If I were in charge of VMware certifications

I have done the VCP level exams since the 3.x days. I remember when they were around in the 2.x days. Over the past 5 years we have seen an evolution of the VMware exams from VCP to over 20 certifications ranging from datacenter, networking, cloud and mobility. I applaud VMware for providing certifications in these areas and the levels of certifications for each area. But, has the certification wing of VMware turned in to a profit center or has content creation really grown to such an expense? It is tough to tell from the outside.

For me, I’ve had a love hate relationship with the certification exams. I love to pass, but I hate the tricky worded questions you would not normally see in any real world circumstance. For example, you see questions like this:

An administrator created a VM named “GoodVM” on a VSAN cluster with AMD processors on the hosts and four 10GB ports for the VM porgroup. What is the best method to reboot the virtual machine?
A. From the desktop client, choose Ctrl + R.
B. From the desktop client, choose “power, reset”.
C. From the host, invoke the command “esxcli restart -W VM -GoodVM”
D. Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit.
E. Administrators do not have permissions to create virtual machines.

In the real world you would not get 80 confusing questions to solve in a couple of hours. It feels as though the VCP level exams have almost turned VCAP with the level of knowledge you need. Knowing exact error codes and memorizing minimums / maximums between versions (and even patch levels) does not seem realistic.

I believe there should be a training track solution like there is today. Maybe not so much of a hard requirement for the exam prerequisite. I’d say there should be an option to pass some online VMware exam before taking the VCP level exams. Maybe a set of 10 different exams within a months time frame.

For those taking the VCP delta exam there should be an option to take the exam at home. This was an option for the VCP5 delta, but not version 6.

We should get rid of the version numbers for VCAP and VCP if there is going to be a 2 year life cycle on the exams.

I look forward to the certification web cast hosted by the VMware education wing on 5/11/2017 for news on upcoming exams.

These are just my opinions and are in no way negative towards the great job the certification team has been doing over the years providing great exams.

Apache Struts 2 vulnerability and vCenter

News came out last week about the Apache Struts 2 vulnerability. There are numerous products affected by this vulnerability, but on the VMware side you have Horizon DaaS, vCenter, VROps and Hyperic. This is listed as a Critical severity.

On the vCenter side, this is for the virtual appliance and the Windows version of vCenter for 6.0.x and 6.5.

The question came up, is it a specific build of vCenter 6.0.x? If you look at KB 2149434 it lists 6.0.x. There is no 6.1 version of vCenter. VMware vCenter only has updates 1 through 3. VMware went directly from 6.0.x to 6.5. VMware only has a work around for now until they come out with a patch.

Storage adapter best practices and Tintri

I recently had a coworker come to me with a stack of articles on configuring adapters for storage arrays. He is new to Tintri and didn’t know about the best practice feature added in to the web plugin.

Did you know, that in the web plugin there is a feature to set the best practices for each host connected to Tintri storage? Once your storage is mounted to a host, you can apply the best practices to the host. This is not a new feature, it has been around for  while and works with all models of Tintri storage. It is just not common to see vendors offer such a feature. Most often when you get one of the big storage vendors, it require consulting hours to fine tune the array and hosts connected.

Page 12 of the admin guide explains how it works. In later 2.x versions the function may move around in the web client.

Dell vCenter Management plugin 1.7 and server iDRAC updates error

If you run iDRAC updates on your VMware hosts you might run in to this error with the Dell Management plug-in for VMware vCenter. “Fail – Unable to contact iDRAC. Check iDRAC credentials and network connectivity”.

capture3

 

 

 

 

 

I ran in to this when upgrading the iDRAC from 2.30.30 to 2.40.40. I was able to log in to the iDRAC directly and ping the iDRAC from the Dell virtual appliance. The Dell vCenter plugin was the only thing that could not log on to the host iDRAC. The issue turned out to be located in the iDRAC settings under network/services. The web server needs to be set to TLS 1.0.

capture4

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the Dell OMI only works with 1.0, but they hope to have it upgraded in the future.

So your option is to change the TLS settings in the iDRAC or leave your iDRAC firmware lower than 2.40.40.

My thoughts on VMworld 2016

It was great to have the opportunity to visit VMworld again this year and connect with old friends and new ones. This years VMworld was held in Las Vegas. I have to say that I prefer this location over San Francisco. There are many more entertainment options available over San Francisco. Repeat visitors to VMworld know what I am talking about. I think I did everything in San Francisco the first couple of year I attended the conference. Vegas just has much more to offer in the city. The venue at Mandalay Bay was very nice, but I liked it more when it was at the Venetian. Plus the hotel rooms are not $500 a night with shared bathrooms like San Francisco.

But VMworld is not really about having a work vacation. The content VMworld provides is the best. The solutions exchange, sessions and labs are fantastic. This year seemed to have many new vendors on the floor. I think the newest product I saw that interested me was from RuneCast. I’m surprised they did not win any awards. They have a analyzer product you should download and try out. This year on the solutions exchange floor it did not feel like everything was about public cloud products. There was a good mix of options for enterprise environments.

Of course it was great to see the guys from Tintri and Dell. Although, Dell was really lacking on the equipment side. They mentioned the Compellent array was lost in shipping. We were hoping to see some of the newer controllers. I also have to say thank you to our local UDI team for sticking with us for a couple of days.

I dropped by the education center during the conference and learned that the VCAP6-DCV Deploy exam had been released a couple of days prior to the conference. I have been waiting for this one for some time to become VCIX6-DCV. Now I just need to learned all that command line stuff for VSAN and pony up that $400 for the exam.

I usually don’t like to talk about negative things, but I have to mention that I stopped by the expert bar in the solutions exchange to get some answers on upgrading 5.5 to 6.x. The person who was an expert on vSphere mentioned that I should upgrade to vSphere 6.2. I said “6.2, when did that come out?”. He said “it’s been out for a few months, I’m surprise you have not hear about it”. I said “wow, I’m really out of touch, I didn’t even know about 6.1”. Turns out, the latest release is 6.0 update 2. Maybe the guys at the expert booth were just tired from talking all day. Do they get breaks?

Will I go back next year? Possibly. I just hope it will be in Vegas again.

 

How many people hold VMware certifications?

This is an interesting map VMware create to show how dispersed VMware certifications are across the world…

http://blogs.vmware.com/education/2015/12/where-in-the-world-are-vcps-infographic.html

http://blogs.vmware.com/education/2016/04/where-in-the-world-are-vcaps-infographic.html

 

 

 

Skype for Business on vSphere

Is it support? That is an interesting question if you ask a Microsoft consulting company. You might just get a mixed bag of answers. The goal of a Microsoft consulting company is to push HyperV.  Lync and Skype for Business are absolutely supported on VMware hypervisors. It falls under the “Server Virtualization Validation Program” from Microsoft. UC products like Skype and Lync do not fall under the same restrictions as Exchange when it comes to the storage platform. Microsoft will not support Exchange if it is on NFS storage (even though the same conditions for the restrictions exist in SMB3). There is no known restrictions on storage platform for Lync or Skype.

The design considerations in the “Planning a Lync Server 2013 Deployment on Virtual Servers” guide are all geared towards HyperV. VMware took up issues with this article (detailed here) and asked why Microsoft never created a validation document for VMware (clearly a market leader). To date, there still has not been a document published by Microsoft, and I do not expect them to publish a favorable article for a competing product. As far as designing your environment, do use the guidelines listed by Microsoft, but pay not attention to the restrictions on HyperThreading and memory sharing. There is not a good technical justification from Microsoft to disable these options when using VMware products.

I work in an environment where I have a multi pool global Skype deployment for 5,000 users and a US pool for 5,000 users all running on vSphere. I have not had any hypervisor related issues and I’ve never had issues with Microsoft support when it comes to having the platform on VMware products.

Don’t be persuaded that vSphere is not the best platform for Skype or Lync. I’ve heard comments like “so you’ve chosen the most expensive and complex product for your environment” or “you are not guaranteed to get support from Microsoft if you have issues in your environment”. That last statement would be somewhat true if the environment was poorly designed. Just make sure your design considerations fall within Microsoft guidelines.

 

 

 

 

VMware ROBO license usage

VMware ROBO license model was announced last year. Since the announcement, it was very difficult to get any clear information on how you actually use ROBO licenses. The licenses are sold in 25 packs and they keys are licensed “per site”.  I call support to get a definition of what “per site” meant. Was it a location, a data center, a cluster or a host? Support really couldn’t help, they only concluded that a site was a physical location.

The most difficult part of testing ROBO licenses is that there is no trial license, not even vExperts get a ROBO key.

I recently had an an opportunity to deploy two separate data centers with ROBO keys. When VMware says a key must be licensed per site, that means the key you purchase must be used in one location, just like you would with any other product key. But, the ROBO keys can be split up for the number of virtual machines you need to run in each location, just like an enterprise  or enterprise plus key can be broken up in to how many host sockets you need to license.

Lets say you have two different data centers with a requirement to run 10 virtual machines in one data center and 15 in another data center. You would log in to your VMware license portal at VMware.com and divide or combine your ROBO licenses to the amount you need for each key. You can do the same for vSphere Enterprise keys based on how many hosts you want to license. These license keys are then applied to each host. The license key keeps track of how many powered on virtual machines you have based on the ROBO license key applied to each host. So, you can have 10 hosts in one data center with a ROBO key for 10 virtual machines (but you must purchase the keys in 25 packs). A big cost savings vs purchasing licenses for each socket in each host. Imagine having 10 hosts with quad 16 core processors and only having to license based on the number of virtual machines you are running. I think VMware’s intention for this license model was meant for remote branch offices, but I have not found anything that says it cannot be used in a primary data center.

VMware has ROBO standard and advanced. Both have the same features you would expect to see in the host licenses for Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. After you install the license key in the host, it looks something like this:

ROBO key1

You then get a layout of the license key information:

ROBO key2

If you do have a remote branch that uses 25 virtual machines and you need to license the 26th, you then purchase a 25 pack of licenses. You would then combine your two 25 packs of licenses for one key of 50 licenses. You would then divide that key in to 26 and 24. That 26 key would then replace your existing key.

 

Where is the VCIX6-DCV exam?

With much cheering and confusion, the VCIX exams were announced last February.

http://blogs.vmware.com/education/2015/03/migration-paths-v5-certification-v6.html

Current VCAPs wondered, “what do I need to upgrade?”. The upgrade path for current VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD holders seems clear enough in the link above.

Where is the exam? Well, VMware education released the VCIX-NV right away. There is still no definite date when the VCIX6-DCV will be released. This is the word I received from VMware education:

“I would like to inform you that, VMware is in process of releasing VCP6-DCV Exam now, so after this VCIX6-DCV Exam should be release. Please note that, as of now we do not have exact date of the release or the update, most probably it should be release by the end of the year. Please go through our website blog.vmware.com for the upcoming updates.”

I really had high hopes that the exams would be released in time for VMworld 2015, but it looks like more towards the end of the year. I would say to anyone who has been thinking of holding off on taking the VCAP-DCD or DCA, go ahead and take the exams now.

VMware has provided a link that you can sign up for notifications for the exam release. http://t.co/Q51DTBSjM2