Another certification…

October 21, 2016 – 10:41 pm

I regularly post about the latest certification exams I took… And today was the first of two for Cisco’s CCNA Datacenter certification.

In my new role, I am doing a lot of Cisco UCS and a bit of Nexus configurations and since I had little to no exposure to these platforms, I wanted to get up to speed with the platforms. With 25+ years experience, i don’t think certifications mean that much anymore but it’s my way to challenge myself to learn new stuff, and have something to show for all the efforts as well. As long as my employers pay for the material/exams 🙂

On my list for the coming months/year are:
– 2nd CCNA Datacenter Exam
– Renew my VCAP (assuming it also renews the VCP) for vSphere
– If I get good hands-on projects, the VCIX-NV for NSX.

So it seems I have a busy year ahead 🙂

Upgrading ESXi Hosts to vSphere 6

October 17, 2016 – 7:15 pm

Once I loaded the UCS image in VUM, it’s a piece of cake to deploy and update the hosts.


I had one site with 2 hosts running on IBM x3650 servers, so I downloaded the Lenovo image for this platform and loaded it up in VUM. Start the deployment, and the server ends up stuck in a loop.

A quick look with the remote IMM and I found out that host had vmnic0 disconnected (but vmnic1 was connected so management was accessible). It appears that in order for the upgrade to work properly, vmnic0 MUST be plugged in!

So I had to mount the ISO using the IMM and perform a manual update on that one (since nobody was at the remote site to reconnect that interface). There’s a KB for this issue actually:

Nice to know!

VMware VCSA Migration

October 17, 2016 – 7:10 pm

Last weekend I completed an upgrade/migration from vCenter 5.5 on Windows to vCenter Appliance 6.0 using the tool provided by VMware.

Everything went fairly smoothly – the migration tool was flawless. I made sure to take care of all the dependencies (vShield, vCOps, 3rd party plugins) first, upgrading them to a vSphere 6 compatible version. For some plugins, I simply uninstalled them, to reinstall later (VUM for example) as there was no particular customization that required saving the database/config.

I did have one issue with AD Integration. After the migration, I wasn’t able to authenticate with my AD credentials. I ended up having to remove everything (In VCSA, leave the domain and remove all AD configurations (groups, accounts, permissions, etc..) and in AD, delete the computer object.

Afterwards, doing everything step by step I was able to bring it back to a functional level. I had read that simply rejoining the appliance would do the trick but not so.

VMware Photon

October 3, 2016 – 3:50 am

A few months ago, I was looking for an SMTP solution for a dev team so they could test sending mail without using the production email service. I thought of using a container solution for this and found exactly what I needed with Docker.

Now, what platform would be the best for a quick and easy deployment on vSphere? Photon was the answer. VMware has released their own small footprint Linux appliance for exactly these kinds of purposes.

I spent a bit of time figuring my way around the environment (I am not a hardcore Linux guy but I enjoy working with it) and within a few hours, I had a fully functional SMTP service deployed using a Docker package. Anyone with more experience than me would have gotten this done in a few minutes, it’s that easy.

Whenever I need to run a small service or need a small VM for testing purposes, VMware Photon is now my first choice!


The blog is back!

October 3, 2016 – 3:43 am

Before the holidays last year, I shut down the blog completely. I was up for renewal with the hosting service, and I wasn’t putting in as much time as I hoped. But now it’s back and I’ll do my best to keep it relevant and useful for everyone.

vSphere “good practices” for Windows VMs

May 23, 2015 – 8:49 pm

I won’t call them best practices because these are my personal preferences/standards. I am posting this as I had a conversation with a junior sysadmin earlier about this. Figured it could come in handy for others looking for ideas on how to approach this!

When creating a VM for a Windows based system, I always apply the following standards:

  • C: drive – OS installation only, usually 60GB thin provisioned (Windows 2012 R2)
  • D: drive – Applications binaries, sized according to requirements
  • E: drive – Data, sized according to requirements (IIS Inetpub for example gets relocated here and renamed).
  • P: drive – Pagefile (with SCSI id 0:15 – easy to identify/exclude them from backups/replication (with Veeam for example))

More drives are created based on requirements/applications (SQL has a L: drive for logs, a K: drive for backups (exports), etc…)

Each drive is in it’s own VMDK file of course, I never create multiple partitions in a VMDK, this simply makes things more complicated when resizing.

I usually keep the OS partition on a standard SCSI controller, and if there is some value to it, add a PVSCSI controller for the applications/data drives.

The C: drive contains a folder called Scripts where I store generic scripts that I use regularly

  • Clear-EventLogs.ps1
  • Update-Windows.ps1 (using the Windows Update Powershell Module) – in a template, this can be triggered easily from PowerCLI (convert from Template to VM, power up, execute script).
  • Prep-Template.ps1 (for templates only – I delete this on deployed VMs) – This is run when image editing/updating is done. It removes the IP, clears the temp folders, the event logs, etc… before shutting down.

What are your standards?

Certification Status

May 23, 2015 – 8:24 pm

I passed the VCAP-DCA exam a few weeks ago. It was a tough exam, like everybody else that has gone through it said, time management is the issue. Everything I had studied for, focused on as my weak spot, wasn’t on the exam 🙂 I basically relied on personal experience and nailed it.

Both VCAP-DCA/DCD passed, so one step closer to VCDX. We’ll see if I go for it in the coming year.

In the meantime, I’ll be trying something new that combines two fields I enjoy: VMware NSX. Given that I do not have to take the official course since I’m CCNP, makes it more affordable!

VCAP-DCA exam tips

April 18, 2015 – 7:55 pm

I didn’t take the exam yet but here’s some tips to help with command line stuff.

In an SSH session on a host, type in “esxcli esxcli command list” and paste the output to Notepad. A quick CTRL-F for keywords will help you find/remember the right commands. (I really hope notepad is available during the exam!)

Also, some esxcli commands have extra parameters that are not shown when you enter an incomplete command. Add “-?” to get more information

esxcli storage core path stats get” shows you right away the stats for all paths. But to specify one path only, what is the command? “-?” will show you. Might sound simple/obvious but it’s easy to overlook simple things when doing a complex test like this one!


Also, pressing tab twice shows all commands matching what you started typing i.e. esxcfg- will show all esxcfg-* commands. Great when you forget under pressure.



Sorry for the small images – click on them to read them 🙂

Hardware CPU/MMU Virtualization

April 11, 2015 – 12:49 pm

VMware vSphere ESXi will determine whether or not to use hardware virtualization support based on various factors such as the guest operating system type and the physical hardware. Certain workloads can benefit from explicitly turning hardware virtualization support on or off. If the value is unset, the value will default to hvAuto. Usually it is left to automatic except for specific cases where it’s either not detected or we want to ensure it uses the proper setting.

When specifying the OS type when creating a VM, it lists the preferred modes.

Example from a Windows 2012 R2 server running on an HP Proliant DL385 G7 (AMD Opteron 6282 SE):

Opening the vmware.log in a VM’s datastore folder and searching for MONITOR brought this up:

2015-04-11T16:30:40.910Z| vmx| I120: MONITOR MODE: allowed modes : BT HV HWMMU
2015-04-11T16:30:40.910Z| vmx| I120: MONITOR MODE: user requested modes : BT HV HWMMU
2015-04-11T16:30:40.910Z| vmx| I120: MONITOR MODE: guestOS preferred modes: HWMMU HV BT
2015-04-11T16:30:40.910Z| vmx| I120: MONITOR MODE: filtered list : HWMMU HV BT
2015-04-11T16:30:40.910Z| vmx| I120: HV Settings: virtual exec = ‘hardware’; virtual mmu = ‘hardware’

So basically setting to auto on a Windows 2012 R2 on this host does enable hardware MMU/CPU features, same as if we selected the 4th option.


Here is a powerCLI script to check the current settings for all VMs :

# Create a new VM object property

New-VIProperty -Name MMUStatus -ObjectType VirtualMachine -ValueFromExtensionProperty 'Config.Flags.VirtualMmuUsage' -Force

New-VIProperty -Name HVStatus -ObjectType VirtualMachine -ValueFromExtensionProperty 'Config.Flags.VirtualExecUsage' -Force

# Get all VMs and return their Name and settings

Get-VM | Sort -Property Name | Select Name, MMUStatus, HVStatus | ft

One step closer!

April 7, 2015 – 8:19 am

Last night I booked the VCAP-DCA 5.50 exam – scheduled for May 4th, 2015 – so about one month to prepare. I have been procrastinating, being somewhat intimidated by that exam. A fellow Vmware enthusiast offered to partner up for the studies, sharing progress and questions so I took him up on it. I took the VCAP-DCA Test Track offered by @SOSTech_WP (Joshua Andrews) and did pretty well so that gave me the confidence to book and finish this once and for all. So hopefully, a month from now, I’ll be once step away from the VCDX!