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By: Josh Williams

 

When it comes to Blue Medora Management Packs for vRealize Operations (vROps), one of the major problems we face is grouping similar objects in our product library. Thus far, we’ve only been able to focus on full-stack views–i.e., your prototypical parent to child relationships.

For example, take our SQL Server Management Pack; you can easily trace your way through a winding path of resources, from query to database to virtual machine to ESXi host. But let’s say you’ve also installed our Oracle DB and MySQL Management Packs. In a perfect world, you would expect to be able to pull all your databases into a single dashboard, regardless of their adapter type.

Unfortunately, in vROps, it doesn’t work this way. Resource definitions are largely agnostic. They don’t contain any metadata that groups a resource with other resources. As far as vROps is concerned, a SQL Server database shares as much in common with a MySQL database, as it does a NetApp array.

  Learn how to leverage custom groups in vROps
Less is more: While dashboards are nice, sometimes you just want one for your databases, rather than three.

 

Does this mean that it’s impossible to achieve this sort of relational grouping in vROps?

Yes and no. As a company, we’re unable to provide this sort of functionality with out-of-the-box content. But as an end-user, you can quickly leverage any of our management packs to do so after installation, using “Custom Groups.”

Custom grouping is an extremely powerful feature in vROps — one that I don’t see used enough in customer environments. It allows you to take any kind of resource and group it with other resources, based on a ruleset defined by the user. The only real drawback of custom grouping, besides being relatively unknown, is that it can be a little tricky to work with at first.

How tricky?

Well, first you have to create a group type, before even creating a custom group. The group type is just a philosophical labeling of intent; for example, these are the kinds of groups I intend to make. vROps comes with a number of these out of the box, like licensing or geolocation services. The important thing to remember is that the group type is just a name. It has no actual bearing on the custom groups you make. For example, in my own environment, I created just a single group type called “Blue Medora Resources.”

Learn how to leverage custom groups in vROps

It’s all in the name: And that’s all a custom group is–a name.

 

Next, after you’ve created your group type, you create a custom group by assigning it a ruleset that governs resource membership. This can be overwhelming, since there’s so much to pick from. You can define members by resource type, properties that equal a value, or even metrics that cross a threshold. While this gives users the ability to achieve some powerful granularity, I typically resort to simple resource type rules. For instance, my database custom group simply checks to see if a resource is of type “MySQL Instance,” “Oracle DB Instance,” or “SQL Server Instance.”

Learn how to leverage custom groups in vROps

Feeling Lost?: If you’re having trouble locating this prompt in vROps, navigate to the environment tab and select custom groups.

 

Lastly, once you’ve defined your custom group, you have to find some way to leverage this data in a meaningful way, which isn’t always intuitive. While vROps does some of this for you by aggregating the health of the resources in your group, you’ll really want to create some of your own aggregated super-metrics or group specific dashboards. For example, my database group has several super-metrics defined, such as total memory utilization or average sessions. And furthermore, I was able to create a single dashboard that allows me to show the entire health of my database ecosystem at a glance.

Learn how to leverage custom groups in vROps

So many options: This is only a small example of the things you could dashboard using custom groups.

 

In my opinion, this is where I get the most use out of custom groups–by creating role specific dashboards. If it were possible for us to do custom groups out of the box, I would have all our management packs ship with dashboards tailored specifically for Storage Admins, Network Admins, and DBAs. Yes, being able to see the full stack view is probably always the most important use case in vROps, but sometimes it’s equally nice to see your specific domain of expertise grouped in one place.

And the way I see it, this is just another angle you can take to look at that much vaunted “single pane of glass.” Interested in seeing it in action? Start a free trial today.