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Introducing VMware vCenter™ Support Assistant™ 5.1

Back in September we started a Beta Program for the VMware vCenter Support Assistant with our VMware TAM Program customers and we later extended the program to the public with great community response.

Today, VMware is very pleased to announce that VMware vCenter Support Assistant 5.1 is now generally available to the public.

VMware vCenter Support Assistant 5.1 is a free, downloadable plug-in for VMware vCenter Server. It provides an easy-to-use, secure, one-stop shop both for creating and managing support requests and generating and uploading logs. It is deployed as a virtual appliance and integrates with VMware vCenter Server as a plug-in that can be accessed using either the VMware vSphere Client or the VMware vSphere Web Client.

Check out this short Demo!

OK you say? Where are the goods? Jump right in with these links, or read on for a more in-depth introduction.

Figure 1: VMware vCenter Support Assistant Conceptual View.

Easily open or view the status of any existing support request, add comments, reply to support engineer queries, and attach diagnostic information or other files such as screenshots. It also includes a VMware Knowledge Base search capability, which enables you to resolve common issues more rapidly. The vCenter Support Assistant plug-in helps you gather diagnostic information up front from your vSphere environment that VMware Technical Support finds most useful.

You can also use VMware vCenter Support Assistant to file support requests for any product that you already have support entitlement for whether that entitlement is by subscription, or paid for incident packs. With just a few clicks, VMware vCenter Support Assistant can directly generate log support bundles from the following products:

VMware vCenter Server

  • 5.1*
  • 5.0*
  • 4.1

* Includes both VMware vCenter Server for Windows and the VMware vCenter Server Appliance.

VMware vSphere (ESX or ESXi)

  • 5.1
  • 5.0
  • 4.1

NOTES: Access to public Internet is not required for the VMware vCenter Server, but is required for the VMware vCenter Support Assistant virtual appliance and the vSphere Client. Refer to the System Requirements.

All files are sent securely using SSL.

Since log files may contain sensitive, confidential or personal information, VMware vCenter Support Assistant provides the optional capability to scrub logs prior to submission.

Technical Guide

The following guide is depicted using the VMware vSphere Client; however, VMware vCenter Support Assistant plug-in also works with VMware vSphere Web Client introduced in VMware vSphere 5.1

Accessing VMware vCenter Support Assistant

Once deployed and registered, VMware vCenter Support Assistant will appear under the Solutions and Applications in the Home tab in the vSphere Client. The Support Assistant plug-in will also appear under “Classic Solutions” in the VMware Web Client.

Figure 2: VMware vCenter Support Assistant in Solutions and Applications.

Once VMware vCenter Support Assistant is selected, the solution will present a login screen. This login screen allows you the user to access My VMware directly from the solution, create a case, review or update a case, and attach diagnostics or other attachments.

Figure 3: Login to My VMware.

Once logged in, the user will have the option to View or Create a Technical Support Request through VMware vCenter Support Assistant. Creating a New Technical Support Case. Let’s take a moment to create a new Technical Support Request by selecting “Create a New SR.” Once you login, you will be checked against your entitlements and allowed to open a Service Request against all the eligible products. You can also review and update a Support Request and attach log support bundles or other attachments.

Figure 4: View or Create a Technical Support Request.

After selecting the option to create a new Technical Support Request, the user is prompted to select the account associated with their My VMware account as well as the product related to the issue.

Figure 5: Select Account and Product.

Once the account and product are selected, the user is prompted to describe the problem. Suggested KB Articles, will appear for the user as they do on My VMware.

Figure 6: Describe the Problem and Suggest Resources.

Next, the user is prompted to provide the severity level based on business impact, category, detailed description, etc. in the Contact and Support Request Details.

Figure 7: Contact and Support Request Details.

Once the creation of the Technical Support Request is completed the user receives a on-screen confirmation with a case number.

Figure 8: Create Support Request Confirmation

Uploading Diagnostics

After the new Technical Support Request is created, the user is prompted to either upload or finish the task. It is highly recommended that the user collects and uploads the diagnostics immediately and attaches them to the case to expedite support. So, let’s select “Yes – Upload” from the Create Support Request Confirmation to initiate the collection from the desired hosts.

Figure 9: Select Hosts.

Next, the user is prompted to select the System Logs desired for the diagnostics bundle as well as the option to collect performance data.

Figure 10: Select System Logs and Performance Data Option.

Once the user has selected the hosts and system logs, they are asked to confirm and initiate the upload procedure. This upload is run in the background and all transfers are sent via HTTPS to VMware from the VMware vCenter Support Assistant virtual appliance.

Figure 11: Confirm and Initiate Upload.

Once the user selects to start the collection and upload, the following dialogue is presented. This dialogue presents the status of the collection request for the support request. User can close this dialogue window by clicking the “X” on the window top right, but the collection and upload will continue as a background process, which we will show in a moment. If the dialogue remains open and the collection and upload complete, the user will be prompted with a completion status dialogue.

Figure 12: Log Collection Progress.

The collection and upload progress can also be checked by selecting “Upload Activity” in the top right navigation. This will display the status, start and end date/time on all recorded uploads.

Figure 13: Upload Activity.

Viewing Technical Support Requests

Let’s take moment to view and update an existing Technical Support Request by selecting “View / Modify Existing SR” from VMware vCenter Support Assistant solution home screen.

Figure 14: View or Create a Technical Support Request.

After selecting “View / Modify Existing SR” the user is displayed a list of Technical Support Requests linked to their My VMware account. Notice that Support Request 12217135709 created earlier is listed and highlighted. The user is able to view the details of the case, initiate a diagnostics collection and add attachments to cases with ease.

Figure 15: Select Support Request.Get Details, Collect/Upload Diagnostics and Add Attachments.

By selecting “Details” the user is able to view the details of the case as well as add additional comments directly from VMware vCenter Support Assistant.

Cool FeatureNotice that VMware vCenter Support Assistant adds a comment to the case notes confirming the upload of the diagnostics to VMware.

Figure 16: Support Request Details.

By selecting “Upload Attachment” after selecting a case from the Select Support Case screen, the user can provide additional information to the engineers, such as screenshots, diagrams or other logs.

Figure 17: Add Attachments.

 

 

Introducing the VMware vCenter Support Assistant Beta

Sign-up and request access to the VMware vCenter Support Assistant beta program.

OVERVIEW

The VMware vCenter Support Assistant streamlines access and saves you time and effort by integrating the creation of VMware Technical Support Requests and the attachment of support diagnostic information within a single application.

You can also use the VMware vCenter Support Assistant to file support requests for any product that you already have support entitlement for – whether that entitlement is via subscription, or paid‐for incident packs

The VMware vCenter Support Assistant is deployed as a virtual appliance and Integrates with VMware vCenter Server as a plug‐in that can be accessed using either the VMware vSphere Client or the VMware vSphere Web Client. The Support Assistant allows the user to collect and upload diagnostic information from both the VMware vCenter Server and vSphere hosts, in addition to creating and viewing existing Technical Support Requests.


Figure 1: VMware vCenter Support Assistant Conceptual View

SUPPORTED PRODUCTS

VMware vCenter Server: 5.1*, 5.0* and 4.1
VMware vSphere: 5.1, 5.0 and 4.1 (ESX/ESXi)

* Includes both VMware vCenter Server for Windows and the VMware vCenter Server Appliance.

NOTE: Internet access is not required for the VMware vCenter Server, but required for the VMware vCenter Support Assistant virtual appliance and vSphere Client. All files are sent using HTTPS.

Support Assistant can also help you to track and manage your existing Technical Support Requests. Easily view the status of any existing Support Request, add comments, reply to support engineer queries, and select further diagnostic information or other files to upload, such as screenshots.

THE BETA PROGRAM

What is the Beta Program?

The beta program is a highly‐valued way for VMware to get direct feedback from customers on our products and systems. In return, customers are able to experience our products before they are released publicly, and have the opportunity to shape the GA product and future roadmap.

How do I participate?

Sign-up and request access to the VMware vCenter Support Assistant beta program.

Shortly after you notify us of your interest in participating, you will receive an invite to a private “Support Assistant Beta Community”. Please note that invitations can take up to 24 hours to be processed.

Both the product download and installation instructions will be available once you log in to this private community.

What should I do with the Beta Product?

Simply use Support Assistant to file your technical support requests, instead of calling in or using my.vmware.com. Explore the capabilities for generating and attaching diagnostic information and attaching other files, such as screenshots.

TECHNICAL PREVIEW

The following preview is depicted using the VMware vSphere Client; however, the VMware vCenter Support Assistant plugin-in also works with the VMware vSphere Web Client introduced in VMware vSphere 5.1.

Accessing the VMware vCenter Support Assistant

Once deployed and registered, the VMware vCenter Support Assistant will appear under the Solutions and Applications in the VMware vSphere Client.

Figure 2: VMware vCenter Support Assistant in Solutions and Applications

Once the VMware vCenter Support Assistant is selected, the solution will present a login screen. This login screen allows you the user to access My VMware directly from the solution, create a case, review or update a case and attach diagnostics or other attachements.

Figure 3: Login to My VMware

Once you are logged, the user will have the option to View or Create a Technical Support Request through the VMware vCenter Support Assistant.

Creating a New Technical Support Case

Let’s take moment to create a new Technical Support Request by selecting “Create a New SR.”

Figure 4: View or Create a Technical Support Request

After selecting the option to create a new Technical Support Request, the user is prompted to select the account associated with their My VMware account as well as the product related to the issue.

Figure 5: Select Account and Product

Once the account and product are selected, the user is prompted to describe the problem . Suggested Resources, such as KB Articles, will appear for the user as they do on My VMware.

Figure 6: Describe the Problem and Suggested Resources

Next, the user is prompted to provide the severity level based on business impact, category, detailed description, etc in the Contact and Support Request Details.

Figure 7: Contact and Support Request Details.

Once the creation of the Technical Support Request is completed the user receives a on-screen confirmation with the case number.


Figure 8: Create Support Request Confirmation

Uploading Diagnostics

After the new Technical Support Request is created, the user is prompted to either upload or finish the task. It is highly recommended that the user collection and upload the diagnostics immediately and attach them to the case to expedite support.

So, let’s select “Yes – Upload” from the Create Support Request Confirmation to initiated the collection from the desired hosts.

Figure 9: Select Hosts

Next, the user is prompted to select the System Logs desired for the diagnostics bundle as well as the option to collect performance data.

Figure 10: Select System Logs and Performance Data Option

Once the user has selected the hosts and system logs, they are asked to confirm and initiate the upload procedures. This upload is run in the background and all transfers are sent via HTTPS to VMware from the VMware vCenter Support Assistant virtual appliance.

Figure 11: Confirm and Initiate Upload

Once the user selects to start the collection and upload the following dialogue is presented. This dialogue presents the status of the collection request for the support request. This dialogue can be closed with the “X” and the collection and upload will continue as a background process, which we will show in a moment.  If the dialogue remains open and collection and upload complete, the user will be prompted with a completion status dialogue.

Figure 12: Log Collection Progress

The collection and upload progress can also be checked by selecting “Upload Activity” in the top right navigation. This will display the status, start and end date/time on all recorded uploads.

Figure 13: Upload Activity

Viewing Technical Support Requests 

Let’s take moment to view and update an existing Technical Support Request by selecting “View / Modify Existing SR” from the VMware vCenter Support Assistant solution home screen.

Figure 14: View or Create a Technical Support Request

After selecting ”View / Modify Existing SR” the user is displayed a list of Technical Support Requests linked to their My VMware account. Notice that Support Request 12217135709 created earlier is listed and highlighted. The user is able to view the details of the case, initiated a diagnostics collection and add attachements to cases with ease.

Figure 15: Select Support Request. Get Details, Collect/Upload Diagnostics and Add Attachements.

By selecting “Details” the user is able to view the details of the case as well as add additional comments directly from the VMware vCenter Support Assistant.

Cool Feature - Notice that the VMware vCenter Support Assistant adds a comment to the case notes confirming the upload of the diagnostics to VMware.

Figure 16: Support Request Details

By selecting “Upload Attachement” after selecting a case from the Select Support Case screen, the user can provide additional information to the engineers, such as, screenshots, diagrams or other logs.

Figure 17: Add Attachements

We encourage our VMware TAM Program customers to contact your Technical Account Manager and join the beta program to experience this streamlined support and provide your valuable feedback on the solution capabilities.