Monthly Archives: December 2013

My VCA experience

When a friend sent me a link to the offical VMware Certified Associate (VCA) site shortly after release I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed.  I think my official response back to him was ‘meh’.   You had this exam track that you could take online, at home.  What challenge is that?!?  It looked like a cert targeted at the virtualization sales consultant.  But then came October and I strangely changed my opinion.  VMware had a few offers on table, when combined, allowed you to sit the exam for free.  How could you refuse!

I heard about the offers mid October and was already in the middle of unrelated study with some tight deadlines.  Never the less on the following quiet Friday after work I sat down and read through the blueprint of the VCA -- Data Center Virtualization exam.  It all looked very straight-forward.  Watch a 2.5 hour training course and a handful of short PDF {marketing} documents.  I think I got about 20 minutes into the fundamentals training video and skipped to the end.  The plan prior was to study and take the exam on Sunday.  Being free, though, I thought what the hell and just sat the exam right there and then.  75 minutes and 50 questions to answer.  It took me 35-40 minutes to complete the exam.  I scored somewhere around 430.  There was some satisfaction but I was really searching for it.  The questions held no real technical depth.  It was really more around knowing the concepts and basic vSphere terminology.

So confident I was, a few days later (Sunday), I sat the VCA Cloud exam.  Out of the three Certification tracks VMware have, Cloud is no doubt my weakest one.  Never the less I applied my same logic from the VCA-DCV --It’s a free exam and I can always take it again.  A few questions into the exam and I new I was in trouble.  Against better judgement I opened up a browser window and started searching for answers.  Great, I was starting to find the answers now.  But time was against me.  I couldn’t find the answers fast enough.  I finished the exam with 5 minutes left and wasn’t feeling confident.  I failed with a 298.  What are the odds that I failed by 2 points.  Pretty good if you search the net.  People always fail by 1, 2, or 3 points.

Feeling embarrassed I went to bed to rethink my VCA-Cloud tactics.  The following Friday night I pulled up the Cloud blueprint.  Took the 3 hour course video and read through the PDF documents referenced in the blueprint.  Saturday morning, I woke up, opened up a browser full of tabs on VMware Cloud material and sat the exam.  This time the answers came much easier to me.  With no need to reference any online material, bar one question, I completed the exam in 40 minutes with a score of 485.  With a little more satisfaction and much needed vindication I tried to find some pride in the score.  Not bad for one nights study.  Though we’ll ignore the fact that more than half the questions were the same as my first attempt.

Time was against me in the month of October and I wasn’t able to sit the third VCA-WM end user (Desktop) exam.  The multiple discount codes to sit the VCA exams for free have now ended.  One VMware offer still exists till the end of the year to sit the exams for half price.  Normally $120 US  you can sit it for $60.  I have to admit my interest to pay (only) $60 to sit a VCA isn’t really there.  My only motivation is really to just get that Hat-Trick.

In a recent VMware Communities Roundtable podcast with John Arrasjid (@vcdx001), they spoke about the VCA track.  It was an interesting podcast that helped answer a lot of questions I had around the VCA track.  They spoke about the objective of the VCA track.  Its intended target audience.  Why it was chosen to be an ‘Open Book’ exam.  Oddly it didn’t even occur to me that it was expect you would search for the answers online during the exam.

While my criticism of the VCA track has somewhat diminished I still have my doubts on it’s validity in the community.  I was a little worried about being so negative in the post.  But the truth is these are just my opinions and I just needed to get it out there.

vca_certs

Installing NetApp NFS Plug-in for VMware VAAI

For some time now NetApp have supported VAAI for NFS on vSphere.  If you’re using NFS on your NetApp with vSphere you might want to investigate installing the NFS Plug-in for VMware VAAI.

The plug-in helps vSphere communicate with NetApp basically allowing it to offload certain tasks from vSphere to NetApp.  By passing certain tasks off to the NetApp, tasks can be processed faster and communicated back to vSphere when complete.  An example is provisioning a VMDK file or performing a vMotion task.  Rather than vSphere attempting to perform these tasks over the wire they can be performed directly on the NetApp by the array itself.

There are three different ways to get the NFS Plug-in installed onto an ESXi host.  I’ve detailed the three different options below.  Before you start you’ll obviously need the NFS Plug-in which can be downloaded from the NetApp support site.  You’ll need a login ID and a valid support contract to do this.

Option 1. ESXCLI

This is my preferred option when only needed for a few hosts.  It can be done on the actual ESXi host (e.g. ssh) or via the vMA.

Step 1. Copy the NFS plug-in zip file to a location that the ESXi host has access to.  Below I copied the file to a folder called ‘vib’ on a test datastore.

1_nfs_vib00

Step 2. On the ESXCLI run the following command.

esxcli --server HOST_IP_ADDRESS software vib install -d /PATH_TO_VIB/vib_filename_.zip

nfs_vib01

Step 3. Reboot the host

Step 4. Check that the NFS plugin was installed with the following command.  Scroll till you find NetAppNasPlugin under Name.

nfs_vib03

Option 2. VMware Update Manager

Step 1. Install the Plug-in into the Patch Repository.  Click Import Patches and Browse to the location of the Plug-in zip file.

2_nfs_vib01

Click Next and ignore any certificate warning you may get to Import the patch.

2_nfs_vib02

Click Finish to finish the Import.

You should now see the NetAppNasPlugin in the Patch Repository list.

2_nfs_vib03

Step 2. Create a new baseline for the NFS Plug-in.

Click on Baseline and Groups. Right click to create a New Baseline.  Fill in the Name and Description and select Host Patch.

2_nfs_vib04

Click next and select Fixed.

2_nfs_vib05

Scroll through the list of patches and locate the NetAppNassPlugin.  Add the patch using the down arrow and click next.

2_nfs_vib06

Click Finish to install the patch.

2_nfs_vib07

Step 3. Attach the newly created Baseline to your hosts.  Where you choose to do this is up to you.  I choose to do it at the Cluster level.

2_nfs_vib08

Step 4. Once attached Scan and Remediate your host.

2_nfs_vib09

Option 3. NetApp Virtual Storage Console

This option is obviously dependant on you having already installed the Virtual Storage Console on a server and having the vSphere Plugin enabled.

If correctly installed the NetApp VSC can be found under Solutions and Applications called NetApp.

Navigate to Monitoring and Host Configuration and click on Tools.  Under NFS plug-in for VMware VAAI it will say Unable to location plug-in.

netapp_nfs_plugin00

Step 1. Extract the NFS zip file and locate the vib inside it.  The vib will be denoted with a version number at the end.  Make a copy of the file and call it NetAppNasPlugin.vib

This specific filename is required for the VSC to detect the vib correctly.

netapp_nfs_plugin01

Step 2.

On the server where the Virtual Storage Console was installed.  Copy the renamed file to C:Program FilesNetAppVirtual Storage Consoleetcvscweb

netapp_nfs_plugin02

Step 3. Exit vCenter and log back in.  Open the VSC back up.  If the vib was renamed correctly and copied to the correct location.  The VIB should now be detected under Tools of Monitoring and Host Configuration.

netapp_nfs_plugin00

Step 4. Click on Install on Host to install the VIB plug-in.  Any incompatible hosts will show up greyed out with a null besides there name.

In the below screenshot I have three incompatible hosts.

netapp_nfs_plugin04

So there you have it.  Three different ways to install the NetApp NFS Plug-in onto an ESXi host and three different pain in the ass ways.

Good Luck.