Home > Blogs > VMware Cloud Management

Monitoring vCenter Health Remotely with vRealize Operations – Part 2

By: Greg Hohertz, Blue Medora

In Part 1 of this blog, I discussed how you can monitor vCenter’s vPostgres database remotely using Blue Medora’s Management Pack for PostgreSQL. For those of you with larger environments with Oracle or MS SQL databases supporting vCenter, you’ll want to monitor those as well. In this blog I’ll step through how one can monitor a Microsoft SQL server remotely using vRealize Operations Manager. Similar steps can be taken to monitor an Oracle database remotely with Blue Medora’s Management Pack for Oracle. This includes setting up the requisite credentials on the SQL server, creating relationships to vCenter, and a custom dashboard that shows SQL performance for vCenter.

First, create a monitoring user on the Microsoft SQL database following the security standards and best practices in place at your company. At minimum, this user will require “VIEW SERVER STATE” and “VIEW ANY DEFINITION” on the SQL Server, and the “db_datareader” role on the vCenter database, which is “VCDB” by default.

Next, install the vROps Management Pack for Microsoft SQL, which will allow for remote monitoring of the SQL database. Follow the instructions found in the Installation and Configuration Guide, and configure it to collect data from the vCenter Microsoft SQL Server. This adapter will remotely collect data from your SQL Server and apply vRealize Operations’ predictive analytics, dynamic thresholding, reporting, dashboarding, and capacity planning for your vCenter database.

We’ll want to create a relationship between the vCenter Server and the Microsoft SQL database in vROps so that we can easily create some dashboards and navigate between the resources.

  1. In vRealize Operations, navigate to Administration
  2. Select “Object Relationships”
  3. On the left-hand side, expand “Object Types”
  4. Find “vCenter Server” and left-click on it
  5. In the next pane over, select your vCenter server by left-clicking on it
  6. In the right-hand pane, expand “Object Types”
  7. Find “MS SQL Server” and left-click on it
  8. In the second from the right pane you see your Microsoft SQL instances that are monitored by vRealize Operations. Select the database which supports your vCenter and drag it over to the vCenter server in the pane to the left.
  9. We now have a relationship in vRealize Operations from our vCenter Server to the SQL database which resides on it.

Figure 1 - Creating Relationship to vCenter Server

Figure 1 – Creating Relationship to vCenter Server

Next, we’ll import a dashboard which allows you to select your vCenter Server and see the Microsoft SQL Server supporting it, along with some capacity and health data. From here, you can customize the dashboard to add other metrics or use it to create your own custom dashboard to monitor your vCenter SQL database.

To import the custom dashboard:

  1. Navigate to “Content”
  2. Select “Dashboards”
  3. Select the gear, and then “Import Dashboards”
  4. Import “Blue Medora vCenter MSSQL.json” found in the zip file at the end of this article.

Figure 2 - vCenter Microsoft SQL Dashboard

Figure 2 – vCenter Microsoft SQL Dashboard

Now we have a custom dashboard which will show SQL health relative to our vCenter server. Since we created the relationship between our vCenter and SQL server, we’ll also be able to see when SQL performance is affecting vCenter health. With vRealize Operations’ capacity planning capabilities, we’ll also be able to determine if our vCenter SQL database has sufficient memory, cpu, and disk allocated to it.

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology Secures Cloud Services with VMware NSX and vRealize Automation

by Rich Bourdeau

The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology’s Internet Services Unit (ISU) is responsible King Abdulaziz Logofor providing networking and compute resources to academic and government institutions in Saudi Arabia. In order to satisfy this demand the ISU was looking to deploy a public cloud designed to meet the needs of their customers.  They needed a reliable cloud management platform which was easy to deploy and maintain, but also could configure secure and high performing IT services.  They needed to allow each customer to choose the appropriate level of security and network connectivity and have these service configured automatically without human intervention.

Goals:

  • Deliver reliable Infrastructure and application cloud services to academic customers
  • Allow customers to choose services and security which meet their needs.
  • Configure network and security on-demand without human intervention
  • Have the ability to deliver Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-service (SaaS)

Continue reading

What’s New in the Management Pack for Cisco UCS

By: Matthew Rumph, Blue Medora

One of the most popular management packs for VMware vRealize Operations has received another update this week. Blue Medora’s vRealize Operations Management Pack for Cisco UCS has been updated to include many additional features such as new resource kinds, relationships and more. Let’s walk through the components of the update to understand what value these new features could bring to your Cisco UCS environment.

Brand New Resource Kinds and Views

The majority of the updates for this Management Pack were focused on new resource kinds and the metrics related to them. The new resource kinds include:

  • Ethernet Port
  • Port Channel
  • Fiber Channel Port
  • Virtual Network Interface Card (vNIC)
  • Virtual Host Bus Adapter (vHBA)

With the addition of these five new resource kinds and 276 metrics related to UCS port traffic, the Management Pack for Cisco UCS has become an even more powerful monitoring solution.

The new metrics and resource kinds provide the solid foundation of this Management Pack, including vRealize capabilities such as Views and Reports. Below is an example of the out-of-the-box views you will see when using Blue Medora’s Management Pack for Cisco UCS.

views

New Cisco UCS Traffic Report

As mentioned above, with additional resource kinds and metrics comes the ability to build more out-of-the-box reports and dashboards. Specifically, the Management Pack will now contain an additional report that can be generated to provide summary details on the Cisco UCS traffic in your environment. Like all vRealize Operations reports, this summary report may be run individually or scheduled to run at recurring times.

report copy

New UCS Overview Dashboard

The Overview Dashboard is becoming a standard feature in Blue Medora products as it provides a comprehensive first glance view into your monitored environment. The new Cisco UCS Overview dashboard quickly displays, through heat maps, where issues reside and provides the ability to drill down into the problematic area. This dashboard serves as a great first stop for the Cisco UCS admin.

overview_dashboard

New Option to Enable Port Collection

Part of the inspiration for adding the new port metrics to this release was feedback we received from the current and potential users of the Management Pack; however, we understand that not every administrator may want these additional 276 metrics collected. For these users that look to maintain a smaller footprint in their environment, we’ve added the ability in the adapter configuration to disable the collection of these metrics.

To disable the port collection, simply select “No” from the “Enable Ports?” configuration option and restart the adapter.

configuration

New Capacity Definition

Another highly anticipated new feature of the Management Pack is the addition of vRealize capacity definitions. This feature adds the ability to view your Cisco UCS chassis total capacity, capacity remaining, and reclaimable capacity. Having this information can be useful for planning future Cisco UCS rollouts and tightening up current deployments.

capacity

Updated Traversal Trees for VMware and Cisco UCS Relationships

With the new metrics around ports and traffic, we’ve also taken the existing traversal trees and updated them to help visualize relationships and navigate the different Cisco UCS resource kinds. Now the administrator can easily view which vNICs and vHBAs are related to which Cisco UCS blades.

traversal

As Blue Medora’s vROps product portfolio rapidly grows, our commitment is to provide continued quality updates and support of all our management packs for the growing VMware vRealize Operations platform. If you’d like to learn more about Blue Medora’s Management Pack for Cisco UCS or download a free trial, please visit the product page on our website.

Cloud Management Platform Key to Private Cloud Benefits

Leverage a Cloud Management Platform to Convert Your Data Center

There was an article in InformationWeek recently that caught my attention.  Written by Andrew Froehlich, “7 Reasons to Convert to a Private Cloud” highlights some solid benefits you should consider as the rationale for embracing a move to a Private Cloud.  The article was short and didn’t really provide much opportunity to get into the “why” or “how” to achieve these benefits so I decided to take this opportunity to expand on both the why and how by highlighting the role that a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) like the VMware vRealize Suite plays in a Private Cloud.  While there were seven benefits discussed in the article I’ve consolidated the discussion into four major areas of benefits and requirements to consider.

Cloud Management Platform for your Private CloudBetter Resource Management

The first reason you should consider a Private Cloud over a traditional data center is that you simply get more out your gear in a Private Cloud.    That’s because when done right, you’ll have better control over the use of data center resources – not only at the time of provisioning but also throughout the life cycle of those same resources.

When you automate the delivery of infrastructure or infrastructure plus applications through the use of a CMP you have the opportunity to decide with great precision what level of resource is needed to support any specific application.  The level of resources needed is layered in from the get go into a model representation of the environment that needs to be built.  When an application is actually provisioned, the amount of resource provisioned to support that application is not the result of whim but instead the result of careful and thoughtful planning.

If you have the right management solution in place for your Private Cloud you also have the ability to continuously right-size the environment if you find that adjustments (up or down) need to be made to an application that is up and running.  The biggest adjustment you may want to make is to reclaim the entire resource stack when the team that requested the resources are no longer using them.  Consequently a good management solution for Private Cloud will also provide the ability to place provisioned resources under a lease.

The lease assigned can be for any amount of time.  For developers it might makes sense to be on time frames of a day, a week, or a month.  For production systems it might be for a year or more.  You’ll generally want to provide requestor’s the ability to renew a lease but even on production systems you’ll want something that forces a periodic check-in to ensure that resources are still needed.

Better Data Center Visibility

The best Private Cloud management solutions provide more than just the ability to provision resources.  They also provide the ability to manage these same data center resources from a complete life-cycle perspective.  Beyond lease management and the ability to right-size resources there other capabilities that should exist as part of a Private Cloud.

When it comes to life-cycle management, the ability to monitor, manage performance and troubleshoot the services you have provisioned is essential.  The need to ensure SLAs doesn’t go away just because services are received from a Private Cloud.  It’s also ideal if your cloud can provide service requestors a window into the performance of their services so they can easily stay informed on how the services they are using are performing.

Not surprisingly, once you make it easier to order and consume resources you often get a lot more requests for those resources.  Being able to easily stay on top of an ever changing capacity picture is a must have for successful cloud operations.  And even if you don’t have a formal charge-back process, you’ll still want to be able to facilitate conversations with line of business stakeholders on which teams are driving the need for increased capacity.  Having the ability to continuously cost the environment and to be able to understand who is consuming resources should be considered a fundamental capability for your Private Cloud.

Better End User Experience

Many organizations I talk to are only automating the IT processes that happen between request and fulfillment.  Meaning that they continue to use their existing help desk based processes to order services and have not implemented any form of true self-service.  The focus for these organization is on reducing the manual work (through automation) that is carried out by the many teams that get involved in providing production ready infrastructure to end users.  Even without offering end users true self service, just speeding up the process to deliver resources has a huge impact on boosting end user satisfaction.

Having said that, most IT teams do have aspirations of eventually providing end users self-service access to a catalog of items that allow a requestor to simply hit a button and order any number of production ready infrastructure or infrastructure plus application stacks.  These organizations just aren’t yet ready today to implement the incremental work associated with implementing self-service.

One thing to keep in mind when thinking about the self service capabilities your likely to eventually want is that when it comes to application teams there are many kinds of developers.  Some developers are fine requesting resources through a portal but an ever growing number of developers would rather directly access infrastructure resources through an API.  This is particularly true of developers that first experienced cloud computing through a Public Cloud such as Amazon.

An extension of providing API access is the ability for your cloud management solution to directly consume infrastructure as code.  In this scenario the provisioning solution is capable of consuming a manifest that specifies the infrastructure requested.  The ability of an individual to specify infrastructure as code means that teams can treat IT automation like code and apply processes that resemble formal software design practices.  These practices help developers carefully control code versions, test code iterations and limit deployment until the software is proven and approved for production.

No Solution is an Island

It is important to remember that there are no solutions in IT that stand apart from everything else.  Make sure to consider a few additional aspects when considering a Cloud Management Platform.  The first is the depth of out of the box (OOTB) support the solution offers for integrating with some of the most common third party solutions that IT uses.   As important are capabilities that support integrating with the many other solutions in your environment for which there is no OOTB support.   Some form of marketplace where integrations with third parties are available for free or fee is a big bonus.

One last area to consider related to the No Island concept.   My experience is that even the most diehard VMware fans have at least small amounts of other hypervisors in the environment.  Also, as I stated in a prior blog “Multi-Cloud, Hybrid Cloud the New Normal”, the need to manage a multi-cloud environment is an increasing reality for large enterprises.  The upshot of both these points is that you think beyond your Private Cloud and realize that in short order your likely to want to manage a multi-cloud environment.

Learn More About How VMware Can Help Teams Accelerate IT Service Delivery

VMware’s vRealize Suite is an Enterprise-ready, cloud management platform that delivers the industry’s most complete solution for managing a heterogeneous, hybrid cloud.  vRealize Suite supports companies addressing cloud management requirements across day one service delivery and day two operations for compute, storage, network and application level resources.  The easiest and quickest way to learn more about VMware Cloud Management Platform solutions is to visit us online at VMware vRealize Suite.

Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration (NAV) Embraces Cloud Efficiency

by Rich Bourdeau

Modernizes IT Infrastructure with vSphere and vRealize Suite Management NAV Logo

Like most companies, when demand exceeds the ability to deliver you need to take a look at how to improve your current processes.  The IT department at the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration (NAV) was experiencing rapidly growing demands for IT infrastructure services due to the popularity of their new online portal and applications.  Realizing that an overhaul to their current processes was necessary, NAV kicked off an initiative to modernize their infrastructure and invest in the cloud. Continue reading

Converged Monitoring within vRealize Operations

By: Kyle Wassink, Blue Medora

Converged infrastructure is becoming commonplace in IT environments, and for good reason. Prevalidated compliance between hardware layers, bundled hardware optimizations, and ease of scalability have numerous benefits to the adopting organizations, both financially and technically. These benefits, along with the solid track record of NetApp and Cisco hardware, have made FlexPod a great solution for companies looking to move to a converged infrastructure model.

While FlexPod offers converged hardware, the same cannot be said about converged monitoring of the hardware. Many organizations are still using separate applications to monitor the compute layer, storage layer, and network layer, thus limiting their ROI from convergence. VMware vRealize Operations and Blue Medora Management Packs address this monitoring gap and enable a truly converged infrastructure, both at the hardware and software layers.

Converged Monitoring

VMware vRealize Operations is the perfect platform for converged monitoring with great out-of-the-box functionality, as well as powerful customization opportunities. You can monitor your FlexPod environment in vRealize Operations even if there aren’t any VMware workloads! Of course, with VMware running on FlexPod you get visibility into the virtualization layer out-of-the-box.

To gain visibility into your FlexPod environment within vRealize Operations simply install the Blue Medora Management Packs for NetApp Storage, Cisco UCS, and Cisco Nexus. Each of these packs handles the relationship mapping necessary to tie the layers together, as well as provides in-depth customization for layer-specific troubleshooting. Adding the FlexPod bundle provides additional integrations such as FlexPod-specific capacity planning, alerting, and dashboards.

image1

With VMware and Blue Medora you get a robust solution to FlexPod monitoring that allows your compute, storage, and network teams to work together with ease. Whether you’re using the capacity planning capabilities to determine future load on the NetApp and Nexus components or troubleshooting a problem with UCS, having all the necessary data in a single tool provides efficiency that was not previously possible.

Management Pack for NetApp Storage

The Management Pack for NetApp Storage provides deep visibility into the NetApp portion of your FlexPod environment. Your storage admin will love the 15 out-of-the-box dashboards, built-in capacity planning, hundreds of metrics, and automatic relationship mapping.

image2

Management Pack for Cisco UCS

The Management Pack for Cisco UCS provides visibility into the compute layer of your FlexPod. Simplify your server admin’s responsibilities with the advanced alerting and dashboards in this pack, as well as the direct relationships to the VMware layer.

image3

Management Pack for Cisco Nexus

The Management Pack for Cisco Nexus pulls in the final layer of your FlexPod environment: your networking. The comprehensive port and switch monitoring capabilities will provide a complete picture of your FlexPod network.

image4

If you would like more information or a free trial of the management packs used to monitor FlexPod, visit the Bundle for FlexPod product page or e-mail sales@bluemedora.com with questions or inquiries. Faster MTTR. More accurate capacity planning. Comprehensive monitoring. It’s all possible with the FlexPod monitoring solution from Blue Medora.

vRealize Orchestrator 7.0 Content Pack for Log Insight

The all new vRealize Orchestrator 7.0 Content Pack for Log Insight has just been released.  Anyone who has used the vRealize Automation 6.1+ Content Pack might recall there was a pretty basic dashboard for vRO workflow calls from the workflow stubs, but no in depth vRO queries.  This new content pack provides thorough coverage for both standalone/clustered vRO appliances and the embedded version on the vRA appliance, including:

  • Server Overview – get the status of all vRO hosts in your environment at a glance, including details of reboots and service state changes
  • Workflow Failures – details about failed workflows by host, by workflow and error log events
  • Troubleshooting – provides two sets of queries for investigating general log errors and warnings, and workflow-specific logs for troubleshooting
  • Workflow Logs – breaks down workflow info, warning and error logs by workflow name and token, user, and message type
  • Workflow Scripting Logs – breaks down workflow scripting info, warning and error logs by user, workflow name and workflow token
  • Configuration Audit – reports events for changes to boot, initial heap and max heap configurations
  • Authorization Audit – reports on number of failed logins, failed login details by user and message, and provides license auditing
  • Content Audit – tracks resource, workflow and configuration changes by host and over time
  • Content Timeline Audit – content modifications by element type and change time, and detailed list of changed items over time
  • Workflow Statistics – shows successfully completed workflows and workflow runs by host, workflow name, user name and combinations there of
  • Workflow Timeline Statistics – shows successfully completed workflows and workflow runs over time and by end state

Continue reading to learn more about each of these…

Continue reading

April 19th VMware vForum Featuring vRealize Automation 7 Hands-On Lab

Join VMware experts for the April 19th VMware vForum Featuring vRealize Automation 7 Hands-On Lab.  You can register now for this virtual event for a half day of breakout sessions, Hands-on Labs, and “Chat with the Experts” to learn more about this new release and take a test drive.

Continue reading

IAG Achieves Efficiency, Reliability and Speed with vRealize Automation Based Private Cloud

By Rich BourdeauIAG Logo

Located in Wellington New Zealand, Insurance Australia Group Ltd. (IAG) is the largest insurance provider in New Zealand.  With growth through acquisition necessitating large scale provisioning of new virtual machines and environments for applications, IT Operation needed to rework their current process which was both lengthy and required a lot of rework due to lack of a consistent process.  This post contains a short summary and a link to the video testimonial.

Goals:

  • Provision infrastructure Services both on premise and off premise into public infrastructure providers
  • Reduce time to deliver Infrastructure services by 30%
  • Improve operational efficiency by Reducing costs to deliver by 20%
  • Increase consistency and reliability of infrastructure services delivered through an automated repeatable delivery process
  • Needed to integrate provisioning process with existing management systems including ITSM, CMDB, Backup, Authentication, IPAM

Continue reading

Introducing the vRealize Automation 7.0 Content Pack for Log Insight

The vRealize Automation 7.0 Content Pack for Log Insight has just been released, and is packed full of content specific to the new version. Those who are familiar with version 7 of vRealize Automation are aware of some significant changes in the product, many of which make the previous content pack for version 6.1 / 6.2 incompatible. Here is a quick rundown of some of the enhancements:

  1. Ease of configuration – developed using Log Insight 3.3, the vRA 7 Content Pack leverages Agent Groups for agent setup (see Steve Flanders’ post for more details on Agent Groups)
  2. Application Authoring Dashboard replaces the Application Services Dashboard as vRA 7 now includes this functionality in the core product and not as a separate tool
  3. Catalog Dashboard with queries to leverage end-to-end Request tracing
  4. Designer Dashboard focusing on the composition service used to track each component of a blueprint throughout provisioning
  5. Extensibility Dashboard focused on the Event Broker, the preferred extensibility mechanism for the machine lifecycle
  6. Authentication Dashboard replaces the SSO queries with new ones for VMware Identity Manager (vIDM)
  7. NSX Dashboard, specifically related to integration and data collection for vRA (leveraging embedded vRO)
  8. vRealize Orchestrator section has been removed as there is a separate Content Pack just for vRO now!

Read on to find out more…

Continue reading