vRealize Operations 8.2 is now GA!
This blog was co-authored with Brandon Gordon and John Dias.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that we announced the latest release of vRealize Operations and vRealize Operations Cloud. However, a lot has happened in that time including our first-ever virtual VMworld that was packed with announcements and introduced a What’s New Hands-On Lab. Today, we are extremely excited to share that the wait is finally over as vRealize Operations 8.2 is now GA as well as the latest release of vRealize Operations Cloud!
This is another huge release for vRealize Operations and there are so many more features than we can cover in a single blog. However, that will not stop us from trying! In this release of vRealize Operations and vRealize Operations Cloud, we have focused a lot of attention on broadening our integrations across private and public clouds. vRealize Operations can give you better insights into your applications, whether they are traditional apps or running inside containers. It can tell you exactly what is happening inside your Data Center with data extracted from your Data Center infrastructure management systems. vCenter metrics can be polled in near real-time, and we can get deeper insights from public clouds such as AWS EC2 instances.
With all this additional information, vRealize Operations and vRealize Operations Cloud can provide better troubleshooting with expanded metric correlation capabilities and Log Insight integrations. Better alerting capabilities and dashboards so that issues can be identified and resolved faster. Greater business intelligence so that you can serve your applications and users in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. And we did all of this while also making vRealize Operations more robust and easier to use.
One of the key themes in this release is making vRealize Operations the focal point for your IT operations. Many organizations have various tools peppered across their environments. In many cases these tools are chosen and used by various teams to meet their unique needs. Instead of building a tool to replace these, which would be a difficult thing to do in many organizations, vRealize Operations instead works with these tools and creating a win-win scenario. Not only does this provide the freedom of choice for your organization, it also allows IT teams to see another point of view without having to learn new tools. This of course provides a faster time to resolution which means happier customers and more time to focus on other tasks and projects. So, what are these integrations you ask? Let’s dive in!
The first integration we will look at is being able to collect data from application performance monitoring (APM) tools. These tools are generally leveraged by application teams to get insights into the user experience. This is a vRealize Operations Cloud exclusive and in this latest release, we can pull application data from four popular APM tools. AppDynamics, New Relic, Datadog, and Dynatrace.
By pulling application information from these tools into vRealize Operations Cloud, we gain better perspective being able to see exactly what the application teams see in context with our own infrastructure intelligence. In the screenshot above, we can see a mobile application, all its services, processes, hosts, and be able to map these to the Virtual Machines.
Conversely, we can look at a Virtual Machine and navigate to the application that is running on it. This allows us to easily compare the Virtual Machine, ESXi, or datastore metrics with application metrics such as Apdex (application performance) ratings and navigate the troubleshooting decision tree much faster. Is it the application or is it the infrastructure? Now you will know without the additional back and forth that comes along with these troubleshooting scenarios. Plus, having these metrics in vRealize Operations means you can leverage the powerful Troubleshooting Workbench to identify issues at any layer, generate reports and dashboards to give you an idea of how things are running over time, and generate alerts so you can respond before the application teams even know there’s a problem.
Greater Kubernetes Insights with Prometheus
Monitoring your Kubernetes environments and services is getting a heavy boost as well. Previously, we could monitor your Kubernetes Containers and Pods resources which helps to ensure responsive applications and proper limit configurations to run your services. Now, with the newly re-branded Management Pack for Kubernetes (previously known as the Management Pack for Container Monitoring) we can leverage another popular source of information with Prometheus.
Again, we are offering the ability to ingest metrics from existing tools being leveraged by the teams responsible for these services. This is another win-win as you can see what they see, and they will greatly appreciate not having to install additional services for the purpose of monitoring. Prometheus is a highly popular monitoring tool for Kubernetes based services. Metrics are provided to Prometheus using exporters to do the actual metric collection from various sources. And with all these metrics being pulled into vRealize Operations, you can create dashboards with drag and drop ease and share them across your organization with URL based dashboard sharing. Not to mention the great dashboards that come out of the box for managing consistent K8s infrastructure. With the Management Pack for Kubernetes, you will get full visibility from infrastructure to containers.
We are also introducing new capabilities such as integration with Tanzu Mission Control. With Tanzu Mission Control, you can manage the lifecycle of your Tanzu clusters including automated deployments. By integrating vRealize Operations and the Management Pack for Kubernetes with Tanzu Mission Control, we can automatically monitor Tanzu clusters deployed through Mission Control. You will be able to see your containers, pods, namespaces, and clusters without having to lift a finger. vRealize Operations can also automatically delete clusters that are decommissioned with Tanzu Mission Control.
If you are not yet all in on Kubernetes, do not fret. We have some great new announcements to make in the application monitoring space as well. Yes! We are talking about more applications!
In this release of vRealize Operations 8.2 and vRealize Operations Cloud, you can now monitor your Oracle 11c and 12c databases using the Telegraf agent. Not only will you be able to see your VM and OS metrics, but you can also dive into Oracle and get insights on sessions, response times, transactions, and more! Cassandra databases can also be monitored for things like capacity, latency, hit rate, heap memory usage, and blocked tasks. We are also including more Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft SQL 2019, Hyper-V, and .NET.
The Telegraf agent is getting some new deployment methods too. In vRealize Operations 8.2 and vRealize Operations cloud you can deploy the Telegraf agent via scripts in Linux and Windows PowerShell for simpler automated deployments.
vRealize Network Insight Integration
The integration between vRealize Network Insight and vRealize Operations is becoming stronger than ever with the latest vRealize Network Insight Management Pack. By analyzing network traffic flows, vRealize Network Insight can build a map of your applications. Network Insight can also identify applications through naming conventions, CMDB integrations, and tags. This is very useful for things such as security and migration planning in addition to monitoring. With the latest integration between vRealize Network Insight and vRealize Operations, we can share these application constructs identified in Network Insight with vRealize Operations.
Additionally, we can view vRealize Network Insight alerts within vRealize Operations and launch from one product to another in the context of the selected object.
Data Center insights with Flowgate
vRealize Operations is a fantastic tool for monitoring software, but what about the Data Centers themselves? Flowgate is an open-source tool developed by VMware for interfacing with your Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) and Configuration Management Databases (CMDB) with vRealize Operations. This allows us to map physical properties and environmental metrics to the infrastructure being monitored by vRealize Operations.
Imagine being able to look at an ESXi host object in vRealize Operations and view properties such as which Data Center it’s in, what row, what cabinet, where in the cabinet it’s installed, how many RU’s are available in that cabinet. Plus, metrics such as the power draw on each of the PDU’s the host is plugged in to, what the temperatures and humidity are in the hot and cool row. And because Flowgate is open source, we expect to see a lot more integrations with IoT devices, physical security integrations, and anything else the community can come up with.
Monitoring AWS environments are even more powerful with this release. Object relationships have been updated to make troubleshooting with Troubleshooting Workbench even easier.
One of the most exciting features is the ability to collect metrics from CloudWatch. If the CloudWatch Agent is installed inside an EC2 Instance, those metrics will show up under the Guest OS Metrics group. You can read about configuring the CloudWatch Agent here. All metrics under Basic, Standard, and Advanced are supported.
Custom metrics can be sent to CloudWatch for any AWS object, and vRealize Operations will collect them. These additional metrics show up under the Custom Metrics group. This works for any AWS object, not just EC2 Instances.
This release adds capacity projections for EC2 Instances, which allows you to track Time Remaining, Capacity Remaining, and Recommended Size for EC2 Instances similar to vSphere VMs. By default, CPU is monitored for capacity, and if the CloudWatch Agent is installed as mentioned above, the capacity projection for memory will be tracked.
Capacity for EC2 instances is aggregated at VPC, Subnet, EC2 Auto Scaling Group, and Classic Load Balancer object to allow EC2 capacity planning at higher level constructs as needed.
Monitoring Microsoft Azure has improved to support additional services mentioned below. These services bring additional dashboards and alerts to give even better visibility into Microsoft Azure.
- Azure Kubernetes Cluster
- Virtual Machine Scale Sets
- Azure Disk
- Azure Storage Account (Blog, File, Queue)
- Azure App Service
- Azure Application Gateway
- Azure Virtual Network Gateway
- Azure Application Gateway
- Azure Kubernetes Services
- Azure Storage Account
- Azure Virtual Network Gateway
- Azure Virtual Network
Now that we have highlighted some of the new ways of getting more data into vRealize Operations, let us look at a few examples of the new things we can do with it.
Near Real-Time Metric Collection
By default, vRealize Operations collects data at five-minute intervals. This data is averaged and can be used for things like troubleshooting, capacity planning, costing, alerts, and more. This five-minute interval provides a great balance between meaningful insights and data retention and is suitable for most use cases. However, there are times, particularly when troubleshooting, when greater resolution is necessary. For example, a transient issue that only lasts a couple of seconds before disappearing and recurring periodically. These very brief occurrences can get averaged out which is why we have developed near real-time metric collection.
A vRealize Operations Cloud exclusive, near real-time metrics, are collected at a 20 second or greater interval for vCenter objects and can be enabled per vCenter with a single click. This means you will get high-resolution metrics for your ESXi Hosts, vSphere Clusters, Virtual Machines, Distributed Switches, and even vCenter itself. Near real-time metrics are collected and stored for three days before being rolled up. Event-based alerts will automatically be triggered based on near real-time, and metric-based alerts can be configured to use it as well. Near real-time metrics can be shown in dashboards and can be used for metric correlation.
Speaking of metric correlation, we have introduced an awesome new enhancement to this as well. Metric correlation allows us to select a metric and leverage vRealize Operations’ AI engine to identify other metrics that correlate with it either positively or inversely. This can greatly reduce impact analysis and root cause analysis times since you do not have to manually click through dozens of metrics. vRealize Operations will take care of all that for you. In previous versions, you could run metric correlation across all metrics of the selected object or compare the same metric across peer objects. For example, if we saw spikes in storage latency on one ESXi host, we could easily correlate that with other ESXi hosts in the same cluster to lead us in the right direction when troubleshooting.
Now, in combination with the Troubleshooting Workbench, we can correlate metrics across an entire scope. Scoping in the Troubleshooting Workbench begins with the selected object that we are trying to troubleshoot. From there, we can extend that to several layers of parent and child objects. For example, if we were troubleshooting an ESXi host, we could identify events for the host, all child VM’s, and the vSphere cluster. We could then select a metric of interest and correlate it across all objects within that scope.
vRealize Log Insight Cloud and vRealize Operations Cloud Integrations
Of course, troubleshooting is not always based on metrics alone. Often, logs provide key evidence of issues and events that can lead to a root cause. One of the key new troubleshooting features we are introducing in vRealize Operations Cloud is the ability to bring logs and metrics closer together than before.
In vRealize Operations and vRealize Log Insight 8.1, we introduced the ability to view logs as metrics in vRealize Operations. This allowed us to view the number of log messages, error messages, and warning messages received by vRealize Log Insight for a given object. By providing these metrics alongside all the other great metrics for an object, we can easily visualize what is happening in the object’s logs without having to leave vRealize Operations. In this release of vRealize Operations Cloud, we are introducing the same ability in conjunction with vRealize Log Insight Cloud PLUS the ability to view logs within our dashboards. Not only do we get the rapid identification of an issue through the metrics, but we also get the full context of that issue through the logs all contained within a single view. You can also launch vRealize Log Insight Cloud directly from your dashboard for further analysis.
Dashboards are not the only thing getting the Log Insight Cloud treatment either. Logs can also be viewed for alerts that are triggered in vRealize Operations Cloud. With a single click, vRealize Operations Cloud will take you to an object’s logs and automatically set the time window to quickly view the events leading to the alert.
Before we wrap up with troubleshooting, we would be remised if we did not mention the new Ping Adapter. Troubleshooters everywhere have a reflex to fire up their consoles and run ping as soon as they hear about a system going down. That works fine for issues occurring in the moment, but what about historic pings. What time did we lose the ability to ping the system? These answers can help us to scope out an issue. Previously, we were able to test for ping using the Telegraf agent. However, in vRealize Operations 8.2, we are introducing a much more elegant solution with the Ping Adapter. Not only can you ping ESXi hosts and VM’s, but you can also ping specific IP’s, FDQN’s, and entire subnets with minimal configuration. You can also configure the packet size and prevent fragmenting to test for proper end to end MTU configurations. With the new ping adapter, you’ll receive latency and packet loss metrics plus DNS resolution for FQDN’s.
Ease of use
Dashboards for vSphere have been completely revamped. Using the new dashboards begins with the new Getting Started page. The Getting Started page is laid out base on use cases to help guide you to the right dashboard.
The new vSphere dashboards are use case driven under 6 pillars (Availability, Capacity, Configuration, Cost, Inventory, and Performance). Each dashboard has been designed to show key metrics based on the use case. If you are an existing user and have a favorite out of the box dashboard, do not worry, they are still available at Dashboard Library/Deprecated. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into the new dashboards.
While looking at the new dashboards, be sure to click on the big blue question mark in the top right corner to access the documentation for that specific dashboard. There is dedicated documentation for the new dashboards with explanations on how to use the dashboard and interpret the data it is showing.
While exploring dashboards, you will notice it’s much easier to find them with the new dashboard menu with the integrated search box.
Bulk Content Export and Import
The ability to export and import content has been a common ask from customers. With this release, you can now perform bulk export and import of content right from the UI or via the API. If you’re considering migrating to vRealize Operations Cloud, this simplifies the migration because you can easily take all of your customized content with you.
Policies allow you to tailor vRealize Operations to meet your organization’s specific needs. You can tune capacity calculations, workload automation, plus enable and disable alerts and metrics. With every new release, we strive to make policy management easier, and in 8.2 we have made some very large enhancements.
Starting with better organization. The new policy editor is laid out so that you can quickly find the configuration item(s) you are looking for. Looking to enable or disable an alert? Simply click on the alerts & symptoms button to tune your policy. Policies can also be applied directly to groups, or individual objects with the option to propagate to child objects.
How about this for simplicity? Policies are now modular in vRealize Operations 8.2. This means you can directly edit an object’s policy from its alerts, metrics, capacity, and compliance pages. This way if you see something that you would like to tune, you can launch directly into the appropriate section for that object’s policy.
REST APIs now with Swagger
The REST APIs are popular with customers who want to programmatically interact with vRealize Operations. For those just getting started with the APIs, it can be a bit of a steep climb as the documentation was only found on the virtual appliance and the documentation was, well, “expert friendly” making it challenging to consume. With 8.2 we now have updated API documentation based on the Swagger UI, an interactive HTML-based API documentation user interface.
What makes Swagger so awesome is the ability to execute API calls directly from the UI. But more than that it is a lot easier to read and browse than the previous documentation. Here is a screenshot of the Swagger UI in vRealize Operations Manager 8.2. You can get to the documentation as before:
https://<your vrops VA IP>/suite-api
Even better, you do not have to have access to a vRealize Operations virtual appliance (or vRealize Operations Cloud instance) to view the documentation. It is available at the VMware Developer Documentation site, so you can at least review the APIs without product access.
Better Business Intelligence
Cost Drivers have been improved to support defining default costs for a server make and model per datacenter. Costs for specific servers can be defined for maintenance, network, and facilities cost drivers if you have some servers that need to have different costs than others.
The license cost driver has been improved to allow individual assignment of OS licenses. By default, OS licenses are automatically detected and tracked based on which VMs are on the host. With this new feature, you can override the detected OSes as needed. A common example we have heard from customers is some ELAs change the license terms from older OSes, e.g. all Windows server OSes licensed by core. If you have this requirement, you can manually change the OS for all hosts from Windows 2012 to Windows 2016 to enforce a per-core license model.
The cost of deleted VMs is now visible in a few locations. First is by enabling the “Include Deleted Objects” option in list views and the second is with a new metric called Aggregated Deleted VM Daily Total Cost, which is available on Cluster Compute Resource, Datacenter, Host System, Namespace, and Tanzu Kubernetes Cluster objects.
Pricing has been expanded in this release to support all vSphere VMs, including VMware Cloud on AWS VMs. For customers that are not using vRealize Automation yet, this allows you to define prices for VMs. It’s worth noting that vRealize Operations calculates both cost and price for VMs. Cost is what it costs you, as the provider, to run the VMs, and the price is what you want to charge your consumers for running their VMs.
Pricing cards allow you to define prices based on a multiplier of cost or based on allocated resources. Additional charges can be defined in pricing cards for guest OS, vSphere tags, one-time, or recurring charges as needed for your environment. It is worth noting that if you do use vRealize Automation, pricing cards defined in vRealize Automation take precedence over pricing cards defined in vRealize Operations. Either way, vRealize Operations is responsible for calculating the prices for VMs.
As you can tell, this is not your run of the mill point release. The list of new features in vRealize Operations 8.2 and vRealize Operations Cloud goes on. For more details of new features, keep an eye on this blog for upcoming posts as well as our Youtube Channel and vrealize.vmware.com. Of course, check the release notes and happy upgrading! For more information and to get your hands on a free trial of vRealize Operations and vRealize Operations Cloud check out the product pages linked here.