Free Training for VMware Products

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This comprehensive list of training links came my way the other day and it was too good I just had to share it.

It’s the work of the former Omaha VMUG leader turned VMware TAM Jodi S (Twitter @rytalws)


Foundational Topics




VMware DataCenter Virtualization Fundamentals

Introduction to Virtualization and VMware Hypervisor

VMware vSphere Strategy: The Foundation of Your DataCenter

An overview of vCloud Suite

ESXI Foundation


Featured VMware Documentation Sets

vSphere Hypervisor – Installation & Configuration

vSphere Hypervisor -vSphere Client Installation

vSphere Hypervisor – Configuring VM Hardware

VMware vSphere: What’s New Fundamentals [V5.5]

VMware vSphere 5.5 What’s New!

VMware vSphere: VM Management – Web Client Overview

VMware vSphere: VM Management – Cloning/Templates

VMware vSphere: VM Management – Migration vMotion

VMware vSphere: VM Management – HA

VMware vSphere: VM Management – DRS

VMware vSphere: VM Management – Storage Profiles

Local Management Tools Overview

How to Install and Configure VMware ESXI 5.5

VMware vSphere: Installation – ESXI 5

vSphere 5.5 Installation, Administration and Training course

Build your own VMware vSphere ESXi 5.5 Datacenter, starting with one PC

HOL-SDC-1304 – vSphere Performance Optimization

HOL-SDC-1310 – vSphere and vSOM 101

HOL-SDC-1319 – Tech Preview: VMware NSX for Multi-Hypervisor Environments



VMware Virtual Networking Concepts

vSphere Networking

vSphere Distributed Switch

VMware Network Virtualization Fundamentals

Network I/O Control

VMware vCloud Networking and Security

VMware NSX Product Page

VMware NSX Blog

HOL-SDC-1302 – vSphere Distributed Switch A to Z

HOL-SDC-1303 – VMware NSX Network Virtualization Platform

HOL-SDC-1319 – Tech Preview: VMware NSX for Multi-Hypervisor Environments



Introduction to Storage

VMware vSphere: Storage – Thick & Thin Provisioning

VMware Storage Virtualization

Enable vSphere HA and Storage DRS for VMware vSphere

VMware Storage Profiles

VMware Storage I/O Control

VMWorld Session: STO1545-Architecting Storage DRS

How to identify and Solve Storage I/O Latency Issues

vSphere 5 Storage DRS IO Load Balancing

VMware Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler

HOL-SDC-1308-Virtual SAN (vSAN) and Virtual Storage Solutions



Security of the VMware vSphere Hypervisor

VMware Security Development Lifecycle

VMware Security Response Center

VMware Security Advisories

VMware Hardening Guides

Operations Management


VMware vCenter Operations Manager Documentation

VMware vCenter Operations – Introduction Video

VMware vCenter Operations Manager Fundamentals [V5.6]

VMware vCenter Operations Training Videos

HOL-SDC-1301-Applied Cloud Operations

HOL-SDC-1304 – vSphere Performance Optimization

HOL-SDC-1301-Applied Cloud Operations

Certification –


Certification – VMware Cloud Fundamentals

Certification – VMware DataCenter Virtualization – VCP5-DCV – Blueprint

VMware VCP-DCV 5.1 Exam Preparation


It’s my easy button for you this week.  You all probably already have something but I didn’t… 

In addition, here is a 5.5 Feature URL listing which provides information on each 5.5 feature.. Enjoy!


vSphere ESXi Hypervisor Enhancements



Hot-Pluggable SSD PCI Express (PCIe) Devices

Support for Reliable Memory Technology

Enhancements for CPU C-States

Virtual Machine Enhancements


Virtual Machine Compatibility with VMware ESXi 5.5


Expanded vGPU Support

Graphic Acceleration for Linux Guests

VMware vCenter Server Enhancements


VMware vCenter Single Sign-On

VMware vSphere Web Client

VMware vCenter Server Appliance

vSphere App HA

vSphere HA and VMware vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (vSphere DRS)

Virtual Machine–Virtual Machine Affinity Rules Enhancements

vSphere Big Data Extensions

vSphere Storage Enhancements


Support for 62TB VMDK


MSCS Updates

16GB E2E support


PDL AutoRemove

vSphere Replication Interoperability

vSphere Replication Multi-Point-in-Time Snapshot Retention

vSphere Flash Read Cache

vSphere Networking Enhancements


Link Aggregation Control Protocol Enhancements

Traffic Filtering

Quality of Service Tagging

Quality of Service Tagging

SR-IOV Enhancements

Enhanced Host-Level Packet Capture

40GB NIC support


VMware Hands On Lab — HOL-SDC-1305

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I decided to take the HOL-SDC-1305 lab but only module four tonight. Why only module four? Well, it’s the one all about vCenter Server Heartbeat.

If you have not taken a VMware lab I would highly recommend it as you’ll gain the proper topic knowledge and you’ll get to do some great hands on lab work at the same time.

HOL-SDC-1305 (Module 4) didn’t disappoint me, it was straight to the point, went through the key areas, and was a great overview of the product.

I wanted to see more about requirements, design, and any constraints. However these items were outside the scope of this lab so I can’t really hold it against it.

I attached a quick screen shot of the lab for your enjoyment!


Note – Everyone has access to the VMware Hands on Labs, and it’s FREE to all.

Start here >>

HOL Labs Main Link >>


4 Years of VMExplorer Blog

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February 2014 marks 4 years I’ve been blogging. Thinking back 4 years vitalization was really starting to ramp up and the IT landscape was changing for us all. I was leading the Phoenix VMUG at that time and we were seeing tremendous growth in attendance.

Flash forward to 2014 and once again our industry is changing for the better. We are going from manual delayed processes to fully automated self-services. Companies who used to be fixed into single offerings are expanding daily, seriously look at Netflix they are now producing their own series for their customers. We have seen the fall and/or decline of many Brick and Motor companies in the retail, entertainment, computer, electronics, and book stores, etc. The ones who could keep their doors open are innovating to stay competitive. One area I find interesting are the local mom-n-pop stores around Video and Books, they seem are making a comeback as the retail giants in their areas close their doors. Yes these places still exist and they have a loyal customer base, but for how long that seems to be the question for them.

Personally, I enjoy change and what it brings. I think change is the zest of life. I enjoy working for a company that embraces change and is the market leader in many of these areas. These buzz words you hear in our industry – Public-Hybrid-Private Cloud, End User Computing, Bring your own devices, XAAS (Anything As a service) etc. these are the conduits for IT change as the company’s we work for continue to innovate. This type of innovation will provide services that we and the customers we serve want, need, and deserve. Keep in mind as some point XAAS will be on your doorstep. Yes I’m talking to you Mr. /Mrs. IT Admin working in SMB market. It’s coming your way too so be ready. Start thinking of Enterprise Technologies and strategies no matter how big or small you are. As these strategies will expand your personal knowledge BUT keep your company competitive.

One last topic INSPIRE. Over the next year I plan to work with a few of my old VMUG leaders to form a group to inspire youth around technologies and engineering. We are working out the details but our beliefs are simple – Help youth in our local community to embrace the technology at a deeper level. We feel this will help them stay on track in school and hopefully choose a career in Technology and engineering. I can still remember the day when I made my choice. It was 1982 and I was playing my good old Atari 2600. I just had to know how it worked and this desire to know naturally led me to my career today.

Next 4 years, yep, I’m looking forward to them and I’m moving forward with Embrace and Inspire as my guides!

Thanks for reading, enjoy, and please feel free to comment!



Free Instructional Video: vCloud Director Concepts and Architecture

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The following URL will take you to 13 recorded sessions. They deliver an overview of VMware vCloud Director concepts and architecture, installation, creating Provider Resources, creating Organizations, creating and populating Catalogs, building a vApp, creating vShield Edge Firewall Rules, creating site-to-site VPNs, and more. Enjoy!




Book Review – “Critical VMware Mistakes You Should Avoid – Larry Loucks”

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On a plane flight to and from California (~4 Hours) I took some time to do a quick read. The book I read was “Critical VMware Mistakes You Should Avoid” by Larry Loucks, and the length 128 Pages. This book documents mistakes made by others and how to avoid them. It does a pretty decent job of this and it documents the issues and solutions in an orderly manner. I can see how this book is an eye opener for some. It gives you enough awareness to start looking for issues brought up and some references to follow.

Here is my take on this book…

Beginner – You’re going to love this book, it is a great primer into the main issues around virtualization. I would recommend it for beginners and even up to CxO’s.

Intermediate – You’ll find some “hey I didn’t know that” and occasionally you might think “I understand what they mean, but I have to tweak what he’s saying to match my environments design”. I would only recommend this book if you need a refresher or basic reference guide to remind you about issues.

Advanced – You will be bored by this book, recommend it to beginners and help the community grow.


The book makes great points about the types of users he has encountered – You get thrown into virtualization, you start out great, but then issues arise, consultants come in to solve issues, some write books about their experiences (hence this book), and everyone learns in the end. In running a VMUG for a few years I’ve talked with my fair share of new users. Occasionally thinking “You did what?” but the point is we all were there at one time, we all learned, and so did our knowledge around virtualization. If your one of those advanced users remember this and help others learn. I see this book as a helping hand and a beginners starting guide that is well written and will help others learn.

Great Job Larry… and thanks for giving back to the virtualization community!

4 Books in 4 Weeks – Book 3 How to compare Terminator 2 to VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS Technical Deepdive

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I got a chance over the past few weeks to complete Book 3 VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS Technical Deepdive by Duncan Epping and Frank Dennerman

I’ve read a lot of the reviews about this book and I must say they say about the same thing.

  1. This book makes the HA/DRS VMware white paper easier to read and understand
  2. I learned a bit more about HA/DRS then the VMware white paper
  3. The book is well-organized and makes great sense.
  4. Buy this book and read it 

I agree with all of these basic statements.  However I never read the white paper, shame on me :), as I felt the cluster I administrated never really needed in-depth settings HA or DRS provided.  When I changed jobs to a much larger environment I needed the advanced functions of HA/DRS and I needed to get up to speed quite quickly.  I read this book, and then I went back and read the white paper.  What an eye opener. 

This scenario reminded me of how I saw Terminator 2. How does T2 fit in to a book review about HA and DRS you might ask. Simple, when T2 was released I didn’t want to know anything about it, kind of like the VMware HA/DRS White paper I knew it was there but ignored it.  All I wanted to know about T2 was its release date, I didn’t let anyone tell me about it, and I turned off any marketing about it.  When I finally saw the movie it was awesome. What a surprise to find out that Arnie was reprogrammed for aiding and not killing, TOTAL Surprise.  This book VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS Technical Deepdive was my in-depth technical intro to HA/DRS, and like the way I viewed T2 it was awesome!  It was nice to really learn this topic in reverse order (Book first then Whitepaper) as the book really does a great job laying it all out in an easy to follow and understand format. 

As I was reading this book I noticed how physically easy it was to read.  Here’s what I mean.  The book and font size with large Left/Right paragraph indentations made the book easy to read visually.  With most books you would have to flatten or shift the book around to reveal words hidden by the crease or binding of the book.  The large paragraph indentations meant I didn’t have to shift the book around to see the words.  This made it less physical to read which helped me to read it quite quickly. I noticed this when I was on airplane and the space was pretty tight.  Not sure if this is by design, but just the same it made a difference for me. 


Read this book, suggest others do, buy it and buy the next version! 

Up next Book 4 – Mr. Lowe and Friends, sorry to keep you waiting but your book (VMware vSphere Design) is up next!

4 Books in 4 Weeks – Book 2 VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise 2nd Edition

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The task to complete 4 books in 4 weeks reminded me of a joke. A guy walks up to a 7/11 store and the clerk is locking the entrance. The guy asks “I thought you were open 24 hours?” The Clerk replies “Yes we are open 24 hours, just not in a row!” With that said I’m still on course to finish my books in 4 weeks, just not 4 weeks in a row!

About 4 years ago I purchased VMware ESX in the Enterprise. Back then it was based on ESX 3.x. It was a well written book and I had recommended it many times. When I saw the 2nd Edition published I knew I had to read it. This book covers ESX 3 – 4 and ESXi – Very cool!

Book Review / Summary

The book is comprised of 12 chapters ranging from hardware considerations through disaster recovery & backup. Like the previous book it includes lots of best practice guides, well written how to’s and superior charts/tables. According to the author the book is an attempt at a “Soup to Nuts” description of ESX/ESXi best practices, from what I read he did just fine at his attempt!

TIP: Read the Preface, usually I skip this part but I found this one to be worth the 6 pages, at least breeze through it. Also, there is a nice reference to my beloved Commodore 64.

Things I liked about this book….

  • Book is not limited to VMware only, it covers some 3rd party tools as well
  • Charts and Tables – I don’t think I’ve seen a technical book having more well written and meaningful charts and tables then this one.
  • Throughout the book there are nicely highlighted Best Practices and tips – you would benefit if you just read these alone
  • I can’t say this enough, and so do did the book – Check the VMware HCL prior to buying hardware
  • 20 vCPU per pCPU core — of course don’t take my word read this book and find out why
  • Nice tips on NUMA based pCPU’s and vCPU’s that will make you rethink your design
  • Real world Examples throughout the book that get you thinking about your environment
  • Great tips on BIOS settings, Especially around APCI
  • Chapter 7 Networking is pretty detailed and has some great comparison charts


Things I didn’t like about this book…

  • The occasional entire page or two of text without breaks in the flow, sorry I’m a sucker for charts and graphs
  • Some of the how to guides seemed right from the manuals you get from VMware
  • Chapter 3 – about 40+ pages in painstaking detail of how to install ESX/ESXi and boot it to SAN/iSCSI but less the 3 pages on Automating the process
  • The writing style of the book sometimes drags on with play by play explanations and multiple versions of the play by play, for a beginner okay I get it, but for others it’s a bit painful



Quick Summary…

This books is worth every dollar you buy it for, granted you actually read it. 541 Pages is a bit long and it drags in places. However the Charts, graphs, and pics are PRICELESS.

If your new to VM this books is up your alley, if you’ve been around for a while you’ll pick up some good tips and tricks, and if your experienced suggest others read it.

Thanks for reading my post… I’m off to read my 3rd book of 4 VMWare vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS Technical Deepdive 215 Pages by Duncan Epping and Frank Dennerman

Paging Dr. Epping and Dr. Dennerman, your up…


4 Books in 4 Weeks – Book 1 Storage Area Networks for Dummies

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In 2004 I bought the 1st Edition Storage Area Networks for Dummies (now in its 2nd Edition) and read 100 pages or so, life got in the way, and now 2011 I’ve decide to finish it. I know what you’re thinking, “Why read a Dummies book?” Back in the day this book had the information I was looking for and it helped me on my first virtualization design. In today’s world some of the information is somewhat outdated however it still has a lot of the basic SAN fundamentals and concepts of today’s SAN’s.

An Easy Read and my own personal Dummies Tip…

Going through the book I kept in mind this is a dummies book and it’s meant to be an easy read. This book was an easy read and it was a great refresh on SAN technologies. There was quite a bit of outdated material in this book (I expected this) and it was interesting to see how technology had progressed since 2003 days. Example – In 2003 FCoIP was referred as FCIP or iFCP. The basic book layout comprises of 5 different parts ranging from SAN 101 through Management & Configuration. One thing I dislike about technical books is when an author spells out an acronym once, never to return to it, and then references the acronym over and over. I couldn’t tell you how many times I go back to find out the meaning of an acronym. This book overcomes this issue and it does it so well it becomes unnecessary. Example, they mention FC-AL (See Cliff notes below), and talk about how FC-AL (For more information about Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop – Please see my cliff notes under the section “Some General cliff notes below”) is an old technology. Only a fool would use FC-AL (Tip: if you’d like to know more about FC-AL see my cliff notes below). Hopefully you get my point. It was nice to have the reference but mentioning it too often (it seemed like 40 times) got a bit annoying. Here’s a Dummies Tip: Authors reading this blog – please find a happy medium, do it, and don’t blame your editor for taking it out. I mean after all it’s your book, right?

Something Unexpected…

While I was reading the book we had several vendors present their products at my current employer. They mentioned a lot of the terms I listed below. So yes this books still has value and for a person who wants to learn the basics I would recommend they read the 2nd edition and then on to “higher education”. I noted lots of errors in the book especially around their math or what appeared to be simple cut/paste issues. I did go to the site to see if they printed book corrections but I was unable to find it.

Some General Cliff Notes…

Fibre Channel protocol is spelled fibRE not Fiber – << My spell checker really hates fibre J

Single Mode Fiber Cable – Smaller diameter means a more direct path for the beam, usually yellow, for long distances (Up to 10K), usually uses a higher powered laser

Multi Mode Fiber Cable – Larger diameter means a less direct path for the beam, usually Orange, for shorter distances (<500M, Normal 10 to 20M), can use an LED or vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs)

Common fiber connectors – LC – Most common, SC – Older Larger connector, ST – Older BNC Twist on style

FC-AL – Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop Protocol, used with a SAN hub – RARE replaced by SAN Switches, not one device can exceed the max speed, the more devices the more congestion occours, MAX of 128 devices per hub, common use might be for SAN based TAPE.

FC-SW – Fibre Channel Switched Protocol, used with a SAN Switch, more efficient then HUBS, devices can cross communicate with each other, 1000’s of devices can be connected, each device is assigned a WWN(World Wide Name)

Modular class SAN – Use Controllers which are separate from disk shelves

MonoLithic class SAN – Use disks that are assembled inside the array frame, -these disks are connected to many internal controllers through lots of cache memory

Storage Bus Architecture Array – One thing can happen on the array at a time (Like a Hub Switch)

Storage Switch Architecture Array – Multiple things can be going on at the same time with less of an impact on I/O performance.

LUN – Logical Unit Number, usually represents a RAID set represents all the smaller physical drives as one logical disk to your server.

RAID – It depends on who you ask it can mean Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks or Redundant array of Independent Disks. Funny thing this book was pre NetApp, they mention RAID 4 is no longer in use. Oh contraire NetApp uses it!

LUNS – Logical Unit Numbers represent the storage space formed by a RAID set. It may contain the partial or entire space.

Fiber Optic Cable – When Fiber Optic cables are used within a storage network they are spelled fibre channel cables. This helps to distinguish their meaning from other fiber based cables such as telecommunications.

ISL (Inter-switch link) – the term used to describe the connection between two switches in a fabric

Fabric Protocol – A SAN fabric may include Routing and conversation between switches, Listing Services, and Security

WWN (World Wide Name) – Devices in the SAN fabric are addressed by the World Wide Name. WWN’s consists of a 16 HEX numbers which make a 64 Bit Address.

Three Layers to a SAN Design AKA the Basic SAN topology – Host, SAN, and Storage

DAS – Direct Attached Storage AKA Local Host Storage

Point to Point – Host to disk Storage via a Fibre Cable (Require dedicated Storage Ports)

Arbitrated Loop Topology – Most likely you can find these devices on ebay, they might even pay you to take them off their hands. Basic designs around FC-AL hubs are cascading, fault-tolerant loops and your basic hub loops.

Switch Fabric Topology – Most prevalent for today’s fibre networks. Switch types include smaller modular (usually single failure) and larger director class (very redundant) switches.

Basic Switch Fabric Topologies – Dual Switch, Loop of Switches, Meshed Fabric, Star, Core-Edge

Zoning – Is a method used to segregate or separate devices connected to a switch fabice via switch based security. A Zone in many ways is similar to an IP Switch VLAN. They can span multiple switches. Zoning is typically used to separate storage from different operating systems. If by chance a windows server could see all the storage it might write a signature. If this space belonged to a UNIX server this could make it unusable. Other uses could be zoning storage by QA, Test, DEV, and Production networks. Zoning can come in two forms – Soft AKA by WWN or Hard AKA by physical switch port.


Quick Summary…

It’s a good starting place for those interested in SAN technologies, this books has some value in today’s world BUT if you choose this book then I suggest you read the latest edition…

Thanks for reading my post… I’m off to read my 2nd book of 4 VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise 2nd Edition by Edward Halekty

4 Books in 4 Weeks

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Over the next month or so I plan to read 4 technical books and write up a review / cliff notes. I choose the books below based on current needs as a VMware Senior Engineer.  However one was chosen as a personal goal (okay its unfinished business).  Another reason for reading (except the obvious – staying current) is the training budget over the past years has been non-existent and I felt it was time for me to move my education forward by reading up.

Here are the FANTASTIC 4 –

Book 1 Storage Area for Dummies (2003) 380 pages by Christopher Poelker and Alex Nikitin (both of Hitachi Data Systems) – Okay this is the unfinished business I was talking about.  Back in 2004 I got my first vmware position.  I was asked to help re-design and deploy a failing nationwide project based on VMware 2.5.  Back then we were using a pair of DL380s with 8GB of RAM connected to an EMC SAN.  I had a pretty good idea about SANs but I needed a general guide hence this book.  I read the first hundred pages and feel off track.  However the project went on and was a big success.

Book 2 VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise 2nd Edition 541 pages by Edward Halekty – I read VMware ESX Server (3.X) in the Enterprise in late 2007 and I must say it was one of the better books of its time.  This is why I choose to read the updated version covering ESXi and vSphere.

Book 3 VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS Technical Deepdive 215 Pages by Duncan Epping and Frank Dennerman – If you are in certain VMware social circles (Twitter) you know this is one of the “must” read books of its time.  Though currently they are writing an update to it I felt it best to read the original.  My hopes are to get a better understating of HA and DRS for some upcoming challenges I’m facing at work.

Book 4 VMware vSphere Design 340 Pages by Forbes Guthrie, Maish Saidel-kessing and Scott Lowe – Of these authors I have meet fellow vExpert Scott Lowe and I must say he’s the nicest person you could ever meet.  Not only does he author many books, work a full time job, donate his time/talents to VMUGs but he’s also a father too. By reading this book I hope to gain a better understanding of design processes around vSphere.

So those are the 4 books I plan to read…. Wish me luck I’m off to start reading Book 1 Storage Area for Dummies!