TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCAP6-CMA Design achievement unlocked

yeahbuddy

This morning on my second attempt I passed the VCAP6-CMA Design exam. For those that aren’t sure what the exam is it is the VMware Certified Advance Professional –Cloud Management & Automation Design exam. The exam is a 3 hour exam where you have to answer 23 questions consisting of a variable number of drag and drop as well as Visio style question all around vRA 6.2 design.

I’m not going to break any NDA’s around the exam so please don’t ask. What I will do however is list here what resources I found helped me the best to pass the exam this time around and will add these resources if they are not there already to my VCAP6-CMA Design study resources page and also give advice keeping to the NDA that I feel would have possibly helped me pass the first time.

  • The VMware Cloud Automation: Design and Deploy Fast Track course is really great and certainly fills in any gaps in your knowledge that you might have. I was fortunate to be able to do it due to having access from my work white labelled as VMware PSO. The course is good but if you have been doing enterprise level vRA designs for a number of years like I have it can be very slow at points!!
  • The the vRealize Automation Reference Architecture from VMware was brilliant when i started learning vRA and it is still true. One word of advice is to not only spend time learning vRA components which are obviously important but also what supporting technologies are required for certain functions and capabilities to be possible (NSX, vRB, Endpoints, vSphere etc etc) .
  • Remember the exam is currently based on vRA 6.2 so all those fancy features you get in vRA 7.x aren’t possible during the exam so you need to know how it was done previous to those features if possible at all. A great resource I used to remind myself how it was done in vRA 6.2 was to  read the reference architecture i listed above.
  • This ones a biggie and i used two different resources for it, it is the various roles in vRA and what permissions each gives you. Sam McGeown’s mindmaps were the first I used as well as Grant Orchards mindmaps. Knowing what each role does and what permissions it gives is extremely important and maps directly to VCAP6-CMA objective 4.2. Remember a good design is all about giving the least privileges possible.
  • This one I didn’t expect to have to learn as much about and ties into point number two, I read the NSX Design Guide as design objective 3.5 mentions NSX but the amount of NSX knowledge needed for the exam was certainly much more than I expected so for my second attempt i made sure I was prepared.
  • This is part of the study resources for the exam but the amount of application services weightage amazed me so make sure you have read and fully understand all the capabilities and requirements of vRealize Application Services.
  • Last one that is weighted more than I expected is machine extensibility which ties in objective 8.2.

The exam is certainly worded strangely and one bit of advice that i stumbled across during my second exam is that if the text in the question seems to be a repeat of an earlier one and the options to build it don’t match then try click the wide option for the question text and it might bring up the correct text for the question. Good luck if you are planning to take the exam and for me it’s now onto prep for my VCDX6-CMA defence in just over a week.

Gregg


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VCP6-CMA

A number of weeks ago I sat my VCP6-CMA exam (I’ve been working on my VCDX6-CMA submission hence the delay in posting this) after being told that passing one of the hopefully soon to be released VCAP6-CMA exams doesn’t automatically get you the underlying VCP6.

So with three days to go before the exam I managed to sit down and study for the exam. Now this isn’t something  would recommend and it wasn’t something I had planned but with my having been working on a very large scale vRA 6 design and deployment for the last 18 months I took a chance. The blueprint covers everything you need to know just like all the other exams and there are no tricks where things aren’t on the blueprint but in the exam.

For study resources I used everything mentioned on my VCP6-CMA page to prepare. The resources available are perfect and the Pluralsight courses as well as the ICM on demand course were integral in my preparations (albeit i had watched these quite a while ago so didn’t re-watch them due to time constraints).

The exam is extremely fair and if you have used vRA for a while either in production, test or in your lab and you learn all the parts on the blueprint around vRA and vRB then you should have no issues passing the exam.

I finished the exam with 20 minutes to spare and got a reasonable 420 out of 500. 🙂

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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 2.1 – Map Business Requirements to the Logical Design

Due to my decision to aim for my VCDX6-CMA this year and thereby to get it in in time for the only VCDX-CMA defence of the year (so far) I have signed up for the VCAP6-CMA Design beta exam. I’ve been working on a very large-scale vRA 6.2 project for the past 14 months and so I hope this experience of designing and building it as well as my preparations via these objectives breakdown (plus my study resources) and using some of my VCDX5-DCV knowledge will help me. So I thought I would slowly post up each objective for my own benefit but also hopefully help other people looking to pass the VCAP6-CMA Design exam (beta or GA).I will be consolidating all the objectives on my blog page here.

Knowledge

Analyze requirements for functional and non-functional elements.

  • Analysing requirements and determining if they are functional or non-functional is the same method as you would do for the DCD or DTD exams. I mentioned in an earlier objective breakdown that if it is a constraint it is a non-functional requirement. Although the way I always did it for my DCD is that functional is when something should DO something & non-functional is HOW that something should be done. Scott Lowe covers them nicely in his vSphere Design Trainsignal videos.

Build non-functional requirements into a specific logical design.

  • This I’ll take it that you will be given non-functional requirements such as the usage of certain storage or networking or a front end portal and have to include it in a Visio style diagram. So using the storage one they might say they have iSCSI storage and you have to ensure you have it designed correctly for the usage of this storage.

Translate stated business requirements into a logical design.

  • Just like I covered in a previous objective you have to take down the objectives in a number of design workshops and interviews and now that they are defined and are accurate and signed off you can apply this into a logical design. So for example if they have stated they want the solution to cover two sites then you will design for maybe a stretched cluster or two instances running with two clustered vRA appliances with one on each site and the underlying vRA infrastructure below it. The vRA reference architecture gives a great overview of different design outlines and methods.

Incorporate the current state of a customer environment into a logical design.

  • Really straight forward in my opinion. If they say that their environment has certain storage or number of sites or limitations of networking etc then incorporate that into the design. This will have all been collected from design workshops, current state analysis as mentioned in the previous objective and interviews with SME’s.

VMware Recommended Tools

The VMware recommended study tools for this objective are:

If you disagree with anything I’ve said above then please let me know and if I agree (I’m always open to learning) then I will update the posting. Now onto objective 2.2.

Gregg


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VCAP6 Design Beta Exams Released

A very quick posting around the release of the VCAP6 design beta exams. I know the internal VMware round was happening this week and now they have opened the design beta exams for the DTM,CMA and DCV https://blogs.vmware.com/education/2016/02/new-vcap6-beta-exams-now-available.html . make sure you register for the one you want most first as the validation can take a bit of time and you can only do one authorisation at a time it seems. Here’s hoping the VCAP6 beta exams go better that the VCP6 beta exams did.

 

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight – Sam McGeown

Name: Sam McGeown

Twitter Handle: @sammcgeown

Blog URL: www.definit.co.uk

Current Employer: Xtravirt

VCDX #: 204

How did you get into using VMware?

I used to manage the IT and web servers for a charity, so the budgets were extremely tight – I had one physical server for development to replicate the live IIS and MSSQL environment and I stumbled across VMware Server. It was like magic – two servers running on one! Later that became a stand-alone ESX server and I went on from there!

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

Well Gregg, can you think of anyone who twists people’s arms into going for VCDX?

I was never sure that I could defend VCDX! I did my first VCAP (the DCA) in August 2013 which is the first real step of the path to VCDX, and I did the DCD a few months later at VMworld. Once I had those under my belt I started felt a bit more confident and that maybe it wasn’t unobtainable!

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

Somewhat foolishly, I swapped track from datacenter to cloud at the beginning of 2015. I had been working on a DCV design, but it wasn’t great and would’ve required a lot of fictitious components. A huge vCloud Director project landed and it was perfect for VCDX so I started study for the cloud VCAP exams. Then the CIA and CID were retired with no replacement and I was left hanging for a few days before VMware announced they would waive the VCAP requirements for anyone submitting for the CMA.

The project I used started in January 2015 and ran for about eight weeks, it was finished with two weeks to the submission deadline for the June defence that year – I managed to submit it but it was a rush! I failed that first defence and spent a bit more time preparing for the second attempt this October, which I then passed – so on the face of it 10 months.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

· Just do it! Don’t put VCDX on a pedestal – it is achievable!

· Read the blueprint…repeatedly – it tells you everything you need to cover

· Build a small study group of people who you can meet with regularly – online is fine – and review, practice and study together.

· Get regular input from a VCDX mentor – they’ll help keep you on track and discover strengths and weaknesses.

· Don’t wait to find out if you are invited to defend – start working towards it as soon as you’ve submitted.

· If you get invited to defend don’t just practice your presentation – practice the design and troubleshooting scenarios too.

· Talk to your partner/wife/husband/family and make sure they are with you – you will need their support and their patience!

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

That’s a tough one – as you say, it’s a journey, so the whole experience builds toward the end goal. I think I needed the experience of the first defence to be able to pass the second. I did rush my first submission, but I don’t think it would’ve made any difference if I had waited and taken my time.

I think I should’ve engaged earlier with a study group on my first attempt, but I honestly don’t know if that would’ve helped me pass first time.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

Ask me in 6 months? It’s a bit too new to really say, it hasn’t really sunk in for me yet!

The journey has been hugely rewarding – I am a *far* better architect now than I was at the start of the journey. On a personal level, setting huge targets and then achieving them is a massively rewarding process – I think it gives you a huge amount of confidence to do so. Dealing with the failure of the first defence was tough, really tough, but moving past it, trying again, and succeeding – well that was flipping awesome!


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What’s New in vRealize Automation 6.2

Today at VMworld Europe, VMware are going to announce vRealize Automation 6.2 which is the renamed vCloud Automation Center solution but obviously the next version which is due to be available in Q4 this year. It does seem like there is a new version every six months of the solution as vCAC 6.1 was only GA 6 weeks ago which added a whole host of new features.

Below is an overview of what is being added in the vRealize Automation 6.2 product, fortunately there isn’t a change to the architecture so for those who have recently deployed vCAC 6.1 to customer like I have recently you don’t have to stress about doing the upgrade like it was between previous versions.

Upgrade and Migrate to vCAC 6.1

Release 6.0.1.1 to release 6.1

  • 6.0 must first be upgraded to 6.0.1.1
  • In-place upgrade from 6.0.1.1 to 6.1
  • Application Services (AppD) requires side-by side migration

Release 5.2.1 to release 6.1

  • Older versions must be first upgrade to 5.2.1
  • 6.1 will be installed side by side with 5.2.1
  • A migration utility will move data from 5.2.1 to new 6.1 deployment
  • Will require some system down time
  • Does not include AppD

vRealize Automation 6.2 Summary

Enhanced integration between vRealize Operations and Automation

  • Health status displays
  • Reclaims inactive VMs

Admin Friendly CLI

  • Simplify scripting of vRealize Automation commands

Enhanced Endpoint Support

  • vSphere 6 (Q1-15)
  • XenDesktop 7
  • Enhancements to vCloud Air

Proxy Support

  • Pay as you go support (Q1-2015)
  • OpenStack (Havana)

vRealize Automation 6.2 In-Depth

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CloudClient

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CloudClient Overview

  • Command-line utility that provides verb-based access with a unified interface across the vCAC APIs (including IaaS, Applications, vCO)
  • Focused on providing an easy-to-use command-line interface for the IT administrator where scripting and CLI use is more feasible than direct API calls
  • Stable interface while underlying APIs may change over time
  • Provides common security; exception handling; JSON, CSV and tabular formatting; file export; auto login for scripting (password and keyfiles); and auto-generated documentation.
  • Available as a separate Download in Early Q4 (supports 6.1)

Make sure you  watch the live VMworld keynote to learn more.


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vRealize Operations 6.0

Today at VMworld EU there are going to be a number of announcements and as has become the norm for VMworld Europe, VMware are making a number of announcements around their new management solutions. One of these announcements is vRealize Operations 6.0.

If you are wondering what I mean with the vRealize name then below is a very quick summary:

vRealize Suite

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VMware vRealize is changing the name of the management solutions into simpler packaging and suites and as announced at VMworld US, vRealize Air Operations,Automation and Business will be available soon to provide a new SaaS solution for VMware customers via the renamed vCloud Air offering.

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vRealize Operations 6

There are a number of new features and enhancements in vRealize Operations 6.0 one of these is the new scale-out architecture allowing high resiliency and availability as well as self monitoring to ensure that if an instance/slice is lost, it is reported and brought back seamlessly.

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vRealize Operations 6.0 is now providing a public set of RESTful API’s to allow customers and partners to extend as well as get information in and out with ease so that it can be used for custom reporting or in the case of a project i have been on recently will allow monitoring of vCAC DEM’s and automatic provisioning of more if required.

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The management dashboard of vRealize Operations 6.0 has maintained the same three panels on health Risk and Efficiency to  provide viewing and reporting of immediate and future problems as well as opportunities to optimise. With vRealize Operations 6.0 you now have a new section below each of the three panels there are now problem alerts which give you correlation of problems and the ability to click the alerts to see the details as shown below.

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There is also the ability to dig deeper into the problems by using vRealize Log Insight which can send alerts into vRealize Operations 6.0 if certain problems arise and allow custom reporting and alerting for partners and bigger customers who are looking for custom reporting and deep analysis.

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Below is a summary of all the new features and solutions in vRealize Operations 6.0 allowing reporting of public and private architecture as well as simplistic single pane of glass management.

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One of the biggest abilities of vRealize Operations 6.0 that I really like and i think will make all the customers I see as a consultant very happy is the support for new SDDC and hybrid cloud platforms meaning you can now monitor and report on networking,storage, OpenStack and vCloud Air. This will truly allow you to manage and report on your whole SDDC environment.

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vRealize Operations 6.0 NSX Management Pack

With vRealize Operations 6.o as shown above is the ability to monitor and report on SDN solution NSX. With vRealize Operations 6.0 there is a new management pack for NSX.In the image below, you can see the heat map showing the transport layer. The transport layer is effectively all of the transport nodes (NSX term for hypervisors). These boxes are the ESX hosts registered with NSX, grouped by a particular transport zone. Transport zone is a group of hypervisors that share the same transport behaviour. On the bottom, the widget shows the top talkers. If there is a lot of traffic, this widget can help us figure out which VMs are responsible for the most network traffic.

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There are three NSX dashboards: NSX main dashboard, NSX logical topology and NSX Edge services.

The current view is from the NSX main dashboard. Currently, we are a seeing information for a particular NSX Manager instance. The control plane widget is all the objects corresponding to the NSX Manager (API and connection to the vCenter Server for configuration), Controllers (responsible for configuring switches), Edge (VMs that deploy certain logical network services like DHCP, Load balancer etc. ), Logical Routers (Distributed routers responsible for configuring the routing software on each individual host).

All the alerts related to NSX are captured in Open Alerts widgets. This is based on hard threshold violations. We can see a number of High Availability violations. We have 40-50 alerts that are configured out of the box. We have detailed documentation on each of these metrics and what the alerts mean.

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vRealize Operations Management Pack for OpenStack

OpenStack is emerging as the leading cloud platform for enterprises and some SPs. VMware are going to provide a management pack to support OpenStack providers. It will mostly be sold to existing vSphere customers who have OpenStack deployments currently.

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  • Unified UI for vSphere, NSX, OpenStack and other resources
  • Health, Risk and Efficiency badges for OpenStack objects
  • Sub-badges for OpenStack objects (workload, faults etc.) and capacity model
  • Problem detection and remediation for OpenStack infrastructure and tenants
  • Reporting templates for activity, capacity and issue frequency

OpenStack Compute, Storage & Network Infrastructure Analytics

  • Inventory, availability and capacity of ESX and non-ESX hosts, NSX and vSphere data stores registered with OpenStack
  • Integration with vSphere and NSX Multi Hypervisor Management Packs

OpenStack Controller Services Dashboard

  • Correlation of OpenStack Controllers to vSphere VMs
  • Services availability monitoring

Availability

  • Target GA date is Dec 2014

vRealize Operations Management Pack for vCloud Air

’Hybrid Cloud ‘Analytics

  • Provides utilization for cloud resources and deep VM performance data
  • Supports shared and dedicated/private Cloud
  • Includes 40 VM metrics related to CPU/memory/disk/network
  • Collects change events and resource topology from vCloud Air

Comprehensive vSphere like Out-of-box Dashboards

  • One operations console across private and public clouds
  • Out-of-the-box dashboards enable isolation and quick resolution of performance issue

Multiple Resources Supported

  • vCHS Cloud, vCHS Region, vCHS vApp, VDC ,VM, Cloud Type

All Form Factors Supported

  • vApp, Standalone – Windows and Linux

What’s Coming Next

  • Storage and networking service resource details or metrics

Summary

vRealize Operations 6.0 is going to enable both SMB and Enterprise customers who have either or both on premise and off premise workloads in their private or public clouds to monitor, report and make more efficient their environments.  I am looking forward to working with vRealize Operations 6.0 and seeing all the capabilities especially through the RESTful API availability to enable my customers both large and small to get all the reporting and management they require integrated into their existing solutions.Make sure you  watch the live VMworld keynote to learn more.