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Changes to VMware Certification

Earlier this year, VMware announced changes to their certification program, which many people in the community were already struggling to grasp.  Here is my attempt to simply it:

  • The program offers 4 tracks:  Data Center Virtualization (DCV – focused on  vSphere), Desktop and Mobility (DTM – focused Horizon Suite), Cloud Management and Automation (CMA – focused on vRealize Suite), and Network Virtualization  (NV – focused on NSX).
  • It provides 4 main levels in each track:  Associate (VCA), Professional (VCP), Implementation Expert (VCIX), and Design Expert (VCDX).
  • VCA’s can successfully explain the concepts associated with the technologies and products in the track.  They can successfully engage in discussions related to the track, such as discussions on conceptual solution design, using proper vocabulary.
  • The main requirement for VCA is successfully passing an online exam.
  • VCP’s can independently, successfully install the technologies and products in the track in a manner that is adequate for Proof of Concept Testing.   They can also implement production-ready solutions based on these technologies and products by applying installation procedures and design documents provided by solution architects.
  • The main requirements for new VCPs are to attend an official course and to pass two exams.  The first is a core fundamentals exam focused on vSphere.  The second exam is a professional exam based on the specific track.  Previously, this level only required passing a single exam.  Current VCPs can follow migration paths that have fewer requirements.
  • VCIX’s can demonstrate their ability to design and implement solutions based on the technologies and products in the track well enough to be considered as a minimally qualified candidate for the  VMware Professional Services Team.  Previously, this level was called VCAP (advanced professional), but the new name focus on Implementation.
  • The main requirements for VCIX are to become a VCP in any track and to pass two exams on the specific track:  a VCIX-Lab exam (hands-on, implementation exam) and a VCIX-Design exam.   Previously, this level contained two separate VCAP certifications, but now it is a single certification that requires passing both exams.
  • VCDX’s can successfully perform the role of solution architect involving the technologies and products in the track.
  • The main requirements for VCDX are to become VCIX in the track, submit a design and application, and to successfully defend it to a VCDX panel.

In summary, the main changes from the previous certification program is that new VCP candidates must pass two exams, the purpose and name of VCAP has been changed to VCIX,  and two exams must be passed for VCIX.

NOTE:  Current VCPs of any track may only need to pass a single exam to become VCP6-DCV.

Be certain to examine the detailed requirements and migration paths on the VMware Certification page.

 

Discussion on VMware Certification

Tomorrow, I plan to deliver this presentation at a VMUG Louisville event

  • Presentation Name = Discussion on VMware Certification
  • Topics:
    • Currently available certifications, tracks, and levels.
    • VCP5-DCV and VCAP5-DCA requirements
    • Exam Expirations
    • Details and advice  VCP5-DCV Delta Exam and Recertification
    • Recommendations on  preparing for the VCP5-DCV and VCAP5-DCA exams.
  • Duration: about 45 minutes

Also at the event:

  • A fellow vExpert – Kendrick Coleman – presents on vCloud Air API Usage
  • Presentation by Nimble Storage
  • Lunch, giveaways, and colleagues

Location and Registration:

 

VCAP Exams on vSphere 5.1 Expiration

The certification exams for VCAP5-DCA and VCAP5-DCD on vSphere versions 5.0/5.1 are set to expire on January 31, 2015.  The exams for vSphere version 5.5 will continue to be available.  So, if you plan to seek the VCAP5-DCA certification and prefer to be tested on vSphere 5.0 / 5.1, then you should plan to take the VDCA510 exam by the end of January.  Likewise,  if you plan to seek the VCAP5-DCD certification and prefer to be tested on vSphere 5.0 / 5.1, then you should plan to take the VCDC510 exam by the end of January.  Otherwise, you can take the VDCA550 and VDCD550 exams, which cover vSphere 5.5, at any time.

For those of you that choose to use the Official VMware VCAP5-DCA Cert Guide from the VMware Press to prepare for the VCAP5-DCA exams, be sure to purchase the Premium Edition, which includes online content that covers the blueprint for the VDCA550 exam.  The online materials include information on using the vSphere Web Client, new features in vSphere 5.5, items that covered in the VDCA550 blueprint (but not covered in the VDCA510 blueprint), and additional practice exams.

 

Manually Using SYSPREP in Windows 2012 VMs and Templates

Recently, on a professional services engagement, we encountered a situation, where the Customization Wizard was failing to successfully apply SYSPREP to Windows 2012 Servers.  Because our main objective and my time was focused on other areas, we could not take time to resolve the underlying the root cause, so we needed a work-around.   This led us to applying SYSPREP manually, which I had not done in a long time.  Here are the details that we applied toward using SYSPREP manually in a VM template

 

Our main concern is if we deploy two VMs from a template or VM that already has a SID, then an issue may occur if we try to add both new VMs to the domain.  The following error may occur when adding the second VM.

sysprep-1a

To fix this in the second VM, you can use these steps:

1 – Open RUN and enter sysprep

sysprep-2a

2 – Right-click on sysprep and choose Run as Administrator

sysprep-3a

3 – In the System Preparation Tool Window, set the System Cleanup Action dropdown = Enter System Out of Box Experience (OOBE). check the Generalize box, and set the Shutdown Options to Reboot.

sysprep-4a

4 – SYSPREP will run the necessary action and restart Windows.

5 – As Windows reboots, it will prompt for new Settings.  Apply the appropriate settings for this VM.   Windows will now have a new SID.

6. – After Windows starts, you should be able to successfully add it to the AD domain.

 

To avoid this issue in the future, deploy a Windows VMs from a template where SYSPREP has been used to strip the SID and where Windows will prompt for new settings on the next boot.  To prepare the template, perform these steps:

  • In a new VM, install Windows 2012 R2
  • Install VMware Tools
  • Install all Windows Updates
  • Use Steps 1 to 3 from above, except on step 3, set the Shutdown Options = Shutdown (not restart)
  • After Windows shutdown finishes, use the vSphere Client to right-click on the VM and choose Convert to Template

 

 

 

Forgot ESXi Password? Here is a fix.

Here is a slick way using host profiles.  It calls for using a host profile and using the Configure a fixed administrator password option.   Details at:

http://www.vladan.fr/how-to-reset-esxi-5-x-root-password-and-under-which-conditions/

 

But, it may not be supported.  The statement in the following KB article indicates that the only supported way to reset the root account password on an ESXi host is to reinstall ESXi.

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1004659

Choosing the Best NIC Teaming Load Balancing Policy in vSphere

Frequently, on my professional services engagements, my customer will ask me which NIC Teaming Load Balancing option is the best choice when configuring virtual switch port group in VMware vSphere.  The following represents my typical answer:
Here are guidelines for choosing the best NIC Teaming Load Balancing policy:
  • Based on IP hash – Use this only for Etherchannel (port channel).  If the uplinks on a standard virtual switch or distributed virtual switch connect to an Etherchannel, then set the NIC Teaming Load Balancing to IP Hash for each virtual port group that uses these uplinks.    This could also be used when implementing new features in vSphere 5.1 and 5.5 that allow LACP to be configured on the physical uplinks of a distributed virtual switch.
  • Based on originating virtual port – This is the default.  It has traditionally been the best setting for most virtual port groups, whenever Etherchannel is not involved.  It is still the best setting in most cases when Ethernet is not involved for standard virtual port groups,  Load Based Teaming (LBT) is often preferred in this case for distributed port groups
  • Based on source MAC hash – This is seldom used, but is preferred whenever you want to control the placement of VMs based on their MAC address assignments.
  • Based on physical NIC load – This is also called Load Based Teaming (LBT).  It is a fairly new feature on dvSwitches and is typically preferred over port-based teaming, because the two perform identically, except that LBT includes intelligence to migrate virtual adapters from a busy uplink to a lesser active uplink.  In many cases, this is preferred over using Etherchannel to provide a scalable NIC Team that does not require special settings on the physical switch, so it is easy to manage.  However, Ethernet is still preferred in cases where the best resiliency, scalability, and performance is needed.
  • Explicit Failover – Used in cases where the administrator prefers to manually balance the workload by placing some VMs and vmkernel virtual adapters on specific port groups that utilize a specific set of active ports.  A common example, is where the Management Network and vMotion are the placed on a virtual switch by themselves – often the Management Network is set to use vmnic0 as Active and vmnic1 as Standby and vice versa for the vMotion port.

 

LACP, LAG, Etherchannel and vSphere 5.5 – a simple explanation

I have often stumbled when trying to explain the differences and the relationships between Etherchannel, LACP, and IEEE802.3ad.  I began stumbling more when I learned that vSphere 5.5 supports Enhanced LACP and LAGs.   Here is my best attempt to clarify.

Etherchannel:  an Etherchannel is a logical channel formed by bundling together two or more links to aggregate bandwidth and provide redundancy.  Another acceptable name for Etherchannel (an IOS term) is port channel (an NXOS term).  Another acceptable name is Link Aggregation Group (LAG)

LACP:  a standards based negotiation protocol used to dynamically build an Etherchannel.  It is known as the IEEE 802.1ax (or IEEE 802.3ad) Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP).    It is a protocol used to build Etherchannels (LAGs) dynamically.   LAGs (Etherchannels) can be be also be built statically without using LACP.

IEEE 802.1ax:  The IEEE working group that defines port channel, EtherChannels and link aggregation.  Orinally, the working IEEE group was 802.3ad, but in 2008 it was replaced by 802.1ax.

IEEE 802.3ad:  the original IEEE working group for port channel, EtherChannel, and link aggregation.  Although it has been replaced with 802.1ax, referring to IEEE 802.3ad is typically acceptable.  So references to IEEE 802.3ad LACP are common.

vSphere pre version 5.1:  the standard virtual switches and distributed virtual switches provided natively by VMware vSphere 5.0 and earlier do not support LACP (dynamic LAG / Etherchannel creation); however, they support statically built LAGs (or this may be called static LAGs or static Etherchannels)

vSphere 5.1:  the distributed virtual switches provided natively by VMware vSphere 5.1  support LACP (dynamic LAG / Etherchannel creation).  The support is limited to one LAG per ESXi host and per dvSwitch

vSphere 5.5:  the distributed virtual switches provided natively by VMware vSphere 5.5  support LACP (dynamic LAG / Etherchannel creation).  It supports 64 LAGs per ESXi host and 64 LAGs per dvSwitch.