My ramblings about all things technical

Leave a comment

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.

  • 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: and the steps for the dump collector are here:

  • Configure and administer Port Mirroring

A new distributed vSwitch feature. Eric Sloof has done a brilliant video detailing how to do it here: . 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:

  • 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:

  • 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.


Leave a comment

VCAP5-DCA: Objective 5.2

Deploy and Manage Complex Update Manager Environments

This is another quick one and for most of it, I just did the Update Manager PowerCLI part as the rest is almost exactly the same as the VCAP4 objective. I think this is all about playing around in your lab again, breaking things, upgrading hosts, patching hosts and using the PowerCLI commands.


  • Identify firewall access rules for Update Manager

Skills and Abilities

  • Install and configure Update Manager Download Service
  • Configure a shared repository
  • Configure smart rebooting
  • Manually download updates to a repository
  • Perform orchestrated vSphere upgrades
  • Create and modify baseline groups
  • Troubleshoot Update Manager problem areas and issues
  • Generate database reports using MS Excel or MS SQL
  • Upgrade vApps using Update Manager
  • Utilize Update Manager PowerCLI to export baselines for testing <- Covered perfectly here:
  • Utilize the Update Manager Utility to reconfigure VUM settings

Now on to my favourite objective and the one I think is the number one thing the DCA is based on, Troubleshooting.


Leave a comment

VCAP5-DCA: Objective 5.1

Objective 5.1 – Implement and Maintain Host Profiles

*NOTE: If this is the first time you have hit these objectives, I am only covering the new things in vSphere 5 and the VCAP5-DCA blueprint over and above what was already covered so well by Sean Cookston’s,Ed Grigson’s and Kendrick Coleman’s Blueprint Breaksdowns for the VCAP4.


Host profiles are extremely important in vSphere 5 environments and are a requirement for Auto Deploy. This is another objective I think you need to practice in your lab and do all the things listed below. If you don’t know about Host Profiles in vSphere 5 (which you should from your VCP5 studies) then there is a really good KB pdf by VMware that covers it all here. The guys from the vBrownbags have covered the whole of Objective 5 very recently here and Damian gives a great overview of it and some top tips.

Skills and Abilities

Loads of lab practice necessary for this objective which burnt a fair amount of my time. A fair amount of it is the same but due to it now being linked to Auto Deploy I wanted to really get my head around it all and how the answer files tie in.


Leave a comment

VCAP5-DCA: Objective 4.2

Deploy and Test VMware FT


This is exactly the same as the VCAP4 Objective so this is all about reviewing and practice in the lab. I watched the Super High Availability with VMware Fault Tolerance (FT) topic in the the Trainsignal VMware vSphere 5 Training course, went through the stuff Ed listed .I have also watched the FT lesson from the Trainsignal VMware vSphere Pro Series Training Vol 2 as my refresher and enabled it, broke it and played around with it in my lab A very simple one once you have played around with it


  • Identify VMware FT hardware requirements
  • Identify VMware FT compatibility requirements

Skills and Abilities

  • Modify VM and ESXi host settings to allow for FT compatibility
  • Use VMware best practices to prepare a vSphere environment for FT
  • Configure FT logging
  • Prepare the infrastructure for FT compliance
  • Test FT failover, secondary restart, and application fault tolerance in a FT Virtual Machine

A very quick and easy one and seeing as Section 4.3 – Configure a vSphere environment to support MSCS Clustering and Section 4.4 – Deploy and maintain vCenter Heartbeat aren’t part of the VCAP5 blueprint so it means that’s Objective 4 completed Smile


Leave a comment

VCAP5-DCA: Objective 4.1

Implement and Maintain Complex VMware HA Solutions

There isn’t much that is different for this over what was in the VCAP4-DCA Blueprint objective. I’ve been watching the HA videos from the Trainsignal VMware vSphere 5 Training course and the vSphere 5 Clustering Tech Deepdive book by Frank Denneman and Duncan Epping. Due to HA and DRS being revamped for vSphere 5 I think the book covers it all perfectly and more. Duncan also did a blog posting covering HA here: (it’s a serious deepdive)


  • Identify the three admission control policies for HA
  • Identify heartbeat options and dependencies

Skills and Abilities

  • Calculate host failure requirements
  • Configure customized isolation response settings
  • Configure HA redundancy

Management Network – Simply down to setting two management connections/vmkernel ports

Datastore Heartbeat – this is new to vSphere 5 and is therefore something new to this objective. I’ve learnt it via the clustering tech deepdive book and from this blog posting by Duncan It is also covered in the trainsignal videos and is something you should know from your VCP5 studies

Network partitions – This is also new and is covered in the book and the deepdive posting. I also learnt how to fix it should a host alert that it is network partitioned as I think this could be a task and so I learnt this kb article it is also covered here

  • Configure HA related alarms and monitor an HA cluster
  • Create a custom slot size configuration
  • Understand interactions between DRS and HA
  • Analyze vSphere environment to determine appropriate HA admission control policy
  • Analyze performance metrics to calculate host failure requirements
  • Analyze Virtual Machine workload to determine optimum slot size
  • Analyze HA cluster capacity to determine optimum cluster size

Due to objective 3 having DRS as objective 3.3 and this objective being about HA it has worked in well that I have been re-reading the vSphere 5 Clustering Tech Deepdive book as it covers both of these 100%. All that you need to do now is practice doing it all in your lab


Leave a comment

VCAP5-DCA: Objective 9.2

Install ESXi Hosts Using Auto Deploy

I know this isn’t following the flow but I wanted to get Auto Deploy tested in my lab early so I jumped to this so I could have all of my Auto Deployed Hosts done before doing all my other lab work.

For this objective I would do an install in your lab/on your laptop and learn it as I think this the only way to learn how it all goes together. Duncan Epping has done a great blog posting here:

Also VMware have done a really great POC step by step that is a really great way of building it and is the one I’ve followed to learn it.

  • Knowledge
    • Identify Auto Deploy requirements

For me this is about knowing what are all the prerequisites and parts that make up the Auto Deploy solution. There is a really great VMware article that covers this and is what I think they based this objective on as it seems to have links for all the parts of this objective here:

  • Skills and Abilities
    • Install the Auto Deploy Server

This is really simple and if clicking next,next and finish is all they test you on I’ll be happy as the installation is really easy

I would also learn how to configure the auto deploy server as I think the installation steps above are surely too simple:

    • Utilize Auto Deploy cmdlets to deploy ESXi hosts

Covered here:

    • Configure Bulk Licensing

This is quite straight forward but is something that is also extremely important and therefore is something I think you need to make sure you really who how to do. The steps are detailed on pg75 and 76 of the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

    • Provision/Reprovision ESXi hosts using Auto Deploy

Provisioning is covered on pg 81 of the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

Reprovisioning is covered on pg 82 of the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

    • Configure an Auto Deploy reference host

This is covered on pg 84 vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

I think this is something that may be asked as it incorporates host profiles and auto deploy and is something that can be easily tested in the lab. That’s my opinion though.

This objective was really quick and seeing as it is the last on the list I think a fair amount of people may speed through it but I think this is one of the most important as it’s a new feature and also is something any VMware Admin/Architect should be learning as it’s likely to be the way vSphere goes in the future


    Leave a comment

    VCAP5-DCA : Objective 3

    For Objective 3 I’ve been re-watching the Trainsignal vSphere Performance Monitoring Training videos. I’ve been watching these in the evening via my iPad as with the online training capability of watching it, it means I can watch them this way which i feel is much easier. I’ve also gone through all the links in Sean Cookston’s,Ed Grigson’s and Kendrick Coleman’s Blueprint Breaksdowns for the VCAP4 for Objective 3.

    The differences between the blueprints for Objective 3 for the VCAP4-DCA and VCAP5-DCA aren’t much but the parts that are different are:

    • Configure advanced cluster attributes
    • Tune Virtual Machine memory configurations
    • Tune Virtual Machine networking configurations
    • Tune Virtual Machine CPU configurations
    • Tune Virtual Machine storage configurations
    • Understand the DRS / storage DRS migration algorithms, the Load Imbalance Metrics, and their impact on migration recommendations
    • Create and administer ESXi host and Datastore Clusters
    • Administer DRS / Storage DRS

    For me, I’m going to cover these via the Trainsignal VMware vSphere 5 Training course, the Trainsignal vSphere Performance Monitoring Training videos I mentioned at the beginning and the vSphere 5 Clustering Tech Deepdive book by Frank Denneman and Duncan Epping.

    There is also a fair portion of lab time that needs to be done on all the parts mentioned in Objective 3, which I’ll be doing closer to the exam so it’s all fresh in my mind Smile

    I hope everyone got the dates they wanted for the Beta, I thankfully did and now know what i’m aiming for.