VMware VCAP-DCA Exam Section 6: vSphere Troubleshooting
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January 17, 2011

VMware VCAP-DCA Exam Section 6: vSphere Troubleshooting

By VMware VCAP-DCA Section 6: vSphere Troubleshooting

In between traveling to VMworld North America (San Francisco) and VMworld EMEA (Copenhagen) at the end of 2010, I spent those last 3 months focusing on section 6 of the VMware VCAP-DCA outline. In case you don’t have the 9 sections of the VCAP-DCA outline memorized (like I now do), section 6 is all about vSphere Troubleshooting.

VMware VCAP-DCA ExamNote: if you are unfamiliar with the VMware VCAP-DCA exam and other VMware certification options, checkout our VMware Certification Guide and How to earn your VMware VCAP certification.

At this point, you may be wondering what’s in this section 6 that could take the better part of 3 months to research, test, and create training videos for my VMware vSphere Troubleshooting Training.

The entire section 6 outline is posted below but to summarize, section 6 covers troubleshooting vSphere from every angle — management services, network, storage, performance, virtual machine, VMotion, SVMotion, FT, DRS, VMHA, and vCenter. I’ll tell you up front that most of this troubleshooting will have to be done at the ESX server command line interface (CLI). In the videos below you’ll watch and learn as I solve one vSphere problem after the other.

The VCAP is a 100% hands-on exam that tests your real-world configuration and troubleshooting knowledge. Trust me, I have taken it and it is a great test. The best way to prepare for an exam like that is to watch an experienced VMware admin configure useful features on real vSphere servers (and then go recreate it on your own lab servers).

But what about those who aren’t taking the VCAP? The person who troubleshoots the infrastructure when it’s down is always the most senior admin and the one with the most troubleshooting experience. Trust me, YOU want to be that person and this troubleshooting course will give you the edge that you need to get there.

Here are a couple of examples of troubleshooting techniques I cover in my vSphere Troubleshooting Training.

Restoring Connectivity in VMware ESXi

One of the things that I had to practice and demonstrate in video was how to get an ESXi server back up on the network after it lost management network connectivity due to a misconfigured vSphere Distributed switch (vDS). In the video, you’ll see me use the ESXi DCUI and commands like esxcfg-vswitch and esxcfg-nics.

Using vi-fastpass to Automate ESXi loginwith vMA

Another example of something I used extensively in my videos was vi-fastpass which automates the authentication from vMA or an ESX/ESXi host.

VMware VCAP-DCA Section 6: vSphere Troubleshooting

Here it is, the challenging section 6 of the VCAP-DCA blueprint (the following is quoted from the VMware VCAP-DCA blueprint).

Section 6 – Perform Advanced Troubleshooting

Objective 6.1 – Configure, Manage and Analyze vSphere Log Files

Knowledge

  • Identify vCenter Server log file names and locations
  • Identify ESX/ESXi log files names and locations
  • Identify tools used to view vSphere log files

Skills and Abilities

  • Generate vCenter Server and ESX/ESXi log bundles
  • Use vicfg‐syslog to configure centralized logging on ESX/ESXi Hosts
  • Test centralized logging configuration
  • Configure the vMA appliance as a log host
  • Use vilogger to enable/disable log collection on the vMA appliance
  • Use vilogger to configure log rotation and retention
  • Analyze log entries to obtain configuration information
  • Analyze log entries to identify and resolve issues

Tools

  • vSphere Management Assistant Guide
  • vSphere Command‐Line Interface Installation and Scripting Guide
  • vSphere Datacenter Administration Guide
  • Product Documentation
  • vSphere Client
  • vicfg-syslog
  • vilogger

Objective 6.2 – Troubleshoot CPU and Memory Performance

Knowledge

  • Identify resxtop/esxtop metrics related to memory and CPU
  • Identify vCenter Server Performance Chart metrics related to memory and CPU

Skills and Abilities

  • Troubleshoot ESX/ESXi Host and Virtual Machine CPU performance issues using appropriate metrics
  • Troubleshoot ESX/ESXi Host and Virtual Machine memory performance issues using appropriate metrics
  • Use Hot‐Add functionality to resolve identified Virtual Machine CPU and memory performance issues

Tools

  • vSphere Resource Management Guide
  • vSphere Command‐Line Interface Installation and Scripting Guide
  • Product Documentation
  • vSphere Client
  • vSphere CLI
    • resxtop/esxtop

Objective 6.3 – Troubleshoot Network Performance and Connectivity

Knowledge

  • Identify virtual switch entries in a Virtual Machine’s configuration file
  • Identify virtual switch entries in the ESX/ESXi Host configuration file
  • Identify CLI commands and tools used to troubleshoot vSphere networking configurations
  • Identify logs used to troubleshoot network issues

Skills and Abilities

  • Utilize net-dvs to troubleshoot vNetwork Distributed Switch configurations
  • Utilize vicfg-* commands to troubleshoot ESX/ESXi network configurations
  • Configure a network packet analyzer in a vSphere environment
  • Troubleshoot Private VLANs
  • Troubleshoot Service Console and vmkernel network configuration issues
  • Troubleshoot DNS and routing related issues
  • Use esxtop/resxtop to identify network performance problems
  • Use CDP and/or network hints to identify connectivity issues
  • Analyze troubleshooting data to determine if the root cause for a given network problem originates in the physical infrastructure or vSphere environment

Tools

  • ESX Configuration Guide
  • ESXi Configuration Guide
  • vSphere Command‐Line Interface Installation and Scripting Guide
  • Product Documentation
  • vSphere Client
  • vSphere CLI
    • vicfg-*
    • net-dvs
    • resxtop/esxtop

Objective 6.4 – Troubleshoot Storage Performance and Connectivity

Knowledge

  • Recall vicfg-* commands related to listing storage configuration
  • Recall vSphere 4 storage maximums
  • Identify logs used to troubleshoot storage issues
  • Describe the VMFS file system

Skills and Abilities

  • Use vicfg-* and esxcli to troubleshoot multipathing and PSA‐related issues
  • Use vicfg-module to troubleshoot VMkernel storage module configurations
  • Use vicfg-* and esxcli to troubleshoot iSCSI related issues
  • Troubleshoot NFS mounting and permission issues
  • Use esxtop/resxtop and vscsiStats to identify storage performance issues
  • Configure and troubleshoot VMFS datastores using vmkfstools
  • Troubleshoot snapshot and resignaturing issues
  • Analyze log files to identify storage and multipathing problems

Tools

  • ESX Configuration Guide
  • ESXi Configuration Guide
  • vSphere Command‐Line Interface Installation and Scripting Guide
  • Product Documentation
  • vSphere Client
  • vSphere CLI
    • vicfg-*
    • esxcli
    • resxtop/esxtop
    • vscsiStats
    • vmkfstools

Objective 6.4 – Troubleshoot vCenter Server and ESX/ESXi Host Management

Knowledge

  • Identify CLI commands and tools used to troubleshoot management issues

Skills and Abilities

  • Troubleshoot vCenter Server service and database connection issues
  • Troubleshoot the ESX Service Console firewall
  • Troubleshoot ESX/ESXi server management and connectivity issues
  • Determine the root cause of vSphere management or connectivity issue

Tools

  • ESX Configuration Guide
  • ESXi Configuration Guide
  • vSphere Command‐Line Interface Installation and Scripting Guide
  • Product Documentation
  • vSphere Client
  • vSphere CLI
    • vicfg-*

Master vSphere Troubleshooting

VMware VCAP-DCA Section 6: vSphere TroubleshootingAt what level is your vSphere troubleshooting experience? Are you ready for section 6 of the VCAP-DCA exam?

If you want to improve your vSphere troubleshooting skills in 2011 then check out my new vSphere Troubleshooting Training.

I’ll teach you how to prevent downtime with your HA cluster, ways to deal with broken vNetwork Distributed Switches, how to quickly get vSphere back up and running, and much more.

About the Author

is a CCIE, vExpert, VCP5, and VCAP-DCA. He has been in the IT industry for 20+ years and is the author of hundreds of articles and videos. He has created over 10 TrainSignal video training courses including the numerous courses that make up the best-selling VMware vSphere video training library.

Author's Website: http://www.vmwarevideos.com/


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