Tag Archives: vcp5

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”


Notes from a Nested ESXi 5 Setup

Guest Post by Kanji B.

These are some notes from my nested lab setup on a Dell OptiPlex 790 from (4x i5-2400 @ 3.10GHz, w/16GBs, and it supports VT!), I hope that these can help others in the VMware community doing the same.

I ran into my first gotcha quite early thanks to Dell’s love for bleeding edge NICs.  It’s one of the few things that drives me nuts about Dell hardware, and I facepalmed as soon as ESXi threw up it’s “No network adapters detected” error so off I went to research how – or even if! – I could inject drivers into the ESXi install, and fortunately stumbled on someone who had already done so on the OptiPlex 790:- http://bohemiangrove.co.uk/esxi-5-0-the-free-one/

A short while later, I had a fresh ESXi install and began installing my nested ESXi, when I ran into the SAME problem! WTF?! The host ESXi had networking, so why wouldn’t the guests?  Turns out that the default Adapter type for RHEL 6 (the Guest type which a few of the nesting guides suggest you base your ESXi guest on) is vmxnet3, and there’s no vmxnet3 driver in ESXi 5.0 and installing VMware Tools to get it wasn’t going to happen.

Poking around, I managed to fix it by using an E1000 adapter instead, and then noticed that virtuallyGhetto touched on this last month (http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/09/nested-esxi-51-supports-vmxnet3-network.html) as they noticed that 5.1 fixes this very issue.  That solved, I took another stab at installing a nested ESXi, only to hit another showstopper when the installer didn’t detect any local or remote drives to install on.  Poking around some more, I noticed that the SCSI Controller Type was set to VMware Paravirtual (not recommended for this guest OS), ugh, bitten by RHEL 6 defaults again…  For reference, if you set it to LSI Logic Parallel, ESXi sees the provisioned drive as local; or remote if set to LSI Logic SAS.

Ironically, if I had just gone with Windows 2008 R2 x64 (the default Guest type), I wouldn’t have run into either issue, as VMware defaulted to a supported Adapter and SCSI Controller!


Well that sucked, 3 days later I am over it…a bit.  I am not upset that I failed but upset I got away from my original plan of how/what/when to study for my VCP5-DV.  Here is my plan.

  • Test rescheduled Tuesday.
  • Practices test and re-reading key chapters from Scott Lowe’s vSphere book – primarily on HA/DRS, Storage, Monitoring and VUM.
  • Mike Preston’s OMG Study Guide Monday night for last minute cram/refresh
  • Marking questions I am not totally sure of, but ONLY changing answers if another question later on helps me figure out a better answer.
  • I am boycotting reading about the VSA and VDR since I got slammed with Q’s on my first test (okay not really just being annoyed about that).  I will probably read the tech white paper on both this weekend.

My original post about prepping for the exam can be found here:  https://jonathanfrappier.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/vcp5-study-prep/


How to configure more than 2 HA heartbeat datastores for VMware vSphere 5

Update das.heartbeatDsPerHost

VMware ESXi 5 Maximums

As I am studying for the VCP5, I will have some random posts here so I can look back and review quickly!  Might be boring stuff to some folks.

Number of virtual CPUs per host:  2048

Number of cores per host:  160

Number of logical CPUs:  160

Number of virtual CPUs per core:  25

Amount of RAM per host:  2TB

VMs per host:  512 (up from 100)

VMs per cluster:  3000 (up from 1280)

Number of vSwitches:  248

Ports per vSwitch:  4088 (8 reserved by ESXi = 4096)

Maximum ports per host:  4096 (yes 1 vSwitch maxed out would be the max per host)

Port groups / vSwitch:  256

Uplinks / vSwitch:  32

VMkernel NICs:  16

Maximum active ports per host:  1016

vDS per vCenter:  32

Maximum vDS ports per host:  4096

vDS ports per vCenter instance:  30,000

ESXi Hosts per vDS:  350

Static Port groups per vCenter instance:  5,000

Ephemeral port groups per vCenter instance:  256

VM CPUs:  32 (64 as of 5.1)


VM SCSI Adapters:  4 with 15 devices per

Ports:  Parallel 3, Serial 4, IDE 4, Floppy 2, USB 1 controller / 20 Devices

VCP5 Study Prep

In an effort to help others persuing their VCP5, I thought it would be useful to share the steps I am taking to prepare.  A special thanks to all of the people who assembed the various resources I have used so far.

Step 1:  Make up your mind – do you really want your VCP?  I have gone back and forth on this since my first VMware implementation, and for a while it seemed like I could get by without it but more and more I want to focus on VMware so check…I want my VCP5.

2.  Sanity check – how much do I really know, or not know about VMware.  I looked at practice tests from Simon Long and VMware.  You can find Simon’s at http://www.simonlong.co.uk/blog/vcp5-practice-exams/ and the VMware practice exam in VMware’s learning portal myLearn.

3.  Knowledge gap reality check – Look at these 2 exam crams, in combination with the practice test results, start to recognize areas you need to focus / practice on.  The first can be found here http://cosonok.blogspot.com/2011/10/vcp510-vcp-on-vsphere-5-exam-cram-notes.html and Mike Preston’http://blog.mwpreston.net/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/03/OMG-Study-Guide.pdf

4. Get your lab ready – I didn’t want to just blindly read books, and didn’t want to start making unnecessary changes to my production environment.  Though I am normally disappointed with http://www.geeks.com, I am giving them yet another chance.  I just ordered 2 Dell Precision’s with dual Xeon dual-core processors and 4GB of RAM.  I will need to add a multi-port NIC and maybe another hard drive or two but this should be sufficient to run VM’s for AD, vSphere and a few test servers.  My plan to mimic a SAN is to setup FreeNAS and share the local disks like they are actually a SAN/NAS (not sure whether I will do iSCSI or NFS yet).  The Virtual Storage Appliance from VMware is meant to do this (best I can tell since I haven’t used it) but don’t want it to integrate to well into vSphere so going FreeNAS (or OpenFiler or some other baremetal NAS/SAN OS).

Update:  As an alternative to building a physical lab, check out the autolab over at http://www.labguides.com/autolab/

5. Start reading – I picked up Mastering VMware vSphere 5 by Scott Lowe, I read Mastering VMware vSphere 4 a few years ago and it was fantastic so I fully expect this one to be the same.  I also picked up the vSphere 5 Study Guide by Brian Atkinson.

6.  Official training – one of the things I love, and hate about VMware certifications is you have to take one of their courses, and they are not cheap.  On one hand (based on the practice tests) I could probably pass while brushing up on a few areas I don’t have to live in everyday, on the other hand – hopefully this cert will not become meaningless in the future like the A+ or MCSE certifications have become.  Why is this only number 6 on my list?  Well if you flamed out in steps 1-5 you just saved yourself a good chunk of change.

Well, back to step 5.