Register for free 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions beta exam

Microsoft  is offering a free (normal rate Euro 150,-) exam for  70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions which is currently in beta.

You have to take this exam before January 9 2015. The offer is limit for the first 500 persons registering for this exam.

At the end of the exam you will not receive a paper with the results. When you pass this exam you  earn a Microsoft Specialist certification.

This exam is for candidates who are interested in validating their Microsoft Azure solution design skills. Candidates should know the features and capabilities of Azure services to be able to identify tradeoffs and make decisions for designing public and hybrid cloud solutions. Candidates who take this exam are expected to be able to define the appropriate infrastructure and platform solutions to meet the required functional, operational, and deployment requirements through the solution lifecycle.

More information and registration on this exam here. Use code VPAZARCH to get this exam for free.

VMware vCenter 5.5 availability guide released

At December 8 VMware released a new document describing how to protect VMware vCenter Server 5.5 and the vCenter Server Appliance.

This 11 pages document describes how to protect the vCenter Server virtual machine using VMware HA with virtual machine monitoring.

As of vCenter Server 5.5, VMware officially introduced support for Microsoft Failover Clustering which can be used as well for making vCenter Server high available.

Download the availability guide here.

An overview of NetApp dataprotection tools

NetApp offers many solutions to protect data. There are so many options that you might not be able to understand the differences between all those solutions. Many share ‘Snap’ as part of the solution name which does not help to distinguish.

The intention of this post is to provide a basic high level overview of the NetApp data protection solutions.

A SnapShot is a capture of a situation of a storage volume at a given time. Just like a photo represents a situation at a given time. Snapshots are the foundation for every NetApp data protection solution.

A FlexClone is a read/writeable copy of a snapshot. A typical usecase for a FlexClone is in case you want to have a test environment equal to a production environment. You make a FlexClone and have to identical volumes.

SnapManager is a server based backup solution. It creates storage snapshots. Several SnapManager versions are available. For example SnapManager for Exchange and SnapManager for SQL. Jobs are created and modified on the server itself. There is no central management console. Basically SnapManager provides the graphical user interface plus tooling to create application consistent snapshots.

SnapDrive is the actually software which creates a storage snapshot. It is used by SnapManager. SnapDrive is used when applications are using in-guest volumes or Raw Device Mappings. SnapDrive is also used for physical servers using NetApp LUNs for storage of data.

Snap Creator 
SnapCreator is like an octopus. An octopus has several different plugs at the end of the arms. SnapCreator has plug-ins which enables to execute or schedule backup and restores. It has plug-ins for hypervisor like vSphere , vCloud Director and Citrix XenServer. For application backup it has Oracle, MySQL, DB2, Sybase, Lotus IBM Domino and MaxDB plug-ins. These are able to quiesce the application. SnapCreator is a framework so it allows community created plug-ins to be inserted into SnapCreator. Examples are SAP HANA, PostGRES, Informix, Novell Netware. The use of OnCommand is optional.

Besides using the supported and community, unsupported plug-ins you can create your own workflow using the 100 available commands.

On the target virtual machine or physical host an agent is installed. The agent contains the plug-ins which have application knowledge.

You can use SnapDrive but this is optional.

Snap Creator is typically used in large enterprises and service provider environments. It is licensed as open source.


SnapProtect is a complete backup solution. It is able to create backups based on storage snapshots. It uses its own agents for application consistent backups. It does not ise SnapDrive. There is a central Microsoft Management Console for management. SnapProtect is basically a OEM version of CommVault Simpana. While CommVault Simpana supports multiple  storage arrays, SnapProtect can only be used for NetApp storage arrays.

SnapMirror is a transport mechanism. It’s main task is to replicate SnapShots to another NetApp storage array so data is stored offsite. SnapShots copied by SnapMirror are for example used by Site Recovery Manager. Snapshots on the secondary location are read only. There is only one shapshot available so there is no point in time.

SnapVault is an archiving solution for snapshots. Think about tapehandling for snapshots. SnapVault will create a snapshot on primary storage. Replicate that snapshot to secondary storage or secondary site. Then another snapshot of that snapshot will be made for archiving. So a tree of snapshots is created just like a set of daily, weekly and monthly tapes.

SnapRestore enables quick recovery of individual files or volumes from a SnapShot.




VMware vSphere 5.1 Update 3 released

At December 4 VMware released vSphere 5.1 Update 3. This update has mainly fixes for issues as well as security updates but does contain some interesting new supported software. No new features in this Update.

The list of supported processors and guest operating is expanded for this release. However VMware did not reveal which processors and guest operating systems have been added.

New in vCenter Server 5.1 Update 3:

vCenter Server database support. vCenter Server now supports the following external databases:

  • Oracle 12c
    Patch 19192712 must be applied on both the database and client to use Oracle 12c in Windows. The patch is not required for Oracle client.
    Patch 16235055 for database and patch 19192712 for client must be applied on database server and client for Windows VC that uses Oracle 12c client with Oracle 12c database server which is installed on Linux OS.
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2014


Download ESXi 5.1 and vCenter Server 5.1 Update 3 here.

The ESXi 5.1 Update 3 Release notes are here

The vCenter Server 5.1 Update 3 Release notes are here