Archive for September, 2009

VCP4 Exam

September 5th, 2009

After a moderate beta phase, the VCP4 exam officially went public at VMworld 2009. Late Wednesday evening after the VMworld party, I decided that since VMware was offering the VCP4 exam at the Moscone Center at a heavily discounted rate, I would give it a shot first thing Thursday morning in lieu of attending the morning sessions. Passing this exam was on my development objectives for 2009 (along with VCDX certification) and time is starting to run out. OK, to be completely honest, the number of tweets I had seen recently of those who passed the VCP4 exam at VMworld as well as the beta made me a bit jealous and filled me with both encouragement and confidence.

My normal approach to certification is reading books and lab time. Although I hadn’t studied for the exam or even looked at the blueprint (a swell recipe for failure, I personally wouldn’t recommend it), I have been using vSphere 4 quite a bit in my home lab over the past several months. I also attended the two day “What’s New” vSphere course via WebEx but I don’t believe it provided a lot value towards the VCP4 exam.

In addition, I studied for, sat, and passed the Enterprise exam a little over a month ago which in my opinion was quite a bit more difficult than the VCP3 exam. Technically speaking, the Enterprise exam covers VI3 and not vSphere, but conceptually there is still plenty of overlap between VI3 and vSphere 4

Lastly, I had been toying with and troubleshooting the vSphere virtual infrastructure that VCDX #7 Duncan Epping provided attendees at the vExpert booth in the VMworld 2009 Solutions Exchange. As luck would have it, some of the things I was working on applied to the VCP4 exam and were fresh in my mind.

I passed the exam with a score of 350 out of a possible 500. A score of 300 or better is required to pass the exam and a score of 350 is required to be eligible for VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) status. This appears to be the same new grading curve used in the Enterprise exam and I imagine the Design exam for VCDX candidates (I have not sat the Design exam yet so I’m not 100% certain on that).

In a word, my experience was that I found the exam to be fair. 85 questions. 90 minutes. All multiple choice/multiple select, a few with exhibits. No interactive/hands-on/live lab scenarios although I would have preferred them. In comparison it was a degree tougher than the VCP3 exam. I attribute that to the fact that the vSphere content is new and I hadn’t properly prepared. Special thanks to the candidate who blurted on his way out of the exam room as I was walking in “This exam is REALLY HARD – definitely NO JOKE”. You made me feel as if I had just kissed $105 goodbye. 🙄

As with the Enterprise exam, I found time to be a threat as I was left with only three minutes to review about 20 questions I had marked. Poor exam time management seems to be a recurring theme with me lately where it wasn’t in my earlier years. I’m not sure if the exams are getting harder or I’m just getting slower in my old age. Probably a combination of both. Lately I tend to go into deep thought for a number of minutes on some questions. Instead, I should recognize that if the answer doesn’t come to me within 10 seconds, I should quickly choose the best answer, mark the question, and move on. I think the dilemma becomes that sometimes there is more than one best answer and that’s where I end back up in the deep thought.

For passing the exam, VMware gave me an additional VMworld pin, a “VCP4 certified” baseball cap, and flashy VCP battery powered glasses which my 3 year old daughter absolutely loves. Thank you VMware.

Update 10/5/09:  VCI pass mark is 350, not 400. This has been corrected in the paragraph above.

VMworld 2009 Wall of Datacenter Video

September 4th, 2009

I’m hanging out in my hotel room on Friday night with my family at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I’ve fired up my laptop and I’m just starting to sift through the initial pile of great information published thus far on VMworld 2009.

Without a doubt, there will be many pictures, videos, blogs, and tweets to come out of the show. Here’s one of my favorites so far. Richard Garsthagen, Senior Evangelist at VMware EMEA, interviews “Dan”, whom I believe is an Architect on the VMware Lab Staff team. Dan talks about the $35 million wall of datacenter on display at the bottom of the Moscone Center escalator. As many of the attendees learned, this datacenter was used to power the nearly 40,000 VMs at VMworld 2009. Great video gentlemen!

Closely related, here’s a time lapse photography video of the datacenter build:

VMware Announces vCloud Express

September 1st, 2009

Today at VMworld 2009, VMware announced vCloud Express! For those still struggling with cloud as a concept, technology, or offering, this is where the tangible rubber meets the road with VMware virtual infrastructure.

The VMware vCloud™ Express service delivers the ability to provision infrastructure on-demand, via credit card, and pay for use by the hour. As a VMware Virtualized ™ service, it ensures compatibility with other VMware environments both internally and with external services.

  • Quick, easy access to VMware Virtualized™ infrastructure for prototyping and development from external third party providers.
  • Increase flexibility and time to market, and reduce capex and resource challenges associated with trying to address the fluctuating infrastructure needs of development, staging, and production teams.
  • By leveraging the VMware platform, the VMware vCloud™ Express service retains the robustness, interoperability and reliability that VMware is known for while delivering the easy access and cost-effectiveness of a transactional service model.
  • Five partners currently offering VMware vCloud™ Express service (as beta): Terremark, Hosting.com, and BlueLock in the Americas; Logica in EMEA; and Melbourne IT in the APAC.

The announcement was coupled with an on-stage web-based demonstration with Terremark, whom if I remember correctly, was involved with the interactive cloud provisioning presentation during a keynote speech at VMworld Europe 2009. As most keynote demonstrations usually go, the process was very slick, streamlined, and painless.

It will be interesting to watch VMware compete with other big cloud providers in existence. How much market share will VMware gain in the first year? What impact, if any, will “beta” status have on VMware vCloud Express adoption rates?

8 New ESX 3.5 Patches Released; 4 Critical

September 1st, 2009

Four new patches have been released for ESX 3.5.0. It appears ESXi, ESX4, and other versions of ESX are not impacted.

4 of the 8 patches are rated critical and should be evaluated quickly for application in your virtual infrastructure.

ID: ESX350-200908401-BG Impact: HostGeneral Release date: 2009-08-31 Products: esx 3.5.0 Updates forcedeth driver
The forcedeth driver installed on the ESX hosts causes the NVIDIA nForce Network Controller NICs to lose network connectivity until the forcedeth driver is reloaded. This patch addresses the issue.

The affected NICS are:

  • NVIDIA nForce Professional 2200 MCP 1Gbe NIC
  • NVIDIA nForce Professional 2050 I/O companion chip 1Gbe NIC
  • NVIDIA nForce Professional 3600 1Gbe NIC

ID: ESX350-200908402-BG Impact: Critical Release date: 2009-08-31 Products: esx 3.5.0 Updates VMware Tools
After performing VMotion between ESX 3.0.x and ESX 3.5 hosts, virtual machines running on ESX 3.5 hosts are restarted in order to upgrade to the latest version of VMware Tools. After applying this fix, VMware Tools function as expected.

ID: ESX350-200908403-BG Impact: HostGeneral Release date: 2009-08-31 Products: esx 3.5.0 Updates megaraid and mptscsi drivers
This patch fixes the following issues:

  • When the ESX host boots, the megaraid_sas driver heap gets depleted when claiming 4 LSI SAS RAID controllers on IBM System x3950 M2 Athena servers. This issue might cause the ESX host to stop booting. The fix increases the heap size for the megaraid_sas driver from 8 MB to 16 MB.
  • The mptscsi_2xx driver limits the discovery of targets to 63 SAS devices per LSI Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) host bus adapter (HBA). This fix increases the number of targets to the value returned by the HBA firmware.

ID: ESX350-200908404-BG Impact: HostGeneral Release date: 2009-08-31 Products: esx 3.5.0 Updates vmkctl
When N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) enabled virtual machines are powered on on ESX hosts, a rescan issued from the VI Client results in an error message stating that the rescan failed, even if the rescan is successful.

ID: ESX350-200908405-BG Impact: Critical Release date: 2009-08-31 Products: esx 3.5.0 Updates vmkernel
Running the esxtop command on the service console of the ESX hosts lists high values for the max limited (%MLMTD) parameter for virtual machines when no max limited parameter is set. When the high values are listed, the performance of the virtual machines might be affected. In the VI Client, the max limited parameter is set in the Resources tab for CPU in Virtual Machine properties.

ID: ESX350-200908406-BG Impact: Critical Release date: 2009-08-31 Products: esx 3.5.0 Updates vmx
This patch provides the following:

  • Adds support for new SCSI-3 status values in the SCSI emulation for virtual machines.
  • Fixes an issue where powering on customized versions of Ubuntu virtual machines from the ESX hosts might cause the ESX hosts to stop responding.

ID: ESX350-200908407-BG Impact: HostGeneral Release date: 2009-08-31 Products: esx 3.5.0 Updates kernel source and vmnix
This patch updates the service console kernel for the following fixes:

  • The forcedeth driver installed on the ESX hosts causes the NVIDIA nForce Network Controller NICs to lose network connectivity under certain circumstances. The affected NICS are:
    • NVIDIA nForce Professional 2200 MCP 1Gbe NIC
    • NVIDIA nForce Professional 2050 I/O companion chip 1Gbe NIC
    • NVIDIA nForce Professional 3600 1Gbe NIC
  • A bnx2x firmware dump issue.
  • The mptscsi_2xx driver limits the discovery of targets to 63 SAS devices per LSI Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) host bus adapter (HBA). This fix increases the number of targets to the value returned by the HBA firmware.

ID: ESX350-200908408-BG Impact: Critical Release date: 2009-08-31 Products: esx 3.5.0 Updates bnx2x driver
This patch fixes a bnx2x firmware dump issue.