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Identity Management in vRealize Automation 7

One of the major new enhancements in vRealize Automation 7 involves the replacement of the underlying identity management system.  vRA 7 will now leverage vIDM, and it’s integrated directly into the vRA appliance.

Reduced Footprint and Ability to Scale

In vRA 6, identity management was handled via functionality that lived on a separate appliance within the vRA 6 architecture, also known as the Identity Appliance. The Identity Appliance leveraged technology that actually came from vCenter – vCenter SSO.  Having an extra appliance not only added to the application footprint, it also created challenges when it came to architecting environments for HA.  With vRA 7 and vIDM, this challenge is not only removed, architecting for HA becomes extremely easy – it’s simply a matter of adding additional vRA Appliances:

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Custom Alerting in vRealize Operations

By: Bekah Suttner, Blue Medora

Alerts are a key feature of VMware vRealize Operations Manager (vROps). While third-party management packs usually provide pre-defined alerts out of the box, custom alerts are a must for comprehensive monitoring. In this blog, I’ll be creating a custom alert for MySQL monitoring needs.

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Figure 1 – Alert definitions from Blue Medora’s vROps Management Pack for MySQL

For this particular MySQL system, I’d like an alert to be triggered when my database reaches 75% used capacity. Before creating a new alert from scratch, it’s worth checking to see if any pre-defined alerts are nearly suited to your needs. It is possible to edit the existing alert definitions to better suit your needs, rather than creating an entirely new alert. To do this, navigate to the Content panel and select Alert Definitions. From here, select the alert that most closely suits your needs and click on the edit pencil icon. You can edit the definition as you see fit to best suit your environment’s needs.

If none of the existing alerts fit your use case, you will need to create a new alert. Under Content->Alert Definitions, click on the green plus sign. Give your alert a name and an optional description. Here, I will name my alert “MySQL 75% Capacity Reached” and add a short description to my alert. Next, I’ll select the object that will trigger the alert, a MySQL instance.

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Figure 2 – Defining alert impact in vRealize Operations

The next step is to define the alert impact, as seen above in Figure 2. First, choose how your alert will be classified: health, risk, or efficiency. In this case, I chose to classify my alert as an efficiency issue. Next, I set the criticality of my alert. The next dropdown asks you to choose an alert type and subtype, which groups the alert with similar alert types, making it easier for me to share my alert with appropriate teams if it is triggered.

Next, I’ll choose my wait cycle, which allows me to choose how many data cycles are collected before the alert is triggered. In this case, I chose four cycles. If a situation allows less urgent response, I can set the wait cycle to a larger number to be sure that my problem is persistent before an alert is triggered. The final number in this step is the cancel cycle, or the number of data cycles that must pass with the metric below the alert threshold before the alert is cancelled. For this alert, I set the cancel cycle to four.

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Figure 3 – Adding a symptom definition

Finally, you will want to add symptom definition to your alert. These definitions allow you to define one or more situations in which your alert should be triggered. Symptoms can be defined based on metrics and properties, message events, fault events, metric events, or smart early warnings. If a symptom definition does not suit your need, click the green plus sign to create a definition suited to your need, as I did in Figure 2 above. After this, you can optionally add recommendations to your alert, in case other administrators will be viewing the alerts and are unsure of the best way to resolve the alert.

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Figure 4 – The new alert, listed amongst all other alert definitions

For more information on creating custom alerts, visit the VMware Documentation Center. For more information on management packs for vRealize Operations, visit Blue Medora’s website.

Blueprint Samples for vRealize Automation


vRealize Automation 7.0 was released late last year. It introduced several new features and one of the major ones was converged blueprint model. The converged blueprint model provides a single place to design and manage any kind of blueprint. You have can create blueprints for consumption by different IT or make them available to your DevOps teams. It can be a simple OS image to be consumed by IT, a single blueprint with a software component on it, a multi machine pattern for developers to consume, or an application.

There are many ways to create blueprints and many types of blueprints that can be created, and while the documentation does a good job of explaining what can and can’t be done, there is no better way to show these capabilities than to provide examples.

We are going to provide fully functional blueprints, that will demonstrate  provisioning different types of OSs on different type of endpoints and different types of software components. The samples will also include built in properties to enable customization and reuse of these blueprints.

We are very excited about this initiative and have already released 4 samples. We are going to publish more in the coming weeks, and expect to update the existing ones once we get some of the initial feedback.

The full list of the blueprints that VMware provides is always available at the VMware Solution Exchange. Here is a shortcut to the VMware created blueprints. As you can see below right now there are 4 posted but by the time you will read this post there may already be more.

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As I wrote above there are currently 4 blueprint available.

Each sample has its own documentation and downloads to make things very clear and easy to consume.

  1. Microsoft SQL Server sample deployment on a single vSphere VM. This can be used as is out of the box or as a basis for your standard MSSQL in house deployments.

Note: Microsoft SQL Server license and binaries are required

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2. Microsoft Sharepoint Server sample deployment on a single vSphere VM. This can be used as is out of the box or as a basis for your standard MSSQL in house deployments.

Note: Microsoft SQL Server license and binaries are requiredSharepoint

3. LAMP Stack Pattern that includes all the components in a LAMP stack ready for consumption by a developer.

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4. LAM Java Stack pattern and sample application. This blueprint has two variants. One is a pattern that can be consumed by a developer and the other is an example that uses the pattern and adds a very simple app by installing a WAR on Tomcat and configures a specific schema on the DB. This provides a more comprehensive example of how to actually use the pattern.

Hope these are helpful to you, and hope to hear some feedback about what we already did and what blueprint samples you would like to see next.

Finding NetApp Bottlenecks with vRealize Operations

By: Chuck Petrie, Blue Medora

Storage can be difficult to troubleshoot. Maybe the hardest question is, should we even be blaming storage right now? In vRealize Operations, management packs can be tightly integrated with the virtual layer. The Management Pack for NetApp Storage provides a holistic view of the virtual layer and storage so you can understand performance bottlenecks. You can identify if the bottleneck is in storage, but at the same time where the traffic is coming from in the virtual layer. This blog will walk you through some of the options for troubleshooting NetApp with vRealize Operations.

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Figure 1 – View of the NetApp Relationships

Before I start, I want to note that this Management Pack ties directly into OnCommand Unified Manager via API Services to provide performance metrics, relationships, and events. In Figure 1 we can see the relationships in a NetApp system. Data is shown from the cluster all the way down to the disk. Out of the box, the Management Pack offers 14 dashboards, 25 views, and over 700 metrics.

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Figure 2 – NetApp Storage Topology dashboard

Custom dashboards offer at-a-glance views into your NetApp environment as we can see in Figure 2. In this example, I have selected a NetApp volume. The volume to VM relationship is brought into focus throughout the stack. Details on the volume are provided in the Health Tree, Metric Sparklines, and Metric Graph widgets. The volume is in a healthy state, but we should investigate the Aggregate, System, and Cluster based on the red statuses (critical) shown in the relationship map.

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Figure 3 – Summary Tab of NetApp Cluster

Let’s move on to the Environment tab where we’ll select a NetApp cluster under the Inventory Tree. A summary page of the NetApp cluster will appear (see Figure 3). On this screen we can see both the health alerts for the NetApp Cluster and all of the descendants. This allows us to pick the alerts that should be investigated immediately and which can wait based on criticality. In this example, we see that one of the alerts listed under Top Risk Alerts For Descendants tells us that two objects are being impacted by the following alert: “Virtual Machine has chronic high memory workload leading to stress on a virtual machine.” If this alert is selected, a list of impacted objects appears and we can navigate to the alert menu to begin troubleshooting.

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Figure 4 – NetApp Volume Based Metrics

In the Troubleshooting tab, we find the 700 out-of-the-box metrics mentioned above. In Figure 4 we see three NetApp volume metrics: average latency, operations per second, and throughput. These are the key performance metrics for a storage array. vRealize Operations’ predictive analytics differentiates normal behavior from anomalous behavior for us. Here we see an anomaly in the Average Latency (ms) on the metric graph around 9PM highlighted in yellow.

Now you have some more tools for finding bottlenecks in NetApp with vRealize Operations!

Dashboards and Reports in vRealize Operations Manager 6.1

By Troy Bailey, Blue Medora

Dashboards are the primary visualization tool for users of VMware vRealize Operations Manager (vROps). This tool provides graphic representation of vROps data and displays overall infrastructure health.

Reports are another great way for vROps consumers to use and leverage data collected from vSphere and third-party management packs. The data in a report can be displayed and transformed in several different ways using the many views provided in vROps.

The latest release of vROps introduces two new dashboard and report features. The first feature allows users to transform dashboards into reports. The second feature enables users to place their favorite report on an external network share. This blog will show you how to set up each of these useful new features.

Dashboards often contain large amounts of data that would be useful as a report to application owners and managers. Follow these easy steps to turn your dashboard into a beautiful report:

  • Login to vROps
  • Navigate to the Content Tab, as seen in Figure 1

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Figure 1 – Navigating to the Content tab, using either of these two options

  • Click on Reports
  • Click the green Plus sign, as shown below in Figure 2

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Figure 2 – Adding a new report

  • Give the report a name and description
  • Proceed to the next step and select Dashboards from the Data type drop down menu
  • Select your dashboard of choice and click Save

Your dashboard will now show up as a report in the Reports section of vROps.

Sometimes it is helpful to archive reports or share them with groups outside of vROps. The latest version of vROps makes this easy, allowing customers to place reports on a network share. To set up this new capability, simple follow these steps:

  • Login to vROps
  • Navigate to the Content tab
  • Click on Reports
  • Select the report that you would like to share
  • Click the down arrow next to the gear icon and select Schedule report…

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Figure 3 – Scheduling a report

  • vROps will prompt you to select an object from which to collect data. Select an object and click Next
  • Define the schedule as prompted, seen in Figure 4

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Figure 4 – Defining the schedule of a report

  • Near the bottom of the dialog box, you will now see an option for external locations
  • Select the click here link to begin the setup

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Figure 5 – Setting up an external share location

Note: Windows UNC or Linux NFS shares are both supported

  • Click the Test button
  • Click the checkbox Save to external location
  • Select your network share from the dropdown
  • Input your Relative Path if you wish to go further down in the path of your share
  • Click Finish

The selected report will now be created on the provided schedule and placed on a network share for consumption externally.

For more information on VMware vRealize Operations, visit the product page on the VMware website. Find out more about management packs for vRealize Operations Manager by visiting the Blue Medora product page.

vRealize Operations Manager Tech Tips: Tip #2 – Customizing Symptoms and Alerts in vRealize Operations

I was recently given a use case by a client who was seeing alert noise from the vR Ops 6.1 alert  “One or more virtual machine guest file systems are running out of disk space“. This alert is built from three symptoms:

1. Guest file system space usage at warning level

2. Guest file system space usage at immediate level

3. Guest file system space usage at critical level

The logic in the alert is that “ANY” of these symptoms can be true to fire off the Alert.

For many organizations this is a reasonable out of the box default Alert setting. However For this client, and others I’m sure,  it did not work and needed to be customized. For this team it was triggering for almost all of the windows machines in their environment.

When this team builds their windows machines, they put the page file on a separate disk  The P: drive,  sized to accommodate just the pagefile.sys file and not much else. So this disk on most of their windows machines is always at > 95% Usage. So of course the Out of the box alert storms the vR Ops Alert inbox.

This is how we addressed this challenge:

  1. Adjust the default policy to turn off the Out Of the box Alert “One or more virtual machine guest file systems are running out of disk space”. This will also turn off this alert for non windows machines. This team elected to follow up with another custom configuration for Linux machines.edit_policy_alert
  2. Build a Custom Group that uses a vSphere Tag to gather all the required Windows VMs.ldrive.tagcustom.group
  3. Build a set of Symptoms for each drive they want to alert on.Drive.Symptom
  4. Create a new alert or copy the existing Alert and base it on new Symptoms. Drive.Alert
  5. Create New Policy and apply it to the custom group.Alert.On.Policyapply.policy

Enjoy Less Alerts, enjoy customized Alerts, and be more productive!!

Upcoming Webcast: Expert Panel on Cloud Automation

Join us for a live, online event where Christian Paulus, Director of Product Marketing for Cloud Management will lead an expert panel on cloud automation.  The panel will go through a series of demos and questions that will explore how IT teams can automate the delivery and ongoing management of shared services, infrastructures, and applications.  This webcast will get you up to speed on the latest market demands related to cloud management and how VMware has responded to business trends and customer needs.

Sign up now to reserve your spot for the webcast “Taking Control: Automation for Cloud Services” on Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 11 a.m. PST

Tune in to this webcast to find out more about:

  • Use cases for cloud management, including intelligent operations, automated IT to IaaS, and DevOps-Ready IT
  • Technology trends for cloud management and how new releases within vRealize Suite are in line with these trends
  • How the California Department of General Services uses vRealize to meet their business goals and customer needs

This webcast will show you how to ensure performance, capacity and configuration management across all domains.  Plus, you will gain insight on modernizing the delivery of shared service infrastructure and radically reducing the time it takes to respond to requests for resources.  Finally, you will learn how to rapidly provision both infrastructure and application resources to application teams and integrate service delivery automation with continuous delivery processes.

Want to stand up integrated multi-tier applications decks, support dev-ops projects around continuous integration or continuous delivery? Interested in dynamically provisioning software-defined or application-centric networks? Do you need to simplify your user interface or accelerate time-to-value to customers? If you have considered these questions, this webcast is for you. Plus, this is your opportunity to get your questions on cloud automation answered by experts.

Featured Speakers:

  • Christian Paulus (VMware): Director Product Marketing Application Management
  • Vipul Shah (VMware): Director Product Management
  • Nikunj Nemani (VMware): Product Line Manager
  • Robert Tate (California Department of General Services): Enterprise Architect

Sign up now to reserve your spot for the webcast “Taking Control: Automation for Cloud Services” on Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 11 a.m. PST

Don’t miss the webcast! Sign up today.

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Creating a Custom Role for SQL DBAs with the Management Pack for Microsoft SQL Server

By: Greg Hohertz, Blue Medora

As you expand the reach of vRealize Operations Manager outside the realm of vSphere and down the stack into your compute, network and storage infrastructure and up the stack in databases, middleware, and applications, you’ll quickly find the need to create custom groups within vRealize Operations  to limit access to data by job role.

In this blog, we’ll create a custom group in vRealize Operations Manager for Microsoft SQL DBAs. By the end we’ll have a SQL DBA group within vRealize Operations that limits access to only the resources from the Blue Medora vROps Management Pack for Microsoft SQL Server. These same steps can be used to provide access control for other roles within your organization.

After logging in with an admin-privileged user, we’ll navigate to the User Groups tab in Access Control as shown in Figure 1.

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Figure 1 – Navigating to User Groups

Next, we click on the green plus symbol to create a new group. Enter a name for the new group, along with an optional description. Click Next.

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Figure 2 – Creating a group

Next, we’ll identify which users should be a member of this group. We can always add more users at a later time.

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Figure 3 – Adding users to the group

Then, we’ll select a role for this group.  We won’t delve into vRealize Operations Manager roles in this blog.  For this example, let’s use the built-in ReadOnly role for our SQL DBA’s — we don’t want them messing anything up!

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Figure 4 – Assigning roles to the group

Next, in the Objects tab, we will select the objects that this group will have access to.  For our SQL DBAs, I’ve given them access to our MS SQL Server Always On Availability, MS SQL Server Environment, and our VMware to SQL Server Object Hierarchies. This will allow them to see all of the resources in those inventory trees.

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Figure 5 – Giving access to objects

Next, click Finish. You’re done!

Now you have a SQL DBA group to grant your SQL DBAs access to only Microsoft SQL objects within vRealize Operations. These same steps can be used to grant access to other groups of users within your organization.

Log Insight for Web Traffic

Happy New Year! You may have noticed in late December some new Log Insight content packs were published to the marketplace. In this post I would like to talk about which content packs were released and the value they provide.

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Continue reading

vRealize Operations Manager Tech Tips: Tip #1 – Custom Datacenter object

In vRealize Operations Manager 6.1 we introduced a new construct called Custom Datacenter (CDC).  I wanted to describe how to create Custom Datacenter objects, and how you would leverage these objects.

The Custom Datacenter object can be created in the vR Ops UI, and you can add one or more Cluster objects.  Not only can you add one more Cluster objects from one vCenter Server, but these Cluster objects can span multiple vCenter Servers.

So…  Why would you want to do this?

1. By creating a Custom Datacenter and including multiple Cluster you will gain performance, and capacity visibility across the Custom Datacenter as a whole.  The Analysis badges will be computed for the newly created Custom Datacenter, and you will be able to perform Capacity Management on this new constructs.  I’ve come across customers that have large application platforms (like SAP or other applications) that span multiple Clusters.  Now they can manage these clusters performance and capacity by having a wholistic view.

To create a Custom Datacenter you go to Environment –> Custom Datacenter in the UI.

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And now you can see Analysis badge information for this Custom Datacenter

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Also leverage Projects on these Custom Datacenter objects to do capacity planning and capacity forecasting

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2. The other reason you would want to leverage Custom Datacenter objects for is Workload balancing.  You can leverage vR Ops 6.1 (and higher) Workload Balancing capability to balance clusters within a Custom Datacenter object

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Enjoy using Custom Datacenters in vRealize Operations Manager!

Thank you!

hicham

 

Please send us your feedback and comments about this #TechTip below, as well as requests for #TechTips on other topics. And yes, follow us on twitter @vRealizeOps to get the latest on vCenter Operations and Cloud Operations Management topics. For a full list of all blog posts in the vCenter Operations Management Tech Tips series, search for posts with the tag ‘tech tips‘, or just visit http://blogs.vmware.com/management/tag/tech-tips.