TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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BrownBag VCP 5 Guest Appearance

A very quick posting to point out that the recording of my guest appearance as a panellist on Cody Bunch and Damian Karlson’s VCP 5 BrownBag is now available for viewing. The BrownBag was at 22:30 GMT to make sure loads of people in the US could join it but it wasn’t extremely late for me out of the UK. In the BrownBag I go through all the resources I’m using for my VCP 5 study preparations as mentioned in my VCP5 page.You can watch the video here:

ProfessionalVMware BrownBag – VCP5 from ProfessionalVMware on Vimeo.

I really enjoyed it and hopefully I can do a few more in the future. A big thanks to Cody and Damian for inviting me and hopefully the resources i covered will help people

Gregg


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VCP5 Study Resources Page

Just a very quick posting that I have finally created my VCP5 Study Resources Page with all the resources I’m planning to use in preparation for my VCP5 exam. As mentioned on the page I decided to create the page as it seems the VCAP5 exams aren’t going to be out before the grace period for people with the VCP4 accreditation not needing to take the What’s New course expires. So like with my VCAP4 and VCAP5 pages I’m planning on listing all the resources I plan to use and the great study resources I come across that may help other people of varying degrees of expertise prepare for the exam

Good luck to anyone preparing for any of the VMware exams soon, good luck! Also tell me how you’ve done or if you think I have missed an amazing resource by either leaving a comment or sending me a tweet on @greggrobertson5 on twitter

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 Virtual 25

 

After a much needed two week holiday I’ve come back to an overwhelming amount of news from the virtualisation arena and in particular the announcement of VMware vSphere 5. Having been on the beta for vSphere 5 and vCloud 1.5 I had a feeling the announcement was due to happen while I was away but due to only having got onto the vSphere 5 beta late and only having played with it indirectly via the vCloud 1.5 beta I felt it was better to let some of the more informed bloggers out there do a better job than I could.

  • First on my list is one that even after over two weeks of letting it set in I’m still excited about like a child on Christmas day. On the 1st if this month the VMware vExpert recipient emails went out and I was selected as one. I did a blog posting all about my honour at being selected here if you’re interested and as mentioned on that posting if you want to see all the other recipients and their blogs so as to follow them (which i would HIGHLY recommend as they are pretty much the best ones) and their twitter handles to also follow them then Arnim van Lieshout’s vExpert page is where you can find all these. If plans go ahead I’m hoping I’ll have a very exciting new feature to mention very soon off of this so keep your eyes out for it as it’s something I truly believe in and is something close to my heart.
  • Next is the release of vSphere 5. As you can imagine there is a STAGGERING amount of information about it and I was planning on doing a list of all the best resources but as is the case someone has beaten me to it and seeing as it’s the list I’m currently using to get myself up to speed on it all it only makes sense to link to it. So if you’re like me and are currently trying to catch up on it all then Eric Siebert’s vSphere 5 Links is the best place to go.
  • One of the parts off of this release is also the release of the VCP5 exam and I notice a fair amount of the vExpert’s have either already started sitting the Beat exam or are due to sit it very soon. Obviously I’m not going to mention anything about the exam but if your like me and now have loads of question about what this means for people who have their VCP4 and what the upgrade paths are and if you’re even more like me and are due to write your VCAP-DCA very soon and are now wondering if it is worth your while doing it still or if you should wait then these links will answer all your question like they have for me
    • Fist is all about the upgrading of your VCP4 to VCP5 by Scott Vessey (@vmtraining) . Thankfully VMware are following the same policy as they for the VCP3 to VCP4 path and allowing people with the previous VCP accreditation to write the test without having to attend any compulsory training until February 29th 2012
    • Next also from Scott is the upgrading of your VCAP4 to VCP5 and VCAP5-DCA. Personally this is most likely the path I’m going to follow seeing as I hope to have my VCAP4 and seeing as it will allow me to get the VCP5 at the same time as my VCAP5-DCA makes the most sense for me.
    • Then the big question “Is it worth doing vSphere 4 certifications?” . Scott gives some great things to think about and it does come down to the answer of “it depends” as obviously people are at different points of their knowledge and studies.
  • Kendrick Coleman has done a great posting all about how to set up your SQL server DB for use with vCloud Director 1.5 now that support for SQL DB instances is available. Having had to fiddle with this myself during the beta to get my test environment working I can assure you his steps are really helpful in making sure you do it correctly in the first place as i had to rebuild me whole one due to a simple mistake with the DB and making sure you select the right collation is REALLY important.
  • Next is a competition run by Greg W Stuart for the chance to win a Free Conference Pass to VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas, Air Fare and 5 Nights Hotel Accommodation. Greg won his way to VMworld last year via Jason Boche’s contest and from this he’s embraced blogging and the community so much he was awarded by becoming a VMware vExpert for 2011. So get your comment submitted as it finished THIS SUNDAY JULY 24th and good luck.
  • I did say I wouldn’t mention vSphere 5 again but seeing as it’s such great resources I have to point out the vSphere 5.0 Storage Features series of blog postings and due them being updated on the coming weeks and months it is something to keep an eye on. The first five have already been posted and are brilliant for getting yourself up to speed on the new features (of which there is a substantial amount)
  • Next is a friendly reminder for those of us going to VMworld to register for the sessions you want to attend as unlike in previous years VMware are enforcing session registration and if you don’t register and the session is full then you wont get in. Simon Gallagher has blogged all about this here.
  • Last but certainly not least is the announcement that The Brownbags WebEx’s made popular by Cody Bunch are coming to Europe and are being hosted by the illustrious Tom Howarth. So get yourself registered  http://tinyurl.com/62qmotk

Well that’s my summary. .Good luck catching up with all the vSphere 5 features and news and good luck to those writing the VCP5 beta and those of you writing your VCAP exams. Remember I’ve done a VCAP-DCA and DCD resources page if you’re interested in the resources I’m using for my studies.If you would like to follow me on twitter my handle is @greggrobertson5

Gregg


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VMware vSphere: Manage for Performance Course Experience

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the VMware vSphere: Manage For Performance course. I did the lab related to this course at VMworld Europe last year and in my now increasing preparations for the VCAP-DCA exam I knew I needed to strengthen my troubleshooting skills and more importantly fine tuning my ESXTOP/RESXTOP skills. Quite a few people commented that they really liked my VMware vSphere: Manage and Design for Security Course Experience posting so I thought i would try do the same for this one for anyone interested or thinking about booking the course.

  1. Day one covered the first three and a half modules Course Introduction, Performance in a Virtualized Environment, Virtual Machine Monitor and part of CPU Performance. It introduced you to all the monitoring tools you can use with an introduction to the performance graphs in Virtual Centre and ESXTOP,how to utilise these tools to work out possible problems and what to look for that may be good indicators of problems. Probably the thing I enjoyed the most about this course was that there was loads of labs for you to learn how to do it all yourself rather than learning it off a PowerPoint sheet or your course guide. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know I’ve been trying to perfect my knowledge of ESXTOP/RESXTOP and wrote a blog about it too “Understanding and using ESXTOP/RESXTOP”. This learning of it was a great stepping stone for the skills they covered in the course and for a few parts the links and resources in my blog gave me an even deeper knowledge of ESXTOP. For the virtual machine monitor module it covered Software and hardware virtualisation techniques which i knew fairly well from my studying for my VCP exams and the labs for it were really great in covering how the usage of these varying techniques can really help with the performance of your virtual machines/environment. Next we got into a bit of the CPU Performance module which introduced the CPU scheduler, CPU Cache contention and the NUMA. As with the hardware/software virtualisation techniques i had a good bit of knowledge about the CPU scheduler and NUMA from my VCP studies but it was a great refresher on the NUMA particularly and allowed me to better understand how it works and how the misallocation of resources can impact your virtual machines due to NUMA. Frank Denneman has done two brilliant postings all about the sizing of VM’s and NUMA Nodes and ESX 4.1 NUMA Scheduling which covers pretty much everything you need to know about this feature and how to use it correctly in your environment.
  2. Day 2 we finished off CPU Performance by learning how to use ESXTOP and the performance metrics in vCentre to find and recognise possible cpu problems and how to fix them. Next we covered Memory Performance which was fairly straight forward in my opinion but did give great recommendations on how to utilise your memory effectively and how ballooning and memory swapping works and what the increase of these values means to the performance of your environment. Yet again Frank Denneman has covered these topics brilliantly in two blog postings Memory reclamation, when and how? and Disable ballooning? which I’ll personally be rereading through myself so as to better my understanding of how it can help/impact my virtual machines. Next we did the Network Performance module which covered all the varying network card options you can select,what each allows you to do,what additional features each one gives and how these features work. This was also a refresher for me due to my VCP studies but it did seem to alert a lot of the people on the course with me to the benefits of upgrading all your virtual machines to hardware version 7 and changing their network cards to VMXNET3. VMware have a great KB article on this Choosing a network adapter for your virtual machine. For the rest of the module it was yet again teaching you how to find and troubleshoot possible network problems using the performance charts and ESXTOP.
  3. Day 3 finished off the last three modules Storage Performance,Virtual Machine Performance and Application Performance. Storage performance was good and was very interesting to hear how many people don’t use thin provisioning due to their belief that it impacts performance in certain ways. I’m not going to get into it on here and I agree it does in certain instances but like I said to the people on the course with me I would recommend reading  the VMware white paper on it first and make your own decisions from there. There are also loads of top blog postings on the subject so I would also recommend reading a few of those (Duncan Epping’s and Eric Gray’s in particular). For the last two modules of Virtual Machine Performance and Application performance these were essentially just applying what you learn for cpu,memory and network to your virtual machines and what to consider for the virtualising of differing applications.

Funnily enough whilst on the course the latest release of the vSphere performance troubleshooting guide for 4.1 came out which is perfect post course reading material for me. Duncan Epping’s posting alerted me to the release so only right to point to his posting here.

Well that’s a high level review of what I learnt/was covered in the course. As with any course though what you get out of the course is very dependant on your knowledge of the product/s and even though I have a fairly good amount of knowledge on the product and features I did still learn a fair amount and it was a really great refresher on certain features in preparation for my VCAP: DCA exam sitting.

Gregg


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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 3 fully loaded ships.

 

In 2010, there were 56 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 65 posts. There were 64 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was October 26th with 150 views. The most popular post that day was VCAP-DCA & DCD.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were communities.vmware.com, twitter.com, consultingblogs.emc.com, simonlong.co.uk, and jasonnash.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for this computer is now hosting the specified directory instance, but active directory web services could not service it. active directory web services will retry this operation periodically. and vcap dcd.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

VCAP-DCA & DCD September 2010
6 comments

2

Active Directory Web Services encountered an error while reading the settings for the specified Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services instance. Active Directory Web Services will retry this operation periodically. In the mean time, this instance will be ignored. July 2010
18 comments

3

Host cannot download files from VMware vCenter Update Manager patch store. Check the network connectivity and firewall setup, and check esxupdate logs for details. April 2010
1 comment

4

VM’s can’t ping while on Distributed Virtual Switches VLAN’s March 2010
4 comments

5

VCP4 Learning resources December 2009
7 comments


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All Things Virtual 20

 

There have been some brilliant blog postings since my last All Things Virtual,the release of some great news for android phones and a book written by two of the top VMware professionals in the world. If this is the first time you are reading one of my All Things Virtual then the idea of the posting is a quick post up of all the things virtual and linked to virtual that I have been doing/working with/learning/reading up on in the past few weeks.

  • Frank Denneman of frankdenneman.nl fame and Duncan Epping of Yellow-Bricks.com fame have written and released the vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS technical deepdive book. These two guys are probably the two best people in the fields of DRS and HA with Duncan having the very successful and extremely in-depth HA Deepdive and DRS Deepdive postings on his blog as well Frank having some of the best postings on DRS on his blog. I have ordered the book already and am awaiting its arrival. Both Duncan and Frank have already covered what is in the book in such detail that I feel it’s pointless to rehash what they have already said so here is Duncan and Franks postings about the book. I look forward to reading through the whole book when it arrives and strengthening my knowledge on the two technologies.
  • As I’ve said a few times before I enjoy testing myself by trying to obtain certain certifications, not to be a certification collector but to set goals to try to continually push myself and strengthen my knowledge and not sit still. So the release of the new certifications by EMC really caught my attention as I’m currently trying to strengthen my knowledge on storage technologies and practices by doing the ISM(Information Storage and Management) course. One of the perks of working for EMC is I’m able to do the course as a e-learning course for free and with the release of the new EMC Cloud Architect certifications the first step is obtaining your Information Storage and Management Associate (EMCISA) certification which fits in perfectly to my study goals for 2011. To make sure I don’t explain it incorrectly I would recommend reading Chuck Hollis’ blog where he has detailed the new certifications.
  • Speaking of certifications I’m really pleased by the amount of traffic my VCAP-DCA&DCD Study Resources Page and my VCP Study Resources Part 1 and Part 2 pages are receiving. Thanks to everyone who has linked to it/tweeted about itclip_image001. One of the main resources listed in my VCAP-DCA study resources is Sean Crookston’s VCAP-DCA Index. Sean has now written the exam and has posted a brilliant write up on his impressions of the exam here. Rynardt Spies has also recently written the exam and posted his impressions here. I’ve decided to try sit the exam by March/April next year as I’m not likely to be ready before I go on holiday next year and have learnt from experience that writing an exam just before I go on holiday isn’t a good idea.
  • Next is one of my blog postings of the year due to its depth of information and brilliant supporting links and documents to cover his claim. It’s a blog by Julian Wood (@Julian_wood) all about how he feels vCenter is letting VMware’s side down. I would highly recommend everyone read it as it is both amusingly true to anyone looking after a virtual environment and covers many of the obstacles you may hit in the future with your own virtual centre server so you can be as prepared as possible if you are implementing any of the technologies. I agree with what Julian is saying and do think VMware need to make a plan with virtual centre as there are far too many bugs and problems still with virtual centre and for something that is so integral to the smooth working of your virtual environment it really needs to be as solid and reliable as possible.
  • With the release of PowerCLi 4.1 it is now possible to manage permissions with PowerCLI. The VMware blogs have covered all the new capabilities and how to do them here. I’m busy trying to teach myself PowerCLI by trying to do as much of my daily work with PowerCLI and VMA due to a large part of the VCAP-DCA exam being based on you knowing how to do things via these tools. Seeing as I’m a point and click person these are skills I need to learn very quickly and be able to do it as second nature.
  • One of the new features of vSphere 4.1 is VAAI (vStorage API’s for Array Integration). Recently both Duncan Epping and Eric Sloof have posted brilliant information on this feature and in Eric’s case have attached a video detailing how it all works. These are great for anyone who is working with VMware technologies and is likely to be either using vSphere 4.1 or will be upgrading to vSphere 4.1.
  • One of the biggest technologies to come out in virtualisation this year is VMware’s vCloud Director. It was the lab that was taken the most at VMworld Europe and everyone is trying to learn about it seeing as it is VMware’s product to help you move your resources into the cloud. I too did all the vCloud Director labs at VMworld Europe and have been collecting as many top postings about vCloud Director as possible so I can fully understand it so when I’m asked to implement it I’ll know how. Two blog postings have been added to this list from the past few weeks; one is from David Davis of Trainsignal fame interviewing the infamous Scott Lowe and was posted on the VMware blogs page interviewing Scott on Cloud Computing and vCloud Director. This posting really got my attention as it was really interesting to me to learn more about how the technologies from EMC and the VCE are perfect to help you move as smoothly as possible to the cloud, especially seeing as I work at EMC so I really should know about all of thisclip_image001[1]. Next is an amazing demo by Duncan Epping that he created for the Dutch VMUG all about vCloud Director, creation of an Organization and its resources this demo is exactly what I love to watch and learn from as I’ve only recently been able to install vCloud Director in my home lab so it’s great to see how it’s all done and seeing as vCloud Director is such an in-depth and complex product any resources to shed some light on different things about how things are done within it are greatly appreciated by myself. I know I said two but if you missed me mentioning this in one of my previous postings and want to learn more about vCloud Director then look at the resources Scott mentioned in his interview and have a look at Hany Michael of Hypervizor.com fame’s vCloud Director page. Hany also has great video on vCloud director and his posting on VMware vCloud Director in a Box is what I used to setup my lab environment.
  • Next is the announcement of the Partnership between VMware and LG to virtualise android smartphones for usage by business users. Mobile virtualisation has been spoken about for quite a while but this next step is very exciting and as one of my colleagues Jaspal Dhalliwal posted that Virtualization is Coming of Age now and means VMware is going from servicing a few hundred thousand people to tens of millions of people via their smartphone devices. Simon Long also posted about this announcement on his page and has posted a very cool video of it. I’m not a massive phone person to be honest, I don’t have a smartphone or an iPhone but watching tat video is really making me think of getting myself one very soon.
  • Last but not least is the announcement by Veeam that they are giving away free NFR keys to VCPs, VCIs and vExperts. This is a brilliant idea and it shows that Veeam know who their dedicated followers are and who is likely to give them great press about the products and help them gain even more popularity. I’ve already downloaded mine and am due to install it into my lab environment very soon. If you’re a VCP/VCI or vExpert then get yourself a copy before they stop the deal.

Well that’s everything that has been on my to read list and all the news that has caught my interest.

Gregg