The vSphere C# client is dead! Long live the C# client!

Web Client All The ThingsToday VMware announced that it will no longer be supporting the C# client in the next major version of vSphere.  This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  VMware has been shifting towards this for some time now as they keep improving on their web interface.  Earlier, other advanced vSphere functionality as well as  plugins such as SRM went web client only.  With additions of the embedded host client and a new HTML5 web client fling, it’s clear that this will be the future of GUI management going forward.

During a recent discussion on this news, it’s clear there are some concerns about the announcement and the plans going forward.  Right now there is a percentage of the user base that have to use both clients to successfully manage their vSphere environment.  My biggest concern revolves around the Client Integration Plugin, which seems to have issues depending on what browser that you want to use.  Other things like VUM don’t really work that well in the web client either (not to mention there is still a windows dependency on the VUM server currently).  These are all hurdles that VMware will need to overcome, and I’m sure they can in time, the question is will they be ready on GA date.

The biggest hurdle of all will be user acceptance and the learning curve associated with it.  There are a lot of users that still like the way the C# client is laid out and avoid the web client at all costs.  I know a lot of that was based on the speed of the interface.  The jump from 5.5 –> 6.0 saw vast improvements in speed and performance, and I’m sure the next major version will see gains as well.

At this point, my suggestion to everyone is to start getting used to the web client as it is the future of GUI management for vSphere.  If you are running 5.5 or 6.0, go ahead and give it a try (you might need to separately install the web client server depending on your vSphere environment).  If you are running something older, well now might be a good time to start planning an upgrade!

Configuring VASA for use with a VNX

vnxWhen VMware introduced vSphere 5 to the world, one of the enhancements was a new API for storage arrays that provides vSphere with information as to the configuration and performance of your storage array.  For more information on VASA, please see this article from The Virtualization Practice.  VASA on a VNX (and other EMC arrays) historically used to be configured using an SMI-S provider.  This older configuration method has been covered very well by EMC vSpecialist Craig Stewart and can be found here.

 

Starting with VNX OE for FILE 7.1 and VNX OE for BLOCK 05.32, the VNX now has native VASA support.  This eliminates the need for the SMI-S provider and allows you to point vSphere directly to the control station and SP.  It really is a 1-step implementation and I will show you below.  And there is only 1 caviot to this, and it is VASA for the BLOCK and FILE are done separately.  if you are using, FC, FCoE, or iSCSI connections, you will want to use the BLOCK example, and if you are using NFS, you will want to use the FILE example.

 

You will want to start in vSphere by going to Home > Administration > Storage Providers.  From there you would click on “add…” to configure your connection.

 

VNX OE for FILE 7.1 VASA configuration example

You will start by naming this connection.  I chose VNX FILE to make it easy to distinguish between block and file connections.  You will then use the URL as follows: https://<ip.or.dns.of.control.station>:5989/vasa/services/vasaService.  The username/password would be one local to the control station (such as nasadmin or root).  The global accounts from the storage domain will not work here.  When it’s all said and done you should have something like the photo below:

VASA_VNX_FILE

You will probably be prompted to verify the SHA fingerprint, so just click yes and soon you’ll see your new provider listed with the following information:

VASA_VNX_FILE_2

 

VNX OE for BLOCK 05.32 configuration example

Just like the VNX OE for FILE example, you will start off by using a name.  This time the URL will be pointing to the SP.  The url will be as follows: https://<ip.or.dns.of.SP>/vasa/services/vasaService.  Please note the lack of a port specification as by default https uses port 443.  For the password you will want to use a storage domain account (such as sysadmin).  If you configured it correctly, it should look something like this:

VASA_VNX_BLOCK

 

Since I have a very basic configured array in the lab, I see provider information like this:

VASA_VNX_BLOCK_2

 

After you have successfully configured your providers, you can go and setup your storage profiles.  Go to Home > Management > VM Storage Profiles and add a new profile.  From there you can select from a multitude of options to pick the one that best matches the lun you are using for storage.

VASA_VNX_STORAGE_PROFILES

It really is that simple!  For more information on VASA on the VNX, read the Virtualization for EMC® VNX Release Notes (EMC Support credentials required).

Countdown to the VCP4

With the recent announcement of the VCP5, the time to take the VCP4 is running out. On top of that, VMware is currently running a promotion that allows for a free retake if you schedule and take the exam in the month of July (promo codes “VCPTAKE1” and “VCPTAKE2”). This renewed sense of urgency has motivated me to get my certification now. I took the required course back in December, but without having a home lab until a few months ago, I barely had any exposure to VMware products. By taking the VCP4, I will be eligible to take the VCP5 without having to take a training course as long as I complete the exam by February of 2012.

 

The exam:

The VCP4 exam consists of 85 questions that cover the changes version 3 to version 4 as well as a basic understanding of ESX/i 4, vSphere 4, and the related plugins and features. The exam is scored on a scale from 100 – 500 and a 300 is considered a passing score. With that being said, it is my understanding that this exam is no walk in the park. This will test your understanding of exact minimums and maximums, what hardware can be used and how it works, and how the software is installed, configured, and used.

 

Preparing for the exam:

The only thing that VMware requires to take the exam is to take the certified training course. This will provide the minimum amount of exposure that VMware feels is necessary to come with the certification. I took this class with my coworkers Mathew Brender and Tommy Trogden back in December of 2010. Now it is time to study for the exam. Besides the standard resources made available on the VMware website, I picked up 2 books. I am using the “VCP VMware Certified Professional vSphere 4 Study Guide” by Robert Schmidt as well as the “VCP4 Exam Cram: VMware Certified Professional” by Elias Khnaser. Both of these resources come with very detailed overviews of all the topics covered for the exam as well as a plethora of test style questions designed to give you a taste of what to expect. However I’ve found the questions on one book to be much easier than the other so I’m hoping the true questions fall somewhere in the middle.

I can combine this with my home lab to test things I’ve been reading and to redo the labs from the training course. My home lab is more or less based on the Baby Dragon from Phil Jaenke. However I only have one physical host at this time. Luckily, ESX/i can be run virtualized, so I can create a few virtual hosts to test the more advanced vSphere features.

 

Final thoughts before the exam:

At this point I am 10 days away from walking into the testing center. I have completed most of my reading from the two books, I am reviewing test questions, and I am trying to reconfigure the lab to redo some of my old excercises. I am always looking for new practice test questions and there seem to be plenty of them on the web (like the website of Simon Long). If you have any good links, please feel free to leave them in the comments and look for me on twitter after the exam to see how I did.