Well I am very pleased to say that I came back home today certified as an MCSE: Private Cloud… yay!
First off, I would say this is one of the trickiest MS exams I have taken. This is not because the subject is particularly difficult, but purely for the volume and depth of information you need to cover, as you are in effect being tested on your knowledge of no less than 7 enterprise applications as well as their interoperation!
I will admit that due to time constraints I wasn’t able to study all elements of SC2012 in the depth I would have liked (I have barely scratched the surface with App Controller and Config Manager), but I was fortunate not to have been hammered too badly because of this.
I have already listed my study materials in my previous post MCTS: 70-246 Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 Exam Prep and Study Guide, but once again I believe it is really getting as much hands on experience as you can, which makes all the difference.
I created a simple lab environment running the entire thing under VMware Workstation 8 on my desktop machine. The spec of the machine is:
- Intel Quad Core i7 920 processor
- 24GB RAM
- Multiple SSDs (the test lab runs across 2 of them totalling around 150GB of space in use).
- I also used a FreeNAS 0.7 appliance running on another vSphere box to provide some shared iSCSI storage for my Hyper-V clusters (doesnt need to be fast as only for a couple of test VMs and cluster quorum).
The only time I suffered any real performance issues with this setup were when installing windows updates. This wasn’t an issue for me as I kicked them off overnight, but if you were being a bit more proactive, you could build one VM first, update to all the latest patches, install Sliverlight, .NET3.5 / .NET4 (required by lots of SC products), then sysprep and clone the VMs instead.
As I was being a little lazy, I didn’t do much with nesting VMs this time, so immediately under WS8 I installed 9 VMs. You could of course nest most or all of these roles under your Hyper-V hosts, barring the DC which is required to auth the startup of your VM hosts, an issue which is now fixed in Windows Server 2012 (in theory). The performance reduction is minimal, it’s just a bit of a pain if you want to shut down your machine in a hurry…
Hostname Roles vCPUs vRAM vDisks
SV2008R2-MGT AD, DNS, SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 2 4GB 40GB
SCOM Operations Manager 2012, SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 Reporting Services 2 2GB 40GB
SCCM Configuration Manager 2012 1 2GB 40GB
SCVMM Virtual Machine Manager 2012 1 2GB 40GB
SCSM Service Manager 2012 1 2GB 40GB
SCAC Application Controller 2012 1 2GB 40GB
SCORCH Orchestrator 2012 1 2GB 40GB
HV1-FULL Hyper-V under a full 2008 R2 OS installation 2 4GB 40GB
HV2-HVS Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 2 4GB 40GB
Hyper-V Server and 2008 R2 are not supported in a cluster configuration, but it will work (with a couple of red lines on your cluster validation report). As long as you implement the following steps, you can then nest 64 bit VMs inside your Hyper-V servers. See Velimir Kojic’s blog post for more info on this, but the headline points are:
- Enable virtualisation of VT-x/EPT. This is the same as you would do for virtualising ESX/ESXi under Workstation 8, allowing nested 64-bit VMs.
- Add the following line to your VMX files:
hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = “FALSE”
I did initially try the unified installer but it proved to be a total pain, especially as some of the components were not recognised or were missing / different from the download links, and the installer itself refuses to install or even recognise a package if the install does not have the correct name (e.g. you have to download 2 editions of reportviewer, 2008 and 2010. You need to put them in separate directories with their original file names, and not just rename them to reportviewer2008.exe and reportviewer2010.exe – very annoying!). The same goes for the service packs, SQL installers etc. In the end I gave up with it and installed all the components manually, which I think probably teaches you more about the install process anyway.
Once I had my lab up and running I simply followed through all of the MS training on the Microsoft Virtual Academy. I genuinely cannot recommend these highly enough, and it really is very good of MS to provide them free of charge. When running through the videos, I tried to emulate every demo on screen, using my lab, then followed through reading as many articles as possible from the other links I included in my prep article.
Good luck to anyone attempting this exam in the future, next on my agenda was going to be the upgrade to Windows Server 2012, but I have decided to (at long last) slot in some time to aim for a CCNA first!