VMware NSX, VSAN and vCAC/Big Data.

vmwarewalkthroughs
Select the product from the home page.

VSANwalkthrough-1 NSXwalkthrough vCACwalkthrough vcloudwalkthrough
Then select the specific walk through from the navigation menu on the left.

vsanwalkthrough
Each walk through is guided by instructions and highlighted selections.

While the walk through is not really hands-on they do give you a good idea of the steps required to setup and perform administrative tasks with the various products.

For someone who is looking for a way to get a basic understanding and exposure to the products, this site is an excellent resource.

Upgrading vCenter Server to 5.5 in my lab – part5

Upgrading Update Manager

Read the following KB article:

Upgrading to vSphere Update Manager 5.5 on a Microsoft Windows platform (2058423)

Upgrade procedure:

Mount the vSphere 5.5 installation media. The installation wizard appears.

In the left pane, under VMware vCenter Support Tools, click vSphere Update Manager and then click Install.
vum55-01

Note: If any of the prerequisites are not met, they are listed in the right pane under Prerequisites.

Select the appropriate language from the dropdown and click OK.

If a previous version of vSphere Update Manager is already installed, the installer displays the message:
An earlier version of VMware vSphere Update Manager is already installed on this computer. Click OK to upgrade to 5.5.0
vum55-03
Click OK.

In the welcome screen, click Next.
vum55-04

Review the End User License Agreement. If you agree, select the I accept the terms in the license agreement option and click Next.

Optionally, select the Download updates from default sources immediately after installation option and click Next.
vum55-05
Note: This option automatically checks for downloading updates. If you want to review the default download sources or configure vSphere Update Manager to use a shared repository, deselect this option.

Enter the vCenter Server URL and a username and password and then click Next.
vum55-06

Notes:
If the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) or IP address of the vCenter Server and/or the username are not auto-populated, enter the FQDN and/or username manually.
Ensure that the username entered has a minimum of Register extension privilege to be able to register vSphere Update Manager with vCenter Server.

When prompted, enter the database user name and password for the existing database and click Next.
vum55-07

Select one of these options when prompted with a database upgrade warning:
vum55-08

Upgrade existing Update Manager database
     Note: You must acknowledge that a backup has been taken of the Update Manager database.
Do not upgrade the existing Update Manager database

Click Next.

Optionally, from the dropdown, select either the IP address or the FQDN of vSphere Update Manager and then, check if the alternative TCP port numbers for the SOAP, Web, and SSL ports of vCenter Server appear and then click Next.
vum55-09

Note from the KB article: These fields are automatically populated with the appropriate URL and port numbers if the service is installed in the current system. The default ports are 8084, 9084, and 9087 respectively. Ensure that vCenter Server and the ESXi/ESX hosts can resolve the vSphere Update Manager.

Note: The next few steps from the Upgrade procedure were not required in my upgrade. The settings from my previous installation were reused including the patch repository location.

Optionally, select the Yes, I have Internet connection and I want to configure proxy settings now option and click Next.

Provide the proxy server address and the proxy server port and then click Next.

Optionally, select the Authenticate proxy using the credentials below option if your proxy server requires authentication and then click Next.

Optionally, provide an alternative installation location and then click Next.
Note
If the current system does not have 120 GB of disk space available, a warning is displayed when you click Next. Click OK to acknowledge the warning.

In the Ready to Install screen, click Install to start the installation.
vum55-10

Installing…

When the installation completes, click Finish.
vum55-11

Installed programs shows the upgraded vCenter Update Manager:
vum55-12

Update Manager Client Plug-in Install

Connect the vSphere Client to a vCenter Server system with which Update Manager is registered.

Select Plug-ins > Manage Plug-ins.

In the Plug-in Manager window, click Download and install for the VMware vSphere Update Manager extension.
vum55-13

If you receive a security warning, click Run.
vum55-14

Choose the appropriate language.
vum55-15

On the Welcome screen, click Next.
vum55-16

Review the End User License Agreement. If you agree, select the I accept the terms in the license agreement option and click Next.

On the Ready to install page, click Install.
vum55-17

If you are prompted by User Access Control, Click Yes.

Installing…

Complete the Update Manager Client installation, and click Finish.
vum55-18

The status for the Update Manager extension is displayed as Enabled.
vum55-19

Click Close to close the Plug-in Manager window.

With vSphere Update Manager upgraded, I can now experiment with upgrading ESXi hosts from 5.1 to 5.5 automatically. There are still a few components left to upgrade, including the vSphere ESXI dump collector, the vSphere Syslog collector and vShere Auto Deploy. More posts to follow!

Upgrading vCenter Server to 5.5 in my lab – part 4

Upgrade to vCenter Server 5.5

This is the fourth post in a series of articles chronicling the process of upgrading my personal vSphere lab system from 5.1 to 5.5.

Before you get started with the upgrade, you should read the following KB article:

Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.5 on a Microsoft Windows platform (2058275)

Information Required for vCenter Server Installation or Upgrade

Upgrade procedure:

Mount the vSphere 5.5 installation media. The installation wizard appears.

In the left pane, under Custom Install, click vCenter Server and then click Install.
vcenter55-01
Note: If any of the prerequisites are not met, they are listed in the right pane under Prerequisites.

Select the appropriate language from the dropdown and the click OK.

In the welcome screen, click Next.
vcenter55-04
If a previous version of vCenter Server is installed, the welcome screen displays the message:
An earlier version of vCenter Server is already installed on this computer and will be upgraded to vCenter Server 5.5.0

Review the End User License Agreement. If you agree, select the I accept the terms in the license agreement option, and click Next.

In the license key screen, enter your license key and then click Next. (If you have a valid vCenter 5.x license and are performing an upgrade, your existing key will work when the install is completed.)
vcenter55-06

Note from the KB article: You can view your license keys in My VMware. For more information, see Viewing license keys in My VMware (2006831). If you do not enter a license key, you can proceed with a 60 Day Evaluation license and you see a popup, which prompts you to acknowledge that you are proceeding without a license.
vcenter55-07
Click Yes to proceed.

Enter the database user name and password for the existing database and click Next.
vcenter55-08

If you receive a warning about registered extensions like VMware vCenter Update Manager, Click OK. You will need to install compatible versions after the vCenter server install is complete.
vcenter55-09

Select Upgrade existing vCenter Server database when prompted with the database upgrade warning:
vcenter55-10

Note: You must acknowledge that a backup has been taken of the vCenter Server database and SSL certificates.
Click Next.

Select automatic or manually upgrade the vCenter Agents that are installed on ESXi hosts. Click Next.
vcenter55-11

Select the user type that the vCenter Server should run with and click Next.
You can use one of these options:

    • Use Windows Local System Account
    • Use an alternate account  (In production deployments, I always use a specific account for the vCenter Server service.)

In this lab instance, I have used the Windows Local System Account.
vcenter55-12

Optionally, provide an alternative TCP port number for the VMware VirtualCenter Server service and click Next.
vcenter55-13
Note
: Changing the default ports is recommended only if you have an unchangeable port conflict on the same system.

Select one of these inventory sizes, Click Next.
vcenter55-14
Small is sufficient for my lab environment.

Enter the SSO Lookup Service URL and SSO administrator username and password. You may be prompted to install the Lookup Service Certificate.
vcenter55-15

Note: You must use the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) and not the IP address.  Using the IP  may result in certificate related errors when starting vCenter Server. For more information, see vCenter Server 5.x fails to start after upgrading Single Sign-On configuration from vSphere 5.1 to vSphere 5.5 (2058080).

Click Next.

When prompted, verify the fingerprint of the certificate and click Yes.
vcenter55-16

In the vCenter Inventory Service Information dialog, check if the FQDN of the vCenter Inventory Service URL and port number are displayed. These fields are auto-populated.
vcenter55-17
Notes
:

    • If the FQDN is not auto-populated, enter the FQDN manually.
    • The default port is 10443.

Click Next.
Optionally, provide an alternative installation location and then click Next. (The installer used the path from my existing vCenter server install.)
vcenter55-18

Notes from the KB article:

    • The installation path of vCenter Server must be compatible with the installation requirements for  Microsoft Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM/AD LDS). The  installation path cannot contain non-ASCII characters, commas (,), periods (.), exclamation marks (!), pound signs (#), at signs (@), or percentage signs (%).
    • The path must conform to NTFS naming restrictions.  For more information, see the Microsoft TechNet article Naming Files, Paths, and Namespaces.
    • The installation requires 4 GB of disk space to be available. For more information, see the Hardware Requirement for vCenter Server, the vSphere Web Client, vCenter Inventory Service, and vCenter Single Sign-On section in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

In the Ready to Install screen, click Install.
vcenter55-19

Installing…
vcenter55-25

When the installation completes, click Finish.
vcenter55-26

Installed programs showing upgraded vCenter Server and related components.
vcenter55-27

Next up is the upgrade of vCenter Update Manager.