TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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Blog Sponsor – Pluralsight

I am pleased to announce the second sponsor of my blog: Pluralsight . I am really excited by this sponsorship as I have been a massive fan and user of Pluralsight’s and previously Trainsignal’s videos and online courses for years and they  have helped me pass all of my certifications within the last 7 years so you can understand how fond of the courses I am.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight’s purchase of Trainsignal has enabled the videos to now be available via your tablet and gives you the ability to download videos to your tablet so you can watch them without needing Wi-Fi like on a train or plane. I honestly can’t recommend them enough and would highly recommend you give them a try and sign up for their no obligation 10-day free trial. They have videos ranging from VMware technologies, learning programming languages from scratch or advanced courses , Windows technologies,hacking, A+ N+ , leadership courses and Scrum fundamentals to name but a fraction of the courses. For some of the certifications I have recommended and personally used Pluralsight courses for and will be using again in the future have a look at the following study resources pages and blog posting:

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-study-resources/vcp5/

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-study-resources/vcap5-dca-dcd/

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-x-cloud-study-resources/vcp5-iaas-and-vcp5-cloud/

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-x-cloud-study-resources/vcap5-cia-and-cid/

https://thesaffageek.co.uk/2014/04/28/vcdx-prep-round-2/

 

Gregg

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VCAP5-DCA: Objective 6

Objective 6 is what I believe is the core basis of the DCA exam as being able to effectively troubleshoot anything in your environment means you know all the varying methods to do things and how things are tied together and that is real administration. For this section I’ve been doing loads and loads of lab time from just building my lab and coming across certain problems or failures along the way which I’ve been trying to fix via the vMA, the command line and even the DCUI and purposely breaking things/causing problems just so I can practice fixing them . I think the best way of really learning these skills is putting in a solid amount of time in your lab as I believe the reason I failed my VCAP4-DCA the first time was down to not enough lab hours. When you’re under the time and nerve constraints that are part of the VCAP-DCA you make mistakes you wouldn’t normally do. I have also re-watched the Trainsignal VMware vSphere Troubleshooting Training videos as David does a brilliant job covering it all.

There aren’t many differences between the VCAP4-DCA Objective 6 and the VCAP5-DCA Objective six but the differences between the two (thanks to Ed Grigson’s breakdown) are:

  • Use esxcli system syslog to configure centralized logging on ESXi hosts

This is different as with the vMA 5 the syslog feature has been deprecated due to the new VMware Syslog Collector now being available. The steps to do it now via esxcli are covered perfectly on pg10&11 in this VMware PDF. http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-50-command-line-management-for-service-console-users.pdf

  • Install and configure VMware Syslog Collector and ESXi Dump Collector

This is really simple and is something you can learn to do very quickly in your lab. I tested this part during the building of my Auto Deploy testing. All the steps for the syslog collector are detailed here: http://blogs.vmware.com/esxi/2011/07/setting-up-the-esxi-syslog-collector.html and the steps for the dump collector are here: http://blogs.vmware.com/esxi/2011/07/setting-up-the-esxi-50-dump-collector.html

  • Configure and administer Port Mirroring

A new distributed vSwitch feature. Eric Sloof has done a brilliant video detailing how to do it here: http://www.ntpro.nl/blog/archives/1825-Video-How-to-setup-a-vSphere-5-Port-Mirror.html . Pretty simple to set up

  • Utilize Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) and ESXi Shell to troubleshoot, configure, and monitor ESXi networking

This is pretty straight forward I think as you need to know what kinds of things related to networking connectivity you can do via the DCUI (like restoring a standard switch) and how you can use the ESXi shell to change configurations/fix problems. I think this is all about lab playing and learning

  • Use esxcli to troubleshoot multipathing and PSA-related issues

The main difference here is now it is just esxcli so it’s all about being able to do things via esxcli. This part in particular was covered in objective 1.3

  • Use esxcli to troubleshoot VMkernel storage module configurations

Yet again this is down to your knowledge of how to troubleshoot the storage modules via esxcli. How to do this via esxcli is covered in the VMware documentation library here: http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/index.jsp?topic=/com.vmware.vcli.getstart.doc_50/cli_about.html

  • Use esxcli to troubleshoot iSCSI related issues

Another one where you will need to practice and learn how to do it via esxcli. All the commands and some great examples are all listed in the VMware documentation library here: http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/topic/com.vmware.vcli.examples.doc_50/cli_manage_iscsi_storage.7.5.html

  • Utilize Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) and ESXi Shell to troubleshoot, configure, and monitor an environment

This is down to playing around in your lab with it and knowing what kinds of troubleshooting you can do via the DCUI and the ESXi shell. This is VCP5 stuff so you should know this already

I’ve spent 70% of my lab time on this section as while building and trying out things in my lab I end up breaking things or things don’t work the first time and so I’ve been able to just mess around with all the tools and get it working again. As i said at the beginning, i think spending a large amount of time learning and trying out everything in this section is extremely important for the DCA exam.

Gregg


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VCAP4-DCA Exam Experience

 

I decided to wait until I got my results before I wrote up this blog posting as I felt writing it up straight afterwards would mean I might miss something out and to see if VMware would give me credit for doing things in another way even though I made a mistake. Firstly, unfortunately I failed the exam by 23 points. This was mainly down to my making a major mistake very early in the exam and VMware not giving me the ability to fix it even though I knew how and the ability to know how to fix it is one of the exam objectives. I agree that if I make a mistake it’s only right that now I should use up my exam time fixing my mistake but not giving me the ability to fix it when in a real world situation you would have this ability isn’t very fair in my opinion.

Study Resources:

But enough of that as it’s done and seeing as I made that mistake so early on and still got so close is pretty pleasing in my opinion. For my studying of the exam, I decided I wanted to cover everything and so set myself a month and a half to study for the exam. I covered everything in my VCAP-DCA study notes list and went through both Sean Crookston and Ed Grigson’s study guides. I did all four of the VCAP courses trainsignal videos (these were honestly the best for it and taught me things so in depth that even questions in the exam that was very unusual I knew them because of these videos). I also researched anything I didn’t understand and as linked to in both Sean and Ed’s study guides I read up on loads of blogs, watched loads of YouTube videos from people like Eric Sloof (you can find these by just searching for Eric on YouTube as he has loads of them up) and watched a whole load of VMworld videos. Using all of these resources prepared me amazingly; the only thing I didn’t do enough of which was mainly to blame for me making my major mistake was not enough lab hours. I’ve got so used to question and answer exams that even though I obviously knew the exam would be 100% lab based I never realised the real importance of my practicing all the tasks twenty times until I knew it without even thinking as trust me the pdf’s give you nothing apart from the real basics and if you don’t know those you won’t pass the exam anyhow.

The Exam:

The exam was hard and is probably the hardest IT exam I have ever done (previously this title was held by my MCSE 2003 upgrade exams) but I think it is only right it is as tough as it is as it really does separate the men from the boys and really shows if you know your stuff or not. As mentioned by every one, time is extremely tight and you won’t finish all the questions unless you skip certain ones. One bit of advice I was given which was really helpful was, if you don’t know how to do the question mark it down on your notes and carry on as rather do the ones you can do rather than waste time on ones you are unsure of as I knew how to do some of the last questions just before time ran out whereas if I had sat and tried to work my through ones I didn’t know I probably wouldn’t have even had the time to see and do the ones I could.

Summary:

If you do all the study resources I’ve listed in my study resources page and put in loads of hours deploying and playing around with every single thing on the blueprint in your lab then you’ll pass it. I’ve already started rebuilding my lab to get in a serious number more hours of practice for my re-sitting of the exam and making sure that the stuff I was unsure of in the exam I now know 150%. Good luck for anyone writing

Gregg


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All Things VMworld US 2011 Day 1

 

Yep seeing as loads of people seemed to like my postings from last year I thought I would do it again and it should also help me to list all the news I need to read up on seeing as my twitter feed for VMworld is going crazy and is going to be a nightmare to keep up with. So here is all the news from day 1 of VMworld US 2011 that I want to read when I have a chance and caught my eye:

  • First has to be a number of postings covered by Vladan Seget of Vladan.fr fame as he has already posted some great postings about announcements happening at VMworld. His first is all about the announcement by vKernel of their new version of their flagship product vOps- vKernel Operations Suite. Vladan has detailed all the new features in his blog posting so have a read through it as it looks to be an amazing product. Second is his covering of the announcement that David M Davis and  Elias Khnaser have now released their VMware vSphere 5 Trainsignal videos. As I’ve mentioned numerous times and even in my review of one of David videos yesterday I really enjoy these videos and owe a large portion of my passing of my VCP4 to David’s videos. So I cant wait to get my hands on this new set especially seeing as I’m going to need to know it not just for my daily job but also for my eventual upgrading of my VCAP’s to version 5. Talking of vSphere 5 certifications Vladan covered that the registration for the VCP5 exams are now open. I’m hoping that the rumours of being able to achieve the VCP5 automatically by upgrading my VCAP exams are true but as I say those aren’t confirmed as yet.
  • Next is all the great sites and links that can be used to keep up with all the latest news from VMworld US.
    • You can register and watch Paul Maritz’s keynote and Steve Herrods session today here if you possibly miss it like I did Paul’s last night.
    • There is the live stream from VMworld with interviews and news and even a link to the Keynote by Steve Herrod the Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of R&D for VMware from 8am-9:30am Vegas time tomorrow.Plus all the videos from the past few days so make sure you have a look at them all here and make sure you’re watching the keynote.
    • There is also the VMware Community TV booth run by John Troyer and Alex Maier. These ones are my favourite as it covers all types of things from the vExpert daily podcast (where a number of the 2011 VMware vExperts give us their views on the announcements of the day and what they think it might mean to the future of virtualisation) to Mike Laverick’s Chinwags and the vChats by David Davis, Eric Siebert and Simon Seagrave. The schedule for it all and when it is happening can be found here.
    • VMworldTV is also running again on YouTube and already there’s a number of videos up including Day1 Summary of VMworld 2011 in Vegas and the very exciting news that a load of us have all been waiting for that VMworld Hands-on Labs will be going public in 2012 (also it’s great to hear a fellow Saffa Mornay van der Walt ,Senior Director of R&D for VMware describing it all) . I really enjoyed the videos from VMworld TV last year as they covered loads of the great news really quickly allowing me to get a very good high level view of the things happening and then I could further research the things I wanted to know more about.
  • Next is a number of announcements from EMC all about the compatibility of it’s service offerings with VMware vSphere5 and all the new features they are releasing. So as to not explain things incorrectly and to make this posting non biased I’ll let you read the postings by Chad Sakac himself in his EMC and vSphere5 what’s supported when posting as well as his EMC virtual storage integrator version 5 posting. Some really exciting stuff and personally I’m loving the free licence period for PowerPath
  • Some of the top bloggers have given their perspective’s on the first day and even given their opinions on some of the sessions they attended. Duncan Epping of Yellow-bricks.com fame posted all about his VMworld Day 1 experiences and gave some brilliant insight into his session with Frank Denneman (one I’m definitely planning to attend in Copenhagen) as well as other sessions he attended. Scott Lowe also blogged about Duncan and Franks session in his posting  VSP1682: VMware vSphere Clustering Q&A. Scott also did a brilliant posting all about Monday’s General Session. Some amazing facts and figures mentioned in the General Session.
  • Last but not least is something people may miss during all the news coming out of VMworld and that is that the vExpert Spotlight postings are still being published every other day and already there’s been some really great ones with Jane Rimmer’s last Friday and James Bowling’s yesterday. So keep an eye out for them as there really are some great tips and advice from the 2011 VMware vExperts

Gregg


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Trainsignal VMware vSphere Troubleshooting Training videos review

 

As I’ve mentioned in my VCAP4-DCA&DCD Resources Page one of the main resources I’m using is David M Davis’ VMware vSphere 4 VCAP Training Package set of videos. The first of the videos of this set I’ve gone through in my study preparations for the VCAP-DCA exam is his VMware vSphere Troubleshooting Training set of videos.

I was very fortunate to gain access to these videos and I’ve honestly learnt so so much from them as David’s videos not only cover objective 6 of the VCAP-DCA blueprint but due to the nature of troubleshooting your VMware infrastructure meaning you will need to all parts of it David has given great lessons and tips covering everything from storage basics, to VLANs to utilising third party tools to try troubleshoot problems. A perfect example of this overlap is David’s Lesson 20 where he goes into great detail all about VMware storage terms,concepts and logs where he gives a brilliant refresher/lesson all about the PSA architecture to name but one part of it which perfectly links in the VCAP-DCA Objective 1.3 – Configure and Manage Complex Multipathing and PSA Plug-ins.

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The lessons have been really great and for most of them David gives some in-depth demo’s of the steps necessary to troubleshoot the problems and what each feature of that troubleshooting entails. This is especially helpful if maybe you don’t have access to your own lab environment where you can try some of the things you need to do to fully understand how it works.

David also gives some great links and resources at the end of each lesson for you to do further reading and links to where he found all the resources he mentions and covers. These have proved extremely helpful as if I’m unsure of something or as is my nature that I want to read it all just to make sure I don’t miss something then i can use his links to quickly gain this knowledge without having to scour the web.

So if you’re studying for the VCAP4-DCA you have to get this course and if possible try get yourself the whole set but as mentioned by numerous VMware trainers, the troubleshooting course is supposedly the most beneficial to the VCAP-DCA exam and David covers it all amazingly. Also even if you aren’t looking to write the VCAP exam the tips and tricks David mentions are unbelievably beneficial to you when you will need to troubleshooting possible problems in your VMware environment.

If you don’t know who David is here a bit of a background:

David Davis -  (VCP4, VCAP-DCA, vExpert, CCIE #9369)

David has been in the IT industry for over 18+ years. He has served as a server/network admin, IT manager, and independent contractor. Today, David is a full-time instructor for TrainSignal.com where he has created over 10 different IT training courses.

Gregg

*Disclaimer: Trainsignal never paid me to write up this review nor did David. I wanted to write up this review due to the high quality of David’s training video’s  and how much it has helped me in my studies and in my daily work administering multiple VMware environments”


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All Things Virtual 24

 

Just a very quick All Things Virtual as I haven’t been able to read as many blogs as I had wanted due to work commitments and the studying for my VCAP-DCA taking up a large portion of my time.

 

First is the delay to the vExpert results. The results were said to be released on the 6th of May yet were delayed by two weeks and then last week the guys from the vSoup podcasts spoke to John Troyer at the Boston Gestalt IT Tech Field Day and he explained that due to a number of the VMware employees who were selected to give their opinions on the candidates still not having replied it has been delayed for another two weeks (John said two weeks last week Friday but I have a feeling it will need another week above that). It is a shame this has been delayed so much and is a let down for the people who give so much of their spare time to the VMware community, for VMware to then take an extra month and a half to give the results of the vExpert nominations. John did however promise they would be out before VMworld Smile

Talking of VMworld the Session catalogues for VMworld US and VMworld Europe have been posted. There’s a number of very exciting sessions happening and it’s great to personally see so many people I know form the London VMUG and via twitter whose sessions have made it after the public voting. If you’ve never heard of VMworld or have never been before I blogged about each of the days happenings when i went to my first one last year if you’re interested in getting any idea of what an average day at the conference is like All Things VMworld Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

The next London VMware User Group has been announced for the 14th of July. Unfortunately I will be away on holiday over this time but as I’ve stated many times in a number of blog postings on this blog the VMUG’s are an awesome day out and the amount you learn from the sessions and from fellow attendees is well worth your time. I was able to attend the last one on the 12th of May and wrote up a blog posting about the day if you want to get an idea of what happens during the day. If you are likely to be around the London area on the 14th of July I would highly recommend registering on the VMUG site and attending.

I’ve been trying to fill my slightly ADHD mind with all things VMware in preparation for my sitting of the VCAP-DCA exam and as mentioned in my VCAP-DCA and DCD Resources Page I’m a massive admirer of David Davis’s Trainsignal videos as they allow me to spend as long or short on each topic as I want and allow me to watch them via my iPad or laptop whenever i have a chance. David has recently released his VMware vSphere Performance Monitoring Training. I’ve only briskly looked at the video’s in the set as I’m trying to complete his VMware vSphere Troubleshooting Training set of videos first before starting the new ones but the videos look as amazing as ever and as sad as it is I’m actually excited to watch them. If you haven’t used David’s videos before I would HIGHLY recommend them especially if you are looking to do your VCP4 or your VCAP-DCA

Gregg


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VCAP-DCA&DCD Resources Page Updated

 

Just a quick posting to alert people that I have just updated my VCAP-DCA & DCD Study Resources page with new resources and great tips.The page is a list of resources that I have been constantly updating as I  have come across new resources and I have made my way through the  required amount of studying to be prepared (which is now in full swing).So either click the “VCAP-DCA & DCD” link at the top of the page or click here if you can’t be bothered going to the top of the page and if you know of any other great resources please do comment so that I can add them and it can benefit the whole community.

Gregg