TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VMware Certified Advanced Professional Datacentre Administration –Blueprint Released

Just a very fast posting to notify that the blueprint for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional Datacentre Administration blueprint has been released. As I’ve said I’m really looking forward to this exam as hopefully it will enable me to differentiate myself from the multitude of vcp’s that qualified recently and hopefully also teach me and hone my skills for preparation for my VCDX someday in the future.

The Blueprint is here and it looks like a very good exam and loads of really interesting and testing things in it. I look forward to learning more about it in the coming weeks and months.

Gregg Robertson


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vExperts 2010

Firstly a massive congratulations to all who were bestowed with this accolade. In particular a massive congratulations to Barry Coombs (@VirtualisedReal) ,Gabrie van Zanten (@gabvirtualworld) ,Alan Renouf (@alanrenouf) ,Tom Howarth (@tom_howarth) ,Nick Weaver (@lynxbat) ,Eric Sloof (@esloof)  and Simon Long (@SimonLong_). Who have always been more than happy to answer any questions I have had via twitter, mail or even as recent as last night willing to power up their laptop to help with a problem we were having (Thanks again Gabrie, you’re a legend)

As I said in my last posting I didn’t have a massive amount of confidence in my being selected as a vExpert. This due to what I feel are very fair and understandable reasons and how I feel my continued efforts will hopefully help me have a much stronger case for next years. John Troyer who is the leader of the vExpert community has posted a brilliant article on the reasons some people didn’t receive it and has also given some really great pointers on how to better yourself for next years. Off of this here is some of the reasons I feel I understandably missed out and why I think I’m on the right track for next years:

  1. I only started this blog at the end of November last year so due to the award being given for the activities you did in 2009 means I did extremely little and therefore rightly so was no where near being in contention. Since then though I have made a concerted effort to post more and try bring new ideas to the community. With this blog having had almost 3000 individual views so far , 2435 of that being between January to May this year and by the views increasing by at least 200 views every month it gives me hope that I’ll be a much stronger contender for next years if I keep it up.
  2. I only started interacting with the virtualisation community late last year via twitter and was only able to attend my first VMUG end of November last year so I still need to make a name for myself and surpassing 300 followers on twitter last week of which over 98% are technical people gives me confidence that I am building a good reputation for myself among my peers and that the opinions and information I post is of interest to people in the IT field.
  3. I need to strengthen my blog postings. I’m the first to admit that my blog postings aren’t the best for a few reasons but after having read through my postings even from a few months back I can see that with each posting I feel I’ve become a lot better at it and have learnt from each one.The increased readership I feel is partly due to this refining of my skills.
  4. Plain and simple I’m either too busy or just lazy some times and due to this I haven’t been able to give back as much to the VMware communities pages and been able to join the live roundtables as much as I would like to. I plan to change this and hopefully via this be inspired to write more postings ,as one of the reasons I only post every week or so is due to the lack of good material/ideas and therefore I would rather not post up anything rather than some drivel for the sake of posting.
  5. My lack of knowledge on the many things VMware does and the technologies that are available and how they work. I only became a VCP in VI3 in September last year due to only being able to attend the pre-requisite course a few weeks before and since then I have also obtained the VCP4 accreditation within a month of it becoming available late last year and with a very nice score if i do say so myself. With this ,my knowledge on all the subjects is increasing each day and thereby my blogs can be more knowledgeable and I will have the confidence in my knowledge to write up more postings on certain subjects as the worry of any blogger is that your information is wrong and you have made a fool of yourself by giving out the wrong facts.

So if you enjoyed any of my blog postings please link the information to your friends and colleagues and even better if you link to my blog postings via your own blogs if they have helped you this is obviously a brilliant way of getting more traffic to my site and more so bringing my solutions higher in search results so that more people can be helped by them.

Congratulations to all the vExperts again and hopefully I’ll be one of you next year.

Gregg Robertson


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New VMware Exams Released

 

Just a very quick posting as so many of the top bloggers out there have covered it so well that VMware have released their new Exam set the VMware Certified Advanced Professional – VCAP.

Simon Long has posted a blog all about the VCAP side and what will be required for the administrator and design exams here

Duncan Epping has posted all about the VCDX 4 (VCDX4-DCD) side of things here and details the steps now to become a VCDX4-DCD. Quite disappointed they had to add the DCD part personally as all it’s doing is adding to the long winded acronyms some of us carry at the end of our mail signatures/business cards.

Eric Sloof also posted all about the VCDX4-DCD here and gives a brilliantly detailed break down of the VCAP here. I’ve already signed up to receive an email alert when registration opens (yes I’m seemingly that sad)

I plan to update this blog in the coming days/weeks as more information becomes available. Hopefully to the person who came across my blog a week back by searching “I’m a vcp4. Now what” has an answer 🙂

Gregg Robertson

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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The names of the new VMware exams have been released

Just a quick posting about the recent news detailing the now released names of the new VMware exams to bridge the gap between the VCP and the VCDX as well as the VCDX4 official announcement.

Scott Vessey’s (@vmtraining) blog details the names of the exams and the criteria for them and what he feels are good courses to prepare you for the exams. I won’t take anything away from his blog posting about it so read it here.

I’m keeping a very keen eye on these as the gap between the VCP and the VCDX is a very large one and for someone like me who hasn’t gained the experience and expertise required to be able to defend my designs just yet it will enable me to grow my knowledge and also hopefully set me apart from the other 53,000 VCPs, of which over 15,000 are VCP4s and this was a figure from early February.

Gregg Robertson


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All things virtual VIII

 

It’s been a very busy but also a very rewarding productive few weeks for me. Even though it came down to a relatively simple solution the working of my VMware Update Manager was a massive weight off my shoulders and a lot of lessons learnt from it which is always something valuable.

On the virtualisation news side it’s been a very interesting couple of weeks with some brilliantly written blogs and articles.

  • Vladan Seget (@vladan) did a very good posting on setting a static MAC address in VMware. This is something you learn when you’re studying for your VCP but is something that personally I’ve forgotten really easily but is a very helpful feature especially if you have a vm with software on it that requires a licence to be attached to the vm’s MAC address but you still want to be able to migrate the vm around for either HA or DRS capabilities.
  • Next is the VMware Support Toolbar by Rick Blythe (@rickblythe) aka VMwareWolf. The toolbar is a very clever idea and the only reason I’ve linked Vladan’s posting on it is that he details all the features it has and how to set it up etc and seeing as Rick linked to it at the top of his posting about the toolbar it seems he’s happy with the posting being used for his toolbar. I’ve only partly played around with the toolbar but it’s a great example of how professionals are thinking of new ways for a VMware administrator to be able to keep up to date and easily search for VMware knowledge base items.
  • Cody Bunch (@cody_bunch) of http://professionalvmware.com has been doing some really great VCDX brown bag sessions on all the things you should know for you VCDX and obviously as the name alludes to they are discussions amongst fellow professionals about the topics you will need to know to do your defence. A “study group” is another way of describing it. Cody was nice enough to reply to me on twitter when I enquired about the ability to watch/listen to the previous brown bag sessions and I was pleased to find out they have been recorded and the second brown bag session is already up. I’ve always found discussions amongst fellow professionals about a common technology highly beneficial as sometimes i really need someone to explain something in laymen’s terms to me for me to understand it. I’d recommend registering for the next one and to keep an eye out for the future sessions. He’s also done a few VCP brown bag sessions and theses have also been recorded so if you’re looking to write your VCP soon or even like me keep your knowledge fresh then these are perfect for this.
  • Duncan Epping of Yellow Bricks fame did a very informative posting all about aligning your VMs virtual hard disks. I spoke partly of this in one of my blog postings a few weeks back and Duncan has added some great information to this discussion and is one i learnt quite a few things from so is well worth the read. Duncan also did a very helpful posting on where to find pre-windows 2008 sysprep packages for those who are battling to find them.
  • Eric Sloof (@esloof) posted two great articles these past few weeks. The first one was a very interesting interview with one of the attendee’s of his VMware vSphere Design Workshop course and his opinions of how the course went and how good it was. After watching it it’s made me even more keen to attend the course and gain the knowledge they you can gain from it especially from fellow VMware professionals. The other is his announcing of the upcoming vSphere 4 Automation course. It shows the growing need and trend of VMware professionals to have the knowledge and ability to automate some of the tasks performed in their VMware environment as well as a great course for gaining the knowledge you will require for managing your environment in ESXi.
  • Talking of ESXi and the push by VMware for people to migrate from ESX to ESXi, Eric Siebert (@ericsiebert) of http://vmware-land.com/ posted a very very good blog posting all about how VMware’s desire for people to adopt ESXi isn’t going as well as they may have hoped and how VMware are going to need to fix a number of issues that ESXi has that ESX doesn’t before the change over and how their motivators for the switch aren’t as strong as they make out. The article is brilliant and is especially so to me as I agree wholeheartedly with many of the points in it and myself don’t see nor agree with the whole idea of them moving over to ESXi and scrapping ESX.
  • There has always been the discussion of scale up versus scale out when you are creating a Virtual environment and over the past few weeks there have been a few great postings from some of the top virtualisations bloggers about this discussion. It seems the whole thing kicked off from a blog posting Duncan Epping did about scaling up due to the release of the new Intel 5600 series that has six cores. Which set off a blog posting by Ian Koenig at http://itsjustanotherlayer.com/ titled scale up or scale out in which he brings up some brilliant check points every VMware administrator should ask when determining whether to scale up or scale out. Scott Lowe then commented on Ian’s posting  in his Virtualization Short Take #37 and gave his opinion on the discussion which in turn made Steve Chambers (@Stevie_chambers) write an article about how he feels UCS is the solution to the worry about having “all your eggs in one basket”. His blog posting is also very informative about the features UCS has and how it allows you to have all your machines on one big server. This in turn brought Scott to write a posting describing his opinions in full and how he feels as is always said for anything in IT “it depends”  on a number of factors and one model or decision is never the same for every company/environment/situation. Lastly a great blog posting by a twitter friend of mine and top VMware professional Daniel Eason(@Daniel_Eason) about High Density Virtual Hosts gives a great insight into more of the factors you need to consider when building a “Super ESX Host(my own words)”. All of these articles are brilliantly informative and as with any great article they encourage discussion. You make your own decisions and I encourage you to read all the comments below each of the articles as these are as good if not maybe a little bit better than the articles.
  • This past week the applications for the VMware vExpert award have been opened. The vExpert for anyone that doesn’t know it is “a way for VMware to acknowledge and help those who ‘go the extra mile’ and give back to the VMware user community by sharing their expertise and time. vExperts are bloggers, book authors, VMUG leaders, event organizers, speakers, tool builders, forum leaders, and others who share their virtualization expertise.” As you can imagine there has been a very large amount of chat in twitterverse about the applications and who may be honoured by the awarding of it. Personally I’d love to become one and hope that with my continued efforts to give back to the community and grow my contributions to the field I’ll one day soon be awarded the title. If you know of anyone that deserves this award then get an application in for them. But be warned that multiple nominations don’t count extra so applying for yourself 100 times and asking loads of people to apply for you won’t help you to win this.
  • In my Distributed Virtual Switches blog posting i detailed the process of upgrading your virtual machines hardware version to version 7 but Sander Daems (@sanderdaems) posted a very helpful posting on how to downgrade your vm hardware level from 7 to 4 if it is needed to fix an issue you may be having. It always makes me smile when a blog posting like this is posted as I’m always so focused on the newest things and the latest versions of software that i forget that sometimes the need for rolling back to an older possibly more stable version is the option.
  • Even though this next posting is old it’s one I feel is very important and useful in the growth of anyone’s scripting knowledge. Alan Renouf created a very helpful Quick Reference Guide for the VI toolkit which you can print off and obviously reference whenever you need it.
  • VMware have recently posted a new white paper detailing performance results of tests conducted of a vSphere 4.0 environment using Microsoft SQL Server 2008. The white paper can be downloaded here.
  • Rich Brambley (@rbrambley) posted all about the reasoning and some fixes/solutions you can make as to why cloning a vm from a template can take such a long time. Rick’s posting has some great links for IOPS and gives some very in depth solutions and reasons as to why the problem might happen. The posting is very helpful and sheds light on points some people may miss in their aim of making their virtual environment run as quickly and smoothly as possible.
  • Arnim van Lieshout (@avlieshout) did a great blog posting about how to setup and get running The VESI (Virtualization EcoShell Initiative). If you’ve never heard of The VESI before then i would recommend reading the FAQ before reading and then implementing the solution into your environment. Arnim has detailed every step and installation needed in getting it working and is a massive help for someone trying to get it setup.
  • Last by definitely not least was a posting by Devang Panchigar (@storagenerve) with the video of the VBlocks presentation at the GestaltIT Tech Field Day 2010 in Boston Massachusetts this past week. The presentation was highly informative and a great insight into the solution and is well worth the watch.

As I’ve said before I’m always happy for people to leave a comment below or add me on twitter at @greggrobertson5. If you feel I’ve missed something or not given credit or wrongly described yours or someone else’s posting as this is the last thing i mean to do, please tell me an I’ll change it.

Gregg Robertson

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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

 

This error has been haunting me for quite some time now. When I tried to setup and get VMware update manager working late last year I came across the above problem. I did some fixes but none seemed to work and due to there being a very large amount of work happening I put it on the back burner. Now if you have read my blog posting about the distributed virtual switches you would have seen the need to keep your servers up to date on the latest patches as well as the obvious reasons of security and bug fixes.

So early March this year I decided I was going to get VMware Update Manager working so I didn’t have to use esxupdate to patch my vm’s. My previous problem I believed were down to me using an older version of VUM and possibly because I had it installed on a highly utilised Virtual Centre Server I decided to build a dedicated server for VUM and do it all to the exact specifications VMware tell you to and install the latest version.

Seeing as I have spent some time trying to get this problem fixed I have found some brilliant blog postings and tips for fixing this problem as well as others that stem from this error.

  • Jason Nash’s (@nash_j) blog posting was probably my first port of call when I tried to fix the problems I was having last year and I still checked the DNS settings this time to make sure everything was as it should be.
  • The next one was from a VMware communities posting someone had put up with problems sounding very close to the problem I was having. One of the replies recommended checking that the update manager port is open on the esx hosts firewall which is a very important part to check as by default this isn’t open and so can cause you problems with Update manager.
  • Next is the one I kept coming across and is the one I felt was causing my problems when I installed it previously. This is the problem where the port information in the vci-integrity.xml file is incorrect. For me this wasn’t the problem as it has now been fixed in Update Manager 4.0 Update 1 but if you are using the previous versions of update manager this is more than likely your problem and the steps should fix your problem. Personally I installed Update Manager 4.0 update 1 Patch 1 to make sure all the bugs I could possibly avoid I would.

There are also so many great resources of how to setup and manage VUM I decided it would be helpful  to list the links I used to to set it all up  as VMware have done some brilliant videos detailing the processes.

  • First set of steps I used was the video demo by VMware of  how to install vCenter Update Manager 4 Update1. (Warning these are videos that need to be downloaded and you will need Adobe Flash player to view them). I would also recommend using the VUM sizing estimator to make sure you allocate the correct amount of space for the database and patches repository. The first bit I had to/chose to do differently was inserting the ip address of the Update Manager server in the server name filed in the installation to make sure that if there are any problems with DNS the server is obviously still accessible. The next bit was for the creation of the ODBC DSN when creating the SQL server instance for the update manager database. Due to me installing it on a x64 machine I had to create the ODBC via the odbcad32.exe application as in the ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide  , on page 72 it is tells you this which I noticed when installing my Virtual Centre server on a x64 server and this “fix” also applies to the database setup for Update Manager even though it doesn’t seem to be included in the latest documentation :

Even though vCenter Server is supported on 64-bit operating systems, the vCenter Server system must have a 32-bit DSN. This requirement applies to all supported databases. By default, any DSN created on a 64-bit system is 64 bit.

Thankfully now it’s all working correctly and I can finally use Update Manager.

Gregg Robertson

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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All things virtual VII

 

There’s been a very good amount of news this week and I’ve really been able to grow my knowledge on things I wasn’t that strong on and better my knowledge on things I think my knowledge is fairly good on.

Firstly a big thanks to Nick Weaver for adding me to his blogroll. Nick is a fellow professional I look up to and to be added to his blogroll means so much to me. Thanks Nick hopefully my blogs make your decision the right one!!

This past week has been dominated by the news and release of veeam’s latest product Surebackup. The features and possibilities of the software have been covered so well by such top people I won’t even try detail it. First person I saw to get a blog posting out for it was Arnim Van Lieshout (@avlieshout) followed shortly by Lode Vermeiren (@lode) with his Veeam unveils SureBackup and there are so many other blogs out there but these two with the official page covered everything I needed to know about the product. I’m planning on testing the Veeam software soon to see if it fits our requirements here.

Eric Sloof let out that VMware are indeed going to be rolling out new certifications to bridge the gap between the VCP and the VCDX. After hearing that there are over 53,000 VCPs, of which over 15,000 are VCP4s (and this was said in early February so I’m sure there are a large amount more now) I’m strongly feeling the need to start trying to build myself up in preparation for the VCDX.

Talking of the VCDX, Eric and Duncan Epping both blogged this month about the release of the new VMware vSphere Design Workshop. Eric explained the course layouts and the dates he will be running the course himself. Whereas Duncan has gone into detail all about the course and what it entails. I’m hoping to get on the course really soon as unfortunately the current dates aren’t possible due to work constraints and planned work.

On twitter recently I noticed Kendrick Coleman planning to run Nested VM’s and hadn’t tried the process myself so I did some researching of it’s possibilities and the changes you need to make and found a great document on the VMware Communities about the changes that need to be done.While on Kendrick’s site I noticed he found the solution to the jumpy mouse problem in Windows 2008 R2. I tried the solution myself and it works perfectly!!! Just a warning though that even though it’s possible to do this for  non R2 2008 servers, once you apply the newer driver and reboot the machine your video won’t come back .Thankfully I did a snapshot in case this happened.

One of the consultants here asked me about mismatches between a clients vcentre memory utilisation and the virtual machines task manager values. So I knew a few ideas like checking that the latest vmtools are installed so that performance reading could be conveyed to the virtual centre server correctly but also I had come across a document a while back while having the same problem in my home lab by David Ball detailing a way of fixing the problem.

There has been some major virtualisation news coming out of Microsoft over the past few weeks. Mark Wilson (@markwilsonit) covered it so well that I would highly recommend reading his blog posting covering it. The part of “Rescue for VMware VDI” promotion really brought a smile to my face.

Mike Laverick of the chinwags fame has recently released a new book he has been working on called Administering VMware Site Recovery Manager 4.0. Mike has set an amazing example and has given the book out for free in return of people making a donation to Unicef for the download of the book. So make sure you make your donations and get downloading/printing. I’ve already got my hard copy on the way. Also if you haven’t been listening to Mikes chinwags then i would firmly recommend them as they are great for a bit of news and banter from some of the top names in virtualisation. Virtumania is another weekly/fortnightly podcast that is growing exponentially in the industry for having the hottest topics and discussions. It’s hosted by Richard Brambley (@rbrambley) and is well worth the listen.

 

Gregg Robertson

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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