Monthly Archives: October 2016

VCP5 recertification featured image

VCP5 recertification backdoor

Recently, I satisfied my VCP5 recertification requirement of every two years by achieving VCP6-NV.  If you are not aware, achieving VCP in a different track is one of several ways to qualify to start the clock over again on your existing VCP certifications.  However, I was really cutting it close and failed my first attempt on my VCP6-DV.  With a mandatory one week waiting period to take the exam, I basically had two more shots to pass it, so I began looking at any other avenues to keep my existing VCP certifications.  I did stumble into one, so here’s a potential VCP5 recertification backdoor that could help get you out of a jam of losing your VCP certifications.

VCP5 Recertification – What’s this all about?

If you haven’t heard, VMware recently made it a requirement to recertify every two years.  If you take no action, you lose any and all VCP certifications.  As an example, I am a VCP3/4/5 in the Data Center Virtualization track.  All of those certifications would have expired had I took action this month.

You can satisfy the requirement to recertify in a variety of ways:

  • Pass again the VCP exam for the current exam you’re currently certified in within the same version.  For example, if you’re VCP5-DV, you could pass the VCP 5.5 exam again.
  • Pass the VCP exam within the same track in a newer version.  IE, if you’re a VCP5-DV, you could pass the delta or full exam for VCP6-DV.
  • Achieve a VCP certification in a different track.  This was the route I took.  By achieving VCP6-NV, I recertified my VCP3/4/5-DCV.
  • Achieve a VCAP or VCDX certification in the same or different track.  This was going to be my original path, as I was targetting VCAP6-DCV Deploy, but I got sidetracked unfortunately with other certifications and various things (Nutanix NPP, EMC Unity, VMware VCA6-Hybrid Cloud, and VCP6-NV).

Note that any of the above paths cost significant money.  A VCP exam costs $225, and a VCAP exam is over $400 without any discounts.  You also need to take the time to take a proctored exam at a testing center, too.

VCP5 Recertification – Potential Backdoor!

However, I did find a potential backdoor to take care of your VCP5-DCV recertification.   Note this officially works for people who are VCP5-DCV and achieved that certification through exam VCP510 only.

The VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization Delta Exam apparently is still available.  VMware announced numerous times they would be ending its availability but never did.

vcp5 recertification delta exam

I thought this exam was no longer available, as it was announced to be discontinued and extended a few times, but finally was to be discontinued on 3/31/16. But there it is! I’ve clicked to register for it all the way up to the point you pay for it with Pearson Vue, and nothing is stopping me, so it appears to be a valid way if you’re a VCP5 through the VCP510 exam (so that presumably excludes the VCP550 exam) to extend your VCP status another two years.

If you’re not familiar with this exam, it’s taken at home, open book/note, with no waiting period if you fail, AND it’s cheaper than a VCP exam on top of all that.

Word of warning though – VMware has begun to expire certification exams for vSphere 5. For example, VMware is discontinuing VCAP5-DCV exams come November. I would assume VMware will retire all vSphere 5 exams soon. So, if you want some insurance and reset your two year clock, you might strongly consider doing this exam sooner rather than later while you still can if you took VCP510.

Also, FYI, there is a VCP6-DCV delta exam as well. However, Pearson Vue proctors this $225 exam just like a VCP6-DCV exam is.  I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between them. It would net you VCP6-DCV, though compared to the VCP5 delta exam.

Which way are you planning to recertify?

vSphere 6.5 – New features I can’t wait for!

VMware announced vSphere 6.5 at VMworld Europe.   I don’t want to go through everything that’s new, but I do want to go over the vSphere 6.5 new features I think are the coolest that I can’t wait for.

vSphere 6.5 New Features – Me likey!

Here are the vSphere 6.5 new features I specifically wanted to highlight that I think are going to be the most useful to my customers.

vCenter 6.5 New Features

  • The vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) FINALLY has an integrated VMware Update Manager.  No more Windows machine for VUM!  Even less excuses for using the Windows version!  Speaking of which…
  • Native VCSA high availability!  In vCenter 6.0, the only way to make vCenter truly highly available was to use Windows Clustering.  Not anymore!  Now the VCSA has its own ability.  VCSA NOW AND FOREVER!
  • File-based backup and recovery for VCSA, so it’s even easier to make any kind of recovery you may need.
  • HTML5 based vSphere Web Client!  Take that, Adobe Flash!  No more Flash vulnerabilities and issues to worry about!
  • Fully supported standalone HTML5 based thick client!

Clustering New Features

  • HA Orchestrated Restarts – Now you can enforce a chain of VMs to ensure VM interdependency for multi-tiered applications!
  • Proactive HA – Now you can integrate HA with hardware vendor monitoring tools to move VMs off hosts that have hardware problems before they actually result in an ESXi host crashing.  How cool is that?
  • DRS now takes network bandwidth into account, to ensure your workloads can be dynamically moved between hosts to ensure the best network performance.

Security New Features

I have numerous customers who for legal and other reasons are extremely security conscious.  These may be of particular interest:

  • vMotion traffic encryption – One of the reasons I recommend segregated isolated non-routable VLANs generally for vMotion traffic is due to the fact that vMotion traffic is unencrypted.  Think about the implications of that.  The running contents of RAM for a VM is copied in the clear over a network during a vMotion!  If that’s a VM processing let’s say credit card transactions or personally identifiable information like a Social Security number, that’s pretty scary!  Now consider the boundaries of vMotions have been lifted to the point you can conceivably vMotion a VM across datacenters.  Now, for the first time, you can encrypt this traffic.
  • VM disk encryption – If your shared storage solution can’t encrypt your data at rest, you used to be out of luck for doing whole VM encryption.  Not anymore!  Now it can be done at the VM level!
  • Better logging now to provide better auditing capability to see who did what within the environment.

There’s a whole lot more in this release.  I’m sure I’ll post more about these and other cool features and capabilities soon!

Before you ask, the tentative release date for vSphere 6.5 is Q4 2016.

Resolving VM MAC Conflict alarm with Veeam Replicas

It’s been awhile since I’ve deployed Veeam using replication with vSphere 6.0.  I recently implemented it for a customer who was replicating VMs to a secondary storage appliance in addition to backing the VMs up to a Data Domain.  Upon running the initial replication for the VM, a “VM MAC Conflict” alarm triggered on the replica VM.

vm mac conflict alarm triggered

Here’s a description of what’s going on and how to prevent the VM MAC Conflict alarm from triggering.

VM MAC Conflict Alarm

The VM MAC Conflict alarm is new to vCenter 6.0 Update 1a.  The intent of the alarm is to warn you if two vNICs on VMs within a vCenter instance have the same MAC address.  This can happen for a variety of reasons:

  1. vCenter malfunctioned and dynamically provided the same MAC address to two or more vNICs.
  2. Either intentionally or mistakenly, an admin or a third party product might have statically assigned a MAC address already in use within the environment.  In this case, Veeam created a copy of the VNX file with identical MAC addresses for the source and replica VM’s vNICs.

It’s a good alarm to have to notify you just in case.  But how do you keep this alarm while stopping it from triggering on replica VMs?

Stopping VM MAC Conflict Alarms from triggering for Veeam Replicas

The solution for preserving the VM MAC Conflict alarm while stopping it from triggering on Veeam replicas is quite simple.  You can modify the alarm itself by setting an exception to exclude VMs.  In the case of Veeam replicas, they have a “_replica” suffix within the VM name by default.  If you changed that suffix in the replica job, just adjust accordingly.

Go to the VM MAC Conflict alarm definition.  It’s in the vCenter inventory object under Manage > Alarm Definitions.  Click the alarm and on the right, click Edit.

Under the bottom box that reads, “The following conditions must be satisfied for the trigger to fire”, add a condition that says the VM name does not end with “_replica”.  Once applied, the alarm disappears for your replica VMs.

vm mac conflict alarm modified

That’s it!

White box home computers – Am I alone?

I started really getting into computers, which eventually led me to IT (duh!), just as I was entering college back in 1995.  Not knowing any better, I bought a piece of crap AST computer, which was a Pentium 60, and 8MB of RAM.  It had no 3D accelerator, a 540MB hard drive, and was slow, despite it being one of the first Pentiums around.

I got into PC gaming, starting with Doom, and it grew to other games.  I also ended up finding a mom and pop computer shop locally in Richmond, VA, a trustworthy source for computer upgrades.  I ended up working for them eventually to pay for college.  I attempted to a few upgrades on the AST, before determining it was a piece of crap.  I learned how much better a white box could be, and that was that.  Short of laptops or mobile devices, that was it, I was a white box guy from then on.

I still, to this day, build my own computers.  There’s something about being able to research each part and buying the one that’s going to work best for you.  I know it takes time to do that, but the end result to me is better.  It’s great to know you can replace any part in it.  It’s great to build in the capability to upgrade.  It’s great to build in reliability.

But there are definite downsides.  It takes time to research all those parts.  It takes time to build it, install the operating system, etc.  It takes time to be your own tech support.  I notice other bloggers generally speak of various pre-built machines they bought.  I’m guessing that maybe why.

So my question to the community is do you still white box your own personal home computers?  Why or why not?

2v0-641 exam review

VCP6-NV 2V0-641 Exam Review and Resources

Sorry the updates haven’t been forth coming.  That’s mainly because my two year requirement for recertification was coming up for my VCP-DCV certification, and I was preparing to meet it by achieving VCP6-NV.  Saturday, I passed, so I wanted to share my experiences and provide a 2V0-641 exam review.

2V0-641 Exam Review – Thoughts on Exam

This exam is no slouch in difficulty.  I’ve ready plenty of reviews that seem to suggest the VCP-NV exam isn’t difficult, but maybe that was the predecessor to 2V0-641.  I made my first attempt a week before, and failed it despite putting a lot of time studying, and soaking in as much as possible using the Hands on Labs from VMware.

My first score was 276, and you must score 300 to pass.  I think part of the reason why was contained in my score report, which lists objectives recommended for review if you fail.  I noticed a string of questions that didn’t pertain to what the exam blueprint described for various network fabrics.  The blueprint had stated to know the challenges of various network designs, and how NSX solved them, but these questions were more about how to configure NSX when you have various network fabric design types.  Sure enough, one objective listed that I needed to review was “Describe considerations for running VMware NSX on physical network fabrics”.  As of the time I’m drafting this blog post, that is nowhere on the exam blueprint.  Needless to say, I was extremely frustrated, with another 2 weeks to go before I lost my VCP status.

After dusting myself off, I went back to studying and gathered information for this new objective, and scored 357 on my second attempt with one more week to go before my VCP-DCV expired.  A little too close for comfort, but I got it done.

2V0-641 Exam Review – How to Prepare

I attended an online version of the 6.2 Install and Configure Course back in August.  Be very aware that this course alone is absolutely not sufficient to pass this exam.  I can’t stress that enough.  You’ll know just by looking at the exam blueprint, as entire major exam objectives are completely not covered at all.  The course covers others, but only scratched the surface.  You absolutely have to know your stuff for this exam!

I highly recommend the VMware Press Official Cert Guide for VCP-6-NV by Elver Sena Sosa.  I had the pleasure of meeting him at VMworld 2016 this year in Las Vegas.  It’s one of the best written IT books I’ve ever read, and comes with simulation exams. However, it too is also not sufficient for preparing for this exam, either.  But it helped me understand how NSX works that I didn’t even realize I was short on despite attending the course.  I found the packet walkthroughs for both the logical switch and logical routers extremely helpful!  However, the book also doesn’t cover some sections for this exam in the blueprint.  The simulation questions also do not reflect the difficulty or the style of questions I found on both attempts on the exam well.  I scored consistently almost perfectly on these simulation exams on the first attempt prior to taking the actual exam, and yet failed anyway.  Still, this is in my opinion the most helpful resource for this exam.  In fact, I’m quite certain I’ll reference this book in future NSX deployments.

Finally, I really wanted to give a shot out to another blogger, Rich Dowling, who helped me immensely with his notes on various portions on the exam objectives listed in the blueprint.  While it’s not for the current exam, most of the exam objectives are the same. Make sure you check them out if you’re taking this exam!

Also, make sure you read carefully through the recommended documents within the exam blueprint.  This is especially the case for NSX Design Guide!  (see surprise objective!)

2V0-641 Exam Review – Resources

Here are some resources to help with your 2V0-641 exam review.

VMware Certified Professional 6 – Network Virtualization Exam page – Contains the exam blueprint

VMware NSX Network Virtualization Design Guide

vSphere Networking Guide

NSX for vSphere Administration Guide

NSX Command Line Interface Reference Guide

VCP6-NV Official Cert Guide (Exam #2V0-641)  (Kindle Version)

2V0-641 Exam Review – Check back for more

I’ll be posting some section reviews where I think my notes would be helpful for others beyond Rich Dowling’s excellent notes to try to help others as Rich helped me.  I hope you’ll find those useful!