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Objective 1.3 – Plan and Perform Upgrades of vCenter Server and VMware ESXi

See also this similar post: Objective 1.3 – Plan and Perform Upgrades of vCenter Server and VMware ESXi and Objective 1.3 – Plan and Perform Upgrades of vCenter Server and VMware ESXi.

Identify upgrade requirements for ESXi hosts (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See: vSphere Upgrade Guide (page 11) and vSphere Upgrade Guide (page 69).

ESXi 5 system requirements are the same for a clean installation: 64 bit CPU, one or more supported NIC, 2098 MB RAM (note that are more than 2 GB), supported storage, … There are other requirements based on the type of source.

Note that there upgrade and migration are used in the guide in the same way, but a ESXi 4.x to ESXi 5 is an upgrade and ESX 4.x to ESXi 5 is a migration. Upgrade/migration can be perform in an automated mode (with VUM or by scripting) or in a interactive mode (you can boot the ESXi installer from a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive to upgrade ESX/ESXi 4.x hosts to ESXi 5.0).

Study also the files that are migrated from a ESX 4.x to a ESXi 5. Some are converted, other make not sense on a ESXi.

Identify steps required to upgrade a vSphere implementation (similar as vSphere 4.1)

See the entire vSphere Upgrade Guide. Basically the steps are (after the requirements check):

  • Upgrade of vCenter Server (upgrade from vCenter Server 4.1 is possible, exept if it installed on a 64 bit Windows XP) or deploy on a new vCenter Server 5. There is a downtime but it related only to vCenter Server.
  • Optional, upgrade or install of VMware Update Manager to handle the hosts upgrade/migration.
  • Upgrade or migration or reinstallation of hosts (vMotion across old and new host will work)… with vMotion an more hosts (and enough resources) this step can be done without downtime.
  • Upgrade of VMware Tools in all VMs (new Tools can works also on vSphere 4.x)… task not stricly required but recomended. There is a downtime in each Windows VMs (due to reboot needed after VMware Tools upgrade).
  • Upgrade of VMFS (could be done with running VMs on it and without downtime)… task not stricly required but recomended… note that old hosts cannot read VMFS5 and new hosts can work fine on VMFS3.
  • Upgrade of virtual hardware to v8 (but ESXi 5 can also run VMs in v7 and v4 format)… task suggested. There is a downtime in each VM (VM must be powered off to perform the upgrade of virtual hardware).

Note that VUM can orchestrate hosts, VMware Tools and virtual hardware upgrade.

Upgrade a vNetwork Distributed Switch (similar as vSphere 4.1)

A vSphere distributed switch version 4.0 or 4.1 can be upgraded to a later version (5.0), enabling the distributed switch to take advantage of features that are only available in the later version.

For the DVS upgrade see the vSphere Networking Guide (page 24).  Log in to the vSphere Client and select the Networking inventory view. Select the vSphere distributed switch in the inventory pane. On the Summary tab, next to Version, select Upgrade.

Upgrade from VMFS3 to VMFS5 (new in vSphere 5.x)

vSphere 5 offers a pain free upgrade path from VMFS-3 to VMFS-5. The upgrade is an online and non-disruptive operation which allows the resident virtual machines to continue to run on the datastore. But upgraded VMFS datastores may have impact on SDRS operations, specifically virtual machine migrations.

When upgrading a VMFS datastore from VMFS-3 to VMFS-5, the current VMFS-3 block size will be maintained and this block size may be larger than the VMFS-5 block size as VMFS-5 uses unified 1MB block size.

In upgraded hosts, the VMFS partition is not upgraded from VMFS3 to VMFS5. ESXi 5.0 is compatible with VMFS3 partitions. You can upgrade the partition to VMFS5 after the host is upgraded to ESXi 5.0. See the information on upgrading datastores from command line to VMFS5 in the vSphere Storage Guide (page 206).

Also note that new ESXi use a different partition schema (GPT instead of MBR) to handle disks and LUNs larger than 2 TB. For new installation the GPT partition table is used.

For more info about VMFS see also:

Upgrade VMware Tools (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Upgrade Guide (page 138). This task can be done manually (from vSphere Client) or with VUM. Note that:

  • The version of VMware Tools included in vSphere 5.0 is supported on vSphere 4.x and 5.0 virtual machines. That is, you can also use this new version of VMware Tools in virtual machines on ESX/ESXi 4.x hosts.
  • Virtual machines in a vSphere 5.0 environment support the versions of VMware Tools included in vSphere 4.0-5.0. That is, you are not strictly required to upgrade VMware Tools if VMware Tools was installed from an ESX/ESXi 4.x host.

Upgrade Virtual Machine hardware (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Upgrade Guide (page 154). Can be done only with the VM powered off. Some new features (like more than 8 vCPU, for example) require the new virtual hardware (v8). ESXi 5 can create, edit and run v8 and v7 VMs, and can edit and run v4 VMs.

Paravirtualization (VMI) is not supported on ESXi 5.0. Hence, you cannot move VMI-enabled virtual machines from an ESX 3.x or ESX 4.x/ESXi 4.x host to an ESXi 5.0 host when the virtual machines are powered on.

Upgrade an ESXi Host using vCenter Update Manager (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Upgrade Guide (page 92). You can use Update Manager to perform orchestrated upgrades of the ESX/ESXi hosts in your vSphere inventory by using a single upgrade baseline.  You can create upgrade baselines for ESX/ESXi hosts with ESXi 5.x images that you import to the Update Manager repository. You can use ESXi .iso images to upgrade ESXi 4.x hosts to ESXi 5.x or migrate ESX 4.x hosts to ESXi 5.x.

Determine whether an in-place upgrade is appropriate in a given upgrade scenario (similar as vSphere 4.x)

Some upgrade/migration paths are not supported, like:

  • ESX/ESXi 3.x hosts: You must upgrade them to ESX (see next point) or ESXi version 4.x.
  • ESX 4.x host that was upgraded from ESX 3.x with a partition layout incompatible with ESXi 5.0.
  • You cannot use Auto Deploy to upgrade or migrate version 4.x ESX and ESXi hosts to ESXi 5.0, because version 4.x ESX and ESXi hosts are deployed by the traditional method of installing the software on the host hard disk.
  • You cannot change the installation location of the hypervisor (for example to move from local disk to a flash card.
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As most people reading this know, VMware recently announced its vSphere 5 product release.  Although certifications based on vSphere 4 retain their value, we must march onwards; for instance, VCP5 has already been announced.  To this end, today there is the announce of the final opportunity to attempt the VCDX certification based on vSphere 4 designs (this would mean that the VCDX5 certification could be near the corner? maybe in middle 2012?).

The city will be Frankfurt, Germany, and the dates will be February 6-10, 2012.  Applications for this session will open on November 14, 2011, and will close on December 5, 2011.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that this schedule is somewhat compressed: if a candidate attempts VCDX4 in Singapore during the week of November 14, 2011, and is unsuccessful, he or she will not have a lot of time to build an improved VCDX4 application for Frankfurt.  This was a deliberate choice.  We need to balance the needs of VCDX4 candidates with those who are eager to embark on the vSphere 5 version of the program.  Candidates who defend in Singapore and feel strongly that they will want to reattempt in Frankfurt would be advised not to wait for their results before enhancing their applications.  Instead, they should use the feedback provided by their Singapore panel to begin improving their application right away.

As before, applications must be submitted in English, and the Frankfurt defenses, by default, will be conducted in English.  However, VMware would like to run a trial program under which Frankfurt candidates could choose to defend in German (in front of a panel of German-speaking VCDXes).  If you’d be interested in this, send a message to [email protected].

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Objective 1.2 – Install and Configure VMware ESXi

See also this similar post: Objective 1.2 – Install and Configure VMware ESXi and Objective 1.2 – Install and Configure VMware ESXi.

Perform an interactive installation of ESXi (similar as vSphere 4.x)

Interactive installation is quite simple and similar to a generic ESXi 4.x.

Seems strange but there is no mention on scripted installation (introduced first time, for ESXi, in version 4.1) in the blueprint, but IMHO you must know them, at least how you can boot from (you can PXE boot the ESXi installer or boot it from a CD/DVD or USB drive) and where you can put the kickstart file (the installation script can be stored in a location that the host can access by HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, NFS, CDROM, or USB). Also check the format of the kickstart file to know required and optional fields.

Of course the questions are not too deep on this aspects (there will be also a VCAP5-DCA exam…)

Deploy an ESXi host using Auto Deploy (new in vSphere 5.x)

See also: vSphere Installation and Setup Guide (page 57).

Auto Deploy is a new method for provisioning ESXi hosts in vSphere 5.0.  At a high level the ESXi host boots over the network (using PXE/gPXE), contacts the Auto Deploy Server which loads the ESXi image into the hosts memory (the host become stateless).  After loading the ESXi image the Auto Deploy Server coordinates with vCenter Server to configure the host, using Host Profiles (same as in vSphere 4.x) and Answer Files (answer files are new in 5.0). You can create image profiles with ESXi Image Builder CLI, and host profiles using the vSphere Client.

Configure NTP on an ESXi Host (same as vSphere 4.x)

Is the same for ESX/ESXi from version 3.5 and can be configured from the vSphere Client. See also: How to configure NTP on VMware ESX.

Configure DNS and Routing on an ESXi Host (same as vSphere 4.x)

Is the same for ESX/ESXi from version 3.x and can be configured from the vSphere Client. See also: Use the VI Client to change DNS, gateway, and hostname.

Note that, compared to the old ESX host, in the ESXi there is only a single gateway (not one for Service Console and one, optional, for vmkernel interfaces).

Enable/Configure/Disable hyperthreading (same as vSphere 4.x)

See: vSphere Resource Management Guide (page 19).

To enable hyperthreading, you must first enable it in your system’s BIOS settings and then turn it on in the vSphere Client (in host Configuration tab / Processors / Properties). Hyperthreading is enabled by default.
Some Intel processors, for example Xeon 5500 processors or those based on the P4 microarchitecture, support hyperthreading. Consult your system documentation to determine whether your CPU supports hyperthreading.

Enable/Size/Disable memory compression cache (same as vSphere 4.1)

This new feature introduced in vSphere 4.1 is another memory management solution (faster that the last change: the VM swap). See official documentation for more info.

  • To enable or disable this feature (enabled by default): change host Advanced Settings (Mem.MemZipEnable, 1 to enable or 0 to disable the memory compression cache).
  • To change the size: still in host Advanced Settings (Mem.MemZipMaxPct, the value is a percentage of the size of the virtual machine and must be between 5 and 100 percent).

License an ESXi host (new in vSphere 5.x)

Host licensing in quite new in vSphere 5… But do not expect too much questions about it (is not a VSP5 exam).

The vCenter Server is still licensed on instance, but now each host is licensed not only per socket (one socket is a physical CPU package) but also per vRAM Entitlement and this value depends on the ESXi edition (note that the edition are the same as vSphere 4.x exept the Advanced that has been suppressed). For more info see: the vSphere 5 licensing model.

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Some hours ago I have received an e-mail from VMware Technical Certification Team to add the VCP4-DT certification in my official transcript.

The VMware education transcripts will now include your VMware technical certifications.
Your online transcripts will reflect your VMware Certified Professional 4 – Desktop status as soon as you:
–  Confirm your shipping address
–  Consent to transcript release
–  Accept the VMware Certification Agreement

After complete the task, I notice that my ID is #20… Really curios, because I’ve not take the exam during the beta period (due to no available date in testing center near me)… this mean than less than 20 people have take (or passed) the beta exam.

For more info about the exam see also the post: Exam VCP4-DT.

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Objective 1.1 – Install and Configure vCenter Server

See also this similar post: Objective 1.1 – Install and Configure vCenter Server and Objective 1.1 — Install and Configure vCenter Server.

Identify available vCenter Server editions (new in vSphere 5.x)

As in vSphere 4.x, the vCenter Server 5 editions are:

  • vCenter Server Foundation: same limits of 4.x (max 3 hosts, no Orchestrator, no Linked mode)
  • vCenter Server Essential: basically a Foundation edition to be used in the Essential and Essential+ bundles
  • vCenter Server Standard: the full edition (with some limits only in the appliance version)

For the vCenter Server installation and deployment there are now two different options (in vSphere 4.x there was only the first one):

  • install the vCenter Server on a Windows Server machine (physical or VM), see minimum requirements (and note that now Windows XP is no more supported)
  • deploy of a virtual appliance (VA) based on SuSE Enterprise (no Windows license is required, but there are some limitations)

Deploy the vCenter Appliance (new in vSphere 5.x)

The deploy phase is similar to a usual VA:

The blueprint does not specify also the configuration, but I suppose that could be required. See the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide (page 201) and vCenter Server and Host Management Guide (page 41).

For more info and a list of the VA limits see also: vCenter Server Virtual Appliance (vCSA)

Install vCenter Server into a virtual machine (same as vSphere 4.x)


Size the vCenter Server database (similar as vSphere 4.x)

You can use the estimator included in vCenter Server (or download the excel from VMware site). I recommend to check how grow with the number of hosts, VMs and the statistical level:

Install additional vCenter Server components (new in vSphere 5.x)

In the vCenter DVDN there are the following packages:

  • vCenter Server for Windows (that include also the Orchestrator)
  • vSphere Client
  • vSphere Web Client (server part for Windows)
  • vSphere Update Manager
  • ESXi Dump Collector
  • Syslog Server
  • Auto Deploy
  • vSphere Authentication Proxy

Install/Remove vSphere Client plug-ins (same as vSphere 4.x)

Installation usually is done from the plug-in manager (but not always) or from an installation program or MSI (for example for the VDR’s plug-in. The removal is the same of a usual Windows programs, from the control panel / Uninstall.

Different is how the plug-in are registered and de-registered from the vCenter Server side… in this case there are specific procedures(for removal see KB 1025360 – Removing unwanted plug-ins from vCenter Server).

Enable/Disable vSphere Client plug-ins (same as vSphere 4.x)

Still done from the plug-in manager (see official documents). In case of issues during the enable, check if there aren’t old version of the plug-in or see KB 2001202 – Cannot enable vSphere Client plugins after they are installed.

License vCenter Server (similar as vSphere 4.x)

The license management is the same of vSphere 4.x and also the type of vCenter Server license is the same (for instance).

New in vCenter Server 5.0 is the Reporting tool to see licenses usage (that this tool require the vSphere Web Client?). Each 30 minutes a snapshots of licenses usage has been saved in the vCenter DB.

Determine availability requirements for a vCenter Server in a given vSphere implementation (similar as vSphere 4.x)


Determine use case for vSphere Client and Web Client (new in vSphere 5.x)

See the “VMware vSphere Basics guide” and the document vSphere Web Client.

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With vSphere 5 now there are two diffent clients GUI oriented to manage vSphere:

  • the traditional vSphere Client (to be installed on a Windows OS)
  • the new client web-oriented: vSphere Web Client.
    To work correctly this client require a server part (that is already included in the vCSA and must be installed in the Windows version of vCenter).

In this page let’s talk about the pros, cons and limits of the vSphere Web Client.

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With vSphere 5 there is a new version of vCenter Server: VMware vCenter Server Virtual Appliance.

In this page we will see pros and cons of the VA compared to the installable version.

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With this first post, I will start a collection of link and notes about the VCP5 exam prep. I will use the official blueprint (the actual version is 1.2, and is still related to the beta exam, but probably it will remain the same).

Let’s start from the part that is not included in the blueprint (something is in objective 1.5): the VMware products and solutions overview and some concepts about cloud computing.

Section 0 – VMware Vision (not included in the blueprint, but required)

Objective 0.1 – VMware Products

This part is really simple and I’ve listed only some products (but probably the most important). Apart vSphere (where of course a complete knowledge is required), just an idea of product purpose could be enough.

Objective 0.2 – Cloud Concepts

This part it’s not obvious… Apart the definition and difference between private, hybrid and public cloud (as written in objective 1.5) it’s also needed a knowledge of the type of services.

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A new blog about virtualization has been started…

For more info see also the why page.

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Official news are still missing,  but something is moving for the new exam VCAP5-DCA. There are works in progress for the blueprint (whit also the feedback from a restricted survery that will close on Jul, 26). Seems confirmed that the exam will be 100% lab based.

So could be possible that VCAP5-DCA certification will be announce during the VMworld USA at the end of august. Maybe in the same period will start the beta? What I quite sure is that the beta cannot run before… most VUE testing centers are closed in August.

continue reading…

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After two year I’m again on the VCP beta exam… (on July, 14 2009 I’ve take the VCP4 beta exam, that was the first beta exam from VMware).
The story is available on:

The beta exam

As written in the official blueprint (v1.2) the beta exam (code VCP511) consist of 180 questions (with a short pre-exam survey of 8 questions).

Beta exam period will finish on July, 24 (I never though that some VUE testing center were open also on other day than Mon-Fri) and can be schedules in any VUE center (depending on available seats). Note that each people can see both VCP510 and VCP511 exams in their profile, but the official will be available only on late Aug and the beta is only on invite… so I think that without the invite voucher (that is individual) is not possible book the exam.

continue reading…

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With the official announce of VMware vSphere 5 an historical era has ended: vSphere 5 will be based only on ESXi… ESX in no more available.

VMware ESX Server was probably the first bare metal hypervisor for x86 architecture and its first release was in 2001… Now, after 10 years, it has been retired. But this does not mean that there isn’t any support of existing ESX… support will be available still for several years, as reported in the official document:

continue reading…

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After  the launch of vSphere 5 on July 12th, also the new VCP5 has been launched!

The VMware Certification portal has already been updated with the VCP5 exam blueprint and even a VCP5 mock exam, and there is a substantial amount of information about the training requirements on the VCP5 homepage.

The final exam will be available to take after August 29th 2011, but there was also be the usual beta period until Jul 24.

continue reading…

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