VCAP Datacenter Administration Exam

The VCAP Datacenter Administration Exam is one of the latest exam from VMware. To me, the VCAP exam has tons of value because it is geared towards “System Administrators, Consultants and Technical Support Engineers who can demonstrate their skills in VMware vSphere and VMware vCenter technologies in relation to the datacenter”. So all those naysayers out there that complain that all tests can be achieved by just brain dumping a test cannot say that about this exam. You will need real world experience and knowledge! I think that a VCAP would be a big glowing star on a resume for any employer seeking a good VMware architect. But that is just my opinion of the exam track.

I have been following posts and news about this exam since it was first announced. It looks like the VCAP4-DCA exam is now live. I was able to do the first stage of registration “VCAP4-DCA Registration Request“. When you complete this process, you will need your VCP number. It is printed on the VCP paper certification you received and it is on your VCP login page. A few days later I received an email from a VMware certification exam scheduler to confirm my information and what steps I need to take next. There is also a published list of cities where the exam is available, but it does not list a testing center.

I am in the midst of studying for this exam. For now, I am going to wait a couple of months before I schedule it. I have to admit, I have not played much with vCenter Server Heartbeat and vSheild Zones. Plus, I would like to take the practice exam when it becomes available. To help myself with the VCAP exam, I am compiling a list of links and study material to help prepare myself for the exam. When I did my VCP4 exam last year, I used a ton of stuff from Simon Long. He has some excellent study material. It looks like he is working on stuff for the VCAP exam, but I have not seen any changes on it in a while.

One source that I have found extremely helpful is the Train Signal VMware Pro series Vol 1 and Vol 2. If you were at VMworld this year, they had a really good discount on these. There are a ton of blog posts out there with information on the exam itself, but study material pages are just starting to pop up:

  1. The most complete I’ve found is Sean Cookstons (vfail.net) VCAP-DCA Study Guide. It looks like he put in a ton of time with this one. He also provides a PDF version with links.
  2. Kendrick Coleman also has a pretty good guide in the works. He provides a zip file with VMware docs and reference material to subject matter in the exam blueprint.

These two are really the most comprehensive posts I could find that cover the material fairly well. Be sure to look into the VCAP VMware communities page for info. If you know of more study materials, please list them in the comments below.

There are quit a few post out there on reviews of the beta exam. I like what I’m hearing so far. I’m looking forward to taking the exam in the near future.

Re-Add thin provisioned disks via PowerCLI

Running out of disk space in your datastores with those thin provisioned disks? The current shop I am in went with thin provisioned disk, and of course it is now catching up with them. They currently use a RIS (remote installation service) to re-image the virtual machines. They don’t store any information on these virtual machines, so a re-image is suitable for they’re purposes. I would have gone with non-persistent disks in this case, that way changes are discarded after a reboot. But, rules in a government shop don’t change that easily.

Let me say first that this script removes the current hard drive and re-adds it. This new drive will not have an OS, it is just a blank disk. But if you have a remote installation service, the drive would be reloaded. The old hard disk stays on your datastore, so you have to go back and delete it if you do not want it anymore. It looks something like this:

foreach($vm in (Get-VM -Name “VMname*”)){

Stop-VM -VM $vm -Confirm:$false

Get-HardDisk -VM $vm | Remove-HardDisk -Confirm:$false

New-HardDisk -VM $vm -CapacityKB (20 * 1MB) -ThinProvisioned:$true -Confirm:$false

Start-VM -VM $vm

}

The VMname* (with the wildcard) would be for instance if you had a group of VM’s with the name: VMname01, VMname02 and so on.

If you needed to call a certain set of VM’s, you would want to use

Import-Csv “C:NewDisks.csv” | %{ $vm = Get-VM $_.Name

Instead of “foreach($vm in (Get-VM -Name “VMname*”)){“

Remember though, this removes your current hard drive and adds a blank one. This script will be useful if you need to remove and re-add those thin provisioned disks in an environment where you have a remote installation service.

Now, a more direct and destructive way is to delete the old hard disk in the process. Make sure you no longer have a need for the old hard disk before you use this one. There is no “delete hard disk” function, only a “remove-harddisk” function. So we need to create it.

function remove-HD {
param($VMname, $HDname, $Delflag, $Server)

if(!$Server){
$server = $defaultVIServer
}

$vm = Get-View -Server $server -ViewType VirtualMachine -Filter @{“Name”=$VMname}

foreach($dev in $vm.Config.Hardware.Device){
if ($dev.DeviceInfo.Label -eq $HDname){
$key = $dev.Key
$name = $dev.Backing.FileName
$disktype = $dev.Backing.GetType().Name
}
}

$spec = New-Object VMware.Vim.VirtualMachineConfigSpec
$spec.deviceChange = @()
$spec.deviceChange += New-Object VMware.Vim.VirtualDeviceConfigSpec
$spec.deviceChange[0].device = New-Object VMware.Vim.VirtualDevice
$spec.deviceChange[0].device.key = $key
$spec.deviceChange[0].operation = “remove”

$vm.ReconfigVM($spec)

if ($Delflag){
$serviceInstance = get-view ServiceInstance -Server $Server

$fileMgr = Get-View $serviceInstance.Content.fileManager
$datacenter = (Get-View (Get-VM $VMname -Server $Server | Get-Datacenter).ID).get_MoRef()

$fileMgr.DeleteDatastoreFile_Task($name, $datacenter)
switch($disktype){
“VirtualDiskRawDiskMappingVer1BackingInfo” {
$ext = “-rdmp.vmdk”
}
“VirtualDiskFlatVer2BackingInfo” {
$ext = “-flat.vmdk”
}
}
$name2 = $name.substring(0,$name.length – 5) + $ext
$fileMgr.DeleteDatastoreFile($name2, $datacenter)
}
}

foreach($vm in (Get-VM -Name “YourVMHere**”)){
Stop-VM -VM $vm -Confirm:$false
remove-HD $vm.Name “Hard disk 1” $true
New-HardDisk -VM $vm -CapacityKB (20 * 1MB) -ThinProvisioned:$true -Confirm:$false
Start-VM -VM $vm
}

Of course there are some great products on the market that help deal with virtual disks and have some added bonuses.

Diskeeper now has V-Locity

Quest has vOptimizer

If you know of more, just list them in the comments section of this post.

You could also use a V to V process with VMware converter, but that would be a pain.

Of course the easiest solution for this would be to just use templates to deploy new VM’s, but if you are in a government shop like mine where change doesn’t come easy, these scripts will help out.

Thanks again to LucD for helping me out.

VMworld 2010 review

Another year has gone by along with another VMworld. I have to say that this year much much improved over VMworld 2009. The meals, VMworld fun run, session locations, labs, the parties and overall content were excellent.

Sessions: I was curious how the sessions would go this year since there was no preregistration required. It actually turned out pretty good. Yes, I missed a couple of session, most of the good ones had a long line 30 minutes ahead of time. It was pretty cool to see LucD in the PowerCLI session. I had no problems at all getting to other sessions, even ones that started 30 minutes later. But even if you missed a session, they will be available online at VMworld.com soon.

Labs: The lab environment in Moscone West were pretty cool. A Big improvement over last year. There was a larger variety of labs to work with also. The lab staff were very helpful and informative. Just the size of the lab environment was amazing. I just wish they would offer these online the way Microsoft does.

VMware vCenter™ vShield 2.0
VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch and Cisco Nexus 1000V
VMware vCenter™ Site Recovery Manager – Extended Config & Troubleshooting
VMware vCenter™ Chargeback – Advanced
VMware vSphere™ Performance & Tuning
VMware vSphere™ Troubleshooting
VMware vCenter™ Orchestrator – Orchestrating the Cloud
Lab: VMware ThinApp™ 4.6
Lab: SpringSource – Hyperic and tc Server
Lab: Intro to Zimbra Collaboration Suite
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Configuration Manager – Provisioning, Patching, and Software Distribution
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Configuration Manager – Achieving Compliance
Lab: VMware vCenter™ AppSpeed
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Data Recovery
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Server Heartbeat
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Site Recovery Manager – Basic Install & Config
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Site Recovery Manager – Extended Config & Troubleshooting
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Chargeback – Advanced Hands-on Lab
Lab: VMware vCenter™ CapacityIQ
Lab: VMware vCloud™ API
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Orchestrator
Lab: VMware vCenter™ Update Manager
Lab: VMware vCenter™ vShield 2.0
Lab: Basic VMware vSphere™ – Install & Config
Lab: VMware ESX 4.1 – New Features
Lab: VMware ESXi Remote Management Utilities
Lab: VMware vSphere™ Performance & Tuning
Lab: VMware vSphere™ Troubleshooting
Lab: VMware vSphere™ PowerCLI
Lab: VMware VI SDK C#
Lab: VMware VI SDK Java
Lab: VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch and Cisco Nexus 1000V
Lab: VMware Products – VMware vSphere™ Sandbox

Group Discussions: I really think this was one of the hidden gems of VMworld. The group discussions was by far my favorite thing to attend! Most of my colleagues described the discussions like an AA meeting. “Hi, my name is James, and I’ve been using VMware for 5 or 6 years”. So the setup had about 30 or 40 chairs in a small room, everyone would sit and discuss the topic at hand. The proctor for the group would be someone from VMware and would lead the group via a voting poll on an onscreen display. Most of these discussions would only bring 20 or 30 participants. My favorite one was “virtualizing Active Directory”. This brought in about 5 managers from different companies who said “Are you crazy? Virtualize AD? What madness is this?”. It was fun discussing with others how they worked on certain things and also talk to managers about they’re fears or limitations. I have done plenty of AD in VMware and it’s something I plan on blogging about later.

VMworld Fun Run: This was my first year participating. I wish we could have run on the Golden Gate Bridge, but Crissy Park was really nice. You really got to take in the scenic views while on the run. Everything was very organized for all the participants. The event was for a good cause, “Save the Bay”.

I had a great time at VMworld and I’m looking forward to attending VMworld 2011 in Vegas!