Monthly Archives: April 2012

Using vCenter Operations v5 – Capacity features and conclusions (3/3)

In the first part of this series I introduced vCOps and it’s requirements before covering the new features in part two. This final blogpost covers the capacity features (available in the Advanced and higher editions) along with pricing information and my conclusions.

The previous trial I used didn’t include the capacity planning elements so I was keen to try this out. I’d used CapacityIQ previously (although only briefly) and found it useful but combined with the powerful analytics in vCOps it promises to be an even more compelling solution. VMware have created four videos with Ben Scheerer from the vCOps product team – they’re focused on capacity but if you’ve watched Kit Colbert’s overview much of it will be familiar;

UPDATE APRIL 2012 – VMware have just launched 2.5 hrs of free training for vCOps!

If you don’t have time to watch the videos and read the documentation (section 4 in the Advanced Getting Started guide) here’s the key takeaways;

  • Capacity information is integrated throughout the product although modelling is primarily found under the ‘Planning’ view. Almost every view has some capacity information included either via the dynamic thresholds (which indicate the standard capacity used) or popup graphs of usage and trending.
  • Storage is now included in the capacity calculations (an improvement over CapacityIQ) resulting in a more complete analysis. Datastores are now shown in the Operations view although if you’re like me and use NFS direct to the guest OS it’s not going to be as comprehensive as using block protocols.
  • the capacity tools require more tailoring to your environment than the performance aspects but provide valuable information
  • With vCOps you can both view existing and predicted capacity and you can model changes like adding hosts or VMs.

Continue reading Using vCenter Operations v5 – Capacity features and conclusions (3/3)

vExpert 2012 – so what next?

I’m chuffed to say VMware have awarded me vExpert status for 2012 (although it’s for my contribution to the virtualization community in 2011). In a similar fashion to Microsoft’s MVP this is awarded to people who have helped the VMware community through forums, blogs, conferences, podcasts etc but is NOT a certification based on technical ability. This is where VMware’s program differs from the MVP which also counts significant technical expertise as part of the selection criteria. I was included in the Evangelist path as a blogger and yes I know there’s an official vExpert logo but this one suits my mood better right now. I’m a vExperienced vExpert!

When I started my blog nearly two years ago I expected to be an occasional poster as I’m more of a lurker by nature but I’ve found it to be an addictive pastime.There are 436 vExpert’s worldwide this year (compared to over 4000 MVPs) and the vExpert directory (not yet updated for 2012) includes a brief description of everyone and their background.

I find that having someone say ‘thanks’, which is what I consider the vExpert to be, is disproportionately rewarding. I put a lot of effort into my certification last year (VCAP, RHCSA etc) but value the vExpert recognition more highly. I hope it rounds out my CV – when graduating from college employers were looking for ‘value added’ activities – team sports, running a club etc and this is how I view the vExpert.

One potential downside to the vExpert award could be perception – I suspect it’s all too easy for people to perceive vExpert’s as VMware ‘fanboi”s who simply tow the corporate line and are not objective about the technology. We’ve all encountered the open source zealot and the Apple enthusiast and it’s tempting to ignore advice for fear it’s one sided. It’s important to realise that the vExpert is a two way street between ourselves and VMware – let’s hope we do our job as Geek Herders!

So if this award is for last year, what will I do this coming year? I’m glad you asked! I’m planning to continue and hopefully increase my participation in the virtualization community;

  • Regular blogposts on
  • Update my VCAP-DCA guide to cover v5 of the exam
  • Attend and report from VMworld Europe in Barcelona
  • Attend vBeers and VMUG groups
  • Contribute to online forums (the VMTN communities) and social networks – mainly Twitter (and Google+ if I can work out its value!)
  • I’m planning to cover vSphere Orchestrator, vCloud Director and maybe some Hyper-V action later in the year along with the usual smattering of Netapp and alternative storage technologies.

If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, get in touch!

VCAP5-DCA – What’s new?

Certification is a never ending treadmill of learning...

Along with others I received an email from VMware last week stating that the VCAP5-DCA exam was due to enter it’s beta testing in the next few weeks, along with the beta blueprint. As with any beta the contents are subject to change and the exam is NOT publically available yet – it’s currently scheduled for release this summer.

The contents of the beta are covered by an NDA so you won’t be hearing any other details from me but Randy Becraft, the senior Program Manager running the beta, has specifically allowed me to post these blueprint details to give candidates more time to prepare.

Before I cover what’s new it’s worth pointing out how much hasn’t changed;

  • The bulk of the content (around 60%) is very similar to the VCAP4-DCA blueprint.
  • You still need to be VCP5 certified as a prerequisite. The one exception is if you already hold the VCAP4-DCA certification you’re eligible to sit the VCAP5-DCA exam without first passing the VCP5 exam, provided you upgrade within three months of the exam’s release.
  • The exam is still a live lab with a time limit of 225 mins (210 for the exam and 15 mins for a survey). There will be roughly 26 tasks to complete (which is less than the 36 for v4) but this can vary for each candidate.
  • The exam is booked through Pearson-VUE professional centres.
  • There will be a ten day wait for results (approximately)
  • Will the exam environment include a task switcher or a higher resolution? We can but hope! 🙂

…and what’s no longer included (some significant chunks of learning);

  • Orchestrator
  • vCenter Heartbeat
  • vShield Zones
  • vCenter Server Linked Mode

There are two recommended courses for this exam;

This is a change from the v4 DCA exam which listed four courses as ‘recommended’, including both the vSphere Manage for Performance and vSphere Troubleshooting neither of which are available yet for v5. The exam still includes troubleshooting and performance issues on the blueprint but maybe VMware felt that so many course recommendations for a single exam was too much.

It’s interesting to see that this new exam focuses on the core product – the biggest omissions are in the wider ecosystem and I wonder if they’ll reappear in some other, more specialised, certification (VCAP-Security etc). There may also have been practical considerations as the release cycle for these products isn’t aligned with the vSphere releases. This was apparent even with the VCAP-DCA4 release where the exam blueprint covered vShield Zones v1 even though v4 was released just before the exam went public (the Manage for Security course, which was recommended for VCAP-DCA, covered vShield Zones v4 so of limited use!).

VMware have also published extra guidance about the infrastructure you will be expected to work with during the exam, which will consist of two ESXi hosts and a vCenter server. This is similar to the v4 exam but you weren’t given this information in advance.

I’m running a poll on the value of the VCAP exams (to the right of this post) – I’d appreciate your feedback.

As with the VCAP4-DCA I’ll be publishing study notes as I work towards the exam. Watch this space!

Continue reading VCAP5-DCA – What’s new?

Using vCenter Operations v5 – What’s new (2/3)

In part one of Using vCenter Operations I covered what the product does along with the different versions available and deployment considerations. In this post I’ll delve into what’s new and improved and in the final part I’ll cover capacity features, product pricing, and my overall conclusions. I had intended to cover the configuration management and application dependency features too but it’s such a big product I’ll have to write another blogpost or I’ll never finish!

Introductory learning materials

UPDATE APRIL 2012 – VMware have just launched 2.5 hrs of free training for vCOps.

Deep dive learning materials;

What’s new and improved in vCOps

Monitoring is a core feature and for some people the only one they’re concerned about. As the size of your infrastructure grows and becomes more complex the need for a tool to combine compute, network, and storage in real time also grows. Here are my key takeaways;

  • there’s a new dashboard screen which shows health (immediate issues), risks (upcoming issues) and efficiency (opportunity for improvements) in a single screen. The dashboard can provide a high level view of your infrastructure and works nicely on a plasma screen as your ‘traffic light’ view of the virtual world (and physical if you go with Enterprise+). The dashboard can also be targeted at the datacenter, cluster, host or VM level which I found very useful although you can only customise the dashboard in Enterprise versions. There is still the Operations view (the main view in vCOPS v1) which now also includes datastores. This view scales extremely well – even if you have thousands of VMs and datastores across multiple vCenters they can all be displayed on a single screen.
    NOTE: If you find some or all of your datastores show up as grey with no data (as mine did) there is a hotfix available via VMware support.
  • Continue reading Using vCenter Operations v5 – What’s new (2/3)

Using vCenter Operations v5 – Introduction and deployment (1/3)

At VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen VMware unveiled a significant revamp of their management suites, including a new version of vCenter Operations Manager (v5 to align with the vSphere release). vCenter Operations is now a suite of tools which includes vCenter Configuration Manager, the new vCenter Infrastructure Navigator (which I’ll cover in a later blogpost) and vCenter CapacityIQ (which is now fully integrated into vCOps, the standalone CapacityIQ is now end of life).

Although announced at VMworld it wasn’t publicly available until Jan 2012 when VMware formally launched vCOps v5. Coming less than a year after the release of the first version it’s apparent that VMware see this as an important product which is evolving fast. Steven Herrod, VMware’s CIO stated recently at the Italian VMUG (around the 5 minute mark) that vCOps ‘is becoming the most adopted new technology that VMware has ever had’. The vCenter Operations suite is still aimed at infrastructure monitoring as opposed to application monitoring (despite the addition of Infrastructure Navigator) – VMware’s solutions aimed at the application tier belong to the vFabric suite. For a good overview of where vCOps and vFabric Hyperic fit into VMware’s cloud suite read Dave Hill’s blogpost on the subject.

If you aren’t familiar with vCenter Operations here are the kind of problems it aims to address;

  • Is your virtual infrastructure healthy?
  • What serious problems should I address immediately?
  • Is the workload in my environment normal?
  • Am I using the resources in my environment efficiently?
  • How long do I have before resources run out?
  • What impact did a recent change have?

A few people have already posted articles which I’d recommend reading;

With v1.0 I concluded that it was a great product but there were a few reasons why it wasn’t for me, primarily the lack of email notifications and pricing. In this post I’ll cover the requirements and deployment considerations for the new version and in part two I’ll cover day to day use and new features. The final part will cover the capacity features along with info about pricing and my conclusions.

UPDATE APRIL 2012 – VMware have just launched 2.5 hrs of free training for vCOps.

Continue reading Using vCenter Operations v5 – Introduction and deployment (1/3)