Troubleshooting tips for beginners in Windows Server

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I was thinking these days what I wish I have known when I started working with Windows servers, some basic (and some not) commands that can help me to troubleshoot servers without requiring additional software.

 

That’s why this is a post dedicated to people who just started administering servers with Windows Server 20xx-2019 (I expect at least 2008 although it is going end of support the next month) or maybe you’re curious and want to know more about Windows Server administration.

We will exclude networking problems as that is another huge topic so, we assume that the server is reachable by using ping (ICMP protocol).

 

RDP isn’t everything

First thing I notice when someone tells me: “I can’t access the server via RDP, it must be overloaded, unresponsive, etc. because I can ping it”.

As you may know (or not) RDP is the Remote Desktop protocol which usually runs in port 3389, there can be tons of reasons why you can’t access a server via RDP at the moment an alert raises (port blocked, server out of resources, user not allowed to RDP, etc.)

Therefore, I will list some points about how to troubleshoot a server when you can’t access using RDP. In this way, you’ll be able to manage a server (Windows) without accessing it.

 

MMC (Microsoft Management Console)

MMC is everywhere, when you open the Event Viewer it is indeed an MMC that has the Snap-in “Event Viewer”. Here is how would you do it manually instead of opening the Event Viewer “console”:

event viewer

You should try to master the MMC as it provides you the best way to manage different aspects and features from a Windows server (remote or local).

 

By typing “mmc” in Run and pressing Enter”, an empty console (MMC) will be open.mmc_console_empty

And then, you can add a “snap-in” about any particular feature, service, etc. from Windows. Meaning that with the MMC you have at your disposal a tool to troubleshoot a remote or local server.

Just go to File > Add/Remove snap-in and here choose what do you want! For this example,  I will add the Certificates snap-in in order to check which certificates are installed in my server:

Once you press Add, it will ask you which account, usually you want to use the computer account because services and features related to the computer nor a user account.

Choose if you want to manage a local or remote server:

And finally, here is the final screenshot after adding the Certificates snap-in from my computer:

 

Now, imagine if you do the same with the Services snap-in and select Another Computer, you will be able to manage the services from a remote computer by just doing that and without connecting to the server using RDP!

 

Check memory resources (RAM)

CMD (command prompt)

Our “old” friend CMD or command prompt interpreter which works on all versions of Windows Server, no matter which problem you have on your server that you can always run it and it is available on any Windows installation without any requirement.

There are some useful commands to manage a remote Windows server. The first command I want to show you is the “tasklist” command, which is the equivalent of the “Task Manager” that you probably know.

It can become very handy to check which processes are consuming more memory resources:

tasklist /s <server> | sort /R /+58

tasklist command

The previous command is just for Memory usage (RAM) but it won’t work for CPU so, how can I check which process is consuming more CPU resources?

Check the next section!

 

Check CPU resources (CPU)

WMIC (Windows Management Interface Console)

In order to check the CPU remotely, there isn’t a simple command like “tasklist” with parameters as it is harder to get the stats from the CPU perspective.

Anyway,  this is another command that can be used within CMD, the command is wmic, here you have some examples:

To get the CPU usage of the server:

 wmic cpu get loadpercentage 

Or the processes that are consuming a particular percentage (70% in this example):

 wmic path win32_perfformatteddata_perfproc_process where (PercentProcessorTime ^> 70) get Name, Caption, PercentProcessorTime, IDProcess /format:list 

As you can see in this output, it says “PercentProcessorTime=100”, which means that a process (mcshield) consumed 100% of his time when we asked for the processes above 50% of the server.

So in this case, the process “mcshield” (which is related to McAfee) is consuming more than 50% of the CPU.

Obviously de “_Total” process mustn’t take into account and it’s in the output because I didn’t want to make it larger (although is a bit large).

There is another command (typeperf) which although it can be more powerful (it uses performance counters), the output is a mess (lots of data). I won’t show it here but  I wanted to let you know.

Alternate access to RDP

A server can be physical or virtual then, you can probably access the virtual machine using Hyper-V Manager (if you use Hyper-V) or the vSphere Web Client (vSphere) tools in order to gain access to the virtual server.

If the server is physical, you have probably access to some remote console (iLO, iDRAC, etc.) to access the server and finally be able to log if you need to.

 

 

I hope these tips helped you or at least make you remember how to do it, see you next time.

Post VMworld Europe 2019: Days 1 and 2

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Here I will explain a summary of days 1 and 2 (November 4th and 5th) of VMworld Europe 2019 from my perspective.

So, the first official day is on Monday (November 4th) where there aren’t many people like the next day (the second day, Tuesday 5th) but anyway there are many activities to do!

This time I was awarded a blogger pass, hence, I will have the honor to be with other bloggers at VMworld while enjoying some privileges like having a reserved seat in the general session, stay with other bloggers or join some special events.

The Community: vCommunity

I think that for almost everyone that is involved in the vCommunity, VMworld means vCommunity but why?

Easy, is the main event where you can meet again your friends, make new ones and have fun with them! By the way, vCommunity means virtual community and not VMware Community 😉

This year, I was able to help as a Champion for the Tech Level up Project which is the one who made The vTrail Map (A community guide for your virtualization journey)!

You can get the digital version here for free!

Many people from the vCommunity as Champions delivered lots of physical copies of the vTrail Map at VMworld just to engage them in our community.

 

1st general session

Although there weren’t bigger announcements like at the VMworld US, there were some new projects and features that were announced.

Day 1 (Now talking about November 5th) is more focused on announcements about new products, strategies and gives you a better vision of what VMware has to offer with new features, insights, etc.

 Here you have the link for the first session:

vBrownbag Tech Talks

On Day 1 there wasn’t much to do as we couldn’t record anything at the vBrownbag stage.

Gregg Robertson (vBrownbag member) likes to make fun of me a bit while I am performing tests on the stage:

 

On Day 2 we started the vBrownbag Tech Talks at the VMware Community booth from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Ariel Sánchez, Alastair Cooke and me recorded around 15 sessions where many people from the vCommunity among other companies that showed us their community programs, new features, versions, etc.

Although I was “anchored” at the VMware community booth recording people with the mixed audio and all of the vBrownbag members helping the presenters (and recording as well), it was so nice to spend time there with lots of new and old people from the community.

Also, I learned from each session that we recorded. If the topic is a bit interesting for me, it was great to hear about it and even ask the presenter.

Here you have a picture of me while I was recording my friend Jorge de la Cruz!

Enjoying VMworld

And here I share with you some events, moments and things that couldn’t be possible without the vCommunity.

All these moments are perfect to meet new people, engage with them and have fun!

vFit Run

In the early morning (6:45 AM) we did a run on the first day (November 4th) with some people from the community. It was so nice but at the same time painful to wake up at that time…

There was a second run scheduled for November 6th but I couldn’t attend so I assume that it wasn’t done.

vSoccer

So, a run for me in the morning and at night…soccer, no, vSoccer!

Jorge Torres organized a match between friends within the community and it was fantastic. We rent a field and after the match, we had a light dinner with some finger-food, omelets, etc. I absolutely recommend you to join the next one!

vStreetfighter

Well… this can happen at any hour… Gregg, Ariel and I love Street Fighter so, if you want to play with us at VMworld (or online) just let us know.

We have our own hashtag: #vStreetfighter

vBreakfast

Another amazing event from the vCommunity (organized by Fred Hofer). This is always done on the second day (November 5th) before the general session. There is a special place where we have a great breakfast and if there is a sponsor (Runecast) you will have it for free 🙂

But the main point here is, meet new people, talk with them and have a nice breakfast before going to the conference center!

 

And that would be all I wanted to share from the first 2 days, I will post the remaining ones in the same format.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

2019 review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I haven’t thought of doing this kind of review but reading some of them through the internet, it motivated me to do it.

Also by submitting to programs like vExpert from VMware, made me realize that I did many things this year that I forgot and were amazing.

2019 Timeline

  • January: Going to the gym to get healthier knees and finished exams from the university with good scores. Semester ends.
  • February: New semester (about my degree) and many things planned.
  • March: Earned a certification (MCSA 2016) and letting my self know more in the local VMUGs. I was awarded as a #vExpert for the first time!
  • April: Getting stronger and not feeling more pain in my knees after a long injury (previous year).
  • June: I took some university exams (all passed!) and then… time to enjoy the summer!
  • July: Enjoying the time when there is no semester
  • August: Lots of sport, going to restaurants and more.
    Planning what to do in New York.
  • September: I failed an exam which I knew I wasn’t prepared but I got married (eloped) in NY 🙂
  • October: #BlogtoberTech2019 = 5 blog posts!
  • November: The event VMworld 2019 Europe. Tt was amazing to meet new people, older friends and interact with all of them. Also, I was able to record sessions with the vBrownbag crew.
    I also presented a session at VMworld!
  • December: Nothing to say here, basically, preparing the next year.

Success

First, things I did and makes me happy that I achieved or earned:

  • Personal: Eloped in New York for just 2 months and 3 weeks ago!
  • Commitment: Continue with my degree by passing all subjects with a good score.
  • Networking: Meet better or new people which made me realize that there are good friends or someone you can chat from time to time.
  • Better writing: Although this year I wrote only 16 posts (I know isn’t too much), I think I write better and I didn’t let quantity overcame the quality.

 

Failure

Obviously not all things went well:

  • I wasn’t able to pass the VCAP6.5-DCV Design exam in October, you can check it here.
  • For 4-6 weeks, I gained some weight because of time anxiety.
  • I am procrastinating more than I used to (probably because of anxiety?).

 

To work on

  • Procrastination: I tend to procrastinate at home when I have to do university assignments. Also, other personal projects tend to be massively delayed.
  • Organization: I do like to organize what I am going to do every week but maybe I have to put more fun windows and realize that sometimes you need to play games, do nothing and don’t be worried about you could do instead of seizing that time (time anxiety ?)!
  • Writing, hosting, and more: More blog posts for the next year, host people to record sessions with vBrownbag, and presenting more.

 

And that’s all! This will be the last post of the year (obviously) and although I was aiming to publish another different post that I am working on, I decided and wrote today this quick post in order to let you know that no one is perfect of course and there are bad and good news that people usually don’t talk about.

 

 

See you!

Want to be a vExpert?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

vExpert 2020 applications are open!

vexpertlogo2020

From November 25th to January 10th, you can apply to be a vExpert 2020 through many different paths and you must do it if you think you contributed to the VMware community.

What is a vExpert?

It’s an award that VMware gives to individuals who have contributed (a lot) to the VMware community.

Only the contributions over the past year are evaluated, therefore, it is a program that requires constant dedication every year by being an evangelist and advocacy of VMware products.

vExpert is not a certification! It’s an award that is given to individuals and not companies so, companies must not claim that title.

Why become one?

vExperts who participate in the program have access to exclusive benefits. One of the challenges that you will see is, the journey to be and to maintain it. As I will explain later, being active in the community (through different ways) is the key to become one!

At VMworld there are some exclusive gifts, access and parties that are only accessible to vExperts but, interacting with the community will be always your best gift in my opinion.

Here is a list of some of the benefits:

  • Join the private Slack channel (which is quite active!).
  • Permission to use the vExpert certificate and logo on your website, social media, etc.
  • Private forums on communities.vmware.com.
  • Private webinars with VMware partners as well as NFRs.
  • Evaluation licenses (1 year period) for many VMware products for your home lab!
  • Blogger early access program for vSphere and some other products.
  • Your profile will be listed in a public vExpert online directory.
  • Access to vExpert parties and exclusive gifts at both VMworld events.
  • Preferent seating at VMworld Keynotes.

How-to

Being a VMware vExpert is not a sprint and it doesn’t consist of making the greatest amount of blog-posts about VMware.

To become a VMware vExpert, you must be active in the community: This can be achieved by knowing and replying to people on Twitter, writing blog posts about VMware technologies, reply to the VMTN forums even if you don’t know the exact answer.

Assisting or presenting to VMUG events is one of the best things you can do, not just to know people, promote yourself and learn new things also because you participate in the community and let yourself know.

To apply just do it here and list all the contributions from this year (2019).

If you still have doubts, you can reach your local vExpert PRO, which will help you with your submission. I can help you if you need some guidance or need any advice, just reach me on Twitter!

Once you apply, your submission will be evaluated and once the applications are closed, the vExpert 2020 will be awarded.

Summary

By being part of the community and involving yourself more in evangelizing VMware products through posts, VMUG events/UserCons, VMTN forums, etc. you will have a high chance of being a vExpert.

 

 

Remember that in only will count the contributions from the previous year (2019 in this case) so, if you are not one know, don’t worry, apply if you think you contributed enough to the VMware community.

You didn’t contribute enough or nothing this year? Set yourself a goal and make it happen for the next year!

For me, being a vExpert gave me, not just licenses, gifts, etc. but many new friends of the community and a better knowledge of VMware products and culture.

VCAP-DCV Design exam notes

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

As the VCAP-DCV Design 2020 certification is going to be released (but the 3V0-624 exam is not scheduled to be retired yet) on Jan 1, 2020.

Recently I made another post about my experience with this exam where I failed, check it here.

For your information, at the moment the 3V0-624 is the current exam code for the VCAP-DCV 6.5 Design certification (Also named VCAP-DCV Design 2019), always check the code for the exam no matter which is the certification name.

I decided to share with you some notes for this kind of exams no matter which version.

This information will be more helpful for people that have never taken this exam rather than those who are experienced in these advanced exams.

Audience

The Design exams (VCAP-XXX Design) are mainly for IT Architects (sounds cool?) but, why for architects? Well, if you check the blueprint, you will see a couple of sections and not many objectives. The truth is hidden inside each section, which is huge and covers many aspects.

Could you pass this exam without being an IT architect? Of course!

trust_me_architect

Many did it (not in my case yet) by studying and having a lot of design experience, or also helped doing designs with other peers for example. Also, you can gain all the knowledge of all areas and study your main gaps.

The goal is to design VMware solutions to meet specific goals and requirements, ideally, you should have advanced knowledge of storage, network, compute, end-user computing environments and other components.

You will have to develop a conceptual design given a set of customer requirements, determining which requirements needed to create a logical design and after that creating a physical design with these items.

Technical background

As you are aiming for a VMware certification, you must think in all solutions, features, and elements from vSphere.

Here is a list of the solutions that appear in the Blueprint and are related to VMware of course:

  • vSphere
  • vSAN
  • SRM
  • vROps
  • VVOLs
  • vCenter Converter

Inside each solution, you should know at least the most of the features, functionalities that they offer, dependencies between them and test them (if you can).

Apart from knowing about these technologies related to VMware, there are obviously the core areas that compose a general IT infrastructure: Storage, networking and compute.

So, be prepared to dig on each area and know about dependencies between each other and with other solutions.

Advanced knowledge is desirable (and you will be tested) on each area would deserve more than post so, I am not going to explain anything right now about it 🙂

Aiming for the exam

Your main guide must be the blueprint, no matter what other unofficial guides say (although they are very helpful). In the blueprint you will have all the sections and objectives that will be qualified.

This exam requires to read a lot (more if your daily job isn’t designing solutions) and not just books to gather information about how to gather requirements from the customer and match them to terminologies like RAMPS or RRAC (I will explain a bit of those later), also all the technical papers that the blueprint mention (+50).

Conceptual, Logical and Physical Design, you will see this a lot and once you understand it, you will see why.

You must check all the references (documents) that the blueprint mentions because most of them will appear in the exam.

Some key points from all the features, elements or products I think will be:

  • Dependencies: Know the dependencies between solutions. What do you need to enable vSAN, apart from at least 1 SSD/Flash and 1 SAS/SATA disk? It also requires vCenter and DNS.
  • Advantages and disadvantages: Does SRM perform replication? Is HA better to ensure availability than FT? Which solution can achieve a 5-minute RPO? vSAN
  • Maximums and limitations: vSphere 6.5U1 supports a maximum of 4 PSCs per site, behind an LB. Also a maximum of 10 PSCs per vSphere Domain.
  • Upgrade paths: How would you upgrade a vSphere 6.0 environment to 6.5 with external PSC?
  • Determine RCAR: Differentiate between requirements, constraints, assumptions, and risks.
  • RAMPS: Build recoverability, availability, manageability, performance, and security into a vSphere Logical Design.
  • Gather and analyze business and application requirements from customer interview data, determine customer priorities for defined objectives and categorize those requirements by infrastructure qualities.

In the post, I mentioned to you at the beginning there are some resources which are quite helpful in order to learn and improve your non-tech skills.

Summary

There is so much information to digest if you don’t have a certain level of knowledge in vSphere and the “art” of designing solutions, which could lead you to study a lot of products, methodologies, and features in probably, a great amount of time.

But don’t be impatient, it will take you time but, review each section and check the concepts, products or features that you’re not familiar with.

Check videos and other unofficial guides that probably will make other fellows from the community.

This exam is about theory so, you will be tested as an architect who designs solutions based on customer or application requirements and how to match them to a VMware design.

It is difficult to generalize all the things that can appear in past, present, and future VCAP-DCV Design certifications but I tried to give you as much information as I can.