TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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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 1.3 – Differentiate Requirements, Risks, Constraints and Assumptions

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

Differentiate between the concepts of risks, requirements, constraints, and assumptions.

  • Firstly I’ll take it you know the definitions of Risks, Constraints, Assumptions and Requirements. If not I would recommend looking them up and there is great overview in the VMware recommended study resource around CAD’s.
  • We covered what requirements are, how you would collect them and how they needed to be concise and be mapped to the infrastructure qualities of AMPRS in objective 1.2. During the workshops and interviews you have done with the customer you will also have picked up that a number of their requirements will have been around using certain technologies or certain methods for the project.
  • A constraint is where the customer has asked you to use a certain vendors storage for example or that you have to use their existing network infrastructure. These are almost always non-functional requirements and your biggest challenge around this is understanding how the technology they have asked for you to use will impact the solution in a holistic manner. There are always constraints in a project and it is your job as the architect to record these and understand them and then determine if these are not going to meet what the customer requires from the solution (using a 1GbE network can be a severe one on a vRA design) , is a risk to the project (the existing storage you have to use for the project is end of life in 18 months’ time and the migration to new storage is currently undefined from the vendor for example) or it actually meets the requirements of the solution and is just a constraint.
  • Risks as I mentioned above are a fair portion from the constraints but also external risks such as the project is being done the arab emirates and there are seasonal sandstorms that affect the communications to the data centre or it can be down to personnel where the people from the customer due to maintain the project once you leave have never touched VMware technology before. I like to have a risk register where I record all of these, rate them on their severity (Low,Medium,High and Critical) and also the risk mitigation or if there is no mitigation then that the project sponsor or someone high up has accepted this risk. So to use my example of customers IT team having no VMware knowledge or experience they could mitigate the risk by sending people on the required training and that there is dedicated time allocated to them outside BAU work to work with the consultants building the solution to gain knowledge and experience as well as knowledge transfer workshops at the end of the project.
  • Assumptions are where you can’t get a definitive answer on something that the project relies on and so you have to assume that it will be in place for the success of the project. Assumptions in real life designs should be as minimal as possible as it is your job as the architect to try get clarification on any assumptions but sometimes you have to have assumptions for example that the storage solution purchased from vendor XYZ will be built and configured in a resilient manner to a production level standard seeing as you aren’t the one doing this portion of the design.

Analyze impact of VMware best practices to identified risks, constraints, and assumptions.

  • “Best practices” are a double edged sword but for the exam these are the gospel and knowing the VMware way of designing it is a must (which is what it was like in the VCAP4-DCD and VCAP5-DCD I sat) . This is fairly straight forward if you understand my points in the section above. VMware best practices are covered largely in the vRealize Automation Reference Architecture document and the vCloud Architecture Toolkit (vCAT) documents.

Given a statement, determine whether it is a risk, requirement, constraint, or an assumption.

  • Very much the same as above in that if you understand what assumptions, risks and constraints are then you can amp them no problem. I think they only let you choose one quality per statement so my personal rule of thumb was that if it was between a risk and a constraints I chose it as a risk. Referring back to what I said earlier where not all constraints are risks is where you can have this difference in the exam.

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 1.4.

Gregg


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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 1.2 – Gather and Analyze Application Requirements.

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

Gather and analyze application requirements for a given scenario.

  • What I believe is being looked for here is for you to having spoken to the stakeholders and more importantly the application owners and worked out what exactly they require for their applications and the interdependencies the applications have. Applications can be standalone and require no outside communication or could be multi-tiered and require access to the internet or a public git repository for example. Asking the right questions and fully understanding what the applications do and require will then allow you to provide what is required or if it isn’t available start making plans to make it available.

Determine the requirements for a set of applications that will be included in the design.

  • This is exactly the same as above in my opinion but now instead of just one application you need to get a holistic idea of all the applications in a multi-machine blueprint for example and all the requirements these have to work whilst also not impacting other workloads.

Collect information needed in order to identify application dependencies.

  • This is done by speaking to the application owners and then validating yourself as even though the application owners say they need certain things you need to validate this and ensure that they are correct and that putting it into the vRA solution doesn’t require another method of doing something. For example maybe the physical F5 load balancers can’t be used for load balancing applications deployed within the vRA solution so you either need to open firewalls to allow this or deploy maybe NSX load balancers within the environment to allow this capability. In the blueprint they recommend the Foundations and Concepts document which is good but personally I think you need to know much much more than the foundations to understand application dependencies and how they would fit within vRA.
  • They recommend the vRealize Infrastructure Navigator User-s Guide as a study tool and this is certainly a great method of looking at existing applications and understanding heir interdependencies and what the applications are talking to. This also makes sure that the application isn’t talking to some old database server in the background that Joe Blogs setup before he got retrenched and no one has known about since. VIN is a great tool and there’s loads of free videos and resources you can use to learn about the product like this VMware YouTube video.

Given one or more application requirements, determine the impact of the requirements on the design.

  • Again this is understanding holistically what the applications are talking to and require and then ensuring it is available within the environment or communicable from the environment (services like AD, DNS,IP Management etc). I’m not really sure how you can learn more about this without experience of differing products but understanding how multi-tiered applications work and require resilient back-end resources to function is very important (think of a web applications with multiple web servers, application server and a DB)

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 1.3.

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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VCAP6-CMA Design Study Resources

A very quick posting around the creation of my new VCAP6-CMA Design study resources page now that the beta exam has been released. As I have done in the past for the VCP5 and VCAP5-DCV exams, I have started building a list of resources I will be using for the beta and if I don’t make the mark then the GA exam for the VCAP6-CMA design. If you feel I’ve missed any resources please do let me know as these pages seem to be very popular and so everyone can benefit with top class resources.

For those signed up for the beta, good luck!

Gregg


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vRealize Production Test Tool Configuration

The vRealize Production Test Tool was released in April this year to allow people to do health checks on their vRealize Automation, vRealize Business and vRealize Operations solutions to ensure your environments are running as planned and the most important part to me, being able to quickly prove the environment is working to your customer/consumers.

The tool is free and has been updated to version 1.2 at the time of this posting. Once once you have downloaded the tool you need to browse to the location where you saved the tool via command prompt and run the config command on the tool like the example below.

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You accept the EULA after of course reading every single word and promising your first-born child and then get to the configuration UI.

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Click on either vRealize Automation, Operations or Business on the left hand side and start filling in all your information.

vRealize Automation

If you have selected the vRealize Automation option and have your vRA portal load balanced then ensure the vRA URL is the VIP URL of your load balancers. The rest of the information is fairly straight forward.

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For the endpoints I clicked the add button a few times to add additional fields so that I could enter not just my vCenter endpoints but also my vRO and NSX endpoints.

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For the vRA Tenant name above go to https://your-vra-instance.com/vcac and check the name under your tenants tab and put in the exact name including the case.

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Now save the configuration and close the UI. Now you can run the tool via command prompt by running the java -jar vrealize-productiontest-1.2.0.jar run –oobList VRA command like the example below.

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vRealize Business

Open up the configuration UI again by running the config command as shown below

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For vRealize Business click the option on the left and fill in the required information. The vRA tenant name can be retrieved via the method mentioned above in the vRA section ensuring the case sensitivity is maintained.

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Once complete save the configuration and close the UI

Now you can run the test via command including the VRB acronym at the end to run the vRB test.

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Once it completes running it will give you the number of tests runs and most importantly how many failures you may have.

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You can then see the output of the report under the folder you ran the tool from /report/VRPTReport.html and it gives you a brilliant break down of the tests and where you may have had failures. The remediation and cause fields are URLs to VMware KB articles to fix the issues. In my lab I have three failures as you can see in the screenshot below.

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I haven’t gone through the vROPs setup but it follows very much the same method as the vRA and vRB sections. I really like the tool although it isn’t perfect for enterprise distributed installations and I had quite a few hassles with the vRA tool working but it is good and coupled with the vRA management pack for vROPs it gives brilliant reporting  of your environment.

Gregg


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VCP6-CMA track on the EMEA #vBrownbag

Now that my VCDX defence is over and hopefully I’ve done enough to be awarded an illustrious number I can pick up my old responsibilities for the EMEA vBrownbag of which I am one of the hosts and decided that the VCP6-CMA track would be a great one to do.

african children dancing - Lets learn Some vRA goodness

We are going to be going through the blueprint in order so that it is easy to follow and watch as well if you are subscribed to the iTunes feed. So starting next week Tuesday at 7pm GMT (Clocks have changed in Europe so this is GMT not BST) we will be doing objective 1 and it is being covered by one of the co-hosts of the vBrownbag, Frank Buechsel. You can register for the series and future vBrownbag EMEA sessions via the following link https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8540909933274906113 and can also subscribe to the vBrownbag YouTube channel.

 

If you are interested in covering an objective on the vBrownbag then please get touch as we are always looking for presenters.

 

Gregg