Tag Archives: VCops

VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials by @malhoit – reviewed!

6961EN_VMware EssentialsIt should come as no surprise that I have been a huge fan of vCOPs – I've had the application installed in production ever since it's first beta with VMware, I've spoke twice at VMworld as a member of the customer panel, and I've done numerous blog posts about the value and benefits that you can get by implementing vCOPs.  That's why when I had the opportunity to perform a technical review of a new book by Lauren Malhoit (blog/twitter) centered around vCOPs I didn't have to think very long.  The book, titled VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials will most definitely not disappoint.

To begin Lauren jumps into what exactly vCOPs is, the different versions available, and how each can benefit you.  From Chapter 2 on you can expect to see a slew of tutorials, real world examples and detailed descriptions about all of the functionality that vCenter Operations delivers.  vCenter Operations in its base is a very easy application to get setup and configured; understanding all of the dashboards, colors and data is a whole other challenge. This book however does a great job at explaining all of the different dashboards, badges, and metrics that vCOPs collects in an easy, real world fashion.

Lauren doesn't just stop at that.  The remainder of the book takes you through step by step how to configure everything and anything that vCOPs has to offer including the various reports, what-if scenarios, Log Insight, vCenter Infrastructure Manager and vCenter Configuration Manager.   Aside from the core vCOPs components Lauren also delves into the configuration and setup of some popular vCOPs plug-ins; Horizon View and EMC Analytics.

To me though, the real gem I got out of this book was how to use vCOPs to troubleshoot different real world scenarios. Things such as capacity planning, VM/Host performance, network performance; they are all covered in this book.   You can definitely see how Lauren's career as a consultant shines through in this book by the methodologies and processes she uses to begin troubleshooting.  The vCenter Operations Suite is a very large collection of some complex applications, all collecting thousands of metrics.  This book is key to understanding just what the data means that vCOPs displays, as well as how to best use it in your day to day job to plan, analyze and troubleshoot issues as they occur.  I would recommend this book to anyone using vCOPs or simply wanting to learn more about vCOPs.  If you are interested, check out the books landing page on Packt, where you will find all the links to your preferred book seller.

vCenter Operations Manager now sits at 5.7

VMware LogoIt should be no surprise to any of my regular readers or followers that I am a huge fan of vCenter Operations.  Being a VMware customer I find that it is a huge time-saver when trying to pin point performance issues within our environment, as well as giving us a great first step in trying to do capacity planning and figure out where we are going to need to go next.  So, it should also be no surprise that I get just a little excited when there is a new release of the product; be it only a .1 release, still super awesome none the less.

It goes without saying that you should see a few posts diving deeper into some of the new features listed below as well as in the official release notes, as well as a quckie about how to upgrade, but for now, without further ado, the newest features from vCenter Operations 5.7 from vmware.com…

More Flexibility with Capacity Planning

  • Assess capacity risk and plan by allocation and/or actual demand: Set policies based on your varying business needs to assess capacity risk, efficiency, and forecast. For example, different buffers, over-commit ratios, alert thresholds, business hours, etc., across production and test-dev environments.
  • New views for Cluster Capacity Risk: Quickly identify via color-coded Cluster capacity risk view which clusters grouped by business criteria, etc., are at capacity risk—facing a capacity shortfall now or in the near future or just not sized right. Drill down for each cluster in the Cluster Risk Detail view to analyze which resource is it constrained on and why.
  • New policies for common environments and workloads: New out-of-the-box policies, such as Production and Test-Dev policies, enable quick set-up of vCenter Operations Manager capacity settings for common types of environments. Additional new out-of-the-box policies, such as Batch workload, Interactive workload, and Ignore VMs policies, help fine-tune capacity configuration settings to accurately right size and analyze different workloads based on their performance characteristics.

Improved Self-Monitoring

This release introduces new diagnostics metrics to monitor the health and availability of vCenter Operations Manager components, such as Analytics, Collector, Active MQ, Web server, database, and operating system.

Widgets with Improved Flexibility and Usability

  • Health Tree Widget: Easy visualization for large number of objects.
  • Generic Scoreboard Widget: Support for Sparkline, string metrics, and metrics filtering by resource.
  • Metric Sparkline Widget: Configurable color ranges and units, support for resource type and label.
  • Resource Widget: Customizable to add metrics beyond health.
  • Top-N Analysis Widget: Support for analysis based on latest values.

New Custom Relationship Widget

Allows you to build a custom resource hierarchy and relationship view, just like the existing out-of-the-box vCenter Server view.

Custom UI Import and Export Changes for Dashboards and Super Metrics

  • Export format changed from binary (.bin) to XML (.xml): .bin formats are still supported for backward compatibility.
  • DBCLI Enhancements: Programmatically import and export Super Metrics.
  • Pre-population of Dashboard objects during import.

Balanced Metrics Profile

This release introduces a new metrics profile that reports a reduced set of metrics. Increase the scalability of vCenter Operations Manager to support more resources by changing the metrics profile to the new “Balanced” profile in vCenter Operations Manager Administration.

VMware vCenter Infrastructure Navigator Filtering Capability

You can configure how resources discovered by vCenter Infrastructure Navigator are displayed in vCenter Operations Manager. This release introduces a configurable filtering capability to the vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter to control Application service and Application resource reporting. For each resource type, you can configure either “blackList” or “whiteList” filtering in the configuration file filterList.txt.

  • blackList: The vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter ignores specified entries. If an Application Service name or an Application name is included in the “blackList,” it is not reported by the vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter. This is the default setting. The vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter filters unknown Application service names by default.
  • whiteList: The vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter reports only the specified entries. If there are no entries added to the whiteList mode, none of the resources of the corresponding resource type are displayed.

 New Browser Support

This release adds new support for the following browsers: Apple Safari version 6, Google Chrome versions 24 and 25, and Mozilla Firefox 18 and 19.

Security Hardening

This release includes additional security hardening and increases compliance with The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and The Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIG) guidelines.

 Go and download a fully featured 60 day trial for yourself here.

VMworld 2013 call for papers – Don’t be discouraged!

speakingThere have already been various posts from around the world announcing the opening of VMworld 2013 call for papers.  There has also been a number of posts with all of the tips and tricks on how to best submit your abstract in hopes of it being accepted.  This post isn’t really about either of those, it’s simply a little description of my experience with the call for papers.

Last year I submitted a session for VMworld in regards to vCenter Operations and how it’s not just applicable to large enterprises or cloud environments  how the SMB can certainly benefit from operations management as well.  Needless to say it didn’t get accepted…  Certainly I had hoped it would, I thought the information I had to share could be valuable to others and at the same time, help me with my speaking abilities 🙂  That being said I wasn’t that disappointed…  However, 2 weeks after it closed I got a message from one of the VMworld track organizers asking if I’d be interested in speaking on a customer panel in regards to vCOps.   Obviously I was thrilled and ended up speaking for the first time at VMworld!

So, be sure to get all your sessions submitted.  I know you all have a lot of valuable information to share and I want to hear it!  And even if you don’t get accepted during the first round of cuts, just remember, there’s always that chance…

Upgrading vCenter Operations 5.x to 5.6

First off there are a few different ways to get vCenter Operations 5.6 up and rolling into your environment.  The way documented here is the upgrade path that it looks like VMware is recommending; by downloading and installing the pak file into your existing installation of vCenter Operations 5.x.  By going this route you are able to maintain all of your collected data metrics and don’t have the hassle of deploying a new vApp or instance of vCOps.

Once you have the pak file downloaded, log into your vCenter Operations Administration Portal.  The admin portal is probably not a screen that you are familiar with.  In the few years that I’ve been running vCOps I’ve probably been into these screens only a handful of times.  You can get to your admin portal by browsing to https://your_vc_ops_ip/admin/

Once in the admin portal select the ‘Update’ tab along the top navigational menu.  It’s here you will browse to your downloaded pak file and initiate the update – to do so, click ‘Browse’, select your pak file and then click ‘Update’ – Imagine that – a step that follows the logic of what you are thinking in your head 🙂
vCenter Operations Update Tab

vCOps Update Tab

 Once you have selected the EULA and confirmed the update the upgrade process will begin.  This process for me took approximately 15 minutes.  Once it’s done you should be redirected back to the admin portal login.  Have a look at that version underneath the the header – Congrats you did it!

So, go ahead and log back into the admin portal and click the ‘Status’ tab.  You should see a screen similar to below outlinng that your services are running and you are running the 5.6.0 version.

There you go you are now updated to the current version. Now you can go into vCenter and add the license as you normally would with other versions of vCenter Operations.  One note here, vCOps will need to restart in order to detect the new license so it’s a good idea to probably do a complete power cycle at this point and I also needed to clear my browser cache before things were displaying properly.   Honestly thoughI love this upgrade process.  It’s the first time tthat I have gone through an update of a virtual appliance via the pak file method – it was easy, relatively quick and ran flawelessly – Great work VMware 🙂

vCenter Operations 5.6 – Go Get IT!!!

Any follower of this blog knows that I am indeed a huge vCenter Operations fan!  I’ve done a couple presentations about the product both at my local Toronto VMUG as well as VMworld 2012 stressing this.  It’s not the uncanny ability to monitor the environment that excites me, it’s the ability for the software to learn the ‘normals’ of your environment and display all of that in a series of coherent, sharp looking dashboards that really drives the value of the product to me!

So, without further ado the VMworld announced vCenter Operations 5.6 is finally available for download so if you are a current VCOps customer you can go ahead and pull down your upgrade.  But wait, what if I’m not a VCOps customer?  Oh, no worries, with the release of 5.6 so long as you are licensed with vSphere you can go and pull down the Foundation edition for FREE!

Huh!?!?!  Foundations edition???  Let’s have a look!  With the introduction of the re-branding to the vCenter Operations Management Suite, the foundation edition came to life as well.  Having a quick look at the editions I would say that the foundation edition is pretty close to what the Standard edition used to be (minus the dynamic thresholds but still FREE), the standard edition now includes the capacity optimization features that the old advanced edition offered, the advanced edition now includes the physical infrastructure tie ins, with the enterprise edition giving you the whole shebang that the vCenter Operations Management Suite offers.  Again, these aren’t the only features included in each edition, you can get a full list here.  Some of the best in my opinion

  • Being able to intelligent group VMs and monitor your health, workload, capacity, stress, risk as a whole.
  • The integration within the vSphere Web Client,
  • Although I haven’t had the chance to play with the integration into Configuration Manager and Infrastructure Navigator I’m sure it’s pretty cool.

Check out the full product page here!

Friday Shorts – VMworld Announcements, Modern Family and Hockey Liars!!!!

vCenter Operations 5.6

Announced at VMworld in Barcelona this week was vCenter Operations 5.6  I’ve always been a huge fan of vCOps and have been using the product ever since the beta release of 0.9.  It’s been awesome to see this application grow and mature over the years.  When VMware claims that they have done studies that show you can have a significant cost savings by deploying vCOps alongside your vSphere environment they are not joking.  So have a look at it if you have a chance. This release gives you the ability to now group your workloads together and apply flexible and custom policies to them.   I know for myself it has enabled me to pinpoint issues much faster as well as determine where I can reclaim wasted capacity.

vCloud Automation Center 5.1 released

Again more VMworld news.  VMware’s acquisition of DymanicOps has finally came to life as the rebranded vCloud Automation Center.   In a nutshell vCloud AC will give you the ability to provide policy-based self-service provisioning portal (that’s a mouthful) to your end users which operates across private and public clouds (including AWS) as well as supporting multiple hypervisors (including Hyper-V).  The vCloud AC will also be fully integrated into vCloud Director as well.

Phil’s-osopy

Now I don’t really have a lot of time to sit around and watch TV but one show that I always try to make time for (on the dvr) is Modern Family. Also, I know this has nothing to do with tech, but my sole reason for creating this series of blog posts (Friday Shorts) was to enable myself to ramble on about whatever I want, so it is what it is… If you haven’t seen this show you really should try and catch an episode every now and then and I’m sure you will be hooked.  Phil Dunphy is one of the main characters in the show and has a humour to him that I really relate to.  This past week he was reading quotes out of a book that he had wrote titled Phil’s-osophy which actually made me, how do you say it, lol!  “When life gives you lemonade, make lemons, then life will be all like what!!?!?!?!”  You have to see it for yourself 🙂

Will you still watch hockey?

An interesting poll on TSN.ca right now is going on which asks the question “Will you return to following NHL hockey when the work stoppage is over?”  Now what really sparks my interest about the results are that currently 44% of people say NO!  Now, I’m not saying that those people are lying but I think that they are, well, lying!  There’s no question to be asked really.  Nobody will stop watching a sport and a team that they love just because part of a season is lost!  It just doesn’t make sense.  Maybe it’s just the die hard fan in me (HABS fan) but I just can’t understand how you could answer No to that question.  People who truly love the sport will support their team through thick and thin…I mean, there’s still leaf fans out there!?!?!  Sorry!

 

Free Course – VMware vCenter Operations Manager Fundamentals

For those that may be interested there is a new course on the mylearn portal called vCenter Operations Manager Fundamentals.  I went though this course over the last few weeks and it is pretty awesome…  It takes you through the installation and configuration of vCOps and explains the major/minor badges, describes how to use all the tabs effectively and also walks you though setting up Smart Alerts and reporting.

So, if you get some spare time go and check it out.  It's an eLearning course so you can come and go as you please picking up right where you left off, or simply skip to the areas that are of interest to you…  And, it's free, so why not?  Head on over the mylearn.vmware.com and login and get yourself enrolled…

Below is the course outline…

Course Description

This e-learning course covers how to install and configure vCenter Operations Manager as well as how to use its many robust features. The course consists of five modules:
  • Technical Overview of vCenter Operations Manager covers the vCenter Operations Manager 5.0 vApp architecture and resource requirements, the vCenter Operations Manager 5.0 vApp installation considerations, and introduces you to the major and minor badges.
  • Installing and Configuring vCenter Operations Manager discusses how to install and configure vCenter Operations Manager.
  • Using the Dashboards and Badges explains the main function of the major and minor badges, how to interpret the badge results, and how to configure thresholds and notifications.
  • Operations and Planning describes how to use the Operations tab and the Planning tab.
  • Working with Smart Alerts and Reports covers how to configure and use smart alerts, how heat maps are used, and how to work with reports.

vCenter Operations and Virtual Machine Faults

Every morning I like to fire up vCOps and have a look at my environment and when I do this, I like to see nothing but green (maybe a bit of yellow :))  For the past week or so that hasn't been the case…  Not that I have any performance issues, but I do have what is called a 'fault' on a few of my Virtual Machines.  I've been troubleshooting an issue as of late with something causing a few of my hosts to become disconnected, and HA has been attempting (and failing) to restart a few of my VMs, which in turns generates an alarm on the VM and a fault inside of vCOps.  Well, the issue has since been resolved and everything is running fine again, however vCOps is still hanging on to those faults for some of the VMs.

Now I don't see this as a bad thing, it certainly is nice to have a record of these issues inside of vCOps, but being the persnickety fellow that I am when I log into my vCOps and see those VMs showing up on the heat map coloured in red, well, it drives me a little mental…  I thought maybe if I leave it for a week things would clear up, and while some did, others didn't.  So I guess a little manual intervention is involved.

Basically, a fault in vCOps is triggered by an event occurring from within vCenter Server.  VC Ops will hang on to this fault until vCenter Server reports that the issue has been resolved, thus resulting in a red VM like the one above, and a lower health score to boot!  In some cases (cases like mine) you may need to manually cancel and remove a fault from vCOps.  So in the case you ever need to, the following is how to do so…

Either select your VM, or any inventory item that is higher up on the inventory view and navigate to the Alerts tab.

 

In the Alerts table below, sort, filter, re-arrange however you want and select the fault(s) that you want to cancel and click the 'Cancel' Icon.

Presto!  That's it!  If you navigate back to your dashboard and heat map now you should hopefully see that wonderful greenish tint of all that excellence (after everything refreshes)!  Or in my case there is still more work to do 🙂  Happy Troubleshooting!

Skewed Usage Reports in VCops 5 – No problem!

A couple of years ago I downloaded and installed a trial of CapacityIQ.  It wasn't necessarily the capacity planning for the future capabilities that I was looking for, but more for the under/over sized VM reporting that it included.  Honestly, I didn't get a lot of time to evaluate it and all I really did was run a few reports and determine that we were heavily oversizing our VMs.  Although I found it useful, I couldn't justify a recommendation to gain budget for just the functionality that CapacityIQ provided.

Fast forward to last year.  I now find myself participating in a beta for VCops 1.0. I was extremely excited about this product the first time I seen it at our local Toronto VMUG.  Ever since then I've been using VCops on almost a daily basis to monitor and keep track of events and changes within our environment.  

And now here we are today with the recent release of VCops 5.  This release, now including CapacityIQ reporting and metrics has taken me back in time to those days I was evaluating CapacityIQ by itself.  And so I find myself once again looking at those under/over sized VM reports (with a little more time and focus this time around) and kind of scratching my head a bit.  A lot of the recommendations it was making around over provisioning vCPU's were correct, however I do have some VMs containing 2 vCPU's that it was recommending to drop to 1.  Now I know these VMs need 2 vCPU's as we have ran them with a single vCPU before and the performance just wasn't there.  So why is it recommending 2?  Well, by default VCops collects usage data of the VMs 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, so when you think about, in this case, these VMs basically do nothing at all during the night and on weekends, but still, there usage data for those off times was being used in the overall calculations, thus, bringing the total average down.  Thankfully there is an option to change this, follow the steps below to do so…

Log into VCops and click the 'Configuration' link in the top right hand side of the screen.  From there you will be presented with all the configurable options for VCops.  Under Planning & Reports click the 'Usage Calculation' link.  By default 'All hours on all days' will be selected, meaning VMs usage data is being used 24/7.  To change this, simply select 'Specific Hours and Days' (as shown below) and select  your desired days and hours…easy!.

 

 

There you have it!  Your VMs usage outside of the hours and days that you define here will now be excluded in your report calculations.  Keep in mind that this is a global setting and will apply to all VMs.  There isn't a way to do this on a per-VM basis that I can find, but would probably be beneficial in some cases.  These settings are not only useful when trying to exclude idle time, but you can also use them to exclude times when they might be busier than normal (A backup or maintenance window)  As always, any comments, questions, concerns, suggestions are more than welcome in the comment box below.

VCops 5 – IP Changes and IP Pools – Huh?

So I finally decided to to decommission my old VCops 1.0 install and run fully on VCops 5.  I've had VCops 5 monitoring our environment for a couple of months now and during my initial install had set it up to use DHCP just due to the fact that I didn't (and still really don't) know that much about IP Pools and how they interact with the VMs.  So I went about the task of switching both VMs that come with VCops to a static IP.   Honestly, I didn't think this was going to take much, and really it isn't…so long as you read the required documentation 🙂  (which of course, I didn't!)  So, the following is basically derived from a couple of great blog posts;  Duncan Epping's post about IP Pools and William Lam's post regarding 'vcops-admin'.

So as I said, my first problem was skipping  the documentation and thought I would be 'smart' and just go and change the IP's from within both of the consoles.  Not knowing much about IP pools and how they function this was probably a bad decision.  I changed the IPs of both the UI and and the Analytics VM, restarted the networking services and quickly realized that I had lost connectivity between the two.  A first I thought it was simply an advanced setting somewhere within the UI VM that specified the IP of the Analytics VM…well, wrong there.  I couldn't find anything like that anywhere within the UI VM.  So, I decided that a reboot was in order to have both VMs come up clean however on the power on operations I experienced the following error dealing with IP Pools.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I followed Duncan's post on getting my IP Pools setup properly making just a few adjustments.  I wanted to only use the two static addresses (200 and 201) that I assigned to the VMs so I imputed my range as seen below.  Also, be sure to move the Associations tab and actually associate this IP pool with your desired Virtual Machine Network or you will end up getting the same exact error as above.
            
 
So after making all of these changes and configurations I was able to get my VAPP to power on once again, however after coming up I seen the following in the UI VMs console. "SSH: connect to host secondvm-external port 22: No route to host".  It was still trying to connect to my Analytics VM on its' old IP address.  Knowing that I could not find a setting anywhere within the GUI (which I couldn't connect to anyways) I turned once again to Google and found a great article on William Lams blog about changing the IP's which outlined a command line tool called 'vcops-admin' which controls just that setting I was looking for.  Only problem being is that I couldn't seem to get into the console (either through direct, failsafe or SSH) of my UI VM as it continued to display the no route to host.
 
So, the quick fix for me was to set the Analytics VM back to its original DHCP address, which in turn allowed the UI VM to once again connect to the Analytics engine.  Then it was a simple as following the steps outline on William's blog post
 
Once the UI VM had booted I went back to the Analytics VM and changed the IP back to the static address that I wanted using the 'Configure Networking' option on the console.  Then, it was back to the UI VM to run the command to make it aware of the new Analytics IP. As per Williams post, if you experience any error such as 'This program must be executed as an admin user' then make sure you sudo to the admin account using 'su admin'.
 
First off, stop VCops if it is running with the following command
 
vcops-admin stop
 
Secondly, make the UI VM aware of the new Analytics IP using
 
vcops-admin repair –ipaddress [new.ip.of.analytics]
 
This will in turn do the updates from within the UI VM that need to be done and start the VCops services again.  After this you will need to log in to your VCops administration page and click 'Update' on the registration page in order to update the registration with vCenter.
 
So, whether you are changing the IP of the analytics VM, the UI VM, or both of them, you will need to ssh into the UI VM and run that vcops-admin repair command in order to let the two VMs establish their trust.  Basically, VCops established a secure tunnel or trust between its VMs inside the vApp and by simply changing these IPs breaks that trust.  

vCenter Operations 5 – First Impressions

Following the Twitter feed from VMworld Copenhagen this year there seemed to be a common theme coming out of all the buzz – operations and management.  Product wise it was  AppBlast and Horizon that really took center stage in Vegas, but it was vCenter Operations 5 that stole the show in Europe.

i have been a VCops user since the beginning (well, since VMware purchased Integrien) beta and have been completely sold on the product ever since. Although the production environment i look after is relatively small in the eyes of VMware (150 VMs or so) that doesn't mean that the day to day operations and performance of those VMs isn't just as important as the larger environments. To be completely honest, VCops filled a huge gap between the standard vCenter alarms and performance graphs and our traditional monitoring software.

Alerting
This was certainly an item that came out of the version 1 beta. The metrics that VCops collects is crazy and the analytics behind determining health and workload scores is insane. But the issue with v1 was that i never knew if my VM or host was experiencing a low health score unless I actually logged into the application. This was addressed in v5 with the system now sending out email alerts. Now beware when just simply enabling all alerts, you may end up with an astronomical amount of emails. This is certainly a feature that you will need to tune in order to only receive those alerts you want to act upon.  We all know what happens when you start to receive too many alerts…filters get created and alerts end up being ignored.  So be sure to fine tune your alerts to meet the needs of your business.

 

 

CapacityIQ
A few years ago i pulled down a trial copy of CapacityIQ and gave it a whirl. Mainly i wanted to check out some of its over and under provisioned VM reports. I thought the reports were great but at the time couldn't justify the cost of the application for what it was providing. Well now I'm happy to see that it has been simply ported into VCops. Honestly its a great fit for this product as now you can gain visibility into not only health and workload, but capacity, utilization, efficiency and risk.

 

 

New Dashboards
Here is where VCops really shines. I have never seen so much information collected and analyzed be presented in such a simple interface. I've solved issues with our environment using VCops in basically, minutes. I mean, a host is red, click it. It drills down and shows you the VMs. You can see if its just one VM causing the issue or if all VMs are experiencing issues. You can see sibling hosts and VMs. VMs on the same datastore to determine if it might be a storage problem. This is all done within less than a minute from logging in.

 

 

Honestly these are only a few of the new features that are included in VCops 5. There is a slew of other features including Chargeback, Configuration Manager, Application Dependencies to name some.  For a full list check out the official VCops VMware page here as well as a launch anouncement on the Management Blog here.  As well the product is now branded as vCenter Operations Suite now including not just VCops but vCenter Infrastructure Manager as well.  I haven't had a whole lot of time to explore everything it has to offer yet but will definitely do an update when I have.  For now, go and pull down the trial for yourself