Virtualization Professional’s Career Guide

A few months ago, I had the distinct honor of sitting down with Kit Colbert to discuss the virtualization career journey.  Kit is a legend in the technology community.  Having helped create vMotion and Storage vMotion, contributed to other core features in vSphere, and been involved in several major shifts at VMware (vRealize, EUC, cloud native), his impact in the virtual data center space is monumental.  I remember first seeing Kit on stage at VMworld ten years ago presenting on virtual machine memory management.  Even then I didn’t think he was from this world!  So, to sit down with this giant to talk about career growth was nothing short of awesome.

During our meeting, I shared with him my experience moving through my career.  I discussed my career progression, several of the roles I had filled, the new technologies I learned along the way, and the mindset I thought was crucial for being successful in this field.  I shared my passion for learning and how I used the attainment of certifications as one key path for learning and growth.  We discussed the growth mindset, including openness to new ideas and the willingness to work well with others.  And we talked about time management and prioritization to maximize focus and energy on keeping current in the ever-changing landscape of technology.

This interview and Kit’s interviews with several other virtualization professionals provided the basis for The Virtualization Professional’s Career Guide.  This is a concise guide written to provide insights and advice to those who are starting the virtualization career journey or looking to leverage the skills gained on this journey to springboard into adjacent technology disciplines.  The guide offers a map to continued growth and opportunity by including stories from other professionals’ paths, a skills checklist, and incredibly valuable tips to maximize the journey.

But there is an underlying premise in this guide that makes it all the more compelling.

The premise here is that virtualization professionals will play a key role in digital transformation and modernization.  Because virtualization touches so much of the infrastructure – compute, network, storage, hardware, apps, etc. – the VI admin has to understand the infrastructure holistically. Being good at virtualization means being good at adjacent infrastructure.  And because VI admins understand this, they are in a unique position to break through silos, be involved in IT strategy, and help the organization take advantage of the flexibility and efficiency that virtualization offers and move toward IT modernization.  As technology advances into new areas, the skills of the virtualization professional will be invaluable in this evolution.

With this premise, the guide shares how these skills coupled with broader understanding of the infrastructure can be leveraged to advance one’s career into other emerging areas.  Beyond the traditional infrastructure, we see the growth of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).  And beyond the traditional data center, we see the mainstream adoption of cloud services.  VI admins have the core skills necessary to design, build, and manage hyperconverged infrastructure and cloud-based services, helping organizations move from on-premises to hybrid and multi-cloud models. 

Along with the proliferation of cloud, we see cloud-native apps along with Kubernetes gaining ground in organizations.  VMware is capitalizing on this shift and providing a runway for VI admins with the integration of containers into vSphere 7.  They’ve brought the mindshare and tooling of Kubernetes into the interface we already know, making it easier than ever to learn new skills in app modernization.  They’re essentially bringing it to our doorstep!

VMware has already long been enabling VI admins to learn the ropes of automation, Infrastructure as Code, and the overall DevOps approach. With their cloud management products and commitment to building and empowering the coding community, it’s hard not to develop these skills that are quickly becoming the standard even in the most traditional environments.

And finally, with the advances of Edge, AI, IoT, ML, mobile, and other emerging tech, along with VMware’s involvement in each of these areas, virtualization pros are in a unique position to be exposed to these shifts and leverage this position into advancing their own careers.  This will create more opportunities to expand into these new areas that will continue to grow at an increasingly rapid pace.

We virtualization professionals are uniquely poised to take advantage of this inflection point in technology where so many shifts are occurring.  We have an ideal springboard with our skills built on the foundation of data center virtualization.  But it requires that we continue to learn, stay current, and leverage our existing skill sets by building on them.  Thankfully we have access to an abundance of online training resources as well as a robust community to help us along the way.  I’ve never seen a community as enthusiastic and vibrant as the #vCommunity!  Conferences, VMUGs, and Twitter are just a few avenues to help one get quickly exposed and connected into this amazing community.

A career in VMware virtualization is an incredibly rewarding journey.  I encourage anyone who is looking for career advice in this field to check out the Virtualization Professional’s Career Guide or any of the resources below:

Happy journeys!

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!

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.

hw-max-60

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.

Performance

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.

Speed-difference-5x-60

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.

Web5x-dropdown-menu
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.

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

vExpert Class of 2014

The vExpert 2014 Q3 Announcement of inductees was made today.  Congratulations to all who were added to the number!

I am super excited to share that I made the vExpert list for 2014!  It truly is an honor to join the family of experts, leaders, and evangelists that I’ve looked up to over the years.  What an amazing group of individuals who have each given so much to the community.  So many of us in this industry are where we are today, much in part to the efforts and contributions of these talented folks.  I can’t imagine what the community would be like without their efforts.  I personally have benefited tremendously from the knowledge, the guidance, the troubleshooting tips, the study guides, the product updates and announcements, and certainly the personal experiences and opinions these folks have shared.  They are leaders and giants.

And thankfully, giving begets giving.  Their generosity has encouraged many others to share and offer their own slice of expertise to build what we have today – a vastly mixed community covering all areas of the software defined spectrum.  The enthusiasm for this technology is contagious and continues to spread.  The number of vExperts continues to grow year after year.  And it’s exciting to be part of this!

Again, congratulations to all who joined the family this quarter!  I’m honored and humbled to be counted among you.

A special thanks go out to VMware, Corey Romero and the vExpert team, and of course the man who started it all and passed on the torch, John Troyer.  Bravo to you guys for YOUR efforts!

vCOps Part 3: Upgrading the vCOps vApp

Upgrading vCOps is relatively straightforward, but can be a lengthy process.  Since VMware recently released minor update 5.8.3, I thought this would be an ideal time to share the procedure for upgrading the vApp.  As an added treat, I’ve also included the procedure for upgrading the underlying operating system for the vApp as this latest version requires SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3.

The release notes for the vCOps 5.8.3 vApp can be found here. (Installable version can be found here). These notes contain all necessary details regarding new features, prerequisites, upgrade procedures, and known issues.

As a warning, since upgrading to the 5.8.3 vApp requires upgrading the underlying SLES operating system, additional downtime will be required.  Plan accordingly.

Please also note, the following procedures apply to the vApp only, as in my previous posts.  Please see VMware’s documentation here for upgrading the installable version.

Upgrade the vCOps vApp

1. Take snapshots of the UI VM and Analytics VM.  These can be deleted after the successful upgrade.

2. Download the VMware-vcops-5.8.3-2076729.pak file from the VMware vCOps 5.8.3 download page.  A my.vmware.com login is required.

3. Log in to the Administration portal of the vCOps app (https: //<IP address of UI VM>/admin), using admin credentials.

4. Click on the Update tab in the Admin portal and click on the Browse button under the Update package section.  Browse to the .pak file downloaded in Step 2 and click Open.

upgrade1

5. Click Update to open the update dialogue window.

6. Click OK to confirm the update.

7. Wait for the file to upload.

8. Accept the terms of the EULA and click OK.

9. Click OK to confirm the update.

10.  Wait for the update to complete.  The admin page will likely refresh and kick you out.  You might get the following message:

“The web server is not yet available.  You will be re-directed when service is available.”

Once the web server is available again, the site will automatically refresh and the logon page will reappear with a warning that the update is still in progress.  Log in to monitor the progress.upgrade2

11.  Monitor the update progress…<yawn>

upgrade3

12. This process may take a long time.  You will receive the following message when the update is complete:

Last update completed successfully

13. At this point, both the admin portal and the Analytics/UI VMs will show the new version:

upgrade5

upgrade6

14. You might need to reapply the vCOps license file in vCenter Server, otherwise functionality might be reduced.  In my case, functionality appeared to be unchanged and I confirmed that the license level under the Registration tab was unchanged.

15. If the license has to be reapplied, the services must be restarted.  Go to the Status tab and click on the Restart button.

16. At this point, open the vCOps UI portal and verify proper display and functionality of the upgraded vCOps environment.  Clicking on the About link in the upper right corner will also confirm the version number.

Upgrade the OS to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 11 SP3

VMware declares this step as necessary to run the latest version of vCOps 5.8.3 vApp.  The 5.8.2 vApp was shipped with SLES 11 SP2 so apparently Service Pack 3 is required to fully support 5.8.3.

1. Verify that vCOps 5.8.3 upgraded successfully.

2. Backup or take a snapshot of the Analytics and UI VMs.

3. Log on as root to the UI VM console.  The root password should have been created during the initial installation of the previous version.

4. Check the root password expiration date by running the following command on the UI VM:

chage -l root

Verify the password will not expire during the upgrade process.  If it does, change the password prior to the upgrade.

5. Download the SLES 11 SP3 .pak file (VMware-vcops-SP3-2069574.pak) from the VMware vCOps 5.8.3 download page and copy the file to /data drive on the UI VM.  I used WinSCP for this step.  The file is 3.2 GB so make sure you have the disk resources to copy this into the vApp.  The vApp should have been provisioned with plenty of space, but confirm the sufficient disk space on the underlying physical disk if the vApp was thin-provisioned.

6. Run the following command on the UI VM to start the upgrade process:

/usr/lib/vmware-vcops/user/conf/upgrade/va_sles11_spx_init.sh /data/VMware-vcops-SP3-2069574.pak

This will upgrade both the UI and Analytics VM.  Upgrade will start on the Analytics VM and then the UI VM.  The message, “INIT: version 2.86 reloading” will appear during the upgrade process on each VM.  The entire process can be quite lengthy.  The upgrade process is complete when the command prompt returns on the UI VM console.

7.  Restart the vCOps vApp.

8. Log back into the vCOps User Interface to verify the service is back up and running.

Upgrade is complete!

vCOps Part 2: Configuring vCOps for vCenter

In Part 1, I walked through the procedure for installing vCenter Operations Manager. In Part 2, I will walk through initial setup configuration steps to allow full integration with your vSphere environment.

  1. Open the console for the UI VM within the vC Ops vApp. You will see a similar screen as this. Note the IP address is the one that was defined when you installed vC Ops. This will be the IP address used to configure the admin settings in the next step.Config-console
  2. Open the vCenter Operations Manager Administration web interface. This can be accomplished using one of the following two methods:
  • Click on the link within the Getting Started tab of the vCenter Operations page of the vSphere Web Client. Clicking on “Open vCenter Operations Manager” for the first time will take you to the Admin interface.Config-UI– OR –
  • Point your browser to https://{address of UI VM}/admin.

3. Accept any security exceptions.

4. Login using the default credentials: username: admin, password: admin.Config-adminlogin

5. Once you successfully log in, the Initial Setup Wizard will launch. Type in the IP address or FQDN of the vCenter Server that’s hosting the vApp. Then type in the credentials for an account that has administrative access to vCenter. Make sure the Analytics VM is the correct IP address. Click Next.Config-hostvCenter

The virtual appliance will update details for a few moments.Config-updatevapp

6. Click Yes to trust the server if prompted for a security alert.

7. Change the default passwords. Remember, for the admin account, the current password is “admin”. For the root account, the current password is “vmware”. The admin account is used for the admin interface while the root account is used for command line use on the vC Ops virtual appliance console. Note the strong password requirements. Click Next. It might take a while to change the root account password.Config-changepass

8. Type in the required information for the vCenter access. The registration user is a user account that ideally has administrative access to vCenter. Click Next.Config-monitorvCenter

9. This will validate the vCenter access settings and if successful, advance to the next screen. Click Next.Config-validatevCenter

10. It will also check for any other vCenter servers linked to this instance of vCenter. Click Next.Config-nolinkvCenter

11. Click Finish to register the vCenter Server instance. This could take a few minutes.Config-registervCenter

12. When the registration is completed successfully, you will see the following screen. At this point, vCOps is successfully configured.Config-success

13. You can now navigate to the web address of the vC Ops UI: https://{address of UI VM}/vcops-vsphere. Or you can click on the same link within the Web Client, “Open vCenter Operations Manager”.Config-UIlogin

14. Login with the admin credentials you supplied earlier.Config-vCOpsUI

If you’re like me and trying to build this out in a small lab (ie, a laptop!), then you might get some frightening numbers on initial launch of the application. Not to fret. These numbers will likely stabilize as vC Ops learns the environment and determines what is considered “normal” range.

OK, vC Ops is now up and running. Start exploring the dashboards, charts, alerts, badges, etc. It is a fun product to explore since there is so much packed into this product. Next time I will discuss the major badges.

vCOps Part 1: Installing vCenter Operations Manager

The following is a Quick-Start guide for installing vCenter Operations Manager. It is a very straightforward setup, but it does have a couple preliminary steps, which will make the installation go much smoother. This article is written for vC Ops version 5.8.2 using the vSphere Web Client.

Install the VMware Client Integration Plug-in 5.5.0

When using the Web Client, the VMware Client Integration Plug-in is required for both deploying OVF’s as well as accessing VM consoles. If you haven’t already installed this, do it now before proceeding. I found the easiest way is to click on the link in the Web Client logon screen below the username and password fields. Follow the prompts and accept all defaults. You will be instructed to close the browser window. Upon completion, launch the Web Client again and choose to allow the plug-ins when prompted. You might even need to close the browser once more after changing the security settings. Once the link to “Download and Install the VMware Client Integration Plug-in” is gone, you are ready to proceed.

Configure the IP Pool

vCenter Operations consists of two VM’s deployed as a vApp. In order to prepare for the network configuration of the vApp, we must first set up the IP Pool.

  1. In the Inventory pane of the Web Client, click on the Datacenter object and then click on the Manage tab in the Content pane, and then click on Network Protocol Profiles. Then click on the “+” icon in the Network Protocol Profiles content area.IP Pool
  2. Enter a name for the IP Pool and choose the associated network. This will be the network that the VM’s of vC Ops will reside in.IPPool-NameNetwork
  3. Enter the network address for the corresponding network along with the subnet mask, gateway and DNS server addresses. There is no need to enable the IP pool.IPPool-IPv4
  4. At this point, you can configure IPv6 or other network configurations, but these settings are not necessary.
  5. Review the Summary information and then click Finish to complete. You will now see your Network Protocol policy in the Web Client window:IPPool-ConfiguredSettings

Deploy the OVF Template

  1. Initiating the Deploy OVF Template wizard for vC Ops can be done using either method below:
  • From the home screen on the Web Client, click on the vCenter Operations Manager icon and then click “Deploy vCenter Operations Manager”.

–OR–

  • Right-click the host that you’ll be deploying the vApp to and click “Deploy OVF Template.” Note: I discovered it’s quicker to use this option if you already downloaded the OVF template from VMware’s website and have the file saved to a local folder easily accessible from the Web Client.
  1. If you get the following prompt, uncheck the “Always ask before allowing this site” checkbox and then click the “Allow” button.DeployOVF-SecuritySetting
  2. The Deploy OVF Template wizard will launch. If you initiated the deployment using the vC Ops icon, the Source will automatically be pre-populated with the URL of the download file on VMware’s website. You will just need to supply the credentials for your my.vmware.com profile. Note: If you opted to right-click the host and click “Deploy OVF Template” in Step 1, you will have the option at this point to either download the OVF straight from VMware’s site or browse to the location of the file if you already manually downloaded it.DeployOVF-SelectSource
  3. Review the details and click Next.DeployOVF-ReviewDetails
  4. Accept the EULA. Click the Accept button and then click Next.DeployOVF-AcceptEULA
  5. Type a name for the vApp and then choose a folder or datacenter object to deploy the template.DeployOVF-DestNameFolder
  6. Select the size of deployment.DeployOVF-SizeDeployment
  7. Select which host to deploy the template.DeployOVF-SelectHost
  8. Select which datastore and virtual disk format to install the template. Keep in mind that if you choose “Thick Provision” for the disk format, you will need 384GB of disk space. Thin provision only requires 3.8GB.  If storage policies are enabled, you will also have the option to select the policy. DeployOVF-SelectStorage

After clicking Next, you might get the following error:  “A connection error occurred.  Verify that your computer can connect to vCenter Server.

This is likely caused by a DNS issue or firewall setting. I ended up running the deploy template wizard directly from the vCenter server to get around this error. I obviously had a network issue somewhere that would ideally need to be resolved. For our purpose, my workaround was sufficient.

  1. For IP allocation, choose Static or DHCP depending on your environment. Verify the destination network settings.DeployOVF-SetupNetwork
  2. The next screen will allow minor customization. You might get prompted for invalid settings. If so, just manually change the time zone and IP address settings to match your environment.   The IP addresses will be the specific IP addresses you allocated each of the two VM’s that make up the vApp.DeployOVF-CustomizeTemplateError
  3. Review the settings in the last screen and then click Finish.  You will notice the task is running in the Recent Tasks pane on the right.DeployOVF-RunningTask

Tip… I had a problem deploying directly from VMware’s site. The Deploy OVF template task hung at 35%. I ended up having to cancel the task and then manually deploy after downloading the OVF template first (Option 1.b. above). I found it easier and faster to deploy after already downloading it – it took about 3 ½ minutes to deploy that way!

In the inventory pane, you will see the vApp with the two vCenter Operations VM’s: Analytics VM and UI VM.

DeployOVF-vAppInventory

Clicking on the vC Ops vApp will display the vApp properties in the Content pane.

DeployOVF-vAppContent

Power on the vC Ops vApp

  1. Once the deploy task is completed, you will need to power on the vApp. Right-click the vApp and click Power-On. No need to manually power on each individual VM. The start-up of each VM is controlled by the vApp settings. It will take a few minutes to fully power on the entire VM. Once this has been completed, vC Ops will be ready for initial configuration, which is covered in the next post.ConfigvApp-Startup
  2. While you are waiting for the VMs to start up, right click on the vApp and click Edit Settings.  Note the start order.  Since this is a vApp, it is configured with a very specific start up order and actions.  This can of course, be customized to your environment.

Part 2 of this series will cover the initial configuration of vC Ops to allow it to integrate with vCenter.