End of Availability of vSphere Data Protection

Wow…. ok….. so this was an interested announcement to receive. Whilst I kind of understand that VDP wasn’t really deployed by the masses, it was still nice to be able to have a free backup solution if you were deploying a small VMware environment.

The EoA of vSphere Data Protection pretty much means anyone wanting to backup their VMs will now need to pay for a 3rd party product! That kinda sucks!

VMware vSphere 6.5 is the last release which includes the VDP product!

You can read more about the announcement here: http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/data-protection.html

Also worth checking out the VMware KB article for more info: https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2149614

And if you have VDP deployed then don’t worry, any installations where you have an active Support and Subscription (SnS) will continue to be supported until the End of General Support (EOGS) date – the EOGS date can be found on the VMware Lifecycle Product Matrix.

It’s worth noting that this does not affect the vSphere Storage APIs – Data Protection (VADP) which most 3rd party vendors utilise.

It’s also worth noting that Dell EMC are helping those who have VDP deployed by offering them 3 years of free Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE) licensing to protect the first 4TB of protected data – although Maintenance costs will continue to apply during this 3-year period. Offer valid through October 15, 2017.

The offer can be found here: http://dellemc.com/vdpeoa


Finally, the FAQ released will assist with any questions you may have: http://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/products/vsphere/vmw-vdp-eoa-faqs.pdf

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)


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.

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! =)

VMworld 2013 Europe – Day 1 Round Up

So those of you who read my VMworld 2013 US round up will already have read about all the juicy bits that was announced in San Fran….. basically vSphere/vCloud 5.5…..

The keynote session by Pat Gelsinger pretty much repeated a lot of what was announced in the US, with a little bit of juicy extras (see below)…… Pat did a good job engaging the audience, the dialogue flowed and it certainly kept my attention on what was being announced!
I don’t know why, but I tend to find some of the speakers from the US more interesting than those from the UK….. Not sure if it’s the accent or the way they’re more animated, or maybe it’s the way they deliver their presentations…..? Anyways, if you’re a speaker and you find me falling asleep – it’s because you’re not interesting….. ;oP

First up was the announcement of VMware’s acquisition of Desktone!
I first read about Desktone after VMworld US as there were a lot of discussions regarding vCHS and possible Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings… rumours were awash about Desktone being a ‘good fit’ for VMware…… guess those rumours turned out to be true!

One of the key points about the Desktone acquisition is that it brings the added advantage for on-premise VDI customers to burst out into the cloud (like a vCHS provider) if they suddenly require the need to spin up more desktops then they have resources for. From what I could gather speaking to the people at the Desktone booth, they have a piece of software, very similar to vCloud connector, that manages the connection of on-premise and off-premise VDIs, including the ability to transfer between the two….. interesting!
And obviously to bean-counters, the idea of DaaS gives them the opportunity to move all the outlay from CAPEX into a more “easy-to-budget” OPEX…. afterall, you’ll know how much it would cost to spin up and consume a desktop in the cloud. It would also save time and money because it allows remote users to spin up desktops on any device (tablet, laptop, smartphone, thin clients, etc).

The next main announcement was that vCloud Hybrid Service was coming to Europe, with Sungard being the first vCHS provider. (No photo here because some bozo in front of me decided to stand up and block my shot).

Whilst we’re talking about Cloud, updates to some products were also announced to enhance Cloud Management: vCAC 6.0, vCOPs 5.8, vCenter Log Insight 1.5 and vITBM.

Next up was the announcement of the General Availability of VMware NSX!
Network has always been an issue with virtualisation, you spin up a VM in minutes yet always have to rely on some sort of configuration to be carried out on your physical network device….. NSX was launched to bring the Network layer into the virtualisation stack as a ‘Software Defined’ device.
Think of it as a Network Hypervisor….. what ESX did for Compute, NSX will do for Networks! NSX abstracts network operations and configurations from they underlying hardware into a distributed virtualisation layer. It will allow you to define switches, firewalls, loadbalancers, routers, plus other networking elements.
It’s vendor-agnostic…. supporting most hypervisors and physical network devices.
An interesting slide (and one I didn’t get a photo of) was the ability to define network policies that had the switch configuration, the firewall configuration and other network elements and then just simply ‘assign’ it to a VM…. bobs your uncle, your VM is now fully configured!

The slides below were from a technical breakout session that introduced NSX and delved into it a bit more then what was presented at the keynote session…. This slide shows the various components of NSX:

We then saw a list of partners that had already been engaged by VMware to work on integrating products with NSX.

What’s very interesting from the partner slides we saw was that Cisco was missing as a partner!! It’s quite obvious that the relationship between Cisco and VMware have gone off the boil again…… and I’ve heard a rumour that Cisco maybe announcing something big in the SDN arena sometime soon!

The last thing I’m going to talk about was the announcement of the GA of vDP 5.5 Advanced (vDP 5.5 std was announced at VMworld US).
The key items to note about this product is that it now integrates with both EMC Data Domain and EMC Avamar!

The integration with Data Domain allows you to use VDP as the front-end scheduler and back off to a Data Domain as the target. VDP will store all the Meta-data whilst DD stores all the backup data. This will be great as you’ll be backing off all your data onto a DD which means you will get global dedupe as your data is all in one location!

The following slide was very interesting as it shows you what targets you can use to replicate your vDP to:

Finally the last take-away point from the vDP advanced announcement was the fact that it will allow you to consider Backup-as-a-Service by replicating your backup from the vDP appliance to a service provider who may be running something like Avamar!IMG_0053

So hopefully that has rounded up the key points that I got out of Day 1’s general session and announcements!

To be honest, there’s probably a lot more I could waffle on about, but given it’s now 2am and I’ve had a very long day followed by a stint at the EMC party… I’m quite mentally exhausted!

I doubt there’ll be much for me to blog about for the remaining 2 days as I’ve gone over the key announcements in this post… and if I’m honest, the technical sessions I’ve booked myself onto are more for me to enhance my knowledge of existing products and solutions.

Time for bed……!

VMware Walk-throughs

So, some clever person at VMware has built some awesome walk-throughs of a few of the new features/products that were announced at VMworld 2013.


There’s a solid walk-through of VDP, showing step-by-step overviews of:

  • creating a backup job for a VM using web-client
  • restoring a VM using web-client
  • restoring a VM directly to a vSphere host (from the VDP appliance)
  • performing a file level restore
  • replicating VDP backup to EMC Avamar (a very useful walk-through!)

There are also additional overviews of App HA, vSphere Replication, vSphere Flash Read Cache and vSAN…

VMware had loads of ‘canned demos’ which I have used in the past to show clients demos of their products, but they were all on my laptop which I then had to lug around to every meeting… not to mention they always expired!!
I find this new walk-through website a far better option, not to mention it’s a far cleaner interface…. plus because it’s online, I can now leave my laptop at home! =)

Just need some walk-throughs of vCOPs….. =)

The Joys and Pains of upgrades…..

So with the latest update releases across all the VMware products, I set about upgrading my demo kit last friday……

Upgrading the vCenter Server Appliance was straight forward enough….

  • mount the update iso to the VM
  • browse to the management webpage
  • click Update Repository selecting Use CD-ROM Updates
  • follow the wizard and kick back and relax as it goes off and does its job…..

After 2hrs and a quick reboot – voila…. sorted!

Next up was an update of my demo DR vCenter Server installed on a Windows VM with SQL Express…. again, simple and quick……

  • mount the ISO file, run the SSO installer (separate one, not the simple as that doesn’t work), run through the wizard making sure you use the SSO admin password! Reboot (as it changes the window services).
  • run the Web Client installer. Once complete check SSO hasn’t blown up or lost it’s AD domains! =)
  • run the Inventory Service installer.
  • run the vCenter Server installer.
  • run the vSphere client installer.
  • an hour later and it’s all done (actually I was multi-tasking with other work, so I guess you’re talking 20mins in total).

At some point I’ll have to update the production vCenter Server which I’m hoping will be the same pain-free and quick process – only difference is we’re using SQL Server 2008 R2…. if I’m daring enough maybe I’ll patch the SQL server to SP2…. =)

The only issue I encountered was after upgrading the VDP Appliance, it now doesn’t run backup jobs!

There seems to be a general consensus in the community that VDP either works or doesn’t! It either backs up VMs flawlessly, or it errors out and you spend hours trying to work out what caused the error because the logging functionality is pretty pants!

The reason I jumped straight into the VDP upgrade to 5.1.10 was because of the known issue with backing up Windows 2008 R2 VMs – mentioned here: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2035736

However, after a long and quite a tedious upgrade process, the VDP appliance now fails to run any backup jobs and errors out with a ‘no proxy available to service backup jobs’:

vdp: Failed to initiate a backup or restore for a virtual machine because no proxy was found to service the virtual machine

Pretty much stuck now as I can’t find any mention of how to clear out the error or re-attach the proxies…… *sigh*

Still early days for this update and so far I can’t find anyone else online who has encountered the same problem!

May have to give VMware tech support a call……


Edit: Well looks like there are problems with the upgrade process already – mainly SSO (yet again) not working well with multiple identity domains and users associated with a large number of groups: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2050941