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Assess performance impact of Spectre and Meltdown patches using vRealize Operations Manager

I want to share some quick tips and tricks which can help you monitor the performance & capacity of your environment using vRealize Operations during the patching process for Spectre & Meltdown.

Make sure you also refer to the following KB Articles from VMware about Spectre & Meltdown.


What can vRealize Operations show you about your environment today?


With vRealize Operations, you can track the following key areas of your environment:

Out of the box, you have six dashboards and features to help you assess your environment. The seventh “dashboard” is a kit of three custom dashboards from VMware developers that you can download and use today if you have the vRealize Operations Advanced or Enterprise Editions.


Here is the guidance for using the dashboards and features:


1. Track the BIOS and ESXi version of each host using Host Configuration dashboard.




2. Look at the CPU, memory, IOPS, and network utilization of your virtual machines using the VM Utilization dashboard.



3. Look for changes in CPU and Memory Usage per cluster using the Capacity Overview dashboard.



4. Find out which VMs are using the most resources using the Heavy Hitters dashboard.



5.  If you have a large deployment of multiple clusters that serve the same purpose, relieve the CPU and Memory pressure by using Workload Balance to move VMs from stressed clusters to underused clusters.


6. Look for reclaimable resources with Capacity Reclaimable dashboard.


7. Get the special Spectre and Meltdown custom dashboards kit.

Note: These custom dashboard kits require vRealize Operations Advanced edition or above.

Since vRealize Operations Manager Advanced edition allows you to create powerful custom dashboards, some of our internal VMware employees (Iwan Rahabok, Mark Scott, and Luciano Gomes) have leveraged this functionality and created a small library of three custom dashboards that focus on the configuration, performance, capacity, and utilization of your virtual infrastructure. I am happy to share that you can download and import these dashboards in your environment. Here is what you will get after the import:



The dashboards include:

  • Performance Monitoring
  • Planning Guest OS Patching
  • Tracking vSphere Patching

Details on these dashboards follow.


Performance Monitoring dashboard

This dashboard helps track the CPU and memory usage of your environment at all levels. You can see changes across the entire environment including vSphere clusters, ESXi hosts, and virtual machines.




Planning Guest OS Patching dashboard

To aid you in guest OS patching, you can pull up a list of idle VMs, which should be your first target for patching. The heavy hitters, which use a lot of CPU most of the time, should be touched last and with more precaution for patching. This dashboard helps you plan by providing you that list based on the current and historical workload behavior of these virtual machines.

Note: As recommended, phasing out the rollout of guest OS patches to ensure that you can steadily measure the impact of these patches on overall utilization.




Tracking vSphere Patching dashboard

You need to carefully plan the patching of ESXi hosts and the virtual machine hardware versions. While the recommendations are available in the VMware advisory, this kit comes with a dashboard that can help you track:

  • The ESXi build numbers your hosts should be on after patching, and their progress in patching
  • The virtual machine hardware version

For this dashboard, it is important to ensure that you have the latest version of the ESXi patch numbers and versions updated based on the new patch releases from VMware. Refer to this blog to see how you can change the dashboard filters to add the latest patch numbers.




Note: The dashboard processes all the virtual machines in your environment to come up with the list of idle VMs and VMs with high CPU utilization. In a large environment, this view might take some time to load, since it must process all the virtual machines before showing the results.

How do I get the custom dashboard kit? Download it from this link along with the instructions on how to import them.


For those who are not entitled to a vRealize Operations license, you can download the evaluation version of the product and use this capability for at least 60 days to proactively monitor your virtual environment.




6 comments have been added so far

  1. Hi Sunny – this is really a good information. So this Dashboard will not be available for 6.6.0 or is there anything similar available for the mentioned version. Thank you.

  2. Dashboard for vSphere Patching shows all host are patched. Does that mean its in compliance with the Latest Patch for ESXi?

    I have GA build for ESXi, but not the one recommended for Security Patch.

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