Chuck Petrie, Blue Medora
Now more than ever, IT departments are faced with an overwhelming number of avenues to manage and analyze their IT environment. These avenues have a wide range of management options created in-house to vendor-created management interfaces. With so many options to choose from, it’s hard to know the best choice. One common theme in making a decision is efficiency of the solution. For example, it’s more efficient to monitor all of your systems from a single console with comprehensive management packs than it is to use a half dozen tailored monitoring platforms for each layer of your stack.
Today we will talk about how third-party management packs seamlessly integrate into vRealize Operations (vROps), turning vROps into a point of data aggregation and simplifying your monitoring needs. Once you’ve learned how to use a single third-party management pack, you’ll be able to expand your knowledge and use vROps as your single management console.
Figure 1 – TraversalSpec or Inventory Tree
First, some terminology – when talking about data aggregation, I’m referring to the practice of pulling multiple endpoints (applications, databases, hardware, etc.) into a single interface. We see this on the left side of Figure 1, where we have multiple management packs monitoring systems like Cisco UCS, IBM DB2, Dell PowerEdge, Microsoft SQL Server, and more. Although these are all third-party management packs, there is no direct callout to show that. Each management pack populates without change to the interface.
Figure 2 – Recommendations Dashboard – VMware Out-of-the-Box Dashboard
Seamless Integration with Management Packs
The vROps platform puts simplicity at the forefront, creating seamless integration at all levels of the interface. In Figure 2, we are looking at the Recommendations dashboard provided by VMware as out-of-the-box content. Look closely and you’ll notice that amongst the descendants, there are two third-party management packs (in this case Oracle and Cisco Nexus). This integration adds breadth to VMware’s deep insight around the virtual layer (VM, Host, Datastore) and allows data points to be pulled into a single pane showing existing and expired alerts.
Figure 3 – NetApp Summary Tab
Figure 4 – vSphere Hosts and Clusters Summary Tab
As we navigate through vROps we notice similarities across the board for each management pack. In Figure 3, we see that the summary tab for the NetApp management pack follows the exact same format of vSphere Hosts and Clusters (figure 4). This is important because the summary menu shows the Health, Risk, and Efficiency of each endpoint. Taking a holistic approach to management, we see that using vROps as a point of data aggregation allows us to understand the health of even the most complex environments.
Figure 5 – Custom View Creation Screen
Adding in a View
vROps is often thought of as a complex management tool, and that comment holds some truth but shouldn’t limit people looking for simple solutions. vROps has a ton of great out-of-the-box content that we could easily take advantage of to analyze our environments better. Extensive options for customization within the user interface may complicate the platform, but if you take the time to really learn the platform, you’ll grow to love all of the opportunities to customize your monitoring experience. In Figure 5 we look at the process of creating a custom view. Under the subject menu we notice that all of the installed management packs are listed. Once you learn how to customize a single management pack, you can do the same for any of your management packs.
Figure 6 – Anomalies Tab
Third-party management packs tie seamlessly into the value propositions of vROps. In this specific example shown in Figure 6, we can see that the Management Pack for NetApp Storage uses the robust user interface to understand anomalies within a storage environment. Third-party management packs also have the ability to show smart alerts, predictive analytics, capacity planning, executive dashboards, and reporting.
Once you learn how to maneuver through vROps with a single third-party management pack (or even the hosts and clusters out-of-the-box views) we can apply it to any other management pack. The same can be said about any form of customization. This flexibility allows us to use a single management platform in depth with no need to toggle through multiple tools to analyze and manage our environment.