Mount vCloud Director: Helpful feedback from LinkedIn

After my previous post which asked the question of how to tackle the VCP-Cloud certification in the most efficient manner, here are some of the replies from the LinkedIn group “vCloud Director”:

Rajesh Radhakrishnan

Please complete the below e-learn course , you will get good understanding and you can pass the exam.
VMware vShield Fundamentals [V5.X]
VMware vCloud Director Fundamentals [V1.5]
VMware vCloud Director Fundamentals [V5.1]
VMware vCenter Chargeback Manager Fundamentals [V2.5]
http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=33611&ui=www_edu

The mylearn stuff is pretty good. There is also vmwarelearning.com which has an excellent set of videos on key VMWare products including vCloud Director.

I am also a subscriber to trainsignal.com’s excellent video series, which although it costs money (a whole $50 a month, come on!) is also concentrated goodness which helped with gaining the VCP5.

Toby Phillippe

Somewhat misleading as you must be VCP5-DV certified (which itself has a required course) if you don’t want to “spend thousands” on training courses. See the roadmap here: http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=32558&ui=www_cert

That being said, the classes are the best prep for the courses in my somewhat biased (I’m a VMware employee) opinion.

Now I agree that I would rather do the course if I could afford it, but I need to watch pennies. Certainly the VMware course materials are pretty good.

Rajesh Radhakrishnan

If you are planning to complete the certification only , you will get that knowledge from above mentioned elearn courses .
The vcp-vcd exam contains questions of vcd manage , vshiled , vcd networking and cbm (charge back manager ) , if you are a vcp5-dv expert you can go ahead with elearn courses , you will get understanding of install , configure manage of VCD.vShield and CBM and you can pass exam with that knowledge.
If you want to know all the features of the vcloud you should go with detailed class and documents .

Joshua Andrews

Note that VCP-Cloud has a class requirement if you have not passed your VCP5-DCV (which has its own class requirements if you don’t have VCP-Cloud).

If you want lab suggestions start looking at blogs around the VCAP-CIA exam which is the live-lab vCloud director exam.

Joshua Andrews

CIA (and the accompanying public blueprint) has only been out a week or so, but I am hopeful there will be blogs on it soon. Note there is a dedicated VCAP-CIA linked in group you can join tho that is also very new.

Toby Phillippe

A few useful resources:

VMware Blogs: http://blogs.vmware.com/
VMware Learning Paths: http://www.vmwarelearningpaths.com/
VMware Videos: http://vmwarelearning.com/
VMware Technical Documentation: https://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/
VMware vCloud Architecture Toolkit: http://www.vmware.com/cloud-computing/cloud-architecture/vcat-toolkit.html

And of course, the exam blueprints to guide you on what to study.
I hope that was a bit more helpful and wish you all the best on your journey to achieving VMware expertise!

So with these responses I have most of the materials for a route to the summit. The learning path I want to follow looks like the following:

image

Time to do some reading…

Getting the VCP-Cloud certification without spending money on courses?

The VCP-Cloud certification has no pre-requisite courses that one must take before the exam. The question is what is the minimum requirement to be able to pass the exam in terms of time and resources?

For example, I would think its absolutely necessary to have a private lab to build a vCloud system because of the practical exam questions.

But what are the minimum reading requirements, recommended resources and books that people who already have the certification would recommend as essential?

I’m waiting with bated breath for the “VMware Private Cloud Computing with VCloud Director” book due to be released in July this year. But I don’t yet know whether the book covers all the syllabus of the exam blueprint, nor can I get materials and lab exercises that cover all of the blueprint without paying for a VMware course – or can I?

Please understand, I’m not asking this because I am attempting to be a minimal “paper VCP-Cloud” – I want to understand all of the product rigorously. Paper certified people devalue the certification in the eyes of employers and render the hard work of others to be near worthless.

I know at least one person who is VCP5 certified who has never touched a ESXi5 hypervisor nor installed vCenter even once – what is the point of that?

What I do want to know is whether gaining the certification is possible without spending thousands of dollars on training courses.

Vmware and Openstack compared

In addition to learning vSphere and vCloud, I decided to compare it with its open-source competitor OpenStack, and I found this comparison on slideshare.net done by Mirantis

Now frankly I’m not interested in religious wars over this (I’m old enough to remember Novell v Microsoft, VHS v Betamax, Unix v Windows NT etc) but I do want to know whether OpenStack has comparable functionality to Vmware and whether Openstack solves problems that Vmware does not.

And the answer is…not really. Openstack has a long way to go to produce the functionality of Vsphere/ESXi and there are some large pieces missing or seriously behind.

I think Openstack has a good future ahead of it BUT it needs more consistent investment in making the install simple and the execution (ie the admin tools, the automation) much better.

But I was amused by the marketing hype to excuse the large functionality gaps. Apparently the differences can be explained as philosophical rather than functional.

While there are clear slices of functionality across OpenStack projects and VMware products that compete in some ways, the general approach and philosophy of the two ecosystems are vastly different.

Seeing the differences in philosophy is more relevant than a side-by-side feature comparison. That said, understanding how to compare the technologies to one another helps clarify how they differ.

VMware was propelled forward by the adoption of virtualization in the enterprise. As virtualization continued to become increasingly commoditized, VMware gradually pushed up the stack; new value added features were layered around the hypervisor in pursuit of maintaining the market momentum, initiated by the “virtualization disruption.”

I think VMware made their product better and easier to manage and added new features to make the resultant cloud more adaptable and resilient. I think this trumps philosophy every time with the people who are paying for this – the customers.

Ultimately, VMware today is not about cloud, it is about datacenter automation. It is not about infrastructure as a service, it is about virtualization offerings focused at very specific enterprise pain points.

Yes, but those pain points are what is costing the customers actual money. And I have a real hard time working out what the difference is between “cloud” and “datacenter automation”. The “cloud”  is what is presented to the customers, datacenter automation is how this presentation is achieved at lowered cost.

Infrastructure clouds in general and OpenStack in particular are not a byproduct of layering functionality around the hypervisor; neither were they originally targeted at the CIO or IT Manager pain points and, therefore, aren’t held back by having to cater to traditional enterprise workloads. OpenStack view of the world involves starting from scratch. It is the philosophy where one says “let us forget about all those existing enterprise applications and automate the infrastructure in a way that carries no legacy dependencies.”

IaaS involves a holistic approach to automating the entire infrastructure layer in a uniform way. It is not just about functionality layered around the hypervisor.

Apparently holistic is good, dealing with real pain not-so-good. Or something.

It’s a difference without meaning to me.

I think VMware should pay close attention (as I think they are) to Openstack, and remember that people will put up with a lot of pain if the product is free. But most of the costs of the datacenter are not the cloud software, but hardware, datacenter power and airconditioning, the training and expertise of the staff who run the datacenter.

Openstack have a great target to aim for, but they’ve got to organize the anarchy a lot better because the relief of pain is what really sells – not philosophical superiority.

Creating a test vCloud system using Autolab

It’s often difficult to find the hardware available that can support a test vCloud environment but I found that out there on the Interwebs are several ingenious solutions that can use Vmware Workstation, ESXi or even Vmware Player to create a functional system.

One such solution is called Autolab and in essence creates a set of VMs whose core consists of a DC, a VC, an iSCSI SAN (FreeNAS) and two nested ESXi hosts (4.x or 5.x) from a single OVA file.

To this you can add a router (a tiny Linux based VM which has just 32MB of RAM assigned) to allow access to and from your live network. The router is required so you can move files into the NAS for use in the installation of the VMs

For people learning VCP you only need 5 VMs (DC, VC, Host1, Host2 and NAS). You can then practice migrating everything from 4.x to 5.x or play with HA and DRS to your hearts content

Autolab1For vCloud 5.1 I added two VMs which I created myself from OVAs supplied by VMware, one for vCloud Director and one for vShield Manager.

The result is that I have a working vCloud test lab on one ESXi system which has one quad-core processor  and only 10GB of physical memory!

 

 

 

For people who want to learn View and not vCloud, then they need only to add one Connection Server VM and one security server VM.

It takes a little time to setup the DC and the VC (because they use autoinstall scripts on Windows 2008 R2) and on my system took 1 hour each to install.

Here’s the proof that vCloud is alive

vcd1

and here are the CPU and memory stats. Note that there was a step change when I realised I had the vShield manager VM configured with 8GB of RAM when it needed only 2GB (or less I haven’t really tried to squeeze yet).

cpu1

memory

 

Autolab is hosted by the nice people at VEEAM and there’s a VEEAM VM to build and a VEEAM ONE VM to practice with as well.

I would estimate that vCloud would be doable on a Linux laptop running 8GB to 10GB of RAM, with another 2GB required under Windows.

My diskstore shows that the vCloud lab uses 95GB so if you budget for 150GB for the lot you should be safe,

Now to find some vCloud labs…

VMware – encourage your ecosystem to grow by giving NFR licenses to VCPs

I’ve written this to VMWare regarding encouraging VCPs to go further into VMware‘s product suite. Let me know what you think:

I recently became a VCP5-DV and I’m now turning my attention to the next steps: vCloud and View

Although its nice to have VMware Workstation as a gift for passing, can I ask that it would also make sense to encourage VCPs to go further by giving away small licenses for every VMware product on an NFR basis?

What I would suggest is:

VCloud Director: 1 cell and up to 12 VMs – 12 months
View: 1 VC and up to 6 running Virtual Desktops – 12 months
…and so on.

Its frustrating that I have to use evaluations which expire quickly and which cannot be renewed. The licenses would be renewed once per year and when new products are released, VCPs should get a limited license to be able to learn them.

The assumption with evaluations is for companies to use them now and license them later – whereas virtualization engineers want to do learning and testing while not under the time pressure of a 60 day evaluation limit. The longer I can run a test/dev environment, the more confidence I can bring to my customers that I have gone through all of the steps of the deployment so they can start seeing the benefits of the products faster and can make their purchasing decisions sooner.

I’m sure that VMware would want to encourage VCPs to go beyond vSphere and embrace the whole of the product set, and giving them encouragement through personal NFR licenses in their own license portal, which can move with them from assignment to assignment would be a big help to growing the base of knowledgeable VMware consultants who can integrate these products together.

Yours sincerely

John Andrews