TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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vSphere 4.1 to vSphere 5.1 Upgrade Resources and Experience

In the coming months I am due to upgrade at least one client from vSphere 4.1 to 5.1 and so I have been collecting some great notes and articles around doing the upgrade to 5.1. This is a blog posting in progress and I am planning on updating it with how the upgrades went after I have done them.

For the 4.1 to 5.0 upgrade of the environments I am planning on following what has worked for me in the past which I listed and blogged about in my posting here. The links and blogs I have found for the upgrading to vSphere 5.1 are listed below and are the ones I will be reading and following for the upgrades:

If you know of more please do tell me so I can update the list for myself and the community at large

Gregg

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Deploying an Isolated Update Manager Download Service Architecture

During a recent customer engagement for a Virtual Infrastructure build out I was tasked with deploying an Isolated/Air Gap Update Manager Download Service architecture. If you do not know what an isolated Update Manager Download Service is then read this article first before carrying on. I came across a few hurdles during this deployment and so i waned to create a quick reference of what I followed for my future reference and to hopefully help anyone who gets the problems I was getting during the setup

  1. For this setup, I got a service account created that would be used for the installation of VUM and the UMDS.
  2. For my setup I setup VUM and UMDs on their own dedicated servers as you obviously have to do as the UMDS has to be in the DMZ.
  3. For the installation of UMDS I followed the following steps from the vSphere 5 Documentation Center.
  4. Next I installed VUM following the steps detailed from this vSphere 5 Documentation Center article.
    1. Note: The first hurdle I hit in this installation was that the SQL Client for SQL 2012 doesn’t work for the ODBC connections so I had to install the SQL 2008 Client from here for it to show the ODBC configuration when I went through each of the installations.
  5. Next was the configuration of UMDS and I followed this vSphere 5 Documentation Center article.
  6. Next was the creation of the IIS server for the UMDS so that VUM can contact and download the patches. I followed this vSphere 5 Documentation Center article.
  7. Next was the exporting of the downloaded patches to the UMDS folder under the IIS website (for mine I did a virtual directory to a folder on my data drive so that the c drive was not filled up with patches.)
    1. Note: For the exporting, I kept getting an error as detailed in this VMware Communities discussion I created. As detailed in the discussion the problem was I had to set the folder location as my default export store by running vmware-umds -S –default-export-store <your path to the UMDS folder>.
    2. Then you can export the patches to the folder location by running: vmware-umds –E <your path to the UMDS folder>.
  8. Now you can go into your vCenter and setup the UMDS as your shared repository location by pointing to the IIS website you created for the UMDS folder

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    1. Note: For the downloading of the patches I kept getting a failure where the downloading patches task would get stuck at 50% for a few minutes and then fail stating “Cannot download patch definitions” as shown below.

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2. The problem here was that the service account running the VUM service on the VUM server did not have full permissions to the folder. After reapplying the patches the downloading of the patches worked clip_image003

After going through all of the above steps, my air gap Update Manager Download Service was now setup clip_image004[1]

I hope that this saves someone the headaches I had along the way

Gregg


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Auto Deploy TFTP file won’t download

I’m currently doing a POC of vSphere 5’s Auto Deploy in an attempt to streamline/perfect my knowledge of all the PowerCLI commands and steps in preparation for a client delivery. I’ve built a whole test environment on my laptop in VMware Workstation following pretty much all the steps detailed in these three postings:

After setting everything up and adding my image profile to the deploy rule, I kept getting an error whenever my ESXi hosts tried to get the “undionly.kpxe.vmw-hardwired” file from my TFTP server as shown in the screenshot below

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After trying everything from rebuilding Auto Deploy to re-creating the whole AD and the TFTP server I decided to try change my networking from Host Only to another setting in the hope this would do something and for reasons i’m actually unsure of at the moment it worked Open-mouthed smile .

Changing the setting from Host Only to a Custom VMnet2 on all my VM’s hosting my vCenter Server come Auto Deploy Server come TFTP server and all my ESXi hosts allowed the communication to let the ESXi servers get the “undionly.kpxe.vmw-hardwired” file and thereby allow all my stateless hosts to now boot perfectly. Now to finish off all my Auto Deploy Testing Smile

Gregg


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VCAP5-DCA Beta

As a VMware vExpert working for Xtravirt Limited and a keen contributor to the VCAP communities on the VMware communities ,I received an email from Randy Becraft from VMware confirming my inclusion on the VCAP5-DCA beta exam along with the Blueprint for the exam which should be starting in the coming weeks. Obviously I am under NDA so I can’t divulge too much but Randy has kindly given me permission to blog about the blueprint and what will be required once the exam becomes available to the public.

The Differences

The exam is 60-70% the same as the VCAP4 but the main differences are:

  • The exam consists of approximately 26 live lab activities and consists of multiple tasks, where each task is scored. This is down from the 36 there was in the VCAP4-DCA which I think is much better as I blazed through the VCAP4-DCA to try finish enough of the questions in time and made a few mistakes along the way due to this.
  • There are a number of sections and products which are thankfully not part of the exam any more. This is great as these were very uncommon products that were very hard to practice seeing as 98% of people have never used them (although they are gaining prominence recently).The ones that aren’t a part of the exam anymore are:
    • vCenter Server Linked Mode
    • Orchestrator
    • vShield Zones
    • vCenter Heartbeat
  • The exam is obviously based on vSphere 5 and so as you would imagine there are a number of the new features that have been introduced in vSphere 5 that are part of the blueprint like Storage DRS and the new Auto Deploy features to name but two.
  • The recommended courses are also different as with VCAP4-DCA there were four recommended courses aka:

But with the VCAP5-DCA there are only two recommended courses:

I do think it’s a shame there aren’t the kinds of courses there were for the VCAP4 as I learnt an unbelievable amount from the courses and will be using Trainsignal videos and the official course notes I received from doing two of the recommended courses to help me prepare for the VCAP5-DCA beta

The Similarities

The following things are the same as the VCAP4-DCA:

  • The passing score is still 300 and is scaled. Scaled scores are calculated using a mathematical formula that considers a variety of factors, including the number and type of exam questions included in a specific version of the exam
  • The exam time is still 210 minutes for English speaking countries. Extra time is given for non-English speaking countries the same as they do for the VCP exams.
  • Having your VCP (in this case the VCP5) is a pre-requisite for the exam and you will still need to put in an authorisation request like you did for the VCAP4 before being able to book the exam. If you are a VCAP4-DCA but do not have your VCP5 and pass the VCAP5-DCA exam within the first three months from release of the live exam you will also be awarded your VCP5 credential.
  • You can book the exam via Pearson VUE’s website at http://www.pearsonvue.com/vmware. The exam will be in the usual Pearson VUE testing centres that offer VCAP-level exams and there may not be a centre near you offering the exam.
  • The security for the exam is still the enhanced method where they won’t let you take in anything to the exam room even your watch and you will be required to have a photo taken and do a digital signature over and above the normal exam sign in procedures.
  • So as to not repeat what has been done so well, Ed Grigson also got permission from Randy to blog about his inclusion in the beta and has done a brilliant breakdown of the similarities and differences between the blueprints of the VCAP4-DCA and the VCAP5-DCA in his blog posting here

There has been information about the infrastructure you will be expected to use during the VCAP5 exam, which will be two ESXi hosts and a vCenter server. This is very much like the VCAP4 exam environment but a subtle difference which VCAP4-DCA takers will fully recognise.

I will be linking to all the resources I’m using for both the VCAP exams on my VCAP5-DCA and DCD resources page and plan to give an NDA limited review of my thoughts of the beta exam and if it was harder/easier or the same as the VCAP4-DCA.

Good luck to all those people selected to do the beta exam and keep an eye out for my home lab postings in my preparation for the exam.

Gregg


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January 2012 London VMware Users Group (LONVMUG) and I’m presenting

Just a very quick posting to remind anyone around the south of England or who is willing to come to the south of England for it that the next London VMware User Group (LonVMUG) and the first one of 2012 is happening on Thursday the 26th of January. Also I’ll be presenting at it, the first time I’ve ever done a session at a VMUG. Mine will be around my VCP 5 Study Resources, my exam experiences and a few surprises Smile

If you haven’t registered I would highly recommend you do so ASAP as these are more often than not fully booked a week or two before the event. You can register for the event here and hopefully I’ll get to meet you there.

After the VMUG the standard vBeers will take place. If you’ve somehow never heard of vBeers before the below is just for you Smile.

vBeers

Is an informal get together of virtualisation enthusiasts and professionals to meet and discuss all things IT. It’s a great opportunity to network, learn and meet like minded people.

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The following is part quoted from Simon Seagrave’s Website :

Enjoy Talking Virtualization? Come & Socialise at vBeers!

vBeers[7]Fancy meeting up every month with other IT virtualization enthusiasts to socialise and chat over a cold beer, wine or soft-drink? If so, then vBeers is for you! This is a great opportunity to meet with other virtualization enthusiasts and professionals and enjoy discussing all things virtualization, and in fact anything else that comes up in conversation…

vBeers is open to everyone so whether you are a VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer user/fan or none of the above it really doesn’t matter as “it’s all about the virtualization”.

The London vBeers meet-up is held at the Pavilion End Pub . Details and directions below:

When & Where

The London vBeers are held on the first Thursday of every month or after a VMUG meeting starting at 6pm in the ‘pavilion end pub

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Location: The ‘pavilion end pub’, London

Address: 23 Watling Street Moorgate EC4M 9BR

Date: First Thursday of every month and after VMUG meetings

Time: 6:00pm

Map:

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Gregg


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VCP 5 Exam Experience.

This morning I sat my VCP 5 after around two and half weeks of studying. As I’m sure, you know I’m under NDA so I can’t mention too much but what I can I will in the hope that maybe it will help someone prepare better and thereby pass the exam.

I utilised a large amount of resources although due to my time constraints I did have to pick and choose which ones I felt would help me most. All the resources I used in my preparations are listed on my VCP 5 page here: https://thesaffageek.co.uk/vcp5/ .The ones i personally used from my list were:

  • The vSphere 5 Trainsignal videos by David M Davis and Elias Khnaser. I watched all the videos as i wanted to make sure i didn’t miss a low level setting that might come up in the exam and had a feeling the VCP 5 would require you to know each features inside out (which they do)
  • I know not helpful for people who haven’t attempted it but the preparations for my VCAP4-DCA really helped me as it gave me a really good base knowledge and loads of experience installing configuring and managing loads of the less utilised features. Off of this i would recommend getting loads of hands on lab time and make sure you install all the features and know how they work as the exam is based much more on experience rather than picking the new feature in vSphere 5 from a list. As mentioned in the BrownBag webinar I did last week with Damian Karlson you can create a lab from a few desktop computers or even use VMware workstation on your laptop and build a small lab that way.
  • The vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive by Frank Denneman and Duncan Epping helped me loads! the exam doesn’t expect you to know the deepest configurations but i read the whole book anyway and it really did help me better understand how it all works and even if you don’t want to read the whole thing then get the book and read the first few chapters of each of the sections so you know how it all works and what the new features are all about.
  • Andrea Mauro’s study guides were amazing and really helped me systematically make my way through the blueprint and flagged up points i possibly wasn’t very strong in so I could go research and learn more about it. All his guides are on his blog here: http://vinfrastructure.it/certifications-on-virtualization/vcp/vcp5/. They really are great
  • One of the resources I used to do the further research of features I wasn’t that strong in was Scott Lowe’s Mastering VMware vSphere 5 book. The book is great and gives amazing examples and explanations for all the features. Due to time constraints, i wasn’t able to read the whole book but it was really helpful for further studies and if I had more time I would have liked to have read the book.
  • The practice exams by Simon Long and the VMware mock exam were highly beneficial as they gave me a really good idea of the style of questions and helped flag up parts I was weak in and thereby needed to spend more time studying. As mentioned in the BrownBag, if you get 100% for the VMware mock exam you can’t retake it, which is insane but something to keep in mind.
  • I did mention it above but I feel it’s so important I want to mention it again. Get yourself a lab/build a lab on your laptop/desktop and practice everything as the exam is based on experience so the only way you are going to get a really good understanding of how everything works and all the features and settings is to get a number of practice hours in.

Well that’s all the things I used for the exam and I’m pleased to say I passed the examclip_image001. The score was a lot closer than I had hoped but seeing as the exam was so difficult I’m very pleased with my pass. Good luck to anyone sitting the exam soon.

Gregg


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Upgrading from vSphere 4.1 to vSphere 5

Yep the time has yet again come round that the bi yearly mass upgrade of all of my VMware environments needs upgrading to the latest version. Thankfully this upgrade process hasn’t been too difficult but seeing as so many people said they found my posting all about the upgrading of my environments from 4 to 4.1 helpful I thought I’d keep the idea going and do one for my upgrading to 5 and give people some hints on things that slowed me down and things to plan for before doing the upgrade

  • First is the upgrade notes, I would recommend reading through this and following it step by step and using it as a reference guide as it really does flag up all the things you need to think about and know before during and after the upgrade.
  • Second is the Licencing. If you haven’t upgraded your licencing then i would recommend going to the licencing page where you can get all the answers to your licencing questions and concerns.
  • Next is the checklist to make sure you have planned for everything and you won’t get any nasty surprises
  • Make sure you run the vCentre Host Agent Pre-Upgrade Checker to make sure all your hosts are compatible
  • The upgrade follows the same steps as previous upgrades with:
    • Upgrade the vCentre Server: I already have my vCentre on x64 etc so there was no need for major changes this time if you do need to follow the steps then I covered them in my upgrade from 4 to 4.1 posting)
    • Upgrade your VMware Update manager Server: This was straightforward to do and is really helpful to do prior to the upgrading of your hosts, as there are already two patches for ESXi 5.
    • Upgrade your hosts to ESXi 5: This can be done in numerous ways, the one major snag I hit was that 80% of my hosts needed their BIOS updated to the latest version to be able to run ESXi 5. Not sure when they added this as ESXi 5 beta worked on them so they must have changed something last minute before GA but I wrote about all my steps in my posting PSOD while trying to install vSphere ESXi5 on a Dell PowerEdge 1950 and OMSA 6.5 installation. As the title states there is also a currently unsupported version of OMSA for ESXi 5 (OMSA 6.5) which I would highly recommend installing prior to upgrading your host and the new variable to allow you to connect to the host via the Dell Management Console (DMC). Also don’t forget to verify your hosts so that HA is enabled, i spent a bit of time scratching my head wondering why the HA agents were failing on my hosts until i remembered the step to verify them, Administration->vCentre Server Settings-> SSL –> verify the hosts in the bottom box clip_image001
    • Upgrade your Virtual Machines: This also follows the same steps of update all the vmtools on your virtual machines, then upgrade the hardware version to version 8 on all of them. If you have machines you don’t want to take down then it’s not a train smash as vSphere 5.0 fully supports running virtual machines with VMware Tools version 4.x as well as versions hardware versions 4 and 7. So you’ll have plenty of time to plan for that outage upgrade window to do the work at a later date.
    • Upgrade your Datastores : Personally, I’m waiting this out as we change datastores relatively often so when the time comes to make a change I’m going to upgrade them to VMFS 5. The steps to do it are really simple and vSphere supports VMFS 3 up so you can take your time upgrading your datastores, although obviously, the new VMFS does have all the new features and capabilities so don’t wait too long.
  • There are two videos created by VMware detailing how to upgrade you hosts to ESXi 5 with the installer and with VUM which are really great to watch before you do the upgrades and give you the peace of mind you’re doing it correctly.
  • Also there is the VMware upgrade community which is a great place to see problems people have had and the fixes they found for them if you hit any problems or if you just want to have a look and see if there is anything that may apply to you and will save you having the same problem

That’s my list and how I’ve done my upgrades. Apart from the need to have a large number of my hosts on the latest BIOS revision, the process was fairly simple in my opinion.

Gregg