By Ryan Sadorus
With the release of the vCenter 6 appliance – and having near parity with Windows vCenter features – we are seeing more and more customers taking the plunge and moving in this direction. Also, VMware internally is really focused on developing this platform further, and will continue to serve up new capabilities in the coming year, but with less emphasis on the Windows version of vCenter. Some of the other factors driving customers to move to VCSA are:
- No more Windows patching (Yay!)
- No SQL database requirement (Less expense and no patching, again hooray!)
- “Maximums” are now in sync with what the Windows equivalent can support
- Ease of deployment
- Ease of implementing the high availability configuration
With that, there is still a grey area on just how to monitor services and manage this new system in our environment.
I took the plunge myself in my home lab and wanted to share a few notable points and observations. I’ll take you through some things I experienced that you might experience in your own production environment or your own home lab.
As a reminder, you can now access a great new web management interface for vCenter by accessing https://fqdn-or-ip:5480, which will redirect you to the new management interface seen below.
At this point you would log in with root and your chosen root password. I won’t go into detail here on all of the capabilities of this particular login as there are other blogs out there that do this, but here are several of the things you can now do from this great interface:
- Create a support bundle (logs)
- Reboot or shutdown the appliance
- Check the health and see whether or not SSO is running
- Turn SSH and/or Bash shell on or off
- Update any/all network settings (IP, DNS, proxies)
- Update time settings
- Update the entire vCenter appliance (can check VMware directly from here for updates)
- Change root password or expiration date of root password
Okay, now back to the central issue though. I logged into my home lab only to find I was unable to get to the full vCenter web client.
So, now what? If this was a Windows box, I’d simply RDP into the box, open up the services, and examine to see if all of my crucial vCenter services were started. But this is an appliance, and things are certainly different. Luckily; I found a great article in the VMware Knowledge Base “Stopping, starting, or restarting vCenter Server Appliance services.” This KB article walks through how to log in, and examine and manage services. (Note: You’ll need to ensure SSH and BASH are enabled on the appliance; this KB article also walks you through these step).
First I ran “service —status-all” to see what was going on at a high level – see the following screen shot.
From there I wanted to narrow down my focus, specifically around the web client as I suspected this was the culprit behind why I was unable to get to the full vCenter web client – see the following.
Lo and behold – I find that the service did in fact start and was running, yet a “Page cannot be displayed” error comes up.
What I discovered was that the DNS server was actually the culprit. Aha! The virtual machine I was attempting to reach from the web client (as well as the vCenter appliance itself) was not able to properly perform name resolution. DNS and name resolution issues seem to be a recurring problem with some of our customers when deploying these solutions. I probably should have checked that first! Once I resolved the DNS problem, I issued the following two commands:
- Service vSphere-client stop
- Service vSphere-client start
I gave it a couple of minutes and – voilà! Keep in mind that this service can take a few minutes to start, and you may get a message that the web client is “initializing.” Just be patient and this service should fire up.
Overall, I felt this was a good experience for me to start getting comfortable with logging in to this appliance and getting familiar with my command line skills. Some of you scripting geniuses can probably script out a few queries for this, and even automate some of it. Either way, I wanted to share my experience with this and to show that although the appliance is new, there are some flexible web and command line ways to manage it. This post is by no means comprehensive, but hopefully it shares some insight into managing, deploying and monitoring the new vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA).
Ryan Sadorus is a Senior Technical Account Manager for VMware based in San Diego, CA. He is a U.S. Navy Veteran and has 20 years of experience working as a Senior Engineer and an IT Manager before embarking on a role with VMware in early 2014. He currently works with Enterprises in Southern California on EUC and SDDC projects/initiatives; helping them achieve further business agility through technology.