Saturday, 19 June 2021

Limiting the Number of VMware Virtual Machine Snapshots

 Snapshots have their uses; we can use them to repeatably return back to a virtual machines previous state.

When we take a snapshot we capture the virtual machines hard disk, hardware and optionally the memory state.

Within VMware, we create three state files

·         Disk files                          -Delta.VMDK VMFS5 less than 2TB virtual disk

·         Hardware state                 .vmsn

·         Memory State                  .vmem

These snapshots then allow us to revert back to a previous state if something goes wrong, for example a software update fails

However, VMware has some best practices for using Snapshots.

  • Do not use snapshots as backups
  • Do not use a single snapshot for more than 72 hours
  • When using a third-party backup software, ensure that snapshots are deleted after a successful backup.
  • Maximum of 32 snapshots are supported in a chain. However, for a better performance use only 2 to 3 snapshots.

The last point is quite interesting, the more snapshots we take, the slower, potentially the VM will run, but most importantly, the VM will take up a lot of additional disk space, as the snapshot disk file increases in size.

VMware however, have a setting we can add to the VMs .vmx file, we set the maximum number of snapshots for a virtual machine by editing the snapshot.maxSnapshots = n variable of the configuration file. 

Once we are in the vSphere Client, right click and edit your VM settings, select VM options and then select Advanced, then locate Configuaration Parameters, and select EDIT CONFIGURATION

Then select ADD CONFIGURATION PARAMS

Then type for max of 2 snapshots, and click OK

Snapshot.maxSnapshots              2


 

 Now we can only take a maximum of 2 snapshots against this machine.

 


Friday, 18 June 2021

Managing User Accounts VMware vSphere: Best Practices

 

One of the recommendations for managing vSphere is to add your ESXi hosts to Active Directory and authentication to the client by using an AD account.

VMware give us some best practices for managing user accounts

On an ESXi host, the root user account is the most powerful user account on the system. The user root can access all files and all commands. Securing this account is the most important step that you can take to secure an ESXi host.

Whenever possible, use the vSphere Client to log in to the vCenter Server system and manage your ESXi hosts. In some unusual circumstances, for example, when the vCenter Server system is down, you use VMware Host Client to connect directly to the ESXi host.


Although you can log in to your ESXi host through the vSphere CLI or through vSphere ESXi Shell, these access methods should be reserved for troubleshooting or configuration that cannot be accomplished by using VMware Host Client.

 
If a host must be managed directly, avoid creating local users on the host. If possible, join the host to a Windows domain and log in with domain credentials instead.

To add an ESXi host to Active Directory, authenticate to your ESXi host via the host client and highlight Manage, select the Security& Users tab, then select Authentication, and then select Join Domain and fill in relevant information for your domain.



 

When we add the ESXi hosts to Active Directory, by default anyone who is a member of the AD group ESX Admins automatically have root privileges on ESXi hosts.

If we split AD and VMware into different IT departments, this could mean that our AD administrators could also manage our ESXi hosts by creating a group called ESX Admins and adding themselves to that group.

However, we can modify this functionality. We achieve this through the advanced configuration on an ESXi host

Login to the vSphere Host Client, once authenticated go to your ESXi host and highlight Manage, select Advanced settings and then search for admins


You’ll be presented with three options and they are:

Config.HostAgent.plugins.hostsvc.esxAdminsGroup       This option specifies the Active Directory group name that is automatically granted Administrator privileges on the ESXi host.

Config.HostAgent.plugins.hostsvc.esxAdminsGroupAutoAdd     This option controls whether the group specified by “esxAdminsGroup” is automatically granted administrator permission, values are True or False

Config.HostAgent.plugins.hostsvc.esxAdminsGroupUpdateInterval        This option specifies the interval between checks for whether the group specified by “esxAdminsGroup’ has appeared in Active Directory, value is in minutes.

 


Friday, 4 June 2021

The 3 steps to becoming a VCP-DCV 2021

 

The VMware Certified Professional – Data Centre Virtualisation 2021

I won’t lie the last 16 months have been some of the busiest that I’ve known whilst working for QA, and I’m certainly not complaining, I’ve taught 100% virtual courses and this has meant lots of time at home, before lockdown I would spend over 26 weeks away from home per year.

The only downside was that I haven’t been able to sit any exams, just too busy, and I’m working on my work/life balance. I did become a Mental Health First Aider during lockdown and finding you time is also important, that may mean study, just not for me.

Now things are calming down, it’s time to get back on the certification trail and I’m starting with the VMware Certified Professional – Data Centre Virtualisation 2021 exam number VMware vSphere 7.x (2V0-21.20)

Where to Start

There are 3 steps to becoming certified.

1)    Recommended, gain experience with VMware vSphere 7, you will be expected to know how to perform various tasks.

2)    Required, sit on a qualifying VMware course, I’ll mention my three preferred later in this post.

3)    Required, pass the exam, delivered by Pearson Vue testing.

To gain experience can be done in a number of ways.

·         You could play with your work kit, however the rest of the IT department may get a bit upset with this.

·         Build a test lab, I use VMware workstation and create VMs within the product. It works really well.

·         Use VMware Hands on Labs, I also visit this quite a bit, there’s lots of labs covering all aspects of vSphere.

The three courses I would recommend.

·         VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [V7]

·         VMware vSphere: Fast Track [V7]

·         VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale [V7] – We don’t run this course that often as it is an advanced course and most people will pick one of the other two, but if you want it, we’ll run it.

 

 

No course can possibly cover all aspects of the product in 5 days, so I’d also recommend looking at the exam guide and if you’re up to it read all the associated documents mentioned, especially the network, storage, security, high availability, and resource management guides.

 

Now the important bit

Pass the exam.

The exam consists of 70 multiple choice questions, and you have 130 minutes, the exam is delivered via Pearson VUE and can be sat either in a Pearson VUE testing centre or can be done as a remotely monitored (proctored) exam from home.

300 is a pass, don’t think of a percentage or how many do I need to get right, that’s not the way it works.

I’ve sat many VMware exams, actually over 20 so far, and if you’ve put the work in, they’re extremely passible, I would recommend, answering all the questions you’re 100% sure of, mark the others, and return back to them, if you run out of time you fail, so try to remove that stress by not sitting for 10 minutes trying to think of an answer.

Finally best wishes for the exam, I never wish good luck, we make our own luck, if you’ve done the work you’ll pass.

 

 



Monday, 17 May 2021

Free eBook from VMware - Anywhere Workspace for Dummies

 

Last March 2020, we entered lockdown, and this in turn led to a new way of working for a lot of people.

I instantly went from working in offices across the UK to then being a completely home-based worker and this in turn led to the acronym WFH (working from home).

In the UK we are now emerging from the “work from home if you can” to a hybrid working model of perhaps going back into the office full time, a few days a week, or remain working from home.

What does this mean for IT professionals?

We’ve now had to develop new support skills and new ways of building and maintaining our corporate IT systems. Perhaps this is now a combination of corporate devices and BYOD (bring your own device) hardware.

We still need to maintain the security of our system and this is now becoming more complex.

People now want to work from anywhere.

“The nature of work has changed as a result of the global pandemic, and organizations have had to keep up. In this guide, learn more about the lasting impacts on the landscape of work and employee expectations. Delve into the emerging technologies needed to support today’s distributed workforce and keep pace with your competition, including Endpoint Security, Virtual apps/desktops, Zero Trust Security, Identity and Access Management, Cloud App Security, SD-WAN, Cloud Gateway, SASE and Experience Management. Understand workplace safety needs with the return to the office, and use cases for delivering exceptional employee experiences for this new flexible workforce.”


With all the above in mind, our friends at VMware have kindly produced an ebook


The book can be downloaded from VMware

The book covers the challenges of ensuring that we continue to deliver and maintain a reliable and secure working environment in an ever-changing world. 

Friday, 26 February 2021

VMware vSphere: Advanced Administration Workshop [V7] now available

 

VMware vSphere: Advanced Administration Workshop [V7]

Are you interested in pursuing your Deploy VMware Certified Advanced Professional in Datacentre Virtualisation? Or do you want to learn advanced vSphere 7 administration?

I’ve done three now, my version 4, 5, and 6, and now there’s “version 7” VCAP-DCV Deploy 2021.

 

These are some of my favourite exams, and the reason for this; the exam is a practical exam, it demonstrates that you know the product, and that you don’t just have a great memory, although that does help.

In the past the preparation for this exam was just a case of playing hugely with the product, learning parts of the technology that weren’t generally taught via the VMware certified courses.

VMware have just released a new course called.

VMware vSphere: Advanced Administration Workshop [V7]

This five-day, 6 module, 33 lab course provides hands-on training to equip students with a range of skills: from performing routine VMware vSphere 7 administrative tasks to complex vSphere operations and configurations.

1.       Course Introduction

2.       Creating and Configuring Management Clusters

3.       Creating and Configuring Productions Clusters

4.       Troubleshooting vSphere and Backing Up Configurations

5.       Lifecycle Management

6.       vSphere Security

Through lab-based activities, students are immersed in real-life situations faced by VMBeans, a fictitious company.  These situations expose students to real-life scenarios faced by companies that are building and scaling their virtual infrastructure.

This course uses scenario-based lab exercises and does not provide guided step-by-step instructions. To complete the scenario-based lab exercises, you are required to analyse the task, research, and deduce the required solution. References and suggested documentation are provided.

Approximately 90% of the class is application-focused and taught through labs.  The course aligns fully with the VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Data Centre Virtualization Deploy exam objectives.

The course is for systems administrators and also system engineers.

VMware have recommended the following prerequisites, but it’s really all about experience.

·         Completion of VMware vSphere: Optimise and Scale [V7] course

·         VMware Certified Professional – Data Centre Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification

·         System administration experience on Microsoft Windows or Linux operating systems

As the labs aren’t guided, this course is highly recommended for anyone who’s interested in earning their VCAP-DCV 2021

 




Monday, 4 January 2021

VMware 2021 Datacentre Virtualisation certifications available

Data Center Virtualization

VMware Data Center Virtualization certifications are designed to gauge your level of skill designing, installing, and managing VMware vSphere environments in a real world environment.

VMware have now made available the 2021 certifications, and the VCAPs now also cover VMware vSphere 7.0

VMware Certified Technical Associate - Data Center Virtualisation 2021

The VCTA-DCV certification holder has a basic understanding of virtualization and vSphere concepts. The certification holder also demonstrates knowledge of data center technology and basic troubleshooting concepts. A VCTA-DCV holder also has a working knowledge of managing cloud resources and basic networking concepts.


VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization 2021

The VCP-DCV 2021 certification validates candidate skills to implement, manage, and troubleshoot a vSphere infrastructure, using best practices to provide a powerful, flexible, and secure foundation for business agility that can accelerate the transformation to cloud computing.


VMware Certified Advanced Professional — Data Center Virtualization Deploy 2021

The industry-recognized VCAP-DCV Deploy 2021 certification validates that you know how to deploy and optimize VMware vSphere infrastructures. It proves that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to leverage best practices that provide a scalable and reliable virtualization platform for your organization.



VMware Certified Advanced Professional — Data Center Virtualization Design 2021

Earning the VCAP-DCV Design 2021 certification validates that you have advanced knowledge of end-user computing environments and components, and are able to recommend and design VMware solutions to meet specific goals and requirements. This industry-recognized certification improves your credibility among your peers and proves that you have a deep understanding of data center virtualization design principles and methodologies.



VMware Certified Design Expert – Data Center Virtualization 2021

VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) is the highest level of VMware certification. This elite group of VCDX professionals is comprised of design architects highly-skilled in VMware enterprise deployments. Prove you can deliver true business value by validating your expertise in vSphere6.x and enabling the best performance, availability, and efficiency from your infrastructure and applications.



Which ever level you are at, good luck to all pursuing VMware Certifications this year



Friday, 13 November 2020

The Multi Cloud and how VMware can help

 

Whenever I teach my various on-premises courses and even when I teach my Cloud based courses, I always get reminded by my Cloud trainer colleagues that in the future “everyone will be running all of their services in the cloud”.

I then ask my delegates and attendees the questions:

“In the future will you run all of your IT services purely from a public cloud?” Usually the answer is “No, we won’t”

“Are any of you running services in just one cloud solution?” These answers vary from “No, Yes, and we actually use multiple clouds”.

As we move forward and more of our services move towards modernisation, questions are being asked, obstacles are appearing, and as different departments perhaps decide to take their services into their own hands, we find that silos are created, and eventually it will come back into the IT departments hands.

The challenge becomes managing these multi-cloud environments in a cohesive and transparent (for the user) way.

Some of the questions that I get asked:

What is the difference between a hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud scenario?

I always think of hybrid cloud as a mix between a private on-premises cloud and a public cloud solution, I have to focus on a management method that allows consistency of management across a common infrastructure layer. Such as having VMware on-premises and then running VMware via VMC on AWS for my public cloud offering.

Mult-Cloud for me is a bit more complex, I may have VMware on-premises, AWS running my website, and web interfacing services, and then running perhaps Azure with Office 365 for productivity, and Intune for my device management, they all have their own management tools, and potentially 100s of separate accounts that I need to now coordinate and manage consistently.

The challenges for organisations starting or continuing their journey to the multi-cloud

·         Multiple systems that require management

·         Unpredictable costs, due to pay as you go models.

·         Not knowing 100% which clouds are in use, as developers and departments create their own workloads, leading to inconsistency and perhaps duplication of solutions.

·         Protection of workloads from a high availability, scalability, and business continuity view.

·         Backing up workloads.

·         Governance.

·         Automation.

·         Prioritisation.

·         Service Level agreements

·         Delivering applications, on any cloud, on any device, and making this transparent to the end user

 Why use a multi-cloud strategy for your Organisation

·        Unique Services: Organizations have the freedom to choose from different cloud providers to best fit specific application and computation requirements to their own unique business needs.

·        Scalable: An organisation can quickly scale up to use more resources during peak periods and then scale down when demand lessens, or fewer virtual data centres, depending on demand.

·        Speed: Global organizations can get services faster in multiple regions by choosing local public cloud vendors at all of their office locations. The closer the data centre, the lower the latency. Using a local public cloud computing provider also decreases response time for higher priority tasks.

·        Compliance with governmental regulation: Some organizations may need to use multiple cloud storage providers to adhere to government regulations and data sovereignty laws that require certain types of data to reside within the company’s country.

·        Saving time, money and physical space: Most organizations that employ multi-cloud capabilities use the public cloud for IaaS, avoiding the need to build and maintain their own datacentre. The advantage of using public cloud for IaaS is that users can build a virtual data centre in the cloud without needing a physical piece of hardware. This saves money and physical space, because the company does not have to invest in or store their own hardware. It also saves time, because the public cloud service provider manages, maintains and updates the data centre.

·         Future-proof and flexible: Opting for multiple cloud services provides benefits beyond spreading the risk of failure across several vendors. By adopting a multi-cloud strategy, businesses can get everything they want, or might want tomorrow, without being limited to the services that one vendor provides.

There has to be a way to better manage all of these clouds, whether they be on-premises, hybrid, or public clouds

As I work with VMware products and have done for 20 years, my focus will be on how VMware can help me manage the diversity in solutions and clouds that I may have in use now and in the future.

Can VMware help manage operations when I have applications and services on AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, Oracle, and so on?

The simple answer is YES. VMware multi-cloud solutions are designed to help manage workloads that run on the native infrastructure of public clouds. Not only that VMware can help me to manage a multi-cloud and hybrid scenarios that include, consistent infrastructure based on VMware technologies that run alongside workloads that run natively in the cloud.

VMware solutions for the multi-cloud

VMware’s building block for cloud solutions is VMware Cloud Foundation, this product suite contains a number of solutions. It consists of:

·         VMware vSphere

·         VMware NSX-T

·         VMware vSAN

·         VMware vRealize suite

VMware also have solutions to help analyse and manage your cloud solutions such as CloudHealth by VMware, that allows companies to Analyse and manage cloud cost, usage, security and governance in one place with a cloud management platform.

Also, VMware have Cloud Health Secure State that allows companies to Gain real-time visibility across clouds. Build a unified security monitoring approach for AWS, Azure, and Google Clouds to understand how a minor configuration change can elevate risk across all connected objects. Monitor ephemeral cloud resources and detect security events within minutes without excessive API calls to cloud. Visualize cloud resource relationships and associated misconfigurations, threats, metadata, and change activity. Explore inventory with typeahead search and investigate risks with powerful visualization capabilities for navigating cloud topology. Audit configuration changes and track progress developers are making in resolving security violations.

VMware Cloud Partners and solutions

VMware’s original partnership started with AWS and as such, my first foray into hybrid cloud was VMware Cloud on AWS

But VMware has expanded and also provide:

·         Azure VMware Solution

·         Google Cloud VMware Engine

·         IBM Cloud VMware Solutions

·         Oracle Cloud VMware Solution

As we move forward, I am sure that most companies will embrace some form of multi-cloud solution, and this area will grow rapidly, what’s important is that all companies research and then select the service that works best for them.