MCSE Server Infrastructure Recertification 70-980

It’s been nearly 3 years since I obtained my MCSE in Server Infrastructure and Private Cloud, and now they are both set to expire within the next 45 days. I am in cram mode as I have procrastinated and now I am looking to the community for some advice. I am weighing between trying to cram Exam 413 and Exam 414 again or if it is more efficient to go through the exam topics from the official exam page and just read the associated TechNet articles for each topic.

For example:

Plan and deploy Virtual Machine Manager services (

So, far I am leaning to the exam topics and TechNet to refill my brain on the need to know information. It is hard to tell how hard it will be to remember some of the nitty gritty. I would appreciate comments from anyone willing to share some advice, and especially if you didn’t procrastinate and have passed the 70-980 exam.


I have also posted in the Born To Learn forums if you would like to contribute there for the broader community:

I have reached out to some resources to see if they have any advice, and I am curious if there is any extensions like we can get on our taxes. 😉


Windows Server Technical Preview Hyper-V – A Few Things

IT Engineer insert a Blade Server in Data Center Besides not knowing the final name of Windows Server Technical Preview (Windows Server 2016, or perhaps Windows Server TP) here are a few things coming with this release of Hyper-V that I am looking forward to with Microsoft’s latest OS.

First, finally being able to hot add/remove a vNIC or RAM. This isn’t shaking the world of virtualization, but it sure is terrible when you want to add a vNIC and you have to take a server offline. Thank you Microsoft.

Second, moving Integration Services into Windows Updates will be great to help automate the upgrades with centralized management tools and put more control with the server administrators.

Third, the ability to add the latest Hyper-V server to an existing Hyper-V 2012 R2 cluster. This will make it a lot less of an ordeal to roll a client up to the next OS.

Lastly, Production Checkpoints. They have made this the default checkpoint, but have left the option for the standard one. They are stating that it will be able to create a “point in time” image of a VM that can be restored in a way that is completely supported for all production workloads. Using VSS inside Windows and flushing the system buffers on Linux to create a file consistent checkpoint. I would still advise to backup your SQL databases before upgrades. 🙂

ITEN Wired – Breakout Session – IT Certification Path Success


Slides: IT Certification Path Success – Ben Jones – ITENWired14

I recently did a breakout session at a local IT conference in my area, and I wanted to share the slides here on my blog, but I will admit most of the content and takeaway was in my presentation and not necessarily my slides, but perhaps it will help anyhow.

Microsoft’s Windows Azure Preview Portal

Microsoft’s Windows Azure Portal is getting a face-lift, and you can take a look at it in Preview by signing into your Azure account at:

I found it to be very intuitive and I liked being able to customize the tiles. Now, if you are not loving on the new UI in Windows 8/2012 then you may have some reservations, but I think they are on the right track here. It makes a nice dashboard to leave up to monitor your VMs and management doesn’t seem to be too bad either. Check it out, and comment to share your thoughts on it.

I hope they add more tiles with graphics, such as usage stats and gauges for individual and group components.


New Microsoft Press 70-413 Book Released

If you are studying for the MCSE Server Infrastructure certification and haven’t taken the 70-413 exam, be sure to check out the Second Edition MS Press book for the 70-413 that was published on June 27, 2014. At the time of writing this post Microsoft hasn’t updated their exam page yet to reflect this, but they posted in the MSDN blog today to announce the new book.

Exam Ref 70-413: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure [Kindle Edition] by Paul Ferrill and Tim Ferrill

I also updated my blog post to reflect the changes:


VM Running On Snapshot and vSphere Client’s Snapshot Manager Doesn’t Show Any Snapshots

Yesterday I got an alert that a virtual machine needed consolidation. I opened my vSphere client and found it was in fact running on -000017.vmdk and looking at the directory I saw all of the snapshots. However, when I opened Snapshot Manager I saw no snapshots. My infrastructure uses Veeam B&R to run backups and traditionally if there is a snapshot on a VM the backup will fail. In my case, perhaps because VMware only kind of knew about it, it had been working. From the looks of it when Veeam talked with VMware’s API to consolidate it wasn’t happening properly. To delete all of the snapshots and consolidate down to one flat disk I found VMware KB article 1002310 that stated this could be resolved by the GUI or CLI by taking a new snapshot and deleting all snapshots. If that didn’t work it suggested that I quiesce the guest file system when I take a snapshot and try again. Well, this plan didn’t do the trick for me. I tried it with the VM off as suggested and that also did not work. Fortunately this was a VM that could be off without user impact. The next suggestion was cloning the VM and using the clone and decommissioning the VM with the snapshot problem. The last suggested “workaround” in the KB was to use vCenter Converter Standalone to essentially treat it like a P2V because it would only see the disks from the guest OS perspective. I wasn’t giddy about doing that. I decided to go with the clone method and it worked well for me. So, I thought I would share this KB with my blog crew. Be sure to consider data changes during the clone and take precautions such as disabling the network or shutting down the VM. For most production VMs this would probably need to be done during maintenance hours. I hope this is helpful for someone, but I imagine you may make it to the KB article just fine on your own. This client was using Veeam 6.5 and I upgraded them to Veeam 7.0 R2 after this issue and it worked properly last night.

The KB that shares all of this with details: Committing snapshots when there are no snapshot entries in the Snapshot Manager (1002310)

If you have a VMware VM that is running on a snapshot and the Snapshot Manager doesn’t see them you have a few ways to fix this.

  1. Create a new snapshot (check the Quiesce quest file system) and then Delete all snapshots. If this doesn’t work while the VM is running try with the VM turned off if possible.
  2. Create a clone of the VM and use the cloned VM and decommission the one with the snapshot problems.
  3. Run a P2V on the VM with the vCenter Standalone Converter and use the converted VM and decommission the one with snapshot issues

Other helpful KB articles when troubleshooting locks and snapshot issues

Other helpful recommendations for keeping a handle on snapshots

First, vCenter should be set to send you notifications of alerts. Secondly, I recommend adding your own custom alarm for a VM that is running on a snapshot too long. Snapshots are meant to be brief and as I mentioned above having a leftover snapshot can even cause backups to fail. I have heard of VMs running on hundreds of snapshots and you can imagine what a mess that would be to deal with. The maximum supported snapshots in a chain is 32, but it is recommended to not have more than 2-3 snapshots. Depending on the IO of your VM consolidations can be painful if you let it go to long. So, create an alarm to notify you when a VM is running on a large snapshot. This will notify you if you just forget to consolidate a snapshot. See this helpful KB on Configuring VMware vCenter Server to send alarms when virtual machines are running from snapshots (1018029). I recommend creating a rule at a high level to alert if a VM runs on a large snapshot for your environment so that you will be notified of that. This is tricky to determine the threshold, but considering backups happen on off-hours and IO should be relatively low I would start with a lower threshold. Every environment is different, but I will set mine as low as 1GB  at times.

Veeam Delivers With Their Latest Patch (

I was on vacation last week and received the great news that Veeam had delivered the patch for Veeam Backup and Replication version 7 that will extend support for VMware vSphere 5.5, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows 8.1. At least those are the ones that I am looking forward to. I want to give a big SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU to the Veeam Support Team for working tirelessly to deliver support for the latest platforms. I have to say that every time I call Veeam for support I get very informative and knowledgable support technicians who handle my incidents with great attention to detail and solutions. I love the follow-up emails to ensure that I am good to go. I always sell the support with Veeam Backup and Replication for my clients because they release patches like this one to keep my clients as up-to-date as they want to be and whenever I run into an issue I know I will have a good experience getting it resolved. So, thank you Veeam!

So, if you are running Veeam I highly recommend staying up-to-date to be ready for your clients infrastructure when it is time to update them to VMware vSphere 5.5, Windows Server 2012 R2, or Windows 8.1. First ensure you are on version or and then install the patch linked below to be on version