Tag Archives: vcenter

Cloud Management of VMware hosts using VMware Go for new admins and SMBs

VMware Go is a is a cloud based management solution for (small) vSphere deployments and includes features such as  the IT Advisor, ESXi and vCenter installation automation and patch/inventory scanning (though my free version is prompting me to upgrade to Go Pro for those right now).

As I am setting up a new lab environment, I thought I would poke around at some of the features.  I did a basic ESXi install leaving all the defaults.  As I drill into the inventory for this host, VMware Go identified two potential configuration problems I should correct – setting an NTP server and changing the IP address.


Typically the IP address could be set via the vSphere Client, DCUI or command line and NTP via the DCUI or command line, but VMware Go is targeted (IMO) towards the small business or IT shops with little to no VMware experience so having the ability to set these items via a web interface seems very useful.  Click the Apply NTP Settings button worked flawlessly for the suggested NTP server (you may want to use an internal NTP source in your environment).


There is an import VM feature, but this only works from a VMware Server instance (VMware on Windows) and since that has long since been out to pasture, not sure how useful that would be.  Being able to communicate with VMware Converter running on the network seems like it would be a more useful feature.  I also have the ability to scan the host for patches, since I installed the latest 5.1 release there were none to install so I downloaded 4.1 Update 2.  Adding the host was again easy and straight forward, though the NTP setting originally threw an error but trying to apply again worked correctly.  Running a patch scan worked as expected this time, I found the missing patches and automated shutting down VMs, putting the host into maintenance mode and rebooting the server.  One thing to remember, these are “updates” not “upgrades” so you cannot bring a 4.1 host up to 5.1 or even bringing a 5.0 hosts up to 5.1.


One feature I would like to see, especially for the small IT shop who isn’t comfortable managing ESXi directly is the ability to rename the hosts, currently both my hosts are named “localhost” and have the ability to to manage other basic IP settings such as subnet mask, DNS servers and gateways.

If the free version from VMware Go is nothing else, its a great tool to keep your ESXi hosts up to date with latest patches.  As I get further in my lab setup (vCenter etc…) I will write up additional features that are available in VMware Go and activate my VMware Go Pro trial.


vCenter Server Appliance. Part 1 – Configuration and deployment via @jreypo

VMware home lab rebuilt

You know what would be great, if VMware had their Hands On Labs (HOL) available online – yea I’m talking to you!!!  Since I don’t have an account yet and I would like to start working on my VCAP-DCD I had to dust off the lab and start getting it ready.  It sat dormant since early October when I passed my VCP-DV so I decided to rebuild from scratch.  My gear:

  • 2 Dell Precision workstations with dual dual-core Xeon 1.6GHz processors and 4GB or RAM each, 160GB local disk and 3 1Gbps NICs.  I know not a ton but enough to run a couple of VMs for Active Directory, vCenter and a few test machines.
  • Shared NFS storage with a used Buffalo NAS from eBay for < $100 (had no drives) – just wanted something to toy around with versus using FreeNAS or similar sharing the local disk in the host.

Had a weird battle with adding one of the hosts to vCenter.  VMware KB suggested it was bad DNS or IP or an SSL timeout problem but could connect directly to the host and they sit on the same switch.  Just reset the ESXi config and re-addressed and worked like a champ.  Next steps are to setup syslog, thinking I will give Splunk a try this time.  I have used Alienvault in the past since it also included monitoring but want to see something different.  Once I have syslog setup will finally do a 5.0 to 5.1 upgrade and possibly install vCD.

Passed – VMware Certified Professional 5 Datacenter Virtualization (VCP5-DV)

It was just about 8 years ago I really fell in love with virtualization, thanks actually to Microsoft releasing Virtual Server, but there was really only one product I wanted to get my hands on and that was VMware ESX (or GSX – I wasn’t going to be picky).  At the time my company was a subsidiary of a larger company and we were starting to integrate IT departments, in other words eliminate the one I was part of, however it finally allowed me to get my first taste of VMware ESX – vMotioning a running Lotus Domino server between two physical hosts – I knew right there this was the technology I wanted to be part of.  This is my (abriviated) story on how I got to my VCP5-DV certification.

Having taken the VCP5-DV test (twice), a key element to passing the exam is hands on experience.  Though I wasn’t able to do my first deployment of VMware on ESX 3.5i when it launched in 2007, I had pushed virtulization efforts quite heavily at two companies I was working for.  One didn’t get their feet wet with virtualization until I left despite building several labs based on Virtual Server and the second I had to go the free route, leveraging Virtual Iron to build the internal infrastructure on and VMware Server to setup our QA engineers with a testing environment (they later went full VMware).  While I wasn’t using VMware products, the experience in learning how to build a virtual infrastructure was quite beneficial in building my first ESX 3.5i environment – an internal POC for my company – a company that was opposed to virtualization all the way up to the CEO.  Using my previous experience in building virtual labs, I learned many of the “gotchas” that can kill a virtual environment very quickly and found that my predecessors fell victim to those gotchas.  Since then I have deployed multiple 3.5i, 4, 4.1 and 5 production environments.  The point here, don’t skimp on taking time to build your environments, even if they are small – the experience is very much worth while.

There are also several great practice tests out there.  These are a great gauge of your ability to interpret questions and find the right answer.  The two I found most useful were the actual VMware practice tests at http://goo.gl/MI52l and Simon Long’s test at http://goo.gl/jjsgU .  Take these early, gauge where you are and leverage them as a tool to understand where you need to focus your preparation and study as well as an ongoing assessment of how you are progressing.

Before starting formally studying – reading books, taking classes, or setting up your home lab; engage yourself in the VMware community.  There are a lot of great people on Twitter, LinkedIn and the VMware Community forums.  Meeting these people, being able to learn from something as simple as a 140 character tweet was invaluable to me.  Next, don’t forget to review the exam blueprint.  You can download this from VMware at http://goo.gl/0IffB which is good, but there have been several people who have taken the time to provide study materials based on the blueprint.  My personal favorite version of this was by Mike Preston and can be found at http://goo.gl/wJS3M , however another great version from Josh Cohen and Jason Langer can be found at http://goo.gl/4XVU9.  Josh and Jason’s version I found very useful when setting up my lab as it had a lot of step by step information where as Mike’s was in more of a narrative form.  On the more formal reading I read the bible – Scott Lowe’s Mastering vSphere 5, the VMware Press Official VCP5 study guide and Brian Atkinson’s Study Guide,  all can be found on Amazon.

For a class perspective, there is obviously a cost concern between the Install & Configure class versus the Fast Track, but if you are making the investment I would highly recommend the Fast Track.  Keep an eye out, I have seen the class offered from VMware for about the same cost if there are openings in the class just a few weeks prior to its start so you can get the benefits of the Fast Track for the cost of the Install & Configure.  The Fast Track class also gives you a voucher to take the exam for free, also a VMUG membership offers a free re-take voucher if you take the Fast Track course through Global Knowledge in case you do not pass the first time (like I did).

When scheduling your class, my advice would be to schedule it early on a Monday.  From my perspective this gave me two days to study and prepare and I was able to avoid distractions that may come up during the week.  As I mentioned previously, I took the exam twice, and have two “weekend before” scenarios.  The fist time I took the exam I focused heaving on reviewing technical documents/white papers from VMware (a list of what I reviewed can be found here http://goo.gl/9hkop).  I missed passing the exam the first time by 2 questions.  Bad luck?  Over saturated my brain?  I think maybe a little bit of both.  I re-scheduled my exam as soon as possible, VMware requires waiting at least 7 days, the center I took the test at didn’t have any availability so I had to wait an extra day.  This time, I went a little easier on myself.  I focused just on the two blueprint study guides I mentioned earlier and reviewed some of the areas I knew I did not do well on from my previous exam.  Since I had an extra day (I took the exam on Tuesday) I added some cram notes to my reading on Monday night from Vidad Cosonok which you can find here http://goo.gl/1NHqk to re-enforce some of the basics.  I showed up Tuesday morning, drove into the same parking lot, in the same spot and had to empty my pockets into the same locker I had done 8 days before (I was a little worried at this point that I was having a deja vu).  I passed my test by a few questions for a buffer.  I think I can safely say I passed because of everything I mentioned above – experience, reading, study guides, class, practice test etc…

I hope my experience will help others who are looking to go for their VCP… okay so maybe this wasn’t as abbreviated as I first though, as Christopher Kusek has mentioned to me before I am a bit “verbose”

VMware KB: Installing vCenter Server 5.1 best practices

VMware KB: Installing vCenter Server 5.1 best practices.

Good notes for preparing your environment for vCenter 5.1