Monthly Archives: February 2011

VCAP-DCA Study notes–5.2 Complex Update Manager environments

Most people have used Update Manager to some degree so this objective is probably one of the easier ones to cover. The VUM Administration Guide covers pretty much everything on the VCAP-DCA blueprint and should be your first stop for study (apart from this blog obviously!).

Not listed in the blueprint (at least in this section) is the PowerCLI cmdlets for using Update Manager. Section 8 only lists ‘Installing the Update Manager PowerCLI cmdlets’ but if you have time it’s probably worth giving them a spin.


  • Identify firewall access rules for Update Manager

Skills and Abilities

  • Determine use case for, install and configure Update Manager Download Service
  • Configure a shared repository
  • Configure smart rebooting
  • Manually download updates to a repository
  • Perform orchestrated vSphere upgrades
  • Create and modify baseline groups
  • Troubleshoot Update Manager problem areas and issues
  • Generate database reports using MS Excel or MS SQL
  • Upgrade vApps using Update Manager

Tools & learning resources

Update Manager basics (VCP revision)

The exam topics assume a certain amount of knowledge as Update Manager is on the VCP syllabus. A quick recap;

  • Installs as a plugin to vCentre
  • Downloaded as part of the vCentre package
  • Once the server component is installed you have to add the plugin to any VI client installations you use.
  • Distinguishes between ‘patches and security updates’ vs ‘product upgrades’.NOTE: With the recent release of vSphere v4.1 U1 it’s clear that the distinction between a ‘patch’ and an ‘upgrade’ is rather hazy. Upgrading a host from v4.0 to v4.1 requires a ‘host upgrade’ baseline whereas upgrading a host from v4.1 to v4.1 U1 requires a ‘patch’ baseline.  You can read more in this article at Jason Boche’s website.
  • Patching guest OSs requires an agent to be installed to the guest. This is done automatically the first time a guest is scanned for patch compliance or can be done manually if required.
  • Patches are downloaded accordingly to a defined schedule (default once a day)

Continue reading VCAP-DCA Study notes–5.2 Complex Update Manager environments

VCAP exams on vSphere 5 – worth waiting for?

At the London VMUG yesterday there was a presentation about VMware certification by Scott Vessey, a well known VMware trainer (@vmtraining or After his presentation one question raised was whether it’s worth taking the vSphere 4 track or maybe delaying a while and jumping straight to the upcoming vSphere 5 track. Scott said this was a common question so I thought I’d add my thoughts on why I wouldn’t wait;

  • vSphere 5 (as it’s commonly known but not it’s final name) is slated for release around July/August this year (according to this article from the recent VMware Partner Exchange).  Even assuming they hit this deadline that means waiting another six months. Once the next version is released it’ll take a while for the exams to be updated, especially in the case of the VCAP-DCA track which requires live labs. vSphere 4 was released in May 2009 but the VCP exams took another 3 months to be released after that. Allowing a bit longer for the VCAP tracks, let’s say 4 months. That makes it a ten month wait from today.
  • Are you prepared to take the exams without help or study guides from the blogosphere, Twitter, and the experience of those who’ve gone before? If you know your stuff and are happy to be among the first then you’ve probably already taken the VCAP exams so waiting isn’t an option! If you find other’s experiences and suggestions helpful then you’re talking an extra three to six months for that to filter down.
  • If you’re not on the vSphere 5 beta you can’t start learning the new features until July/August at the earliest, compared to vSphere 4 which is available today, is widely adopted and documented.
  • Traction/demand from employers. This argument depends on why you ‘re after certification – if it’s to progress your career then bear in mind that while recruiters will add any new certification to their wanted (or mandatory) list almost immediately it takes longer for the value of a given certification to be respected (or not) in the marketplace. Back in the day the Microsoft MCSE had a good reputation to start with which quickly became tarnished. The RHCE took a few years to establish itself as a tough certification worth asking for and the VCAP-DCA may be the same. If you’re doing it for the technical challenge then this is obviously irrelevant.
  • How different will the VCAP-DCA on vSphere 5 really be? I know of many IT pros who skipped the MCSE 2003 track because if you already had the MCSE2000 that was fine – having the 2003 wasn’t really going to open up new jobs to you. You could wait for the VCAP-DCA on vSphere 5 to find that the two are treated interchangeably in the market and you simply waited longer to qualify.

For all these reasons I’m not going to wait. Whether I actually find time to take the exams before they release v5 is another question but my intention is clear!

There are plenty of people planning on taking the VCAP exams – what do you all think?