MTI VMworld Update Session Recordings

As I previous blogged, I was asked by my company to present a VMworld update webinar regarding SDDC and Hybrid Cloud.

The webinars have now all taken place and recordings are available for all the sessions that took place this week:

Enjoy…. =)

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MTI VMworld Webinar Series

MTI are holding a series of VMworld-related webinars taking place next week. You can find out more about these sessions and register at http://ecommunication.mti.com/acton/fs/blocks/showLandingPage/a/1192/p/p-004e/t/page/fm/0

These webinars are designed to ensure that people who were unable to attend VMworld in Barcelona are able to hear all the latest updates regarding VMware’s three key strategic initiatives – the software-defined datacentre, hybrid cloud, and end-user computing.

MTI Webinar Series – VMworld Update Session

As you all know, VMworld took place in Barcelona last month. During this event, VMware made a series of announcements regarding its three strategic initiatives – software defined datacentre (SDDC), hybrid cloud, and end-user computing (EUC).

My company is currently holding a series of webinars in November covering VMware and complementary parter offerings, and I’ve been asked to kick-start the series with a VMworld update session on SDDC and Hybrid Cloud.

The first webinar, The software-defined datacentre & hybrid cloud, will take place on Tuesday 25th November 2014 at 11am. During this session, I will be discussing what’s new in vSphere 6.0, Virtual Volumes (vVol), EVO:Rail, vRealize Suite and vCloud Air.

If you wish to attend the webinar then feel free to register here:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1836954438946370306

…. I ask that if you do join not to heckle….. =P

(The other webinars this month will cover VMware’s EUC offering; discussing agentless security for the software-defined datacentre with Trend Micro; and EMC’s portfolio around data protection and availability – specifically RecoverPoint for VM and VPLEX virtual edition)

VMware VCP 5.5 Delta Exam (#VCP550D) Passed!

So having spent weeks months procrastinating, I finally got round to studying for my VCP 5.5 delta exam (VCP550D) and actually breezed the exam on Monday (think I scored 430 or something) – which is great as it means I’m safe for another 2 years! =)

Self-studying for exams can be quite daunting as you never know if you’re covering the right material. Having obtained my VCP5 back in 2012, I had to think carefully what the exam would contain. The blueprint to the delta exam wasn’t exactly helpful as it just looks like the VCP5.5 exam blueprint…. Plus from what a lot of people were saying online, it seemed that the majority of the exam would actually be on the new stuff!

I practically read through a heck of a lot of technical white papers over the weekend and played around with web client in order to understand how to navigate through it.
So when it came to sitting the exam on Monday, I was quietly confident that I knew enough to pass…….

Much to my surprise, my exam was just crammed full of ‘support and administration’ type questions….. I think I got about 2-3 questions on SSO, 2-3 questions on vSAN, 1 question on vFRC and quite a few (4-5) on vSOM and vDP. The rest were pretty much generic VCP exam questions – I was a little disappointed given how much I had read up on all the new stuff!! Anyways, a pass is a pass, can’t complain!

Now that I’ve passed the delta exam, I thought I’d share some of the material that I had used to study – hopefully it’ll help other people out!

What’s New in vSphere 5.5 – Platform – this was a very helpful document that explains everything new in vSphere 5.5…. whilst it doesn’t go into great detail, it does help you structure your learning by giving you topics to go off and research on!

vSphere Pricing – definitely worth understanding what each version looks like and what features are available on each version of vSphere.

vCenter Server 5.5 Deployment Guide – helps you to understand how to install vCenter Server (especially the installation process). If you don’t do this regularly then make sure you read this!
It’s good to gain an understanding of SSO and how it’s different in 5.5…. so worth reading the SSO FAQ as well as the installation process.

Virtual SAN:
The two biggest names in the community with regards to VSAN is Duncan Epping and Cormac Hogan… so there’s no better way of learning about it than to visit their blogs!
I pretty much sat through a whole evening reading up on VSAN, and I must say their blogs made far easier reading than the VMware documentation! =)
(Focus on VSAN architecture, how it’s deployed and the failure tolerance aspects)

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/virtual-san/
http://cormachogan.com/vsan/

Other docs read:
VSAN Design and Sizing Guide
VSAN What’s New

vFlash Read Cache:
vFRC white paper – good overview on what vFRC is and also how it is used.
I would also recommend you reading Duncan’s article as he gives a decent overview of the feature!

Other docs read:
vFlash Read Cache FAQ

vRealize Operations (or Ops Mgr/vSOM):
I’m fortunate enough to have deployed vRO loads of times during the vSphere Optimization Assessments that I run for my customers. As such I’m quite clued up around vRO so didn’t really read any white papers on the product. It is definitely worth having a demo environment to play around with. Read up on the badges, what they mean and what type of reports can be run.

App HA:
I didn’t get any questions on AppHA, but I did read up on the subject given it’s a new feature. I found Vladan’s overview quite useful. I also read through the Users Guide to understand how it is deployed and configured.

VDP:
Again, because I’ve deployed this quite a number of times I didn’t need to read up on it. However it’s worth referring to the white paper on VDP.

Finally, because it’s an online exam I found it useful to have my demo environment up and running (so Web Client open and vCOPs open) as it did help me answer some questions.

Anyways, best of luck….. the delta exam will be withdrawn on the 30th November 2014, so only 2.5 weeks left!! Stop procrastinating and take the exam!

EDIT: The Delta Exam deadline has been extended to 10th March 2015…. get learning! =)

ESXi bug – backing up 128GB vdisks and CBT

So I read about this issue a week or so ago when this bug started doing the rounds in the VMware communities and The Register picked up on the issue…. I was planning to blog about it but it slipped my mind due to a busy end of month! >_<”

Anyways, VMware have sheepishly recognised the bug and produced a KB article about it: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2090639

The bug affects VMs with Changed Block Tracking (CBT) turned on, specifically those VMs that have had its storage (so a single vdisk) increased in size by more than 128GB.
The problem only presents itself when it comes to the execution of the command QueryChangedDiskAreas(). This API call is commonly used by backup softwares to determine what part of a VMs vmdk file has been changed since the last backup in order to execute an Incremental Backup.

It seems that once the vmdk is increased to more than 128GB, you get an inaccurate list of allocated VM disk sectors returned by the API call, and so any sort of incremental backup could be erroneous and some changed blocks may not be captured during backup. Obviously this means that in the case of you restoring from the erroneous backup, you may experience data loss!

This is a known issue affecting VMware ESXi 4.x and ESXi 5.x and currently, there is NO resolution.

To work around this issue, VMware recommends that you disable and then re-enable CBT on the VM. The next backup after toggling CBT will be a full backup of the virtual machine.

The issue here is in order to disable CBT, you need to power off your VM and ensure there are no snapshots attached to the VM…… quite a pain in the rear end!
Info on how to disable and enable CBT can be found here: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1031873

Also I’m not too sure whether it fixes CBT or whether it will keep generating the same inaccurate info every time the vdisk blocks change and you try to run an Incremental…. unfortunately there isn’t enough information out there yet!
I pity the admin who has to run daily fulls in order to combat this bug….. 128GB backups… ouch!

Fortunately none of my customers have a vdisk of that monstrous size so this shouldn’t affect many of them!