VCP6-DCV Study Resources

Last month, I was up against the deadline to renew my VCP certification. I went ahead and bit the bullet and studied up to pass the VCP6-DCV exam. These exams are far from easy and require a depth of knowledge in areas we typically don’t work with on a daily basis (for example Auto Deploy). All in all, it’s still a fair exam and in my mind and preserves the integrity of the VCP by setting the bar high for any VMware Professional.

I was eligible to take the Delta exam (2v0-621D), but ended up taking the regular, full blown 85 question exam (2v0-621). Since the cost was the same, I decided my chances might be better with this exam under the impression that this would have more questions on items I was already super familiar with and less on the differences.

That said, I studied hard the month leading up to the exam. I came across a number of great resources, some are listed below:

Pluralsight’s vSphere 6 Data Center course – Greg Shields

The Unofficial Official VCP6-DCV Study Guide – Josh Coen and Jason Langer

VCP6-DCV Study Guide – Vladan Seget

VCP6-DCV Study Guide – Hersey Cartwright

VCP6-DCV Study Guide – Javier Rodriguez

Mastering VMware vSphere 6 – Nick Marshall, Grant Orchard, Josh Atwell

vBrownBag VCP6-DCV Study Track – various

Tremendous resources. Everyone involved in putting these together are rock stars. Incredible applause for them and the content they’ve pulled together!

That said, through my pursuit of several VCP certifications, I’ve determined that the following resources are absolute requirements:

Exam Blueprint

Study the exam blueprint and get really good at everything on the list. To keep track of your progress, make a spreadsheet or a checklist with each topic listed out. Check them off once you’ve studied them, practiced them, restudied them and practiced again. VMware exam blueprints are the best I’ve worked with among all vendor certifications. Take full advantage of this ultimate “guide” for studying.

Lab Time

The exam will reveal how familiar you are with the product. If you have not had sufficient stick time, all book knowledge will likely land you short of the goal. The only way to fully internalize much of the content is through solid face to face time with vSphere in your own lab.

One great additional resource that falls in this category are VMware’s Hands on Labs. These are pre-built lab environments, with each one touching on a specific solution in VMware’s product lines. Here’s a secret – you don’t have to follow the lab guide. You can pull up a lab and just start playing with some other features available in that lab environment. They are fully functional, almost as if you were in your own lab. The huge caveat here is the limitation on time. You only get a very limited amount of time to play before the time is up and the lab expires and is destroyed. This means, you can’t walk away and come back the next day to pick up where you left off. But, if you need a quick practice run of VSAN, for example, launch the VSAN lab. I used this particular one since I had little experience with this feature before taking the exam. Great resource for learning this newer product.

Another outstanding resource for labs is Ravello’s Smart Labs. Recently, news broke that they are getting acquired by Oracle. I share the sentiment of many in the community that we shudder at the potential impact this will have on the service. But for now, the service is top notch, the support of the company to VMware users is awesome, and the rallying support from the VMware community has been nothing short of gracious. Quite a number of vExperts have written about their experiences using Ravello. It’s definitely a great resource to try out.

VMware Documentation

I believe the ultimate resource for “book knowledge” is VMware’s Documentation Center. That’s right, all the thousands of pages of VMware’s product documentation. Through my previous VCP exam studies, I’ve learned that all (or mostly all) of the test answers are in the documentation. I have had great results from pouring through the docs, with my lab in hand, following the official VMware steps for accomplishing all the various tasks required of a VMware admin. For me, nothing was more extensive and exhaustive then this resource. And yet, therein lies the problem. The product documentation is too extensive. Thus, leveraging the Exam Blueprint is the only way to know what parts of the documentation to focus on.

That said, I’ve decided to put together a copy of the Blueprint with links to each section of the documentation where you can find the relevant information. This might be helpful for some. If not, it will at least provide a quick reference for some of the less intuitive admin tasks we might come up against in our daily work.

To keep this post short, I’ll created a separate page with the main topics of the blueprint and associated links.  I’ll add content over the next few weeks as quickly as I can. Hope some will find this helpful!

Winding down…

OK, so the year has almost come to a close and I think I had a whopping six posts this year, and most of them came out near the beginning of the year.  Definitely didn’t meet my blogging goals for the year, nor many of my goals for that matter.  The tyranny of the urgent has a way of redirecting one down an unintended path.  Very ironic since I had a great post about goal setting back in January.  Maybe this year, I will follow my own advice.

That said, this has still been a great year, though nothing major to brag about. In all honesty, as far as work goals and achievements if feels a bit lackluster.  I had some good moments – vExpert again, speaking moments at VMworld and my local VMUG, a couple certifications knocked out, and a few long running and cool projects for our customers.  Personal goals were good too.  I finally got my weight back to a normal level after a scary 2014 when my weight plummeted due to a mysterious digestive issue.  I also had great periods of downtime with my family, saw my 5 year old start reading voraciously, and my wife continue a dream job at our daughter’s school. We continued our acclimation to the Carolina culture after transplanting here from the DC area in 2013 – best decision we ever made.  House, neighborhood, work, school, church, friendships… we’re still amazed at how everything just fell into place for us.  We celebrated joyously with our neighbors as they welcomed their first child. We thanked God for the successful treatments of both my parents who each faced incredible health issues this year.  I survived getting struck by a car as a pedestrian with nothing more than a sprained hand.  And I met some awesome folks and deepened existing friendships.  I guess not a bad year when I put things in perspective.  Perhaps the way to look at this year: Not everything I had set out to accomplish, but I was blessed and protected and am enriched because of it.

So as I ponder work-life balance and consider all the conversations I’ve had with others this year about this topic since I’ve struggled through this, one thing keeps coming to the surface.  The things that are most important to me – my family, relationships, and health – are all still very much intact and abundant.  In all my work and goal setting and worldly pursuits, I must always remember the best achievements are those completed with and for the people closest to us.

Hopefully, I’ll keep this close to my heart and mind as I reset my goals in the new year.


VMworld 2015: Are you Ready (for Any)?

VMworld 2015 - Ready for Any

With VMworld just 4 short weeks away, I thought it best to jump in and give some pregame thoughts about the conference. I personally have so much to do to get prepared. I’ve been so busy working on customer projects lately, I’ve had little time to focus on the event. But with the theme for this year’s conference, Ready for Any, I need to do my part to be ready! Time is ticking!

So, first of all, a little pre-VMworld guidance. Without redoing my post from last year, you can view my Lessons Learned about VMworld from last year. A few folks have put out their tips and tricks for this year. You can view them here:

A couple more from last year:

I also highly recommend following the official bloggers this year. These have been preselected by VMware to contribute content related to the conference. There should be some great posts by these individuals. Some are well known; some are up and coming. I look forward to catching their coverage this year during the event.

Speaking of that, Nigel Hickey, one of the official bloggers this year, is putting together some vExpert Spotlight articles. Make sure to catch these. This is a great effort to shed some light on select vExperts who might not be as well known in the community. I’m definitely hoping to meet more of these folks this year.

Of course, VMware has their official page of links to various resources. Check the Social Media and Community Resources page for links to the latest in community content.  VMworld is community rich, so there will be plenty of valuable information fed through these outlets.

Be sure to book some time in for vendor and community events after hours. These are great ways to unwind and meet up with other folks passionate about the community. There is something going on every night of the conference. This is hands down an action packed week, so pace yourself. There is so much going on from early morning to the wee hours of the night. It’ll be easy to get run down, so pick and participate responsibly and conserve yourself for the next day’s events.

If you haven’t already spent hours chipping away, molding, and then tweaking your schedule, I recommend you get over to the Schedule Builder now and sign up for those sessions. Many of them are already booked up, but there are always no shows.  You can still usually get into hot sessions by standing in line at the door. Typically most people who wait eventually get in, so don’t fret if you didn’t get your favorite session. It’s just far easier if you’ve already registered to get in, grab a good seat, relax, and meet a neighbor before the session starts. And remember, these sessions will be recorded.  If you still don’t get in, you can always catch the recording later.

And on that last note, I’ll echo what I mentioned last year. Priority should be on the things you can’t do after the conference. Things like meeting folks, spending time in the Hang Space or on the Solutions Exchange floor, attending the non-recorded sessions like the Group Discussions, attending the various community events…  All of these are super valuable and should not be sacrificed for the content that will be readily available after the event. Even the Hands on Labs, as awesome as they are, will be available at some point after the conference (see VMware HOL Online).

And with that, let’s get ready.  Looking forward to seeing everyone this year!

VMware vExpert Class of 2015

I am honored to be named vExpert for a second year!  Congratulations to all who made the list!  How exciting to once again be included in this esteemed group of talented folks, so willing to share of their time, knowledge and experience.  I am quite humbled to be counted among them, most of whom I will forever look up to. The numbers have increased year after year, which I’d like to assume is because the passion in this field is contagious and more people are answering the call to stand up, volunteer, and give back to the community.  Kudos to all the guys and gals who have paved the way for the rest of us.  And a special thanks to Corey Romero and the entire VMware Community Team!

I also give great thanks to John Troyer who started this years ago and who probably had the best tweet of all in the wake of the announcement:

Thanks for the inspiring call to action, Mr. Troyer!

vSphere 6 Configuration Maximums – Super Scale

monster-vmRemember when we thought that 32 vCPUs and 1TB of memory was a “Moster VM”?  Well…it still is.  However, with applications demanding more resources (think big data or intensive transactional apps), VMs will continue to consume larger chunks of the underlying hardware. With VMware aiming to run any application on their platform, they have continued to build super scalability into the product. vSphere 6 blows past the days of the fierce Monster VM and doubles, triples, even quadruples the limits of the previous 5.5 version (see VMware’s chart below). You can now provision VMs with 128 vCPUs and 4 TB of memory!  I’m not sure what the host would look like, but the bottom line is vSphere is built to handle it.


These are some incredible leaps beyond the previous version.  Delving back into the archives, it’s fun to see how far VMware has come over the last ten years.  Below is a table showing their progression since the earlier days of GSX 2.0.

VMware Release

2.0 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.1 5.0 5.1 5.5 6.0
vCPU per VM 2 4 4 8 8 32 64 64 128
RAM per VM 3.5 GB 16 GB 64 GB 255 GB 255 GB 1 TB 1 TB 1 TB 4 TB
CPUs per Host 16 32 32 64 128 160 160 320 480
RAM per Host 64 GB 64 GB 256 GB 1 TB 1 TB 2 TB 2 TB 4 TB 12 TB
VMs per Host 128 320 320 512 512 512 2048
Hosts per Cluster 16 32 32 32 32 32 32 64
VMs per Cluster 1280 3000 3000 4000 4000 8000

For simplicity, I’ve added an additional breakdown of all the known configuration maximums for vSphere 6. I’m still waiting to see storage, network and resource pool maximums and will update those as they become available.

vSphere 6 Configuration Maximums

  • vCenter (installable or appliance)
    • 1000 hosts
    • 10,000 virtual machines
  •  Cluster
    • 64 hosts
    • 8000 virtual machines
  •  Host
    • 480 physical CPUs
    • 12 TB RAM
    • 2048 virtual machines (What’s New document states 1000 VMs)
  • Virtual Machines
    • 128 vCPUs
    • 4 TB RAM
    • 32 serial ports
  • vSphere Fault Tolerance
    • 4 vCPUs per virtual machine
    • 64 GB RAM per virtual machine
    • 4 FT protected VMs per host
    • 8 protected vCPUs per host
  • vSphere High Availability
    • 64 hosts
    • 6000 virtual machines

Of especially important significance is the increase of vSphere FT jumping from its hard limitation of 1 vCPU to 4 vCPU.  Finally, the more critical applications that often demand the higher resource capacity and have zero tolerance for downtime, can now be fully protected.

vSphere 6 brings additional scalability enhancements such as vMotion between data centers and hot add memory  support for NUMA nodes.  More to come on these!

For more information, read VMware’s What’s New in the vSphere 6.0 Platform or find additional links on my vSphere 6.0 Announced! page.

vSphere 6.0 Announced!

The long awaited major upgrade of vSphere has been unveiled! Today, VMware’s Pat Gelsinger and Ben Fathi made the official announcement of the vSphere 6.0 release with some amazing innovations. They claim this release offers 650+ new features and enhancements!  The following list highlights just a few of the more noteworthy features:

  • Install and upgrade capability enhancements
  • New hardware, architectures, and guest OS expanded support
  • Scalability increases
  • Storage IO Control additions
  • Storage and availability integration increases
  • NFSv4.1 with Kerberos
  • vMotion enhancements
  • vSphere Fault Tolerance for multi-processor VMs (SMP-FT)
  • vCloud Air integration
  • vSphere replication improvements in scalability and performance
  • App HA expanded support
  • Network IO Control expanded support
  • Web Client enhancements
  • Multi-site content library
  • vSphere host client
  • VMware certificate life cycle management

Along with this product launch, VMware also made announcements of upgrades and advances to the following products:

I will be posting articles over the next few weeks as I delve further into these products and upgrades.  Feel free to check back as I share more content on these exciting releases.  In the meantime, browse the technical docs that VMware has already published:

Or give the products a spin on the free hosted evaluations (Hands On Labs):

VMware will continue to promote these announcements over the next month on their One Cloud, Any Application announcement page as well as on Twitter (along with the rest of the community) with the #vmw28days hashtag.  Be sure to follow!

The New vSphere 6.0 Web Client

While VMware has been busy working on major feature upgrades to the core vSphere product for the 6.0 release, one of the most noticeable and welcomed upgrades might be the enhancements to the Web Client. We are all aware of the difficulties of the previous versions: very slow interface, items in unfamiliar places and missing functionality and plugins. Those who have been in the trenches with VMware over the past many years have grown very accustomed to the comfortable and familiar feel of the vSphere C# Client.  In fact, even with some of the newer features missing from the traditional client, we too often have gravitated back to it because that’s what we know and are used to with its quicker responsiveness.

VMware is trying hard to change that!

They’ve listened to the community and have produced a web client that just might convert the most resistant of users. This client has made vast leaps beyond its predecessors primarily in performance and user experience.


VMware sifted through every part of the Web Client, determined to make improvements to every part of the user interface and all the way through the software stack. They removed unnecessary code and streamlined the functionality to make this vastly quicker than its predecessors. VMware claims that log in times within the new web client are now up to 13x faster than before, going from an average of 25-30 seconds with the old client to a staggering 5 seconds with the new one. Additionally, each screen and menu click was examined and almost all items were streamlined to run faster. The chart below shows the performance gains, sometimes showing a 4x increase in speed when navigating the user interface. Disclaimer: This chart was part of VMware’s informational overview of the beta version of this product.


I ran my own tests which confirmed the increased speed that VMware has claimed. All navigational clicks are quicker, sometimes only by ½ to 1 second, but that can make a huge difference when working regularly with the Client. The biggest performance leap I noticed goes back to the login sequence. In the 6.0 version, the login prompt displays almost instantly, whereas in the older 5.x Client, there was usually an eight or nine second delay!

One of the challenges VMware had in re-engineering the Web Client were the differences among the various web browsers and how they handle code. One of their major findings was that Firefox was much slower than Internet Explorer or Chrome when using the Web Client. In some cases, Firefox took almost twice as long to load certain elements. VMware’s recommendation is to use IE or Chrome to get immediate performance enhancements even with the older 5.x version of the Web Client.

Improved User Experience

VMware really set out to bring some of the familiarity of the C# Client to the Web Client by putting elements back in their place. For example, the Recent Tasks pane was returned to the bottom of the screen where it has traditionally lived in the C# Client. This not only aides easier transition to this Client, but also provides more space to display more data. When previously placed on the side, the amount of space was too constrained for key information.

Right-click drop-down menus have been flattened, which allows for quicker interaction and easier flow. Instead of drilling into sub-menus such as the “All vCenter Action Items” sub-menu in the previous Web Client, we now get all of our major menu action items from each primary drop-down menu.

The illustration below shows the difference between the menus in the 5.5 Client and 6.0 Client.

5.5 Web Client
6.0 Web Client
6.0 Web Client
Home button and menu on Web Client 6.0
Home button and menu on Web Client 6.0

Another enhanced feature is the Home button. Just hovering over the Home button near the top of the UI, brings up the root menu for all major inventory components of the infrastructure. Now, one click is all that’s required to navigate to each of the most used components and options. This might seem like a minor improvement over the Home and vCenter buttons with the 5.x Web Client, however the simplicity of having all functionality in one menu and with one click just seems more streamlined.

Finally, each of the element panes of the user interface can be moved around. If you prefer to have the Recent Tasks on the side, move it back. If you wish to have the Alerts pane on the bottom of the interface to mimic the C# Client, move it there. The layout is a property of the user profile, so multiple users can have their own customized layout upon logging in. This feature can also be completely disabled by the administrator to further control its use. Working with this feature, I personally had some struggles moving the panes and formatting everything to my liking. The functionality does appear to be a bit on the clunky side, and I did at one point get the UI a bit jumbled, but thankfully there is a “Reset to Default” option under the Help menu to restore the panes back to their original spots.  Harmony restored.

Added functionality

This release of the Web Client added little to the Plugin functionality that wasn’t already there. SRM functionality was missing until the latest release of SRM 5.8, but as of today, it works with the current 5.5 and later versions of Web Client. VMware Update Manager, however, is still only available through the C# Client or as a stand-alone install on a Windows Server. VMware has stated they are working on its compatibility for future releases. I expect they will iron out any remaining holes in functionality soon as the C# Client will be shipped one last time, presumably with this 6.0 release. I imagine once VUM is ready for the Web Client, the old client will be phased out completely, going the way of the service console heavy ESX. But for now, this still leaves us with two clients to use if we wish to leverage VUM or other third party plugins that do not have integration developed yet for the Web Client.

VMware has made it clear they are limiting the functionality of new features to the Web Client.  We have already seen this with the previous versions of the C# Client that did not support new products and features such as VSAN, so this is nothing new. However, there is one important exception to this, which has to do with hardware versions 9 through 11 (vSphere 5.1, 5.5 and 6.0, respectively).  Virtual hardware settings from all hardware versions can still be viewed with the 6.0 C# Client.  In addition, the C# Client can be used to modify any hardware feature that was available in version 8 or below, such as adding or removing vCPU/RAM, on any VM, even those with hardware versions 9+. The newer features that were added with versions 9 through 11, such as vSphere Flash Read Cache, can only be modified with the Web Client.

So there it is – a quick overview of the new and relatively zippy Web Client 6.0. As stated, this might be one of the most welcome upgrades offered in vSphere 6.0. The quality of the user experience can mean the life or death of any product and VMware certainly delivered a significantly improved product. Putting in some mileage in my own lab environment, I was excited to witness and experience these enhancements firsthand.  Kudos to VMware for listening to their customers and making these major improvements while setting the stage for greater feature enhancements and functionality down the road.

For additional articles on new vSphere 6 features and product launch info, be sure to link to my vSphere 6.0 Announced! post.

Goal Setting 2015 (Planning to Plan)

Here we are several weeks into January 2015, and this is typically the time when New Years resolutions start to taper off.  As most goal setting experts share, the gyms are crowded the first week of January as resolutions are set, but by the end of the month, the gyms are empty again.  Why?  Because we don’t set our goals properly, commitments are not made to last and quite frankly, life gets in the way and we drift back to our comfort zones.  The changes are not lasting.

I am a goal setting fan – and yes, I do my own little resolution exercise each year.  I write out my reflections of the past year and projections for the upcoming year.  I love the possibilities of what I can attain and the New Year provides the clean slate.  It’s the excitement of the possibilities that fuel this yearly exercise of dreaming big.  Ah, the possibilities – the opportunity!  I list out my big dreams for the year, look over my list with pride and then… well… I go about my business while trying to keep in mind these goals that I must start working on.  Last year, I came up with some major goals and I hit less than 25% of them.  OK, that’s 25% further than where I was at the beginning of the year, but why didn’t I see a bigger hit rate?  This post will delve into the lessons I’ve learned about goal setting and lay out an approach that will hopefully enable my success rate to be much higher this year.

Some goal setting advice seems like common knowledge.  We all know the need to write down our goals.  Experts have said that when we write them down, we have a significantly greater chance of completing them.  We also know we need to be specific and set a time line.  The acronym SMART has been listed by many as sound criteria for our goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  And the goals should be broken down into the major areas of our lives: Health, Career, Financial, Family, Spiritual, Personal Development and Recreation.  There are so many goal setting books, articles and courses that delve into each of these guidelines that I won’t elaborate on them further.  What I will share is the different approach I’m taking this year.

With all the ambition and confidence I start each year with, I fail to do two major things:  Keep my target list in front of me and break down each goal into smaller steps.  So… the strategy listed below outlines a very logical way of resolving both shortcomings.

1. One year goals

First, list out all your wildly ambitious goals for the entire year and review them regularly.  Unlike last year when I typed my goals out, I hardly looked at them throughout the year.  One of my goals was to read 10 books.  It was mid-way through the year when I realized I had forgotten about this goal and I had only then read my first book.  Not the way to stay on track.  The next three steps will help to keep these goals visible.

2. 90 day goals

After you make your list of goals for the year, break them down into 90-day goals.  For each of your major goals, determine how much progress you need to make in the next three months to stay on track to complete the goals in one year.  If my goal is to read 20 books, I determine I need to read 5 books within the first quarter of the year.  If a goal is an achievement, such as a certification, I calculate a measurable amount of the overall achievement I need to complete within that time frame.  If my goal is to achieve a CCNP certification, I will make two of the four required exams my goal for that 90 day period.

3. Weekly goals

With the 90-day goals listed out, then break them down into weekly goals.  Each 90-day period has roughly 13 weeks.  Estimate how much you need to complete each week in order to achieve the 90-day goals.  For example, reading 5 books in 90 days means reading over a third of a book each week.  For a certification goal, I’ll determine how many chapters in a book to read or how many points on the exam blue print I need to knock out.

Then, for each week, schedule time the day before the start of the week to write out the goals for the upcoming week.  I’ve set my target week to begin on Mondays since that easily coincides with the beginning of the work week.  That means I set aside time on Sunday nights to review how I did the previous week and then lay out my plans for the upcoming week.  That way, when Monday morning comes, I hit the ground running.

4. Daily goals

The list making doesn’t stop there!  Once you know your weekly goals, determine what you need to accomplish each day in order to make progress throughout the week toward those goals.  Write up your daily task list.  This of course can be incorporated into any To-Do system you might use.  I personally use Todoist, but there are so many resources out there.  Whatever system works for you will suffice as long as you use it.  Key principle:  If you don’t use it, it doesn’t work.  When you do use it, you typically stay on task because the action items are in front of you AND you receive the thrill of checking items off.  Yes, we all love that feeling, so why not experience that thrill every day and be more productive in the process?!

So there it is… My four point system for manifesting all my dreams this year!

I give credit to Peter Winiarsky for providing this seemingly obvious approach.  I recently read his book, Act Now!, which lays out the above strategy for achieving goals within 90 days.  He provides far more detail in his book along with many other recommendations to keep one on track.  I highly recommend picking up a copy of his book and employing some or all of his approach.  Winiarsky’s book is only one of hundreds of goal setting books on the market.  Any of them will have good advice, but the key principle with any program is to put the ideas into action.

Additional Resources

I will call out one more helpful book that I’ve recently read – The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. The point of his book is to lay out a morning strategy that empowers one to have the focus, energy, confidence (and time!) to achieve one’s goals throughout each day.  There’s nothing new written here, but Hal packages it in an inspiring and memorable way to motivate one to get up early each morning ready to hit the ground running.  I personally love my mornings, not just because it gives me a jump on my day, but because it’s sacred time – when the rest of my family is still asleep and the time is truly mine.

Other resources I’ve found to help me stay on track are podcasts.  I am a podcast listening nut.  I love my drive to and from work since that’s learning time for me.  I have my iTunes favorites set to a number of productivity and business success podcasts. It’s truly amazing how much material is freely available.  Some of the ones I’ve recently discovered are Achieve your Goals (Hal Elrod), This is Your Life (Michael Hyatt), The Portfolio Life (Jeff Goins), and Beyond the To-Do List (Erik Fisher).  Of course I have all my Tech related podcasts to keep me up to date on the latest in the industry (In Tech We Trust, Speaking in Tech, Geek Whisperers, vBrownBag, VUPaaS, VMware Communities Roundtable,… and so many others).  And that’s another way I leverage my time; I use my drive time to learn and keep my brain active.

Another great tool I’ve used for daily productivity is the “Pomodoro Technique”.  It’s essentially a technique for maintaining focus when working on projects.  It simply uses a timer set for 25 minutes during which time you work on a task with no distractions.  Once the 25 minutes are up, you take a break for 5 minutes to relax the brain.  Get up from your desk, grab a coffee, walk around, stretch, surf the web, or do whatever you want as long as you disengage. Then rinse and repeat. Studies show when you work with regular breaks, you actually work more efficiently and thus get more accomplished.  For me, it helps me stay focused.

So there it is… a strategy and some additional tools and techniques for making this a powerhouse year!  If you have additional thoughts, suggestions or resources, feel free to share!

New Features of vRealize Operations 6.0

During VMworld Barcelona in October, VMware announced the upcoming release of vRealize Operations 6.0, the latest in the new vRealize product line. As most are aware, the vRealize suite is a rebranding and updating of many of the vCenter management products. Simply put, vCenter Operations Manager will now be vRealize Operations Manager (vROps) starting with the 6.0 release.

The General Availability for vROps 6.0 was December 9, making this now available for the public to download and deploy into their own environments. I am super excited about this version with its impressive new capabilities. Over the next few months, I will share some of my own observations about the new features, updates to old features, enhanced interface, and experiences with the more efficient and effective virtual management in my environment.

Just a quick overview for now, here are some of the major capabilities and a selection of the new features of this version (mostly taken from VMware’s marketing):

Intelligent Operations

New Intuitive Operations Dashboard – Along with the new user interface and customizable dashboards, the analytics engine provides even deeper views into health, risk and efficiency. Here’s a quick glance of the new UI:

vROps UI

Smart Alerts function – Along with the predictive analytics with dynamic thresholds that vCOps has been known for, vROps adds on the additional value of Smart Alerts. When a problem arises in the environment, these alerts consolidate various metrics and plainly state what is wrong, what the underlying cause is, what resources are impacted, and actions to take to fix it.  It will provide actionable recommendations along with one-click action buttons for immediate remediation of the problem!

Dependency mapping – vROps will map infrastructure services to applications and leverage the analysis of these application dependencies for quicker root cause analysis.

Advanced capacity modeling with capacity planning and project management – Put together “what if” scenarios, not just for the vSphere objects, but also physical infrastructure and application metrics.

Policy-Based Automation

Correlation of change events to performance impact – vROps will monitor changes in performance and map them back to recent configuration changes in the environment. Another feature that will simplify problem resolution and/or prevention.

Automated capacity optimization – Automatically rightsize VMs to reclaim idle resources as well as leverage “what if” scenarios to optimize future growth and deployments.

Guided remediation and automated workflow triggers – Smart alerts will provide recommended actionable remediation steps, and automated remediation workflows can also be configured based on specified thresholds. Imagine alerts triggering corrective action to keep the data center within proper configuration, compliance and performance standards.

Flexible policy management – Apply custom policies for specific workloads, applications and clusters. Apply higher priority policies to critical infrastructure.

Unified Management

Scale-out and resilient platform – This is a more robust solution than its predecessors allowing ability to scale to larger environments as well as failover and replication capabilities for higher resiliency.

Unified UI to manage vSphere and non-vSphere environments – Single pane of glass visibility into all areas of cloud, virtual, and physical infrastructure, whether vSphere, Hyper-V and Amazon. Also extends the use of management packs for various hardware and software platforms.

Application, database, and OS monitoring – Visibility into all areas of the software side of the environment, from the hypervisor down to the guest OS and resident applications.

Storage analytics and unified storage visibility –See the impact of storage infrastructure changes on the application, thus further enhancing the ability to resolve problems quickly and determine storage capacity and performance restraints.

Third-party management packs – As stated above, vROps extends the use of management packs for third party applications like Microsoft server applications, SAP, Oracle, Hyper-V, Amazon as well as hardware and software platforms. It truly offers the unified operations management suite.

Integration with VMware’s cloud management stack – From Log Insight to vRealize Automation, to vCloud Air, vROps continues to build on VMware’s broad management platform for efficiently managing the entire cloud environment.

I’m eager to dig into each of these new features and discover the impact this new vRealize Suite will have on our environment as well as our customers’.

Here are a few quick links for further exploration:

vRealize Operations Manager product page

vRealize Operations Manager 6.0 software download

Free 60-day evaluation download

vRealize Operations Manager 6.0 release notes

vRealize Operations Manager 6.0 documentation

vRealize Operations Management Suite documentation

Take a test drive on the Hands-On Lab, HOL-SDC-1401-HOL Cloud Management with vRealize Operations

Free Brocade Training and Certification!

This might be old news for some, but I recently came across several promotions for free Brocade training and exams for the following certifications (contact information required):

Brocade has been offering these promotions for the past several months.  As of today’s date (Oct 8, 2014) it appears the promos are still good, but I’m not sure how much longer they will last. So hurry and register if these are relevant. They’re quite the deal if you’re a Brocade customer or partner.

A little info on each:

Brocade Certified Ethernet Fabric Professional

  • For engineers seeking to validate fundamental through advanced level skills on Brocade Ethernet fabric concepts and products. Specifically designed for BCNP, CCNP, and CCIE professionals with field experience.
  • Web-based training course is Bridge to Ethernet Fabrics for Network Professionals (CEF 250-WBT). I discovered it’s easier to do a search for this instead of following the link in the Quick Start guide.
  • Certification exam is free using the promo code in the Quick Start guide.

Brocade Certified vRouter Engineer

  • For those already certified in Ethernet concepts looking to become familiar with the Brocade NFV solution, as well as anyone active in installing, configuring and troubleshooting Brocade Vyatta vRouters.
  • Web-based training is Bundle for Brocade Certified vRouter Engineer (SDN BCVRE).
  • Promo includes a 60-day fully functional evaluation of the Vyatta vRouter to get hands-on experience.
  • Certification exam is free using the promo code in the Quick Start guide.

**Passing the exams for the two certifications above meet the requirements for the Advanced Level Certified Professional Converged Networking Track.

Brocade Accredited Network Advisor Specialist accreditation

In addition to the above free training, Brocade also has plenty of other introductory level web-based training courses offered free of charge. The course catalog can be searched here. For web-based training, just choose “Self-Paced Web-Based (WBT) under the Delivery Type. A “My Brocade Training Login” is required.

Gotta love free training!