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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

VMware VCIX Certification Clarification

I got lot of ask and question regarding the new VCIX certification from VMware.

So how do I get qualified?
What do I need to do?
Do I need to upgrade VCP first?
I am confuse which VCAP to take as I have already have one?

The proper way to get to VCIX certification is stated here.
The scenarios for VCP certification is stated here.

So in the past, passing a VCAP allows you to upgrade your VCP.  However with the expiry program and VCP certification article above on inheritance, only the expiry of existing VCP will be extended. No inheritance of VCP when passing a VCAP of the same track.

Example:
Hold VCP5-DCV, passing VCAP6-DCV Design, does not upgrade VCP5-DCV to VCP6-DCV.  Only VCP5-DCV expiry period is further extended.


In order to attempt VCDX of any track, you will need to attain VCIX for that track.  Below is how you can attain your VCIX using Data Center Virtualization track as scenario.


Scenarios:
For one who have valid VCP5-DCV, VCAP5-DCV Deploy
  1. Upgrade VCAP5-DCV by taking VCAP6-DCV Design > VCIX6-DCV, VCP5-DCV expiry renewed 2 years.
  2. To renew VCIX6-DCV, take VCAP7-DCV Design or Deploy >VCIX7-DCV, VCP5-DCV expiry renewed 2 years.
  3. To take VCDXn-DCV, attained VCIXn-DCV.
What happen when one has an Expired VCP5-DCV?  Based on 1-3 above,
1) Upgrade VCIX, VCP5-DCV expired
2) Upgrade VCIX, VCP5-DCV expired
3) VCIX attained, VCP5-DCV expired

What does it means when VCP is expired?
You can continue to renew your VCAP and above however if you wish to cross track for another certification, you will need to pass the VCP for that track through the proper official way by taking the course and passing the track for VCP.

What if my VCP has not expired?
You can attempt the VCP across other tracks.  This is even if your VCP version is few version behind.

Example only assuming version exist:
VCP5-DCV still valid.  Attempt VCP-7-DCV, VCP7-DTM, VCP7-Cloud, VCP7-NV


Conclusion
I would recommend not to expire your VCP to keep your options open.  By renewing, you can attempt different track for VCP or go for VCAP for the VCP track you own.  This keep you relevant and opens up new opportunities for yourself.

Always check for updates at VMware Education Blog.


Note: The above is accurate that time of writing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Credit to VMware Certification

If you are not aware do read this blog by Ken Thacker.  This is going to be for the first time, VMware Education is opening up to the public, internationally to help craft its technical certification.

You get to be recognized though earning a badge like this.

I was lucky to be part of one of the Exam Items Workshop for VCP6.5-DCV.  It was an eye opener and also great commitment required.  For anyone who is keen on the above let me share with you what I went through in a short summary.

Exam Items Writing is a 5 days WebEx and phone call happening at night in Singapore time (for me) over 8 hours.  It starts from 9PM to 4AM my time.  It requires at least 6 people to start the process at any one time.  If anyone could not make it and need to fall out and the number in the team is less than 6, the work cannot carry on.

For the first night, it was introduction and briefing how to start and we break off from the call to start writing the questions after assigned the sections we are responsible for.  After we resumed our call, we were to go through the questions, first to qualify it to be suitable for the exam.  Second, making sure its suitable for a candidate who is taking the exam.  Lastly amendments to the question language as well as format and also amending it to make sure options are clear and make changes.  This requires everyone input in the call.

Over the 5 days, participants are to write the questions during the day and to review during the night (for my timezone).  A total of 250 questions was created during these 5 days.

That is just the beginning.  After which, the exam will go into standard setting process.  Those involved in the writing are not eligible to be part of standard setting.  Standard setting will require 2 days.

So now you know what is the effort involved, after signing up do remember to only choose to take part in any workshop when you can commit your time and effort else the purpose of producing a quality exams will be impacted somehow or another.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

VMware VCAP6-DCV Design Beta Rescore

Have been a long and hectic week for me.  Doing WebEx and call over 5 hours each time in the middle of the night.  Will talk about that in a later post.

Took the VCAP6-DCV Design beta exam back in 16th Feb 2016 this year.  Results was a fail for me.

However received an email from VMware Certification in Nov 2016 give me some hope.

Seems that the marking system has some errors that need to be check on and through this the exam score might change.  It can be better or worse.  On 20th Nov, did a check and see that my status is still a fail.

Just this week, I got this!


A quick check in my VMware Certification Manager, is a Pass!




I am glad I passed this time round.  But the purpose of this post was not about if I managed to pass or fail.

What VMware could have done, they can well, keep quiet and let those who fail to remain failing so they will attempt the full VCAP6-DCV Design exam at a full cost (Beta is discounted as more questions with less time).  This can help them increased their certification revenue.

However they did not.  They choose to fixed the problem and inform the testers even though this might lead to complains especially those who retake and passed.  Many companies could have gone away with that but VMware has always listen to customer and gather feedback and rectify the problem.

This is something that need to be applaud on.  It is almost similar to Samsung where their Note 7 was having issue they decide to just announce to all affected and get fixed or refunded in this case.

Keep up the good work VMware.  Salute to the Certification team who dare to admit the mistake and solve it.  Great Job!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

VMware Horizon Licensing

Many of the times, many of us get really confused by the different channels of communication of licensing.  In this case for VMware Horizon.

The most confusing part is always Named and Concurrent user license.  In my previously article on Horizon Suite, which is the current Horizon bundle, this has not change.

To keep things simple, I am going to put down the sources and wordings in case any of the sources ever get removed.

From VMware Product Guide, page 56 for Horizon Enterprise:

Active Connection: any connections to Powered On Desktop Virtual Machines, Terminal Services Sessions and physical computers.
Concurrent Users: the total number of users accessing or using the Software at any given time to maintain an Active Connection to their desktop through an endpoint device.
Named User: Your single designated employee or Third Party Agents who have been authorized by You to use the Software in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.


The confusion comes when the VMware Product Guide for other products that is part of Horizon bundle e.g. VSAN in page 14:

Concurrent Users: the total number of users accessing or using the Software at any given time.

Notice that this did not state the word "Active Connection".  This is why the meaning of concurrent get everyone confused.


This is how I will summarise the below:
Named User: The number of user that will be using the VDI from your Active Directory entries.
Concurrent Users: A total of active connections at any one time to the Horizon Connection server.

Note: This only applies to VMware Horizon licensing.  For 3rd party VDI on vSphere, this will be based on vSphere Desktop guideline.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

VMware and AWS Partnership a Win-Win

Over the last few weeks of new over the announcement of VMware Cloud on AWS partnership.  This brings lots of attention to the IT market where two of the domain giant come together to make it bigger.

Why is this a Win-Win?  Let's take a look.

AWS

  • With the partnership, VMware will definitely lease the data centres spaces from AWS irregardless AWS doing well or not they got another constant revenue.
  • It make more sense to use AWS services e.g. S3 storage, etc. as your workload can be directly accessing it within AWS's Data Centre.
  • With VMware's partnership, it adds another valid reason for AWS's customer or VMware's customers to consider AWS external services and this brings business opportunities for AWS tapping into VMware's customers base.



VMware

  • Leverage on AWS's Data Centres, VMware can now achieve more public cloud offering around the world in terms of locations.
  • Able to leverage on AWS presence, VMware will allows customers to achieve the hybrid cloud vision mentioned since more than 4 years ago.



A bit of history of VMware public cloud strategy.

VMware started with VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP) few years back, however not many service providers pick up and the offering of VMware Cloud at different countries was not growing.

VMware in 2013 started vCloud Air, building their own data centers or co-locate with a partner but fully owned and operate by VMware.  This added questions is VMware competing with their VSPP.

VSPP was then rebrand to vCloud Air Network (VCAN).  This time round together with vCloud Air this expanded more locations but the growth didn't make it huge.  Was just better during VSPP time.

Now in 2016 with first IBM's Softlayer adopting VMware Cloud followed by AWS's partnership, VMware finally make its public cloud offering around the world accelerated in the greatest scale possible.

I am looking forward to see more customers able to adopt the use of VMware Cloud and having to finally truly fulfills the possibility of portability and mobile between private and public, a true hybrid cloud where at this part of the world, ASEAN, has never been made possible.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Is Network Virtualization to stay?

Network Virtualization (NV) and Software Defined Network (SDN) has been a hype over the last 2 years through media and lots of news publicity.

The adoption for many is still new.  In fact, most customers around the world has either yet to start, or just starting, or have a setup just running not at full scale.

Over the last two years, we see lots of solutions ranging from NS from VMware NSX via software to SDN from Cisco ACI via hardware.  This then also started up many new comers from companies like Nuage Networks to vArmour.

Having meeting many customers from different industry and verticals the questions often been asked are like the below:
why this and not that?
what the different from your competitors?
isn't going to SDN or NV makes visibility more complex?
how secure is logical compare to physical?

While some of the questions and more cannot be explained in details, from a personal point of view it often drive down to a few factors:

1) Will the company be around in the next 3-5 years time?
Adopting a technology, you definitely want your ROI and supportability to last you the tenure the software support or beyond else you will have to do that exercise again.  That can be a good consideration.

2) Can the technology or solution chosen be used in a multi-cloud, multi-platform environment?
The technology and solution chosen, will it work with multi-cloud in your organization or even some hosted in a public cloud where on premies you might be running VMware or Hyper-V and in the public cloud you might be running Amazon or Azure where there is a platform difference.  Even today you ain't looking doing so, at least you won't be restricted.  During VMworld 2016, VMware showcase the use of maintaining firewall policy on premies as well as on Amazon and Azure public cloud with its Cross Platform Services.  This is a real tie breaker to many solutions on the market making it no longer platform dependent.  The solution is protect your existing and future planning.  Since you cannot dictate your public cloud vendor hardware nor software, the solution should not tie you down to one in particular that does.  Now you not just get Application mobility but security portability be it within or across cloud keeping policy in check.

3) Will we lose visibility?
In fact, you gain by doing software defined or network virtualization.  Reason is simple, today using existing tools typically only provide you the information on the physical space or physical fabric.  This does not show you what is happening within the host especially when VM of the same communicate within each other on the same hosts.  With NV, things has changed, with not only do you get to see information coming from the VMs, you also gain extra ways of performing troubleshooting.

4) How secure is it comparing to hardware?
In fact, most logical solution just like hardware have gone through proper security certification like FIPS and Common Criteria.  In fact, even with physical air gap, penetration still happens.  In fact, logical make costing cheaper and giving you better protection at fraction of the cost if you have gone using the hardware route.  If you were to just look at NSX, it is run in the thin abstract of the hypervisor in kernel where nearline performance is provided.  ESXi have never been breached and with its thin profile of 160Mb, unlike solution that depends heavily on OS which exposed many vulnerability upon penetrated.

In a summary, logical networking is just getting its adoption now.  While we are so used to physical separation, industry is moving towards adopting logical separation away from what we used to do. With virtualization, we are now not only able to gain more visibility, scaling possibility without creating managing silo networks and as well as security and compliance mobility. On a contrary doing it on physical solution will incur a huge cost and creates overheads in terms of management and at scale, lots of silos.

With the preview of VMware NSX Cross Platform Service and last year on Distributed Network Encryption (DNE), this not open a great lots of opportunities where technology can create beyond what hardware has limits on, it also allows unrestricted application placement headache as security policy goes with the VM.

So what do you think?  Share your view in the comments.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

VMware vCenter Desktop and vCenter Standard Licensing

Awhile a go I wrote an article about how the different vSphere Desktop licensing is for and the entitlement.

Having meeting many customer with big and small environment, projects or used cases for certain requirements.  There were some question revolving around vCenter licensing especially for the desktop related.

Here is an article of the FAQ on vSphere Desktop licensing.  One of the question in this article states:

Q. Do I need a separate vCenter Server for my VDI hosts? 
A. Yes, like Horizon 7 deployments on vSphere 5.x, you will need a separate VMware vCenter Server® for your VDI hosts. vCenter is not included in vSphere Desktop. 

Let me further explain the above.  If you are running a 3rd party VDI solution riding on vSphere Desktop licensing, vCenter is not included.  You would need to purchase vCenter Standard to manage that environment.

However if you are a Horizon customer, the bundle include vCenter Desktop use to manage a vSphere Desktop environment.

You now will asked, what about using 3rd parties VDI, why don't I purchase vCenter Desktop instead of vCenter Standard.  The answer is, vCenter Desktop is not for sale and is only available in Horizon Bundle.  That also explains why running 3rd parties VDI on top of vSphere always cost more and its always more cost effective just to run Horizon VDI.

Next common ask will be can I manage vSphere Desktop environment and Infra vSphere environment with one single vCenter?

The answer is not recommended but you can with caveats.  Not recommended is because of the way VDI runs we typically want to keep it separate and the load on the vCenter are typically high as VDI are highly dense and have lots of activities.

Let's address with 3rd parties VDI and with Horizon.

For 3rd Parties VDI, you will need to complete your purchase of vCenter Standard and vSphere Desktop for the VDI environment.  You will then have a Infra environment with the normal vSphere Standard/Enterprise Plus with a vCenter Standard.  You notice each environment must have their vCenter.  After owning two vCenter licenses, one for each, will you be able to utilize one to manage both environment.  This is part of End User Licensing Agreement.

For Horizon customer, since the bundle already comes with vCenter Desktop, customer would need to have a copy of a vCenter Standard for the infra environment will they be allowed to use one vCenter to manage both environment.

Hope this explains better if you do have an environment that really need a vCenter to manage both.

Friday, September 2, 2016

VMware Cloud Foundation

During the first day of VMworld 2016, VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) was announced.  Some of us who are following what VMware has in its portfolio might be really confused.  I am just one of the few.

So what is VMware Cloud Foundation?  Basically remember we used to have a platform known as EVO?  EVO Rail and EVO Rack.  EVO Rail has been deprecated and was only leaving the EVO Rack which was later rebrand as EVO SDDC.  VMware Cloud Foundation is the replacement for EVO SDDC.

As of 1st Sept today, EVO SDDC is no longer available as stated here.  You can read more of VMware Cloud Foundation here.  The FAQ that clearly describe here.

In a simple summary, EVO SDDC is been replaced by VMware Cloud Foundation and VCF is no longer limited to the few (actual 4) vendors exclusively, in fact customer can choose to use even a VSAN Ready Nodes with VCF and use the supported switches from Cisco or Arista making sure TOR and Spine are from the same vendor.

On a personal view, VMware has just created another ecosystem for VCF just like how it has done for vSphere and VSAN but with a complete solution which consist of vSphere, NSX and VSAN.  Vendors will leverage VCF and build their lifecycle management into VCF to support their hardware all together.

As for the support, licenses can be bundled with OEM licenses in such, total support comes from the specific vendor.  However customer can choose to purchase the license direct from VMware to have VMware direct support instead.  Though this comparing to build your own system it is still more simplified but customer will still need to contact two vendors for support.

VCF does not stop there, all summarized above are for on premises.  However, VCF can also be leverage by public cloud vendors e.g. vCloud Air Network Partners (VCAN) and for the first partner this will be IBM Softlayer as announced.

This way, it creates a better solution to create a SDDC platform on and across cloud.  Allowing vendors to build a unified SDDC platform while customer enjoying the benefits of a unified SDDC Platform.  This remove the complexity to ensure compatibility and reduce interoperability between versions of software on premies and off premises where customer will have when moving workload between hybrid clouds.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

VMware vSphere 6.5 What's New

In most announcement in VMworld, often there will be a release every other time for vSphere.  This time round, there isn't any announcement or a given date.  However, there are session on vSphere 6.5 and also on VM encryption feature which will be introduced in the next version.  This year it was announced at VMworld Barcelona 2016.

There ain't major features but some great enhancement and requests that customer has been asking for.  So here is a breakdown of some of the important features enhancements or addition to this release:

vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA)
VMware has already introduce this back in version 5.0.  And at 6.0, it has already been in par with the Windows version.  In this release, there will be no update to vSphere Client and Update Manager is now part of vCSA.  API is also provided for automation.

vCenter Migration, a new feature to help existing Windows vCenter Server customers to move to the vCSA.  This tool will also migrate the database to the embedded PostgreSQL database in vCSA.  The main problem for customer here is that the tool only migrate it to the embedded database and not allowed them to choose an external or remain as external DB.

Auto Deploy improvement with API and workflows to improve lifecycle management.

Host Profile improvement with search functionality and simplification for troubleshooting if needed.

Open VMware Tools, the aim to provide bootless Linux upgrade and more streamline in-guest lifecycle management.

vCenter High Availability.  A ask for the replacement on vCenter Heartbeat and finally VMware has come out with a solution.  No more requirement of WFCS or RDM.  vCenter HA will be able to handle an outage of within 10 mins.

PSC HA.  A native PSC HA which does not require a Load Balance will be introduced.  This will only be available in the vCSA.

vSphere Web Client.  Further enhancements been done to the vSphere Web Client where all will be in HTML5.  

UEFI Secure Boot.  This has been a delayed feature as most OS would have this function and glad vSphere is now supporting it.  Just simple way if a rootkit for e.g. is compromise, ESXi will not boot due to boot chain been compromise.

VM Encryption.  Lots of ask in the public sector space and financial industry.  Currently solution is to work with 3rd party solutions to have agent in OS to have encryption been done.  If this feature, you can now encrypt a VM using 3rd party KMS.  Also VM secure boot and secure vMotion.

Proactive DRS
Working tightly with vRealize Operations, DRS will be triggered to make sure resource is available before a VM become demanding.  A scenario will be e.g. A VM typically become busy during month end closing, DRS will move certain VM out knowing it will need more resources and making sure there won't encounter a resource contention when this happens.  In the past, DRS alone will only be perform when such contention happens.

Proactive HA
With hardware vendor working to reflect meaningful sensor notification that a possible of a hardware failure e.g. DIMM Slot, vSphere HA can leverage DRS to vMotion out VM from a hardware box before a kernel panic.

vSphere HA Orchestrated Restart
Just like what you can do with Site Recovery Manager (SRM), vSphere HA Orchestrated Restart now allows you to choose the dependency of VMs especially for multi-tier applications with VM-to-VM rules during a host failure that trigger vSphere HA.

Multi-Nic FT
FT network now support multi-nic setup just like how multi-nic vMotion will work.  This allows additional bandwidth to be possible.

Will further update this with more details.


Update 18th Oct 2016
Education courses are releasing for vSphere 6.5 here.
vSphere 6.5 just announced! Check it out.

Update 17th Jan 2016
What's New vSphere 6.5 Host Resource Management and Operations here.


Friday, July 22, 2016

VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6 Exam GA!

If you head to VMware Certification site, you will be able now to book the following VCAP6 exams at USD400 each and USD100 for the beta exam:

Data Center Virtualization
VCAP6-DCV Design (GA)
VCAP6-DCV Deploy

Network Virtualization
VCAP6-NV Design (pending release)
VCAP6-NV Deploy

Cloud Management and Automation
VCAP6-CMA Design (GA)
VCAP6-CMA Deploy

Desktop and Mobility
VCAP6-DTM Design
VCAP6-DTM Deploy

Apparently only VCAP6- NV Design is not yet release.   During this period, passing VCAP6-NV Deploy will give you direct access to be VCIX6 waving the two VCAPs requirement.  So if you are keen, do be fast.   This is also stated here.

As for the rest of the track, well you will need both VCAPs in Design and Deploy to be VCIX unless you are upgrading our certification from VCAP5.  Read more about it in my previous post.


Update
One of our VMUG SG Member pointed this out.  Apparently only the VCAP6-DCV Design and VCAP6-CMA Design has GA.  The rest are in better.  It is announced here.  Whichever you take, as long a pass in beta or GA you will be VCAP6 in the respective track.  Look at the price to know if it's beta or not.