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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

VMware VCAP-DCV Design

I reached a milestone last week! I passed the VCAP-DCV Design 2023 and finally completed my VCIX-DCV path.

For those that are looking for study resources I have included my recommendations below.

For the Deploy exam I drew most of my study from lab time. You can use the VMware Hands-On-Labs or refer to your Production environment. There are a handful of scenarios that you have to solve. If you want to see examples you can check out this YouTube playlist from the VMUG in SriLanka - Question:01 - YouTube

If you are ambitious enough to create your own HomeLab whether it is Physical hardware or using VMware Workstation (included in Advantage) on your desktop - don't forget that VMUG has the Advantage program that give you access to a huge number of products for a full year.

For the Design exam I started with this site: 

The first 2 links really are the most important.

I also added any or ALL of the IT Architect Series Books - 

One of the things that I was really stuck on was how to properly Calculate and perfectly right size the number of hosts required when given the existing CPU/ Memory or Storage utilization. 

I had access to some of these through an subscription so you might have more affordable ways to get to some of these.

If you want to follow some YouTube videos, I would highly recommend the vBrownbag EMEA Series that was done for vSphere 6, the information is still HIGHLY relevant and Rebecca Fitzhugh's video on Objective 1.3 (old objectives) had enough examples that I was able to better understand the relationship between the Functional and Non-Functional Requirements and their respective Design Qualities.

The Design exam is going to be retired on Version 7 at the end of this year and the 8 will be available in January or February so the first link is updated with the 8 info.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Installing ESXi 8.0 on legacy hardware.

VMware deprecated a significant amount of hardware and operating systems with the ESXi 8.0 release. However, it is still possible to install on unsupported hardware at your own risk.

This information is primarily intended to support the homelab community but could be used as a reference for other use cases.

The initial part of setup works as expected. You set your default keyboard language.

Set the root password

and then you are presented with the following screen .......
ESXi 8 supports TPM 2.0 and above for advanced security. TPM 1.2 or lower is not supported by these functions. However, you may be offered the option to override if other functionality is supported.

Acknowledging the warning sends the next dialog...

press Enter to confirm that you want to Force the Installation and the installer will continue.

You will be able to complete the steps for setup. Some features may not be available and your system will likely be at risk. 

WARNING: This is NOT recommended for a production environment. Make a business case and spend the money on the proper hardware before using this option in a critical setting.

Hope you found this useful!


installing VMware ESXi version 8 over existing partition

When installing ESXi or vSphere on a host which has an existing bootable partition from am older version or perhaps vSan data on existing partitions, some special steps may need to be take .

This is primarily for homelab users, but can serve as a reference for other situations.

During the installation process, the installer will notify you if partitions already exist. In my case I had one drive that was for booting the prior version and 2 vSAN drives which I plan on rebuilding. The installer flags these with the * and # symbols as noted in the key above.

I want to install over my prior boot media, so I select the drive that "* Contains a VMFS partition", but you have to be cautious here. VMFS partition doesn't just mean prior boot media, it could mean a VMFS datastore. Some systems may have been configured with a local datastore, overwriting this partition would cause a permanent loss of data. I am hopeful that you do not need this data and the point is moot, but be vigilant none the less.
Once the drive is selected and confirmed, a new dialog appears if a prior version is detected. You are offered the choice to "Upgrade" or "Install" if upgrading is a supported option.

As I am intending on overwriting this media, I select "Install" and press Enter to confirm.

You will be presented with the choice for the default keyboard and the installer will continue from this point as if it was a new system.

Hope this helps!


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Why can't I shut down my vSAN cluster?

 I ran into a bit of an odd issue today.

After having a load of trouble with a bad boot media on vSAN cluster, I had actually managed to stabilize it and had been running it for a few months.

Today I wanted to shut it down and do some maintenance, dusting , wireing , expansion, that type of stuff.

I followed my usual process of placing the hosts into Maintenance mode with "No Data Migration"

This follows along with the steps I had done many times before in my homelab, but today was different.

In this case I had joined the hosts to a vCenter hosted on another cluster. Previously I would have had the vCenter on the vSAN cluster. I would have shutdown the vCenter, then powered off the hosts.

I was able to place Host 1 and 2 into maintenance, but Host 3 would NOT go into maintenance. The tasks showed that it was waiting for the VMs to be powered off or migrated.

I had already disabled DRS, I had disabled HA. The VMs were powered off. So I figured I would just remove them from inventory... they weren't important to me.

Yet the issue persisted.

So I clicked on Host 3 and checked the VMs

Lo and behold there were 2 vCLS machines still sitting on the host.

So now I am trying to shutdown the vCLS systems , but they are throwing Access Denied errors.

I little bit of digging into the previous article uncovers this note..

"For vSphere 7.0 U1 and later, enable vCLS retreat mode. For more information, see the VMware knowledge base article at"

In order to cleanly shutdown my vSAN cluster, I would need to enable a vCLS retreat mode.

The expectation is that with the addition of an "Advanced Setting" I will be able to enable or disable the Cluster Services in the future. The article makes it pretty clear that it is not meant to be run "disabled" so they also offer advice for scripting the change to make it easier to build into a "shutdown" or "startup" workflow.

Hope this article helps, I will update with pictures later as I go through the process.


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

VCAP - DCV Deploy 2021

 I Passed!

Absolutely beside myself. Could not have done it without all the support from my family and my team. On to the next challenge!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

VCP-DCV 2021

 I am very excited to have completed my 4th refresh of the VCP-DCV Certification on Oct 20th. I even passed with my highest score ever. 412.

I was fortunate enough to get a Tech+ Pass to VMworld 2021 gifted through the VMUG program and I vowed not to let it go to waste.

So after a brief discussion with my wife, I determined that I could complete 2 certification tests using the discounted vouchers between October 4th and November 4th.

One would be a VCP refresh and the other would be a VCAP-Deploy attempt.

I know some folks like stories, so here is how I prepped and passed this test in only 2 weeks.

Let me preface by saying the test was not at all 'easy'. I have now tested on 3 Major version of ESXI , 5.1 , 6.5 and 7.0

The older tests were very much focused on bare technical specifications, troubleshooting and detailed configuration tasks. The current test adds in so much more content for the "modern hybrid cloud datacenter". Trying to remember the technical, the troubleshooting and the configuration while ADDING information about technologies that you may not be seeing yet is no easy feat.

I was fortunate though that there had been an updated release of the Official Certification guide from Pearson. Where the prior guides were very heavy on screenshots and processes, this seemed to be just walls and walls of text. That is not to say that it is bad, it was extremely useful. The alternative is to RTFM on , according to the exam blueprint. At the least the Certification guide provided "Key Points" to narrow the focus a bit.

I read it cover to cover and found myself recharged when reading processes that I was familiar with.

Sometimes though, the best way to remember something is to see it done..

So I FIRED UP THE LAB.... and it died... hmmm.. probably should have swapped out that USB boot media when I had the chance. Probably will need to figure out how to recover vSAN with a lost host...

So I FIRED UP THE OTHER LAB ! And I performed an upgrade of the vCenter to 7.0.3!

I tried to upgrade the hosts, but the boot media on these were internal SD cards... error "not enough space for upgrade"

So I powered off and removed one of the blades to get a closer look at the SD cards. 2GB Mirror in the Dell M520 blades. 2GB?! ah , ok , wow.

So I slotted it back in with the intention of addressing that again later, and thats when one of the RAID controllers failed.

I only know that because I tried to refresh vCenter after repowering the blade and realized it was not loading. A quick look at the hosts showed why. The snapshot chain had become corrupt. Trying to commit the snapshots failed. Trying to consolidate the virtual machine, failed.

At least the domain controller survived..... nope. Black screen , restarted, crashed on boot. Direct to Windows recovery options. I could get into directory services restore mode, but no repairs would stick. Dang.

So vSAN lab is down,  Dell Lab is down.. This would be a great opportunity to learn some things... but I am short on time. 

So, on a prior recommendation from a friend and colleague , I checked out a 7 day trial of CBT nuggets. Fortunately they had an updated course for the VCP-DCV 2021 2V0-21.20 exam presented by Keith Barker. I wanted to see some specific topics so I jumped around a bit, but I did find Keiths style very engaging. More than a few times things didn't go 'as planned', sometimes this was on purpose , other times it was the lab he was using, but it was interesting that some of these things were left in.. because, honestly things do not always go right and it would be wrong to present only 100% success every time.

Ultimately I was able to salvage a domain controller from the vSAN lab, (host 2 is dead in the water though) ... 

I built a new vCenter and Domain controller on the Dell kit.

Read some more, watched Keith for a few hours, ran a couple of scenarios on my labs, ran a couple of scenarios on

Then, I got a good nights rest.

I went to the testing center, sat for the exam, second guessed myself a few times. Reviewed the questions that I had "marked" and determined that it was probably more harm than good to go back to them (it was only 9.. and of those 4 were marked because I thought I might need them)

I clicked the button to submit. AND BANG! Screen says congratulations.

Very relieved. I don't have to take it again, I can sit for the VCAP-DCV Deploy now... so it starts all over again..

Wish me luck on November 2nd!


Thursday, August 5, 2021

"INVALID" machines after vSAN shutdown.

 In some business environments or homelabs it may be necessary to shutdown a vSAN cluster entirely.

VMware has a proper procedure outlined on the documents site.

Shutting Down and Restarting the vSAN Cluster (

Once you have completed your maintenance tasks and fire everything up, you may be startled when you login to each of the hosts and attempt to verify your VMs....

They will probably all display as an "INVALID" status with the GUID Path in the "name" field.

fig.1 - Host 1 - 2 "invalid" machines

fig.2 - Host 2 - 2 "Invalid" machines

This message certainly caught one of my peers off guard during a recent datacenter update. That quick rush of butterflies in your gut that tells you all of your data is now corrupt.

However, I quickly reassured him that nothing was lost and the issue was simply that all of the hosts were still in maintenance mode.

When the vSAN nodes are in maintenance mode after a reboot, none of the stats are correct since none of the vSAN components are allowed to work together. 

fig.3 - 0Byte vsanDatastore

If you have powered on all of the vSAN nodes in the cluster and waited a sufficient amount of time for all the vSAN nodes to communicate, the remediation is actually quite swift.

Remove all the Hosts from Maintenance mode.

fig.4 - Host 2 - Still in Maintenance Mode!

The names will re-appear for each of the Guest objects.

fig.5 - Host 1 - Proper names!

fig.6 - Host 2 - Proper names again!

If all of your workload is on these hosts, you can start your DNS server, then the vCenter server.

fig.7 - vCenter operational again.

Before you know it , you are back in business.

VMware VCAP-DCV Design

I reached a milestone last week! I passed the VCAP-DCV Design 2023 and finally completed my VCIX-DCV path. For those that are looking for st...