TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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#VCDX Design Scenario “Tips”

Yesterday I ran some face to face mocks at Dell EMC’s offices in Brentford UK and during part of those at the end we discussed the design scenario and what i recommend people practice. I have partly mentioned some of it already in a posting i did after the last face to face mocks here. Additional to that I was showing those people that were going to defend this coming week the plan I had around the things I wanted to ensure I asked and also what I felt I needed to keep in mind during the design scenario. Now i have to make it clear I am not a panellist nor have i seen nor know the rubric the scenario is scored on but what worked for me at least are the following:

Question any information that doesn’t make sense!!!!

Compute

1. NUMA aware applications/OS’s?

2. If not how wide is the VM that is not NUMA aware?

3. Amount of growth?

4. Total vCPUs? Divide that by 5

5. Peak GHz for CPU?

6. Peak RAM for Memory?

7. PCIE connected hardware or USB dongles?

8. Rack or Blade? If blade are they half or full and logical diagram spreading across chassis. FDM mention

9. What kinds of applications are on these servers?

10. Scale up or scale out? N+ value

11. Right size VM’s after conversion

12. Add N+ value

 

Storage

1. FC,FCoE,iSCSI,NFS,VSAN,vFRC

2. Existing Tiers of Storage?

3. Amount of Free space? Is this dedicated to the project? How long is the support for this?

4. PEAK IOPS

5. Average IO size

6. Read/write ratios

7. SP speeds? Active passive,active active, ALUA?

8. Standard access switch and core setup?

9. Speed of existing FC switches if applicable?

10. Existing HBA’s? speeds of these HBA’s?

11. Software or hardware initiators?

12. CHAP?

13. IOPS, Amount of required storage?

14. Amount of growth?

 

Network

1. Traditional or CLOS?

2. North/south or East/West traffic?

3. vSS,vDS on N1KV?

4. Hybrid or vDS only?

5. 1GbE or 10GbE?

6. Converged Network Adapter or 10GbE?

7. Peak network throughput required?

8. Speeds of Network Switches

9. MTU for Jumbo frames 9000

 

VIM

1. HA and DRS? (limit 32 hosts and 3000 VM’s)

2. Dedicated management cluster?

3. Virtual vCenter or VCSA?

4. Linked Mode?

5. vCenter heartbeat

6. VUM and UMDS?

7. BC/DR?

8. vCenter design to separate vCenter from DB

 

I also did a second prep list that is very much alike to the one above but some slight addtional parts and for the cenceptual were the questions i had made a sentence out of to remember to ask them as i felt they gave me a good start and it was what i asked myself during each practice of the design scenario so when i did it in the defence it just felt like another practice and so calmed my nerves

 

Conceptual

  • Pick out the main objective of the project (design a cluster for the migrated workloads)
  • Write down all other requirements ,assumptions ,risks and constraints
  • Availability Requirements? <- if over 99.9 then warn of additional costs
  • N+ requirements
  • If existing hardware then how old? Is it dedicated to the project? What speeds and free space does it have? Processor family? NIC speeds? Room for growth? Anything missing that is required (HBA cards or 10GB NICS)
  • Consolidation and containment seem to always come up so ask about the steps for migrating the servers to vm’s and minimizing the risk of server sprawl….
  • Licencing?
  • Budget?
  • BC/DR? <- How soon is the requirement for the failover site and is the site even built? Distances and latency if already built

 

Compute

  • Total number of CPU’s <- Question/highlight if really high or low
  • Are applications/OS’s NUMA aware? What is the largest non numa aware vm?
  • Calculate number of required hosts
  • Very quick mention that could work it out with Peak CPU and Peak RAM also but DON’T DO THIS CALC
  • Add N+ to the total number and make sure the cluster doesn’t go over 32 or 3k vm’s (This was applicable to my vSphere 5.0 design where the limit was 32)
  • Right size VM’s after conversion

 

Storage

  • Peak Storage ,Peak IOPS,Average IO,Read/write? <- Question/highlight if really high or low
  • Storage Protocol?
  • Active/Active, Active/Passive,ALUA?
  • Different workloads require different tiers of storage?
  • Allocate RAID levels to different tiers

 

Network

  • Traditional Core access switch setup?
  • Total Peak throughput <- Question/highlight if really high or low
  • North/south and east/west
  • 1GB or 10GB
  • CNA or 10GB
  • vSS,Hybrid or VDS based on licencing question and on amount of required throughput and storage protocol

 

VIM

  • HA and DRS with the N+1 portion from earlier included
  • If avail was high and they keep to it then vCenter heartbeat
  • Dedicated Management Cluster
  • Separation of database and vCenter for resiliency
  • vSphere licences from conceptual questions
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VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 1.1 on the #vBrownbag

Last night I decided an hour before the planned time for the first vBrownbag VCAP6-DCV Design Objectives series to pull together a presentation and take on the objective. Jason Grierson had partly put his hand up for the objective but was unable to complete his before last night but agreed to join me on the broadcast and it worked out a life saver.Unfortunately due to some very poor hotel Wi-Fi I had some issues getting my presentation to show on the broadcast and so Jason stepped in to go over the parts he had done for the objective and did an unbelievable job and then I presented mine afterwards so we managed to have two VCDX’s covering the one objective so hopefully it brings extra value. My presentation from the broadcast is below

The recording of the session is also below

 

Gregg


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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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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-CMA Design Objective 1.4 – Identify Existing Business Practices and Organizational Structure

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

Evaluate the customer-s current capacity requirements.

Categorize existing workloads.

  • Again this can be done via vROps and via the usage of dashboards or just via the built in categories provided by vROps. Apart from this I personally can’t see any other ways to cover this piece so if you think of anything then please do let me know.

Recognize organizational structure and governance requirements.

  • Governance for companies is a major design challenge but is also one of the biggest requirements you have to meet during a project. There are a wide range of governance policies out there from PCI to security hardening to HIPAA. For this piece I am taking it that during a design scenario the customer will mention some kind of governance they need to keep to and this decision will obviously impact how the solution is designed.
  • Organisational structure is understanding different departments and their possible requirments for separation and seeing as vRealize Business is mentioned in the study tools in the exam blueprint then the ability of vRB to do show-back and chargeback on different departments/Business Groups within vRA.

Analyze application architecture.

  • This is a lot like a previous sections requirements where you need to understand how an application is architected to meet the requirements of the application. As I mentioned this can be done via your design workshops with the application owners and via vRealize Infrastructure Navigator. Once you have an understanding this can then be mapped out in Application services or via the usage of multi-machine blueprints to name but two options. What they are going to test you on here is most likely diagrams of applications and then understanding how they are configured. Or possibly even a Visio style diagram where you have to take their text information and design the applications architecture in “AS”. Practicing doing this kind of design in Visio is a great way of practicing this skill.

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 2.1.

Gregg


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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 1.1 – Gather and Analyze Business Requirements.

Due to my decision to aim for my VCDX6-CMA this year and thereby to get it submitted in time for the only VCDX-CMA defence of the year (so far) I have had to sign 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

Associate a stakeholder with the information that needs to be collected.

  • This is down to the questions you need to ask and also who you need to ask these questions. These questions are ones you are going to ask during the design workshop for the design/project. For the workshop you need to make sure you have the applicable project participants/stakeholders who can join the workshops (depends if you want one big one where people come and go at certain points or multiple ones where you speak to each business unit/ team). For the stakeholder meetings/design workshops I personally like to try bring in the following people, this does vary depending on the project and what has been chosen but 9/10 times these are the people you want to speak to:
      • Virtualisation administrators (if applicable. If not already present then future administrators of the solution)
      • Server Hardware Administrators
      • Backup Administrators
      • Storage Administrators
      • Desktop/OS Administrators
      • Network Administrators
      • Application Administrators (these are very important as their applications may have very specific requirements)
      • Security Officer
      • Project Sponsors
      • End users/ Developers/ Help desk personnel (this I find is helpful to find out what are the current support desk tickets/problems the company are facing and if these will impact the project in any way. Also these discussions are easy to have in the hallway/over a coffee but have alerted me to unknown risks that would have severely impacted the design and delivery)

Utilize customer inventory and assessment data from the current environment to define a baseline state.

  • This is a really strange one for a vRA design as this normally applies for a vSphere design where you are possibly migrating workloads into a new environment but I’ll take this as possibly an assessment of the current vSphere estate and if it is a fit for the customers’ requirements from vRA. This is still conceptual so basic things like sites connectivity possibilities if they want off site DR or stretched clusters.
  • This could also mean the workloads being created on the vRA portal as catalogue items are currently workloads running somewhere and an analysis of these to determine possibly sizing metrics to have for example 1000 of a certain developer workstation in the vRA environment is a possibility. Also if the workstations all require isolation from each other for something like CD/CI then you will know you will need Level 4-8 capabilities to provide this isolation from NSX or Palo Alto for example.

Analyze information from customer interviews to explicitly define customer objectives for a conceptual design.

  • · I think this is fairly straight forward as from the design workshops and interviews you have collected what their objectives are and also ensured from all the workshops there are no obvious conflicts of people’s plans for the solution they want you to design. A “normal” customer objectives piece would be:
    • Customer XYZ has embarked on a strategy to increase extensively the level of automation and the rate of virtualization of data centre services. The intention is to enable application and system owners to consume on demand services as a catalogue-based service through a web portal. By initiating this project, XYZ aims to create a platform for IT service delivery that:
      • Is cost-effective through improved resource utilization with the use of cloud management software.
      • Can host 1000 developer workloads.
      • Increases agility through the use of automation and virtualization provided by cloud management software.
      • Is accessible through the use of their custom XYZ-Cloud portal for the consumption of IT Services.
    • Customer XYZ has chosen VMware vRealize™ Automation™ to provide their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Given results of a requirements gathering survey, develop requirements for a conceptual design.

  • Again this should be relatively straight forward for anyone as you’ve now spoken to all the applicable people and have taken down all their requirements and ensured there are no requirements conflicts. Requirements have to be very precise so that there is no misinterpretation that could cause scope creep and it forces you to ensure you know exactly what the customer requires and that they validate this as correct before you start the logical design. For example a requirement of “Customer wants high availability” is far too vague as everyone might have a different understanding of what high availability means. Your requirement should be “Customer wants 99.99% availability for the front end portal and 99.9% availability for consumer workloads outside of scheduled maintenance windows”. You would also include RPO and RTO values for these in my opinion in subsequent requirements so that SLA mapping is clear.

Categorize business requirements by infrastructure quality to prepare for a logical design.

  • I’m glad this is mentioned here as for the VCDX they are very big advocates for mapping your requirements to the infrastructure qualities. If you don’t know what the infrastructure qualities are they are:
    • Availability
    • Manageability
    • Performance
    • Recoverability
    • Security
  • So for example my previous concise requirement would fall under Availability, application of PCI/SOX/Hardening guidelines would fall under security, and ability to run the 1000 developer workloads would be performance.
  • This is also very helpful if you are doing requirements mapping from the conceptual requirements to the logical design decisions to the physical design decisions.

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 1.2.

Gregg


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VCDX Defences 2015

A very quick posting to alert people that the defence dates additional to PEX for 2015 have been released.

https://communities.vmware.com/thread/494802

Defences will be held simultaneously at Frimley (UK), Palo Alto (US) and Singapore (Asia) in June and October with more dates possibly created if there is additional demand.

I am personally looking at doing my second attempt for the June defences in Frimley and listed all the resources I’m using for my second attempt which I have been making my way through since late November 2014.

The EMEA #vBrownbag are also running a VCDX series which should be beneficial for those people thinking of defending or just wanting to know more about the certification.

Good luck to all of those looking to defend this year and let me know if you are defending as there is a VCDX study group running already for PEX and one slowly starting for the June defences.

Gregg