Posts Tagged ‘View’

VMware Horizon View Agent 6.1.0 Installation Rollback

March 16th, 2015

With the release of vSphere 6 last week, I decided it was time to update some of the infrastructure in the home lab over the weekend. I got an early start Friday as I had my three remaining wisdom teeth pulled in the AM and took the rest of the day off work.  Now I’m not talking about jumping straight to vSphere 6, not just yet.  I’ve got some constraints that prevent me from going to vSphere 6 at the current time but I expect I’ll be ready within a month or two.  For the time being, the agenda involved migrating some guest operating systems from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2012 R2, migrating MS SQL Server 2008 R2 to MS SQL Server 2012, and updating templates with current VMware Tools, and tackling VMware Horizon View getting Composer and the Connection Server migrated from version 5.3 to 6.1.0 including the pool guests and related tools and agents.

I won’t bore anyone with the details on the OS and SQL migrations, that all went as planned. Rather, this writing focuses on an issue I encountered while upgrading VMware Horizon View Agents in Windows 7 guest virtual machines. For the most part, the upgrades went fine as they always have in the past. However I did run into one annoying Windows 7 guest VM which I could not upgrade from View agent 5.1 to View agent 6.1.0. About two thirds of the way through the 6.1.0 agent upgrade/installation when the installation wizard is installing services, a ‘Rolling back action‘ process would occur and the upgrade/installation failed.

The View agent installation generates two fairly large log files located in C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Temp\.  I narrowed down the point in time the problem was occurring in the smaller of the two log files.

svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 — CA exec: VMEditServiceDependencies
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 Getting Property CustomActionData = +;vmware-viewcomposer-ga;BFE;Tcpip;Netlogon
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 INFO: about to copy final string
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 INFO: *copyIter = RpcSs
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 INFO: newDependencyString = RpcSs
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 INFO: *copyIter = vmware-viewcomposer-ga
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 INFO: newDependencyString = RpcSs vmware-viewcomposer-ga
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 ERROR: ChangeServiceConfig failed with error: 5
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:52 End Logging
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:53 Begin Logging
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:53 — CA exec: VMEditServiceDependencies
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:53 Getting Property CustomActionData = -;vmware-viewcomposer-ga;BFE;Tcpip;Netlogon
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:53 Cannot query key value HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\DependOnService for size: 2
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:53 Cannot query key value HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Netlogon\DependOnService for size: 2
svm: 03/16/15 10:54:53 End Logging

In addition, the Windows event log reflected Event ID: 7006 “The ScRegSetValueExW call failed for DependOnService with the following error: Access is denied.

I had made a few different attempts to install the 6.1.0 agent, each time trying a different approach. Checked registry permissions and dependencies, relaxed registry permissions, enabled auditing, temporarily disabled Avast Antivirus, etc.  The VMware Horizon View Agent installs a handful of components. Although I didn’t know yet what the issue was on the OS, I had the problem narrowed down to the VMware Horizon View Composer Agent portion of the installation which installs VMware Horizon View Composer Guest Agent Server service (vmware-viewcomposer-ga is the name of the service if you’re looking in the registry).

After doing some more digging, I found out that some antivirus applications like Panda have a a self-preservation mechanism built in which can cause unexpected application problems. Avast has one as well and it’s called the avast! self-defense module. This defense mechanism works independently of normal real time antivirus scans which I had disabled previously.  I had never run into a problem with Avast in the past but in this particular instance, Avast was blocking the modification of Windows services and dependencies. The easy solution, and I wish I had known this from the start but I don’t invest much time in antivirus or malware unless I absolutely have to, was to disable the avast! self-defense module which can be found in the Troubleshooting area of the Avast settings.

Once the avast! self-defense module was disabled, the installation of the VMware Horizon View Agent 6.1.0 agent, including the VMware Horizon View Composer Agent portion, completed successfully. After the agent installation completed, a reboot was performed and I re-enabled the avast! self-defense module.

Thus far I’m impressed with VMware Horizon 6.1. Not much has changed from UI/management perspective but stability and cleanup within Composer operations has improved. I built up and tore down a 28 Windows 7 guest VDI pool and whereas this has lead to precarious pool states and manual cleanup steps in the past, it has worked flawlessly so far.  I’m definitely looking forward to the jump to vSphere 6 infrastructure in the coming weeks. All but one of the other lab infrastructure components have been upgraded and are ready at this point so it shouldn’t be much longer until I have vSphere 5.x in my rear view mirror.

vSphere 5.1 Update 1 Update Sequence

May 6th, 2013

Not so long ago, VMware product releases were staggered.  Major versions of vSphere would launch at or shortly after VMworld in the fall, and all other products such as SRM, View, vCloud Director, etc. would rev on some other random schedule.  This was extremely frustrating for a vEvangelist because we wanted to be on the latest and greatest platform but lack of compatibility with the remaining bolt-on products held us back.

While this was a wet blanket for eager lab rats, it was a major complexity for production environments.  VMware understood this issue and at or around the vSphere 5.0 launch (someone correct me if I’m wrong here), all the development teams in Palo Alto synchronized their watches & revd product in essence at the same time.  This was great and it added the much needed flexibility for production environment migrations.  However, in a way it masked an issue which didn’t really exist before by virtue of product release staggering – a clear and understandable order of product upgrades.  That is why in March of 2012, I looked at all the product compatibility matrices and sort of came up with my own “cheat sheet” of product compatibility which would lend itself to an easy to follow upgrade path, at least for the components I had in my lab environment.

vSphere 5.1 Update 1 launched on 4/25/13 and along with it a number of other products were revd for compatibility.  To guide us on the strategic planning and tactical deployment of the new software bundles, VMware issued KB Article 2037630 Update sequence for vSphere 5.1 Update 1 and its compatible VMware products.

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Not only does VMware provide the update sequencing information, but there are also exists a complete set of links to specific product upgrade procedures and release notes which can be extremely useful for planning and troubleshooting.

The vCloud Suite continues to evolve providing agile and elastic infrastructure services for businesses around the globe in a way which makes IT easier and more practical for consumers but quite a bit more complex on the back end for those who must design, implement, and support it.  Visit the KB Article and give it 5 stars.  Let VMware know this is an extremely helpful type of collateral for those in the trenches.

QuickPrep and Sysprep

May 2nd, 2013

Those who manage VMware View currently or have used it in the past may be familiar with desktop customization which is required to provide a unique identity on the network for each View Composer VDI session in a pool.  If you’ve got a pretty good Microsoft background, you’re probably already familiar with Sysprep – Microsoft’s tool for customizing Windows server and desktop OS deployments.  VMware View Administrators have an alternative tool which can be used for desktop customization called QuickPrep.  For all intents and purposes, QuickPrep was designed to accomplish many of the same tasks Sysprep did, but the obvious advantage QuickPrep has is that the code and development belongs to VMware and as a result can be tightly integrated with products in VMware’s portfolio.

I was on a call this morning with VMware Senior Technical Trainer Linus Bourque (Twitter: @LinusBourque Blog: http://communities.vmware.com/blogs/lbourque Cigars: yes) when he pulled up a table slide which was the result of VMware KB Article 2003797 Differences between QuickPrep and Sysprep.  For those who are curious about the similarities and differences between the two (like me), look no further.

From the KB Article:

QuickPrep is a VMware system tool executed by View Composer during a linked-clone desktop deployment. QuickPrep personalizes each desktop created from the Master Image. Microsoft Sysprep is a tool to deploy the configured operating system installation from a base image. The desktop can then be customized based on an answer script. Sysprep can modify a larger number of configurable parameters than QuickPrep.
During the initial startup of each new desktop, QuickPrep:
  • Creates a new computer account in Active Directory for each desktop.
  • Gives the linked-clone desktop a new name.
  • Joins the desktop to the appropriate domain.
  • Optionally, mounts a new volume that contains the user profile information.
This table lists the main differences between QuickPrep and Sysprep:
Function QuickPrep Sysprep
Removing local accounts No Yes
Changing Security Identifiers (SID) No Yes
Removing parent from domain No Yes
Changing computer name Yes Yes
Joining the new instance to the domain Yes Yes
Generating new SID No Yes
Language, regional settings, date, and time customization No Yes
Number of reboots 0 1 (seal & mini-setup)
Requires configuration file and Sysprep No Yes
Note: A Guest Customization script is required in vCenter Server to use Sysprep. Sysprep is bundled in with Windows 7. For Windows XP, an appropriate Sysprep program needs to be installed on the vCenter Server.
For information on installing Sysprep tools, see Sysprep file locations and versions (1005593).
For more information on the use of Sysprep and the Guest Customisation wizard, see the Customizing Guest Operating Systems and Installing the Microsoft Sysprep Tools sections of the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration Guide.

View 5.1 Upgrade Experience. Composer, Permissions, and SSL – Oh My!

August 8th, 2012

The other night I upgraded the VMware View 5.0.1 environment in the lab to 5.1 which was released on May 16th.  Normally when I upgrade the View environment, I don’t actually perform an inline upgrade of the Connection Server or database.  The environment is small enough that I can flatten it and rebuild fresh from scratch (including brand new VMs for the infrastructure components such as the Connection Server) for each new version VMware releases.  Due to VMware’s aggressive release schedule, I also embed the production version in the infrastructure server name which helps me keep track of where things are at in the lab.  Thus, with each new release, I’m building new infrastructure VMs with updated names, rather than recycling the previous infrastructure VMs, renaming them, remove/re-add to the domain, and even then I’m left with a VM name which doesn’t match the name on the datastore folder.  Pushing the reset button and starting fresh obliterates any bad DNA or cooties the previous environment might have had and it gives me a little extra peace of mind when I sleep at night.

I was running a little short on time so for this round I decided to perform an inline upgrade to 5.1 rather than going through the normal rebuild routine.  After all, most production environments don’t have the luxury of starting over so now was as good a time as ever to test the upgrade process of View in the lab.  Again – a fairly simple setup: a Connection Server, View Composer 2.7 installed on the vCenter Server which for the first time in many releases will be upgraded to 3.0, back end databases on an external SQL server, and 3 small pools.

The View Connection Server upgrade went as planned. No issues to speak of there (yet).  However, I did struggle with the View Composer upgrade.  The first run through uninstalled View Composer and failed with an error which I wasn’t quick enough to capture.  I re-ran through the Composer installation and it failed again with the same error:

The wizard was interrupted before VMware View Composer could be completely installed.

While I was perfrming some troubleshooting, a couple of gracious folks on Twitter by the name of Diego Quintana and Tim Washburn (@daquintana and @mittim12 respectively) pointed out VMware KB article 2017773 Installing or upgrading View Composer fails with error: The wizard was interrupted before VMware View Composer could be completely installed which resolved my issue.  The previous View Composer installation had placed one or more keys in the directory C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Crypto\RSA\MachineKeys\ which my user account no longer had NTFS permissions to.  The resolution was to simply relax the NTFS permissions both on the MachineKeys folder as well as the files inside of the folder for good measure.

I thought I was out of the woods, but not quite yet.  SSL certificate issues followed.

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VMware made some new changes with regards to SSL in View 5.1 which are documented at :\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\README.rtf

Copied and pasted verbatim, the release notes are:

Read These Notes!  Your View 5.1 Setup Will Be Easier!

You can read these notes in your language:
Français    Deutsch     简体中文     日本語     한국어

We made changes in View 5.1 that require you to configure View components a little differently than in the past.  These notes will help you to avoid potential pitfalls when you install or upgrade to View 5.1.

1)  You cannot downgrade View 5.1 Connection Server to previous versions.

In View 5.1, the View LDAP configuration is encrypted and cannot be used by earlier versions of View.

  • After you upgrade a View Connection Server instance to View 5.1, you cannot downgrade that instance to an earlier version.
  • After you upgrade all View Connection Server instances in a replicated group, you cannot add another instance that runs an earlier version of View.

Note: Downgrading was never supported, but in past releases it worked.  Now it won’t work.

2)  vCenter Server and View Composer hosts need valid SSL certificates.

  • Best choice: Ensure your vCenter Server and View Composer have Certificate Authority (CA)-provided certificates:

o  Install an SSL certificate, signed by a CA, on the Windows Server on which vCenter Server is installed.

o  Do the same for View Composer. If you install View Composer and vCenter Server on the same host, they can use the same certificate, but you must configure the certificate separately for each component.

* If you install the certificate before you install View Composer, you can select your certificate during the View Composer installation.

* If you replace the default certificate later, run the SviConfig ReplaceCertificate command to bind the new certificate to the port used by View Composer.

o  Make sure the CA for the new certificates, and any parent CAs, are trusted by each Windows server on which a View Connection Server instance is installed.

  • Alternative: After you add vCenter Server and View Composer to View, accept the thumbprint of the default certificate for View Composer by clicking Verify in View Administrator.  Do the same for vCenter Server.

More information: See “Configuring SSL Certificates for View Servers” in the View Installation guide.

3)  Security server and View Connection Server hosts need valid SSL certificates.

  • Best choice: After you install a View Connection Server instance or security server on a Windows Server host, open the Windows Server certificate store and take these steps:

o  Import an SSL certificate that is signed by a CA and that your clients can validate.

o  Make sure that the entire certificate chain, including intermediate certificates and root certificate, are installed.

o  Make sure the certificate has a private key, and mark the key as exportable.

o  Configure the certificate Friendly Name as vdm.

  • Alternative: Let the View server installer create a default certificate in the Windows Server certificate store. The certificate is self-signed and will be shown as invalid in View Administrator.
  • Upgrading to View 5.1: If your original View servers already have SSL certificates signed by a CA, you don’t have to do anything.  During the upgrade, View imports your certificates into the Windows Server certificate store.

If your original View servers have default certificates, upgrade your View servers and follow the Best choice steps shown above.

More information: See “Configuring SSL Certificates for View Servers” in the View Installation guide.

4)  Certificates for vCenter Server, View Composer, and View servers must include certificate revocation lists (CRLs).

View will not validate a certificate without a CRL.

  • Best Choice: lf needed, take these steps:

o  Add a CRL to your certificate.

o  Import the updated certificate into the Windows certificate store on the vCenter Server, View Composer, and View server host.

  • Alternative: Change the registry settings that control CRL checking.

More information: “Configuring Certificate Revocation Checking on Server Certificates” in the View Installation guide.

5)  Windows Firewall with Advanced Security must be enabled on Security Server and View Connection Server hosts. 

By default, IPsec rules govern connections between the View security server and View Connection Server and require Windows Firewall with Advanced Security to be enabled.

  • Best choice: Set Windows Firewall with Advanced Security to on before you install the View servers. Make sure it’s on for any active profiles; better still, set it to on for all profiles.
  • Alternative: Before you install security servers, open View Administrator and disable the Global Setting, Use IPsec for Security Server Connections, by setting it to no. (This is not recommended.)

6)  Back-end firewalls must be set up to support IPsec.

If you have a back-end firewall between security servers and View Connection Server instances, you must configure firewall rules to allow the connections to work.

More information: See “Configuring a Back-End Firewall to Support IPsec ” in the View Installation guide.

7)  View Clients must use HTTPS to connect to View.

View Connection Server instances and security servers use SSL for client connections.

  • If View clients connect via an SSL off-loading intermediate device, you must install the intermediate device’s SSL certificate on View Connection Server or security server.
  • The connection must be HTTPS whether or not a View client connects via an intermediate device such as a load balancer. If you use an intermediate device, and you want the connection between the intermediate device and View server to be over HTTP (SSL off-loading), configure the locked.properties file on the View server.
  • Older View clients that can choose not to use HTTPS will get an error if users select HTTP. Previously they were silently redirected to HTTPS. Clients that cannot make SSL connections will be unable to connect to View.

More information: See “Off-loading SSL Connections to Intermediate Servers” in the View Administration guide.

8)  Encrypted and cleansed View backups require new restore steps.

By default, View 5.1 backups are encrypted. You can also cleanse View backups (exclude passwords and other sensitive information from the backup data) or back up in plain text (not recommended).

  • To restore an encrypted backup, you must decrypt the data first. You must use the data recovery password that you provided when you installed View Connection Server.
  • Do not restore cleansed backups. Data such as passwords will be missing from your View LDAP configuration. View components will not function properly without this data. To restore normal functionality, you will have to use View Administrator to manually reset all passwords and other missing data items.

More information: See “Backing Up and Restoring View Configuration Data” in the View Administration guide.

9)  Before you can upgrade or reinstall a View 5.1 security server, you must remove the relevant IPsec rules from the paired View Connection Server instance so that fresh rules can be established.

  • In View Administrator, select the security server and click More Commands > Prepare for Upgrade or Reinstallation.

Note: You don’t need to remove a security server from View before you upgrade or reinstall the server.

More information: See “Prepare to Upgrade or Reinstall a Security Server” in the View Installation guide.

Ok, so basically VMware is pushing for the use of SSL certificates from a trusted CA whether that be externally (VeriSign, etc.) or internally (Microsoft Certificate Services) generated.  For the time being, I have ditched my internal Microsoft CA and wish to continue using the self signed certificates shipped and installed by View.  To do so, as explained in the README above, one must visit the System Health in the View Administrator Dashboard and verify the certificates for the vCenter Server as well as the View Composer Server (each will be seen in a red status in the dashboard).  The Connection Server certificate cannot be verified and will remain in a red status however from this point forward both the View Connection Server and View Composer will function normally.

Upgrading the View Agents and recomposing the pools was a non-issue and the upgrade was completed successfully.  After all is said and done, the environment is working and the upgrade was successful.  View 5.0.1 Clients have no problem connecting to the new 5.1 environment; I’ll get the clients upgraded in the near future and I’ll consider resurrecting the lab CA to generate trusted SSL certificates.

vSphere 5.0 Update 1 and Related Product Launches

March 16th, 2012

VMware has unveiled a point release update to several of their products tied to the vSphere 5 virtual cloud datacenter platform plus a few new product launches.

vCenter 5.0 Update 1 – Added support for new guest operating systems such as Windows 8, Ubuntu, and SLES 11 SP2, the usual resolved issues and bug fixes, plus some updates around vRAM limits licensing.  One other notable – no compatibility at this time with vSphere Data Recovery (vDR) 2.0 according to the compatibility matrix.

ESXi 5.0 Update 1 – Added support for new AMD and Intel processors, Mac OS X Server Lion, updated chipset drivers, resolved issues and bug fixes.  One interesting point to be made here is that according to the compatibility matrix, vCenter 5.0 supports ESXi 5.0 Update 1.  I’m going to stick with the traditional route of always upgrading vCenter before upgrading hosts as a best practices habit until something comes along to challenge that logic.

vCloud Director 1.5.1 – Added support for vSphere 5.0 Update 1 and vShield 5.0.1, plus RHEL 5 Update 7 as a supported server cell platform.  Enhancements were made around firewall rules, AMQP system notifications, log collection, chargeback retention, resolved issues, and added support for AES-256 encryption on Site-to-Site VPN tunnels (unfortunately no vSphere 5.0 Update 1 <-> vCloud Connector 1.5 support).  Oh yes, sometime over the past few months, VMware Marketing has quietly changed the acronym for vCloud Director from vCD to VCD.  We’ll just call that a new feature for 1.5.1 going forward.  I <3 the Marketing team.

Site Recovery Manager 5.0.1 – Added support for vSphere 5.0 Update 1 plus a “Forced Failover” feature which allows VM recovery in cases where storage arrays fail at the protected site which, in the past, lead to unmanageable VMs which cannot be shut down, powered off, or unregistered.  Added IP customization for some Ubuntu platforms.  Many bug fixes, oh yes.  VMware brought back an advanced feature which hasn’t been seen since SRM 4.1 which provided a configurable option, storageProvider.hostRescanCnt, allowing repeated host scans during testing and recovery. This option was removed from SRM 5.0 but has been restored in the Advanced Settings menu in SRM 5.0.1 and can be particularly useful in troubleshooting a failed Recovery Plan. Right-click a site in the Sites view, select Advanced Settings, then select storageProvider. See KB 1008283.  Storage arrays certified on SRM 5.0 (ie. Dell Compellent Storage Center) are automatically certified on SRM 5.0.1.

View 5.0.1 – Added support for vSphere 5.0 Update 1, new Connection Server, Agent, Clients, fixed known issues.  Ahh.. let’s go back to that new clients bit.  New bundled Mac OS X client with support for PCoIP!  I don’t have a Mac so those who would admit to calling me a friend will have to let me know how sharp that v1.4 Mac client is.  As mentioned in earlier release notes, Ubuntu got a plenty of love this week.  Including a new View PCoIP version 1.4 client for Ubuntu Linux.  I might just have to deploy an Ubuntu desktop somewhere to test this client.  But wait, there’s more.  New releases of the View client for Android and iPad tablets.  The Android client adds fixes for Ice Cream Sandwich devices, security stuff, and updates for the Kindle Fire (I need to get this installed on my wife’s Fire).  The updated iPad client improves both connection times as well as external display support but for the most part Apple fans are flipping out simply over something shiny and new.  Lastly, VMware created a one stop shop web portal for all client downloads which can be fetched at http://www.vmware.com/go/viewclients/

vShield 5.0.1 – Again, added support for vSphere 5.0 Update 1, enhanced reporting and export options, new REST API calls, improved audit logs, simplified troubleshooting, improved vShield App policy management as well as HA enhancements, and enablement of Autodeploy through vShield VIB host modules downloadable from vShield Manager.

So… looking at the compatibility matrix with all of these new code drops, my lab upgrade order will look something like this:

1a. View 5.0 –> View 5.0.1

1b. vCD 1.5 –> VCD 1.5.1

1c. SRM 5.0 –> SRM 5.0.1

1d. vShield App/Edge/Endpoint 5.0 –> 5.0.1

1e. vDR 2.0 –> Go Fish

2. vSphere Client 5.0.1 (it’s really not an upgrade, installs parallel with other versions)

3. vCenter Server 5.0 –> vCenter Server 5.0 Update 1

4. Update Manager 5.0 –> Update Manager 5.0 Update 1

5. ESXi 5.0 –> ESXi 5.0 Update 1

There are a lot of versions in play here which weaves somewhat of a tangled web of compatibility touch points to identify before diving head first into upgrades.  I think VMware has done a great job this time around with releasing products that are, for the most part, compatible with other currently shipping products which provides more flexibility in tactical approach and timelines.  Add to that, some time ago they’ve migrated a two dimensional .PDF based compatibility matrix into an online portal offering interactive input making the set of results customized for the end user.  The only significant things missing in the vSphere 5.0U1 compatibility picture IMO are vCloud Connector, vDR, and based on the results from the compatibility matrix portal – vCenter Operations (output showed no compatibility with vSphere 5.x, didn’t look right to me).  I’ve taken a liberty in creating a component compatibility visual roadmap including most of the popular and currently shipping products vSphere 5.0 and above.  If you’ve got a significant amount of infrastructure to upgrade, this may help you get the upgrade order sorted out quickly.  One last thing – Lab Manager and ESX customers should pay attention to the Island of Misfit Toys.  In early 2013 the Lab Manager ride comes coasting to a stop.  Lab Manager and ESX customers should be formulating solid migration plans with an execution milestone coming soon.

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View Pool And Desktop Hung in Deleting State

February 7th, 2012

The VMware View 5.0 environment in the lab has been running well and has proven itself as an extremely reliable remote access replacement for the old Citrix Presentation Server 4.0 solution I had in the past.  However, in an effort to address a licensing issue related to the View App for iPad demo environment, I managed to force both a pool and a single desktop from within that pool into a perpetually stuck state of ‘deleting’.  In addition, the VM representing the desktop was gone, but I could see from within vCenter the parent replica for the pool still remained.  I spent some time poking at it from several angles including the View Connection Server, the vCenter Server, and the View Composer Server.  It became clear that the underlying issue was deeper, in a database perhaps, and couldn’t be resolved using the standard management tools VMware offers.

The issue isn’t an uncommon one and I quickly turned up familiar hits at VMware’s community forums spanning a few different versions of VMware View.  The root cause is explained in VMware KB Article 1008658 which applies to View versions 3.x through 5.2.x (this KB article also walks through the steps of manually deleting pae-VMs from the ADAM database as well as manually deleting dubious SVI_rows from various tables in the View Composer database as necessary).  Also see Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from VMware View Manager 4.5 and later at VMware KB 2015112 (which uses the SviConfig.exe View Composer utility and is linked from KB 1008658):

This issue occurs if a table in the database has an incorrect data. It can also occur if the virtual machine name has been changed in the vCenter Server manually after the pool has been created, causing View Composer and vCenter Server to refer to the same virtual machine with different names.

The problem can largely be avoided by managing the View environment with the intended tool – the VMware View Administrator interface as opposed to making changes outside of View, such as using VMware vCenter.

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Resolving the issue is achieved by following the detailed in the KB articles above.  Follow the steps carefully and slowly in a production View environment and keep in mind that not all steps may be required for your particular situation.

VCA4-DT and VCP5 Exam Reviews

January 6th, 2012

With 2011 wrapped up and the holiday festivities over with, I decided to kick off 2012 by sitting a few new VMware certification exams.  Before I get into the details of the exam experience, I must extend my sincere appreciation to the new testing center I tried out – New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Eagan, MN.  It’s a new facility, friendly staff, state of the art equipment, AND THEY ALLOW COFFEE IN THE EXAM ROOM!  I’m locked on to this facility for all future exams.

Ok, VMware Certified Associate 4 – Desktop, otherwise known as VCA4-DT.  Thursday morning, 70 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes if I remember right. Time isn’t much of a factor on this exam as it has been in past exams I’ve sat.  Unfortunately I failed by a narrow margin. 289/500 (300 is the passing mark).  Not passing was a bummer since I’ve only failed one other exam and that was 14 years ago.  The reality was that I hadn’t had enough View Administrator seat time to recall what was being tested.  I can’t go into specifics but I will say that having a photographic memory of the View Admin console will go a long way to get by this exam.  I’ve managed a tiny View 4.6 and now 5.0 environment in my lab but I haven’t spent countless hours in the console on a day to day basis which is what I think is really required.  That makes sense – after all it is an Administrator role based exam.  My hope was that brushing up on the blueprint objectives and reading Mike Laverick’s Administrating VMware View 4.5 book cover to cover the night before the exam would have been enough to get by.  It wasn’t.  No fault to Mike of course, his was a fine book.  I planned short on the preparation, rolled the dice, and.. well you know by now what happened.  It was a humbling experience but at the same time it’s an effective method to learn more.  After I get back from Dell Storage Forum London I’ll plan on hitting the lab and ultimately finishing the exam the proper way.  After that, I’ve got my sights set on VMware Certified Professional 4 – Desktop (VCP4-DT) which I may already be better prepared for.

On to the VMware Certified Professional 5 or VPC5.  Friday morning, 85 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes.  I reached the end of the exam with 14 minutes left to review marked questions – I had quite a few.  I don’t know why – I rarely change my answer when reviewing questions.  I mark the questions with the intent that there may be a better answer which comes to me later on in the exam but it rarely happens and I believe statistics prove that on average, first instinct is going to be the better or correct answer.  I’ll be honest, dwelling on yesterday’s fail did a number to my confidence level but I had no choice but to push forward studying the blueprint for a solid 8 hours last night into the wee hours of the morning.  Granted, the VCP5 exam should be higher on the difficulty level, but the infrastructure content maps quite a bit better to my expertise that VMware View administration does.  I had seen some comments from others that the VCP5 exam didn’t contain much along the lines of Configuration Maximums type questions.  Based on that, I didn’t spend much time in the vSphere 5 Configuration Maximums document.  I brushed up on HA, DRS, and although I have little hands on working experience with the appliance based bolt ons like the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, or Auto Deploy, I tried to pick up as much as I could on those areas.  On exam difficulty, the content came easier to me based on familiarity.  For most of the exam I was pretty well within my comfort zone.  As a Technical Marketing Product Specialist at Dell Compellent, the storage related questions aren’t quite the level of difficulty they once were.  There was a pretty good blend of easy/medium/difficult questions, and also a few which I felt were worded poorly enough such that I knew the correct answer either way, but interpretation of the question is going to determine a right or wrong answer.  Results on this exam were better – 406/500 (300 passing).  There were plenty of questions on the other vSphere products I talked about earlier such as the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, and Auto Deploy. While I feel I did answer a few of those questions correctly, the remainder is likely what accounts for the majority of the points I missed on the exam.  By the way, if you’re not using vSphere Update Manager on a regular basis to assist in upgrading your environment, you should be, and you’ll want to know that product for this exam as well.

Have a great weekend and for those attending Dell Storage Forum London next week, I hope to meet up with you.