The official VCAP5-DCD exam has been released some days ago and there is the relative web page with several information about it and, of course, the blueprint.

And also there are other site with useful study guides and notes:

continue reading…

Finally, after the beta period and a long waiting (first time that beta results were out before the exam goes live), the VCAP5-DCD exam is now available. All information are on the official web page.

It also confirmed the rumors that, for a shot period, all VCAP4-DCD could upgrade to v5 without the need of VCP5… Nice but unuseful… I think that most has alreay upgrade before the 29th of Feb… So an exam discount (IMHO) was a better option.

As usually, for VCAP exam, you need to require a VCAP5-DCD Authorization, that is still a simple process, but may require two days… so just plan before try to book your exam.

The Exam Blueprint is version 1.1 and seems similar to the beta one. The VDCD510 exam contains 100 questions. The items include a mixture of multiple-choice, drag-and-drop items and design items using an in-exam design tool. The total time for this exam is 225 minutes. Candidates who take the VDCD510 exam in a country where English is not a primary language will have an additional 30 minutes added to the exam time. This time extension is automatic, no additional action is required from the candidate.

The PowerEdge™ R720 server is one of the 12G models of Dell server’s portfolio. By working for a Dell’s partner I’ve got the opportunity to test one and those are my consideration.

Of course processors are new (Intel® Xeon ® processor E5-2600 product family), but Intel (the last 0 mean that is an Intel server) does not help due to strange choice in the numbers of the Xeon series (I’ve already talk about it in the post Greater number is always better? For Intel maybe no) … The silly aspect is that an old R810 with dual E7 Xeon cost more than a new R720.

About the it can grow to 768GB, due to 24 DIMM Slots. Quite enoght for most virtualization project.

Connectivity is really rich with some integrated, but also modular, NIC: you can choose 4x1Gbps or 2x10Gbps and also the vendor (Broadcom or Intel). And you can expand with a lot of PCIe slots:

  • 7 PCIe slots:
    One x16 full-length, full-height
    Three x8 full-length, full-height
    Three x8 half-length, half-height

The layout is very simple and functional, and also well documented… included a QR code for the server model (and seems that a mobile app is also available, but I’ve not yet tested it).

Frontal panel looks similar with previous version exept the vFlash media that now is on the front (and not on the iDRAC interface) and a great number of disk slots:

  • 2.5″ Chassis with up to 16 Hard Drives
  • 2.5″ Chassis with up to 8 + 8 Hard Drives and 2 Controllers
  • 3.5″ Chassis with up to 8 Hard Drives

There is also a new RAID controller (PERC H710P Integrated RAID Controller, 1GB NV Cache), but seems similar to previous H700.

Internal is really clean:

SAS interfaces are simple to reach and there is also an internal SAS connector.

And the SD designed for the virtualization is now available in a dual configuration (previous only on the R810 and R910 models)… and still exist a (single) internal USB port:

But the amazing aspect of this server is that is really quiet and fans are really dynamic in speed. Also Dell has tested and validated an integrated data center solution that enables you to operate at higher temperatures or even chiller-less.

Note also that there is a different version called PowerEdge™ R720xd rack server. In this case the maximum Internal Storage is 38TB and you can use different disks configurations:

  • Up to 24 x 2.5” (front) + 2 x 2.5” (back)
  • Up to 12 x 3.5” (front) + 2 x 2.5” (back)

So it’s a good server for virtualizations (but probably also the R620 could be really similar) but also an interesting base for virtual storage, backup appliances, …

Today a new traing video has been added in the Backup Academy web site: “Basic principles of backup policies” by me :)

In this lesson I will explain what is a backup policy and also give some information about the flow and the process to design a backup plan. Then I will detail some aspects of a backup policy, like What, Where and How.

The purpose of this lesson is just give the bases of some concepts. For deep technical details on specific argument there are other lessons in the Backup Academy.

Basic principles of backup policiesNew!

by Andrea Mauro (vExpert, MCITP, VCDX)

  • What is a backup policy
  • Design a backup plan
  • What defines a backup policy
  • Where do backups go
  • How will backups be performed

The site is dedicated to IT and Storage professionals who are looking to learn the basics of performing backups and recovery of a virtual environment. This site is product / vendor neutral and is supported by experts in their respective fields.

DatacenterDynamics Converged recognises the need for cross-disciplinary cooperation in the data centre. From site selection and construction to outsourcing strategy and regulation through to how best to deliver the infrastructure for your mission-critical infrastructure – DatacenterDynamics Converged reflects the interaction of the following three elements for optimum data centre operation and management.

The DatacentreDynamics census revealed an industry second-to-none in terms of development. The high level of sophistication and maturity in the market has shifted the emphasis from facility and investment expenditure to concerns of efficiency; data centre monitoring, IT optimisation and the increased adoption of outsourcing models have moved centre stage.

The Italian conference is held in Milan on Jun, 7th. More information in the official page.

This year I’m one of the speaker, with this session:

  • Title: “Using server virtualization to optimize the consolidation and reduce the power consumption of the datacenter”
  • Abstact: Server consolidation is a way to reduce the number of servers and optimize the datacenter’s power consumption and the cooling requirements. By adding the server virtualization we can achieve abetter consolidation (and could also combine physical consolidation, like using blade servers) and obtain great level of reduction in both cooling and power consumption (and this is only one of the several benefit of virtualization). Of course additional systems could be needed, like shared storage, but we can make several considerations and see that still there are some benefit. We will analyze typical server consolidation in a virtual environment (ad also we will give some information about the desktop consolidation) to make some estimation of how datacenter consumption could be optimized. Also we will discuss on some techniques available in virtual environment (like VMware DPM) to optimize power requirements during low usage of the datacenter.

Actually the exam is not yet avaialable. But some people (with the approval of VMware) have already publish the current beta exam blueprint with some study notes and some interesting information:

continue reading…

I’ve written about my experience with the VCP5-DT exam but I’ve not started (and neither planned) to realize a blueprint with study notes like the one about VCP5.

But actually there are some recent works that could cover this exam:


For people that need to make practice for the VCAP-DCA exam (and the beta of VCAP5-DCA will start soon) a good lab environment is mandatory. But it could also be useful for other reasons, like demo environment.

There are several options to build one, but most used solutions are using nested hosts on one physical system with:

  • VMware Workstation/Fusion over a host OS: common for a notebook.
  • ESXi 5 on a server or a whitebox: common if you plan to have a always-on or fixed solution.

Actually both solution could be good, but Workstation could not scale too much, expecially if you work with a notebook. For whitebox configurations there are several site (I just suggest this post: Home vLab: my new WhiteBox). But you can also consider a good server (latest are really quite and powerful).

But what about the virtual environment of the virtual hosts and the virtual storage?

Some days ago I’ve seen an interesting project called vSphere 5 Auto Lab that is is a quick and easy way to build a vSphere environment for testing and learning using a single desktop or laptop PC and VMware Workstation, Fusion or ESXi. The whole lab runs in VMs on that one PC, even ESXi runs in a VM and can then run it’s own VMs.

What’s in the AutoLab?

The Autolab download contains a set of shell VMs and a lot of automation.  Once built the lab contains two ESXi servers, a Windows Active Directory Domain controller, a Windows Virtual Center, a FreeNAS storage appliance and a FreeSCO Router to link it to the outside world.

Is really interesting how the VM are configured (there are one version for ESXi and one for Workstation) and also how are deployed.

The hardware requirements for the lab are moderate. Hopefully you won’t need to buy a new computer, although you may need to do some upgrades.  If you can dedicate a computer to the role then the lab runs extremely well under ESXi.

Hardware Minimum Great Choice Used to build the lab (laptop bought in 2009)
CPU Dual Core, 64Bit Quad Core, i7 Core2 Duo
RAM 8GB How much can you afford? 8GB
Hard Disk 60GB free space 120GB SSD free space Second SATA hard disk, Laptop OS on small SSD
Operating System 64 Bit ESXi 5.0 Windows 7 64Bit
Virtualization Software VMware Player (untested) ESXi 5.0 VMware Workstation 8.0.2

Hint for the ESXi nested solution

If you use an ESXi host you can use two unique feature:

  • Transparent Page Sharing (see also KB 1021095) that can reduce the needed memory.
  • The vmdk sharing: usable to build a guest cluster, but also a cluster with ESXi nodes without the need of iSCSI or NFS appliances (same functions was explained to build a virtual XenServer Pool).

Hint for the Workstation nested solution

In Workstation you have a unique feature that permit to make a linked clone from a VM snapshot (to be host there is also in vSphere but is not directly usable from the GUI… for example it is used in VMware View or vCloud Director). In this way you can reduce the footprint of similar VMs and also reduce number of different blocks that you must access (this make possible run the environment on a SSD or just use better the cache).

Seems that the VCAP5-DCA beta period (announced some weeks ago) will now really start.

The first limited slots will be open on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.  The beta exam will be available until Friday, June 8, 2012.  Unfortunately the number of available seats and exam kits was really less than the number of invited people and I’ve not found any way to take this exam. Re-scores will be provided as soon as we can after the beta ends. However please expect at least a month on the re-scores—very late June to early July.

At this point I suppose that exam will go live on late July, or at this point could also be possible that it may be announced and/or launched directly at the VMworld USA.

Although is not yet on the official certification page, there was a post in the VMware Community with the official path for VCDX5 upgrade: VMware Certification Announces Upgrade Path from VCDX4 to VCDX5.

Current VCDX4 holders in good standing will be able to upgrade their certification to VCDX5 by successfully passing the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5- Datacenter Design (VDCD510) exam. The VCAP5-DCD exam release date will be announced in May. Release of the VCAP5-DCD final exam blueprint will occur at that time.

VCDX4-holders in good standing who have completed the VCAP5-DCD Beta Exam and achieved a passing score have satisfied the requirements for VCDX5 and are thus certified.

No info yet about the full path, but probably will be the same of the VCDX4… for this reason will probably be announce only then the VCAP5-DCA beta will be finished (actually has not yet started).

In the previous post we have discuss on how convert from VHD (used for example in Microsoft Hyper-V) to VMDK format (used in VMware products). Now let’s see how to convert from the other side.

There are several tools to make this V2V operation:

continue reading…

As you probably already know a VM is incapsulated with a set of files that define VM properties and objects. Some of those files are the virtual disks files and each vendor use its own format: VMware use the VMDK and Microsoft & Citrix use the VHD format. Note that there could be more sub-types (for example for the VMDK files, but we will explain in future posts). To convert between different format you can use some kind of converter to perform a virtual to virtual (V2V) task.

continue reading…

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