vCenter Server Appliance in vSphere 6.0 (vCSA)

The vCenter Server Appliance was in older releases a nice feature that was never ended in development.

A lot of features and functions that you had with the Windows Server based vCenter server, were not possible with the appliance. So the appliance was only interesting for really small vSphere environments or for labs.

With vCSA 5.5 we were going better and better. But there were still some things that weren’t supported like:

  • Less scalability
  • Linked Mode
  • Heartbeat
  • IPv6
  • PowerCLI
  • VUM
  • 3d party software plugin

Now let me show you an actual chart from VMWare where they compare the vCSA with the windows based vCenter:

vCSA_6_0

As you can see, the vCSA has now the same scalability as the Windows based vCenter Server. Quite every feature is also integrated in the appliance.

So why we do not just use the appliance? Well there are unfortunately still some reasons for that we will need the Windows vCenter Server:

  • no MSSQL support
  • no Update Manager (the most critical point in my view)

I can’t understand why they don’t port the VUM to the vCSA. With those features on board, I’m quite sure that the Windows based vCenter will no more be used by SME’s with small vSphere environments.

For this I’m already curious to see the features that the new vCSA release will include and hope that this appliance is getting more and more important for vSphere and VMWare. This appliance will simplify many administrators life!

Hyper-V 2012 Basics

Hyper-V?  oh yes, i heard about it but never used….that’s the response you normally hear when you ask if someone knows Hyper-V…

In my view we have to give it a chance because of Hyper-V is getting better and better.

So for those users who are new in Hyper-V from Microsoft, I can recommend the course “Introduction to Hyper-V Jump Start”.

You find the course at the free microsoft academy portal: http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/introduction-to-hyper-v-jump-start

In the course you will be confronted with the following themes:

  • Infrastructure
  • Deploying
  • Virtual networks
  • SRVIO
  • Storage virtualization
  • Live migration
  • Replication
  • Snapshots
  • Virtual Machine Manager

This course is only recommended for beginners without hyper-v and virtualization know-how. For advanced user users you will also find a lot of advanced videos at the Microsoft Academy Site.

Whats new in vSphere 6

VMWare recently released the new vSphere 6 “Suite”.

Because of this, I would like to show you some (the most important for my use) of the new features and extensions.

HYPERVISOR

  1. As usual the scalability is extended with each new release. With the new one, you can run up to 480 logical CPUs, 12TB of RAM and 1024 VMs.
  2. Now you can cluster up to 64 ESXi Hosts with a total of 8’000 virtual machines.
  3. There is a new advanced system setting to configure the password complexity for local user accounts.

VIRTUAL MACHINES

  1. The new hardware version is 11 and supports up to 128 vCPUs and 4TB of RAM.
  2. The the new HW Version brings a new xHCI cotroller for USB 3.0 support.
  3. Some new OS’s are noew supported like Mac OS X10.1, Solaris 11.2, Ubuntu 14.04 and so on. You can check all supported OSs on this link: http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=guestos
  4. Windows Server Failover Clustering is fully supported with vMotion and RDMs
  5. Support for Windows Server 2012 r2 Cluster has been added.

VCENTER

  1. The vCenter Installation was simplified. Now you have only two Modules whitch you can install separate: the Platform Services Controller (PSC) & the vCenter Management Server. The PSC includes the old vCenter SSO, licensing and certificate management. The vCenter Management Server includes the Inventory Service, WebClient and the vCenter which cannot be installed separate.
  2. For a quick install like Labs and so on, they use Postgres as the SQL database and no more the Microsoft SQL Express.
  3. vCenter can now be installed as an full supported Appliance with the same features as the Windows vCenter Server. The appliance is a Suse Server with a Postgres SQL database. You can also install it on an external Oracle database.
  4. The new Web Client design was changed and it looks now like the well know VIClient. The performance was also imense improved but you still need the Flash Player from Adobe.
  5. VMotion is getting more and more flexible: You can vMotion virtual machines across virtual switches, vCenter Server systems, and long distances of up to 150ms RTT.
  6. Fault Tolerance (FT) was completely rebuilt. With the new limitation of 4 CPUs and 64GB of RAM you can finally use FT for most of the Server.
  7. High Availability (HA) supports now also storage errors.
  8. My favorite feature with vCenter is the new “Multisite Content Library”. There you can save all your templates, scripts and ISO files you need for your vmware environment. So you just have to upload it up to this portal and everybody can use the files there. You don’t need anymore a Datastore where you have to upload the files.

STORAGE

  1. vSphere Data Protection is now full integrated in the WebClient and icludes agents for application Backups like Exchange, SQL and Sharepoints
  2. With Virtual Volumes, VMWare introduces a new way to manage Storage on your vSphere environment. You don’t have anymore the need of handling with a lot of LUNs.

NETWORK

  1. You can now use multiple TCP/IP stacks to configure to each a own gateway or routing tables.
  2. vSphere Network I/O control was also increased. You can now configure down the limits and reservations to each vmnic on every single virtual machine.

SUMMARY

As you see, we have a lot of nice new features to work with and a lot new things to learn. I will try to show you some of the new features in the next few weeks more detailed. This is a good preparation for upcoming migrations.  If you need more information’s  of the features have a look on the VMWare PDF what’s new. There you have a more detailed information about it. I did also used this document to write this post.

There is also already the what’s new course available for vSphere 6:

http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrreg/courses.cfm?ui=www_edu&a=one&id_subject=60896

How to get your VCP5-DCV

Some weeks ago I finally got my VCP5-DCV (VMWare Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization) certification. Now I would like to share the collected information with you.

First of all here we go with some facts:

  • The exam organizer is Pearson Vue
  • To be proved for the exam you have to visit a vmware certified course. Here some of the courses you can visit.
    • vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage
    • vSphere:  Fast Track
    • vSphere: Optimize & Scale
  • After participating a course, you can request on the VMWare Learning page
  • You have to respond 135 questions
  • The passing score is 300 of 500
  • You have a total of 120 minutes for the exam
    • If your native language isn’t english, you have extra 30 minutes
  • All questions are multiple choice questions with 4 possibles answers

Now lets go to the themes of the exam:

Well let me say you that the actual exam is not like before. I know from business partners that older exams where only questions about architecture limits,  key data and some simple functions of the vSphere suite. With some theory know-how everybody could pass older exams.

But now it’s quite more difficult to pass the exam. There are a lot of workplace related questions which you only can know if you also work with them. Another challenge is the great variety of the questions. You will be asked for ALL vSphere products and possible additions like vSphere Data Protection, Syslog Collector, vSAN, Update Manager and so on. But the focus of the exam are troubleshooting with logs or the newer features like the vCenter Appliance, vSAN, Replication and so on.

If you need more topics for preparing your exam, have a look at the Blueprint at the of this post.

How you can prepare for the exam?

As I already mentioned, its quite impossible to pass the exam without practice. So the best thing you can do, is to install the whole vSphere Suite on a lab and play a little bit with all features. Another hint I can give, is to have a look at CBT Nuggets and watch the learning video. They explain a lot of the themes that were asked at the exam. And now for the end, I can only wish you good luck!

 

btw. the never VCP 6 exam was already released but mosts of those informations i wrote in this post, you can also use for the newer exam.

 

I’ve got the exam facts from the VMWare Blueprint for the exam:

https://mylearn.vmware.com/lcms/web/portals/certification/VCP_Blueprints/VCP-DCV-VCP550-Exam-Blueprint-v3_7.pdf