Tag Archives: vmware

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?

Howto: Fix vCenter 5.5 Syslog Collector bug

I just ran into an issue for a customer that is running vCenter 5.5.  Apparently, there is a known issue with the 5.5 version of the syslog collector that causes the debug log to grow indefinitely when it was upgraded  to 5.5 according to the article.  However, the customer in question was built fresh with 5.5, although I did update within 5.5 to newer builds during that time.  Bottom line is it should be checked if they’re running 5.5 version of the syslog collector in all cases to be sure.  The KB article outlines steps to stop this, which basically involves turning off debug logging altogether.

The debug log doesn’t contain actual syslog info for hosts, so this log file is only useful for troubleshooting issues with the syslog collector itself, so it’s almost certainly safe to delete.

Please note this only impacts the syslog collector.  If you did not install the syslog collector, this isn’t applicable.

You can copy and paste the following into an admin elevated PowerShell window to automate stopping the syslog service, changing the config file for the syslog collector to turn off debug logging completely, delete the probably massive debug log, and start the syslog collector again.  You can also save it as a .ps1 file and run it in an elevated prompt as well.

stop-service vmware-syslog-collector
(get-content "C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware Syslog Collector\vmconfig-syslog.xml") | foreach-object {$_ -replace "<level>1</level>", "<level>0</level>"} | set-content "C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware Syslog Collector\vmconfig-syslog.xml"
remove-item "C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware Syslog Collector\logs\debug.log"
start-service vmware-syslog-collector

This assumes of course the syslog collector is running on a Windows machine, not the vCenter Appliance.  The article doesn’t seem to make clear if this issue only applies to the Windows version of Vcenter, and how to fix the vCenter Appliance if the issue did impact it as well.

Hope this helps!

VMware dedicated swapfile datastores

Dedicated swapfile datastores in VMware are often overlooked.   Here’s why you might use them, and how to size them easily with PowerCLI.

It’s very often advisable to create dedicated swapfile datastores in your VMware vSphere environment.   There are numerous benefits:

  • Ensure there’s room to start a VM
  • Use different storage type than what the working directory uses for performance or cost savings
  • Reduce replication traffic when using storage based replication, because there’s no reason to replicate this storage
  • You may want to snapshot storage that runs VMs for easy recoverability, but there’s no reason to snapshot swapfile

If you decide to create dedicated datastores, you want to use the following principles:

  • Create datastores that are resilient, so that VMs can be started
  • Have hosts that frequently have VMs VMotion between them, such as a cluster, use the same datastores to reduce vMotion network traffic
  • Carefully monitor their space, and size them correctly, and allow for some overhead for growth.

The swapfile size for each VM is determined by the following:

  • The VM’s defined RAM minus the RAM reservation for that VM.

For example, if a VM is defined as having 8GBs, but the reservation for RAM is set for 2GBs, a 6GB swapfile will be created.  By default, a VM has no reservation for RAM.

That means that this datastore space consumption can fluctuate as VMs are built, powered off and on, whenever RAM is added or removed from a VMs definintion, or if its memory reservation is adjusted.

This begs the question – How do you easily size for these datastores easily?  Harnass PowerShell by using PowerCLI!  Simply tune the $vms variable portion or what’s piping to it of the following to grab the VMs that will likely VMotion between the same hosts.  This would usually be by cluster.

$vms = get-cluster clustername | get-vm
$RAMDef = $vms | Measure-Object -Sum memoryGB | select-object sum -expand sum
$RAMResSum = $vms | get-VMResourceConfiguration | measure-object -sum memreservationGB | select-object sum -expand sum
$SwapDatastore = $RamDef - $RamResSum
Write-Host "Defined amount of RAM within VMs is $RAMDef GBs"
Write-Host "Memory reservation for VMs is $RamResSum GBs"
Write-Host "A datastore of at least $SwapDatastore GBs will be needed, plus overhead."

Output will look like this:

Defined amount of RAM within VMs is 218 GBs
Memory reservation for VMs is 0 GBs
A datastore of at least 218 GBs will be needed, plus overhead.

For overhead, you want to keep at least 25% free probably minimum just to keep datastore free space alarms from going off, plus any additional growth from the factors outlined above, mostly centered around new VMs being built.

Many customers balk when told how big the swapfile datastore will be, but you have to remember if you’re changing this within a customer’s environment, they’re going to gain back swapfile space within their existing datastores as swapfiles get placed on the dedicated datastore.

Also, think of the potential storage space savings you could get if you are storage snapshotting your VM datastores, and replicating, plus the bandwidth savings.  Let’s say you have VMs that in aggregate are defined with 500GBs of RAM with no memory reservation.  If you’re doing both snapshots and replication and didn’t dedicate a datastore to the swapfiles, you’re talking savings of 500GBs of replication space, and up to 1TB worth of space savings alone depending upon how much additional space the swapfiles are taking within your storage snapshots.  Pretty worth it!

How do you migrate existing swapfiles?

  1. First, set your cluster to use the host’s swapfile setting instead of the cluster’s.
  2. Set all your hosts to use the same datastore.

To do this in PowerCLI:

$cluster = "clustername"
$swapfiledatastore = "swapfiledatastorename"
get-cluster $cluster | set-cluster -VMSwapfilePolicy InHostDataStore

You’ll have to manually set the host’s cluster datastore with the web or thick client.  PowerCLI fails to set the heartbeat datastore if the host is in a cluster unfortunately.

You should see the swapfiles deleted from the VMs’ working directories and created in the new datastore as VMs are power cycled.