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What’s the purpose of the .dvsdata folder in vSphere 5.1 February 19, 2013

Posted by vbry21 in VCAP5-DCA, VMware blogs, VMware Training.
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I’ve been doing some work on the VMware 5.1 Optimise and Scale course, today I’ve been looking at the section on Distributed Virtual Switches.

One of the questions I keep getting asked relates to the .dvsData folder.

When a virtual machine is connected to a port on a distributed switch, a folder named .dvsData is created on the datastore on which the virtual machine resides. The .dvsData folder is only created if you have a virtual machine that is attached to a distributed switch and that is located on that datastore. If virtual machines are attached only to standard switches, then the .dvsData folder does not exist. Also, the datastore that holds only the virtual machine’s .vmx config file has the .dvsData folder.

In the .dvsData folder is a subfolder whose name matches the UUID of the distributed switch. Each distributed switch has a UUID in the format “31 3f 2b 60 cf 01 c4 bf-d0 9a bb 7d ef 6f fe 71″ (this varies). In the UUID folder, you might find one or more files. Each file corresponds to the port ID that the virtual machine is associated with. This number corresponds to the parameter ethernet#.dvs.portId, where # is 0, 1, and so on. This parameter is located in the virtual machine’s .vmx configuration file. The ESXi host periodically synchronizes the virtual machine’s port state into this file. The host does this every five minutes.

The .dvsData folder and the subfolder is primarily used for VMware vSphere® High Availability. When a vSphere HA event occurs and the virtual machine is restarted on a different ESXi host, the destination host reads the distributed port state from the .dvsData subfolder and starts the virtual machine on that datastore.

As you would expect this folder is quite important, do not delete the .dvsData folder. However, if you must delete the folder (because you are performing VMFS maintenance for instance), ensure that no virtual machines on the datastore are registered in vCenter Server. After determining that no virtual machines are registered, then you can safely remove the .dvsData folder and its subfolders.


For lots more information read the vSphere Networking guide.


My VMware VCAP5-DCA exam experience January 11, 2013

Posted by vbry21 in VCAP5-DCA, VMware Training.

I sat and passed my VMware VCAP5-DCA exam before Christmas.

I thought I’d write about my exam experience. I won’t be hinting at any questions however.

To start with the exam lasts 3 hours and 30 minutes, in my case I got 26 scenarios/tasks that I had to complete.

The exam itself is completely hands on, I was given a task and I had to use whatever method, whether that is the vSphere Client, vMA or PowerGUI to complete that task.

Now the task will contain multiple steps.

To help, you are provided with VMware documentation, I found this useful as I can’t remember command line off the top of my head.

My biggest problem was the time, I managed to finish the exam with 1 minute to go, however I was warned at the five minute interval.

I could go backwards and forwards through the task descriptions, just make sure that on the last task, you are completely sure that you have finished, because once you click finish, the exam is finished.

So how will you prepare? As a VMware VCI, I used the VMware recommended documentation.

I read the Exam Blueprint available from VMware’s certification website; this is probably the most important resource.

I then used the VMware Install, configure and Manage course and also the VMware Optimise and Scale course.

I also ensured I knew which document contained which information, and also that I had mountains of hands on experience.

Not to sound big headed or cocky, but I found that because I had prepared, that this is possibly the easiest VMware exam I’ve sat, I think that’s because I had to know what I was doing and know the product, but to be fair as a VCI I do these tasks weekly in both classroom and also real world.

Good luck to anyone sitting the exam.


VMware vMA authentication methods November 28, 2012

Posted by vbry21 in VCAP5-DCA, VMware Training.
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As part of the preparation for the VCAP5-DCA exam and also as part of teaching the VMware vSphere Optimize and Scale course I’ve been looking at managing an ESXi host and vCenter through VMware’s vMA (vSphere Management Assistant).

The command structure can become quite tedious.

For example to list network cards without using an authentication method would be as follows.

vicfg-nics –server esxi01a.qavdc.com –username root –password P@ssw0rd -l

However the VMA does support vMA Authentication.

The vMA authentication interface enables users and applications to authenticate with the target servers by using vi-fastpass or Active Directory (AD). While adding a server as a target, the administrator can determine whether the target must use vi-fastpass or AD authentication. For vi- fastpass authentication, the credentials that a user has on the vCenter Server system or ESXi host are stored in a local credential store. For AD authentication, the user is authenticated with an AD server.

When you add an ESXi host as a fastpass target server, vi-fastpass creates two users with obfuscated passwords on the target server and stores the password information on vMA:

vi-admin with administrator privileges

vi-user with read-only privileges

The creation of vi-admin and vi-user does not apply for AD authentication targets. When you add a system as an AD target, vMA does not store information about the credentials. To use the AD authentication, the administrator must configure vMA for AD.

Configure vMA for Active Directory authentication so that ESXi hosts and vCenter Server systems added to Active Directory can be added to vMA. Joining the vMA to Active Directory prevents you from having to store the passwords in the vMA credential store. This approach is a more secure way of adding targets to vMA.

Ensure that the DNS server configured for vMA is the same as the DNS server of the domain. You can change the DNS server by using the vMA Console to the Web UI.

Ensure that the domain is accessible from vMA. Ensure that you can ping the ESXi and vCenter Server systems that you want to add to vMA. Ensure also that pinging resolves the IP address to the target servers domain.

To add vMA to a domain:

From the vMA console, run the following command:

sudo domainjoin-cli join <domain_name> <domain_admin_user>

When prompted, provide the Active Directory administrator’s password.

Restart vMA.

For further information read, VMware’s vMA product documentation.

Enabling the vMA root user account November 20, 2012

Posted by vbry21 in VCAP5-DCA.
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I was asked a question recently relating to the root account in the VMware vSphere Management Assistant Virtual Appliance. The question was why can’t I login as root?

By default the root user account is disabled, but what you may want to do for troubleshooting purposes is to enable the root account (I would only do this in conjunction with VMware Global Support Services).

To enable the root account in vMA:

  1. Log in to vMA as the vi-admin user.
  2. Run this command to open the passwd file:

    sudo vi /etc/passwd

  3. Locate the line that appears similar to:


  4. Modify the line it to:


  5. Log out from vMA and log in again as the vi-admin user.
  6. Run this command and enter the new root password:

    sudo passwd root

  7. You should now be able to log in to vMA using the root account.


Enabling the ESXi Shell for Troubleshooting November 18, 2012

Posted by vbry21 in VCAP5-DCA.
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As part of my preparation for the VCAP5-DCA exam I’ve been messing about with the ESXi shell.

The ESXi shell allows us to enter and run commands directly in the VMware vSphere ESXi Shell and VMware say that this should only ever be used in troubleshooting situations.

Ideally for command line we should use either the VMware vSphere Command-Line Interface (vCLI) or the VMware vSphere Management Assistant (vMA).

So how do we enable the ESXi Shell.

In the DCUI of the ESXi host, press F2 and provide credentials when prompted.

Scroll to Troubleshooting Options and press Enter.

Select Enable ESXi Shell and press Enter.

On the left, Enable ESXi Shell changes to Disable ESXi Shell. On the right, ESXi Shell is Disabled changes to ESXi Shell is Enabled.

Press Esc until you return to the main DCUI screen.

Local users that are assigned to the administrator role automatically have local shell access. Assigning local shell access to the administrator role prevents the root account from being shared by multiple users. Sharing the root account presents security issues and makes auditing the host difficult.

If you enable SSH access, do so only for a limited time. SSH should never be left open on an ESXi host in a production environment.

If SSH is enabled for the ESXi Shell, you can run shell commands by using an SSH client, such as SSH or PuTTY.

To enable SSH from the vSphere Client:

Select the host and click the Configuration tab.

Click Security Profile in the Software panel.

In Services, click Properties.

Select SSH and click Options.

Change the SSH options. To change the Startup policy across reboots, click Start and stop with host and reboot the host.

Click OK.

To enable the local or remote ESXi Shell from the vSphere Client:

Select the host and click the Configuration tab.

Click Security Profile in the Software panel.

In Services, click Properties.

Select ESXi Shell and click Options.

Change the ESXi Shell options. To change the Startup policy across reboots, click Start and stop with host and reboot the host.

Click OK.

The ESXi Shell timeout setting specifies how long, in minutes, you can leave an unused session open. By default, the timeout for the ESXi Shell is 0, which means the session remains open even if it is unused. If you change the timeout, for example, to 30 minutes, you have to log in again after the timeout period has elapsed.

To modify the ESXi Shell Timeout:

In the Direct Console, follow these steps.

Select Modify ESXi Shell timeout and press Enter.

Enter the timeout value in minutes and press Enter.

In the vSphere Client, follow these steps:

In the Configuration tab’s Software panel, click Advanced Settings.

In the left panel, click UserVars.

Find UserVars.ESXiShellTimeOut and enter the timeout value in minutes.

Click OK.


VCAP5-DCA revision begins in earnest November 12, 2012

Posted by vbry21 in VCAP5-DCA, VMware blogs, VMware Training.
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One of the things I’m doing in a few weeks is my VCAP5-DCA exam, yes I’m a VCAP4-DCA, I would have sat it earlier, but unfortunately the nearest testing centre is in Leeds and I live in Newcastle upon Tyne, so I have to fit in the exam when I’m not teaching and when the testing centre is available.

So I’m doing a little bit revision.

I hate command line (I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before). But I do learn and use what I need to know for my job.

The exam blue print states I need to learn command line again as I’d learnt it and forgot it after my last VCAP exam.

I found this fantastic document that can also be printed as a poster, thank you VMware, you’ve just made my revision easier, hooray, and it’s now sitting as a PDF on my iPad in my Good reader app.


I’ve booked my VCAP5-DCA September 25, 2012

Posted by vbry21 in VCAP5-DCA.
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I qualified as a VCAP-DCA version 4 last year and as a VCI, the lovely people at VMware have provided me with a voucher to sit my VCAP-DCA version 5 exam, so I’ve decided that I’ll book the exam and start preparing for it.

My first step was to register for the exam via the Pearson VUE website

Then I booked my exam.

Now comes the hard part. Prepare for the exam on top of all the other things I need to do.

VMware recommend two courses for helping to prepare for the exam, luckily I teach both.

The first is the VMware 5.0 Install Configure and Manage

The second is the VMware 5.0 Optimise and Scale

Also if you wish you could use the VMware 5.0 Fast Track instead of the Install Configure and Manage.

Also you must already have passed the VCP5-DV Certification

As I’m preparing I’ll post Blogs in order to track my progress and share any information I find.