VCP5: make sure you take the VCP5-DCV Delta Recertification Exam to stay current before Nov. 30

You might be aware that VMware changed the VCP certification on March 10, 2014 . A VCP-certification is now valid for 2 years. This also applies for certifications obtained before March 10. More information in this VMware FAQ.

If you are VCP5 Datacenter Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) certified the quickest and cheapest way to recertify is doing a Delta exam which can be done from anywhere: your office, at home etc. No need to go to an exam center. This Delta exam was announced at VMworld and is not very well know. 

For many VCP certified people the expiration policy means they are required  to recertify before March 10, 2015 to keep their VCP certification.

Several options are available for recertification:

  1. Take the current exam for your existing VCP certification solution track. For example, if you are a VCP3, you could take the current VCP5-Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) exam. Cost for exam $ 225,-
  2. Earn a new VCP certification in a different solution track. For example, if you are a VCP-Cloud, you could recertify by earning VCP5-Desktop (VCP5-DT) certification.
  3. Advance to the next level by earning a VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) certification. For example, if you are a VCP5-DCV you could earn VCAP5-DCA certification. Costs for exam  which will take your about 3+ hours: $400
  4. Renew your current VCP5 DCV by completing a limited-time, streamlined delta exam. The exam is based only on the delta (new) material between the vSphere 5.0/5.1 and vSphere 5.5 exams.

Option 4 is the most efficient way to recertify if you are VCP5 DCV certified.. Mind however this the exam will be available through November 30, 2014.

The advantages of this delta exam are :

  • Based only on new material between the vSphere 5.0/5.1 and vSphere 5.5 exams – you save hours of prep time
  • Available online – you can take it from any location
  • Far less expensive – you save money. Costs are $ 120,-

If you do not recertify for VCP5 you have to wait to VCP6-DCV become available. You likely need to attend a 5-day course as well before being able to register for the exam.

More information on the VCP5-DCV Delta Recertification Exam (VCP550D) here. Mind you can only register for the online exam maximum for two days ahead.

The exam had 65 questions and you have  75 minutes to do the exam.
No retake limit other than a 7-day waiting period. Content is vSphere 5.5 – specific content. Expect Virtual SAN questions

So study, then book the exam and do the exam within 48 hours after booking.

Thanks to  my co-workers Herco van Brug and Viktor van den Berg for sharing the news about the new delta exam.

WARNING: ESXi 10-15-2014 Patches disconnect Netscaler VM’s having E1000 nic from network

Update: the issue seems to affect only Citrix Netscaler on FreeBSD. Other operating systems seem not affected.

Do not install ESXi updates with a release date of 15 October 2014. Virtual machines with E1000 network interface cards will disconnect from the network.

This issue has been reported by multiple VMware customers in this VMware communities thread.

To resolve the issue, rollback to a previous version of ESXi. This can be done by rebooting the ESXi host, press Shift+R. The procedure is explained here.

After installing the updates, the build is reported as v5.5.0 2143827.

The working build based on ESXi 5.5.0 Update 2 is 206190

The image below shows the affected patches.

esxi-updates-break-e1000

Oracle wants customers to license multiple vSphere 5.1 clusters when managed by single vCenter Server

Oracle is notorious for its licensing. The company is very unclear about how their software needs to be correctly  licensed. This leaves room for multiple interpretations. And Oracle takes advantage of that in many cases by claiming the customer did not license Oracle software in the correct way. Part of their business model is to get additional income from claims.

Many customers are ignorant, are afraid for court cases, do not want the hassle and settle the claim.

Recently Oracle Germany announced that all CPU’s in all ESXi hosts in multiple clusters managed by the same vCenter Server need to be licensed for Oracle. The reason for this change is that with the introduction of vSphere 5.1, virtual machines can be vMotioned to other clusters.

oracle-vsphere51

So before vSphere 5.1 , Oracle claimed customers needed to license all CPU’s of the VMware cluster. Even when Oracle VM’s never run on all of that cluster hosts.

Now Oracle even goes a step further.

The new Oracle statement was published on the German Oracle Users Group (DOAG) website at September 18.

This is all legally incorrect statements by Oracle. Not a single official Oracle document clearly mentions a host CPU requires licensing even when Oracle software has not run on it.

Dave Welch, CTO of House of Brick, an Oracle consultancy firm the the US wrote a blog about Oracle licensing and mentioned the new statement.

The VMware communities has a thread on this as well.

In the past I wrote many blogposts on Oracle licensing. See here , here and here.

If you are in doubt make sure to contact a realy independant Oracle licensing expert.

 

 

 

VMware wil disable Transparant Page Sharing by default in future ESXi releases

VMware ESXi has an interesting feature called Transparent Page Sharing (TPS). TPS allows a deduplication of host memory. Typically virtual machine guest operating systems share a lot of common code. TPS basically scans on duplicate code in the host memory, make sure only 1 instance of code is loaded while pointers in memory of guests point to that instance.

The effect is savings on host memory and a better density. The result is lower costs per virtual machine.

VMware announced however it will disable TPS by default in future ESXi release because of security concerns.

VMware has released a knowledgebase article saying:

This article acknowledges the recent academic research that leverages Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) to gain unauthorized access to data under certain highly controlled conditions and documents VMware’s precautionary measure of no longer enabling TPS in upcoming ESXi releases. At this time, VMware believes that the published information disclosure due to TPS between virtual machines is impractical in a real world deployment.
Published academic papers have demonstrated that by forcing a flush and reload of cache memory, it is possible to measure memory timings to try and determine an AES encryption key in use on another virtual machine running on the same physical processor of the host server if Transparent Page Sharing is enabled. This technique works only in a highly controlled system configured in a non-standard way that VMware believes would not be recreated in a production environment.
Even though VMware believes information being disclosed in real world conditions is unrealistic, out of an abundance of caution upcoming ESXi Update releases will no longer enable TPS between Virtual Machines by default.

 

Andrea Mauro published a very well written blog about TPS and explaining some other caveats.

This paper in detail explains the security concerns when using TPS. The abstract of the paper reads:

 

TPS