VCP6 – Update #3

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update. The first week was a little bit different as I was unable to carry a book and thus I decided to start going through the vBrownBag VCP-Foundations series. This was a great option as it keeps things interesting and offers other examples and a different perspective on the subject.

The two videos I watched were the first two in the series. Both were very well presented and covered in great detail. Both episode were hosted by Emad Younis (@emad_younis) who asked some great questions and added some great value. The first video for the series started from the beginning of the blueprint with Section 1: Install and Configure vSphere 6 with Kyle Ruddy (@kmruddy). This was very in depth with a great demonstration.
The second video of the series was Section 2: Configure vSphere Networking with Brian Welch (@brianwelch) and covered the blueprint content well.

I have since moved on from Chapter 5: Creating and Configuring Virtual Networking and am now onto Chapter 6 Creating and Configuring Storage Devices.

In this chapter, so far I have covered:

Examining Shared Storage Fundamentals
In this chapter, we covered use casees for shared storage, breakdown of capacity and throughput and how to determine performance requirements for Online transaction Servers, Database servers and file servers.  

Comparing Local Storage with Shared Storage.
Local storage can be used from running ESXi through to running VMs, however it is limiting to the fact that VMs that are running on Local Storage are unable to be migrated to another host. Shared Storage combats this limitation and allows for the flexibility to build a highly available datacenter. VMs are able to run from shared storage keeping them in the same location when a VM is moved between hosts, providing that the Datastore is connected to the participating hosts. There are multiple protocols that can be used, from Fiber Channel, FCoE, iSCSI. 

Explaining RAID
With Dynamic Disk Pools, RAID isn’t as widely used anymore, however it is an underlying technology that should be known. First we cover off using RAID0 (stripe), aggregating all the disks together for performance and maximum capacity. Then we read upon the different RAID1 (Mirror) or 1+0 configurations, bringing in some redundancy and backup against failing drives. Following on from RAID1, we learn about parity and hot spares with RAID5 and RAID6.

Understanding Virtual SAN
Virtual SAN (VSAN) has been out since vSphere 5.5 and has recently reached 7000 customers around the world. VSAN brings together local storage using a Flash Drive and a spinning disk. There is a minimum requirement of 3 hosts par-taking in VSAN to provide redundancy of data. VSAN is part of the Software Defined Storage. VSAN does not have any limitations to vSphere features such as HA and DRS, these work between VSAN and regular SAN storage using FC, FCoE, or iSCSI.

So far, this has been my current reading progress and study, and I wish I could have done a lot more by now, but slowing it down, writing up notes and revision, adding videos and specific whitepapers to take it in does take time, but in the end, it will all be worth it.


VCP6 – update #2

This week has been fairly full on and I haven’t been able to carry my Mastering vSphere 6 book with me to work and back, so I have been doing little mini topic looks up on my phone and also listening to the VirtuallySpeaking Podcast  which is a storage focused podcast. This has given me some inspiration and catching me up with VVOLS and VSAN, etc.

In my readings I have covered off Section 1 and Section 2 of the blueprint, there is much more to go, including watching the vBrownBag and Pluralsight videos. The topics I have covered off in  Section 2 are: DvS, VSS, Migrating port groups, Security (Forge transmits, MAC Changes, Promiscuous Mode), Maximums, Multicast, LACP, VLANs/PVLANS, TCP/IP Stacks, NIC Teaming and 3rd Party Switches (Cisco 1000v, IBM 5000v)

Below is my current notes I have typed up. There are many more that will soon make an appearance.

Section 2.  vSphere Networking.

Objective 2.1 Configure vSphere Standard switch

+ Explain vSphere Standard Switch (VSS) Capabilities

A vSS is the default vSwitch that connects your vSphere environment to your network. When you set up ESXi out of the box, this vSwitch sets up a VMkernel port group and a VM port group. The first  difference between the two groups of ports is that the VMkernel port group requires an IP address assigned to it (DHCP or Static) where as the VM Port group just passes through the IP addressing from the guest OS.

After ESXi has been installed, the IP address will be displayed on the DCUI, if this is set to DHCP and you want to specify a static address, you can do this by pressing F2 and configuring the mangemant IP. You can only configure Mangement port and no others from the DCUI.

The vSS VMkernel port groups is used for a set of network services

Fault Tolerance logging
Virtual SAN
vSphere Replication Traffic
vSphere Replication NFC Traffic
Provisioning Traffic


To setup iSCSI networking, when creating your VMkernel port group, there is no tick box for this, you will need to ensure all options are unticked and continue. ISCSI is used to connect to SAN (Storage Area Network). To enable iSCSI you will need to go to Storage Adapters and add the iSCSI adapter.

By default, management is already configured. If you need to make setting changes or set up management redundancy theny you can do that there.

When you have vCenter installed and your hosts added to a cluster, you will then have the ability to utilise vMotion. This is used to migrate live Vms between hosts. It is recommended to have a minimum of 1Gbps dedicated to vMotion

Fault Tollerence logging
This is required for replicating between VMs that have been configured for Fault Tolerence. As this will continue to replicate the current state of the primary VM to the secondary, there is a requirement of a minimum 1Gbps and even better to have a dedicated network adapter

VSAN VMkernel is a dedicated link to transfer and replicated information/data between hosts. This is recommended to be a dedicated 10Gig link. There must be a minimum 3 hosts participating to create a VSAN array over the network.

vSphere Replication Traffic
The vSphere Replication Traffic VMkernel isolates the traffic sending from the source host to the vSphere Replication (VR) server.

vSphere Replication NFC Traffic
The VR NFC (Network File Copy) Traffic VMkernel isolates the data incoming to the destination replication host.

Each of the VR replication links require a minimum of 1Gbps, when setting up the isolation traffic, a separate vmnic is recommended to keep the traffic secure. This will require 3 vmnics on the vSphere Replication Server. The first will be the mangement nic, followed by the vSphere Replication Traffic and the 3rd for NFC. This will ensure replication traffic is routed securely.

Provisioning Traffic.
The Provisioning Traffic VMkernel allows the separation of traffic created from cold migrations, snapshot creation and VM cloning.



Now that I have covered Networking, it is time to start moving over to Storage for the next week or so and spend some time reading, watching and Labbing.

Thank you for reading, if you have any suggestions please leave a message in the comments.


VCP-DCV Study – Post #1

To kick things off with my series of study notes and progress, I thought I would write a quick post on the resources that I am using and a brief overview of the exams. Back in February 2015 I wrote a post on the changes that were made to the VCP certification track. This included details about the additional pre-requisite exam VCP-Foundations which covers the underlying technology that supports each track.

In the VCP Datacenter Virtualizaation track, the foundations are similar, as networking, storage and compute are presented in the same way. This makes it a little easier to learn as I can focus on similar resources for this. Once I have taken the online foundations exam, I will then be able to take the DCV test.

My first resource is a blog post I refer to often when studying by our local VCDX Travis Wood (@vTravWood) – 7 Tips to Prepare Pass VMware Exams – This has some fantastic suggestions, such as creating a scorecard to rank your knowledge. I was impressed with this blog that I printed it out and laminated it. I now try and stick to it as a guide.

The below resources are what I will be using throughout this process, I am definitely open for more suggestions. As I mentioned in my previous post, I want to go right back to basics and fully understand the finer details.

Mastering vSphere 6 (Purchase here)
This by far, is my favourite series and book. I have been reading them since Mastering vSphere 5 and use it as a resource for production. The amount of content and the presentation of the content is phenomenal. There have been a lot of stories I’ve heard where people have passed the VCP exam from labbing and using just this book. Nick Marshall (@nickmarshall9) has done a terrific job following on from Scott Lowe.

vSphere Official Documentation (Blueprint)
The official documentation lays out the bare metal details, there are documents that are 200 pages on a particular technology (vSwitches, Storage, etc). These are also linked in the Blueprint available on the VMware Certification page. I highly recommend this documentation, even just for further clarification on a particular topic.

VMware vSphere Design (Purchase Here)
For further detail, use case and design information, this book has been a great read, I have read it a couple of times already and enjoy the way it breaks down different scenarios for components. This is an older book that was written back in the 5.x days, however a lot is still relevant. Scott Lowe (@scott_lowe) and Forbes Guthrie (@forbesguthrie) have done a great job.

vBrownBag (@vBrownBag – Podcast VCP-DCV series)
This is a series of Podcasts by members of the vCommunity running through the VCP blueprint over a number of weeks. These are some great videos as they are all deep dives. I’ve found a lot of information and learnt a lot just from watching tutorials. I highly recommend checking out the series.

Pluralsight (vSphere 6 DCV – vSphere 6 Foundations)
There are a number of series on Pluralsight that are dedicated to both the Foundations exam and the DCV. both David Davis (@davidmdavis) and Greg Shields (@concentratdgreg) have put together some great course with excellent content that dives into the blueprint and real world use cases. I highly recommend Pluralsight videos for more than just vSphere certifications.

vSphere HA Deepdive (HA DeepDive – Gitbooks)
This is a dynamic online book hosted on Gitbooks written by Duncan Epping (@duncanyb). The level of detail that Duncan dives into and explores really gets the deep understanding of how HA in vSphere 6.x works.

This is just an outline of what I am and plan to use. At present I am watching vBrownBag videos and reading Mastering vSphere 6 on the bus to and from work, as well as on my lunch break. I am currently finishing off vSphere distributed Switches and will hopefully have my completed Section 2.0 review notes completed for posting within the week.

Please feel free to leave any comments below or suggestions.

Thank you.


2017 – New Year and the outlook

First off, Happy New Year everyone. Thank you to all those I had the pleasure of meeting or working with in 2016. What a year it was, aside from a busy work schedule with some busy projects, I also welcomed my first child. This has obviously added to what i felt was already a busy schedule, but all I can say is that I am very grateful to have her in my life and things have certainly changed and will continue to change.

That being said, I realise I was not very active on my blog in 2016, however it does not reflect the amount of articles I wrote that I didn’t publish because it is not 100% completed or because I just didn’t like feel comfortable it was ready. Most of what I wrote was merely notes for myself or just jotting down sentences and paragraphs to ensure I was reciting what i knew. In 2016, I started to explore new horizons for myself. I started using Nutanix CE on Ravello to understand all the hub-bub around. I decided that I would make the switch from using Windows 10 to Linux Mint and then on to Ubuntu on my main computer, this created some challenges from an administrative perspective, but I feel as though I have increased my brain power just that little more. I managed to add to my lab increasing it over 3 times my previous lab. I have started testing Linux and other OSes in my lab to get a better understanding and broader knowledge. Each one of these things and a ton of other little bits and pieces I have changed or picked up are going to make 2017 a much better year for my IT future.

This brings me to my outlook for 2017 and what I plan to be a good year full of learning. This year I am hoping to finally knuckle down and get my VCP out of the way and hopefully complete a VCAP or two. When I look back, I realise how unfocused I was and how much my ego stood in front of me when I studied and then going in for the exams – going back and re-reading/re-learning how to install ESXi or how to vMotion a VM does not show weakness but shows strength knowing the very fine detail and understanding. I have now changed the way I study and now add more time and extra steps to ensure I fully understand before moving on. There are some smaller exams I would like to also get and also looking at CCNA and having more foundations covered.

For 2017, I plan to write and publish as much of my study log and notes I can, and hope that someone might find them useful for their own studies. This will hopefully be joined by many more blog posts to help make my blog active again.

In closing, I hope that you all have a very happy and safe 2017 and I look forward to meeting new people, creating friendships and working with many of you through the large list of communities.