Saturday, October 31, 2015

Using a Help Desk Dashboard to Simplify Operations With vRealize Operations Manager!

This post is a resultant of our VMworld 2015 content which we ( me and Iwan Rahabok) have been brewing since the mid of this year. Without taking any credit, I must say that all the content which we presented in various events such as architect bootcamps, VMworld and recently at the VMware APJ Tech Summit was the brainchild of my awesome buddy & colleague Iwan Rahabok.

Post these events, a lot of people have reached out to help them with development of dashboards which can help them effectively use vRealize Operations in there environments. With this post I would share a basic dashboard which can help you with day 2 day operations especially around performance troubleshooting in an organized manner.

We call it the help desk dashboard which can be ideally used by your level 1 team to quickly understand the infrastructure areas which could be a performance bottleneck for a virtual machine.

Let me quickly show you the dashboard and then I will help you build this in your vROps instance:

It's a simple yet effective dashboard and here are a few USE CASES where you can use the dashboard:-

Use Case 1 -  Quickly search for an affected VM & look at the Key Performance Indicators to get a direction for further troubleshooting (CPU, RAM, DISK, NETWORK etc.)

Use Case 2 - Quickly review the utilization of a VM for a past few days to months in case you have a request for resource addition such as CPU or Memory expansion.

Use Case 3 - This can also help the VM Right-Sizing Efforts as you can easily pull out the statistics around CPU or RAM utilization going back in Time and share the same with the app owners to get approvals on right-sizing.

Here are the key metrics which can be viewed with a click of a button in this dashboard:-
  • CPU Usage %
  • CPU Contention %
  • Memory Usage %
  • Memory Contention %
  • Network Workload %
  • Virtual Disk Latency (ms) aggregate for all disks in the VM

Well, if this interests you then let's see how we can get this dashboard. To begin with go ahead and download the following file by clicking on the link below. This is the original export of the dashboard which we will import later:-


Let's start building the dashboard now:-

1- Login to vRealize Operations with a user who has privileges to create a new dashboard.

2- Click on the Content tab and click on Manage Metric Config in the inventory window (you need vROps 6.0.1 or later versions for you to see this option. 

3- Under Manage Metric Config, click on ResKndMetric directory and click on the + Sign to create a new XML named - vmperf.xml

Paste the following xml code in blue color on the right pane and click on Save. A screenshot follows to guide you.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
   <AdapterKind adapterKindKey="VMWARE">
      <ResourceKind resourceKindKey="VirtualMachine">
         <Metric attrkey="cpu|usage_average" label="" unit="%" yellow="85" orange="90" red="95" />
         <Metric attrkey="cpu|capacity_contentionPct" label="" unit="%" yellow="15" orange="20" red="30" />

         <Metric attrkey="mem|usage_average" label="" unit="%" yellow="85" orange="90" red="95" />
         <Metric attrkey="mem|host_contentionPct" label="" unit="%" yellow="15" orange="20" red="30" />

         <Metric attrkey="net|workload" label="" unit="%" yellow="85" orange="90" red="95" />
         <Metric attrkey="virtualDisk:Aggregate of all instances|totalLatency" label="" unit="ms" yellow="20" orange="30" red="40" />
         <Metric attrkey="virtualDisk:Aggregate of all instances|commandsAveraged_average" label="" unit="IOPS" yellow="10000" orange="30000" red="40000" />
         <Metric attrkey="diskspace|snapshot" label="" unit="" yellow="1" orange="2" red="3" />
   <AdapterKind adapterKindKey="bbb">

4- Now let's import the dashboard file which we downloaded before. Click on Content -> Dashboards - > Settings Button -> Import Dashboards. 

5- Select the HELPDESKDB.json file you downloaded earlier and click on OK to import the dashboard.

The above step would create the dashboard for you. Let us quickly share the dashboard as well.

6- Under the Dashboards Tab, Click on the settings button again and click on Share Dashboards.

7 - Now select the newly created HELPDESK Dashboard and drag & drop it on the groups with whom you want to share the same.

By now, you should have your dashboard ready to use. Please do let me know as to how you are using this dashboard in your environment in the comments sections..

Till then.. Do not forget to SHARE & SPREAD THE KNOWLEDGE!! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Using Custom Reports To Publish Dashboards in vRealize Operations 6.1

As I am exploring vRealize Operations 6.1, I am unearthing the goodness of the new features which are introduced with this release. One of the biggest feature for me which the product delivers now is the new enhanced reporting feature. This reporting feature allows you to import a Custom Dashboard into a report. Yes you read it right!!

This was the single biggest ask by many of my customers for whom, I would create a custom dashboard. While the dashboards are priceless from a perspective of real time monitoring with the widgets such as Heat-maps, Health Widgets etc, the customers always wanted to have a feature where in they could automatically send out a report with the dashboard included to higher management or application users via email.

While the reporting engine in vRealize Operations 6.0.x is by far amazing, with 6.1 the solution also allows you to import a Dashboard into a Custom Report as publish them as reports. 

Without further-ado let's have a quick look as to how you can do this:

1- Let's say this is the dashboard which you want to publish in a Custom Report. This is a cluster capacity dashboard.

2- Click on Content - > Reports to open the report engine.

3- Click on the "+" sign under Report Templates to add a new Report.

4- Provide a Name and Description to begin with.

5- As a next step, you have the option to either add a VIEW or a DASHBOARD to the Report. Here is a drop-down which shows both the options.

6- Select Dashboard and now you will be able to see all the dashboards which you have in your vROps instance under Data Type. You can see the Cluster Capacity Dashboard here.

7- You need to DRAG & DROP this dashboard on the right pane to incorporate the same in the report.

8- On the next screen you have the option of selecting the report formats and the layout.

8- Finally you can customize the layout by adding images, footers etc and then save the report template.

9- You can see the new report we just created. Highlight the same an click on RUN button to execute the report.

10- You need to now select the Object on which you have to run the report. In this case, it would be a cluster and click on OK for the report to execute.

11- Once the report is processed, click on the Generated Reports Tab, and then click on the PDF link to down the report.

12- Once you open the PDF, you will see the cluster capacity dashboard in the report.

And that's it! You can schedule this report and send out to recipients automatically via email, or also dump it on a file share if you wish to.

Hope this helps you to use this FANTASTIC feature of custom reporting to meet the reporting needs of your business.

Do not forget to SHARE & SPREAD THE KNOWLEDGE!! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Virtual Machine Capacity Profiles in vRealize Operations 6.1

Let me start this article with this statement, "vRealize Operations Manager 6.1 is probably the best UI for an enterprise Performance, Capacity or Monitoring tool I have ever seen". I must congratulate the VMware R&D folks and the Product Management to transform vCenter Operations to vRealize Operations in a beautiful way. Yes I work for VMware and this might sound bias, but I would encourage you to use the product once and I am sure you would agree with me about this transformation for good.

While the UI has become amazingly intuitive, the great news is that simplification of the product from a feature-functionality standpoint is definitely another area where I am liking the product more than what I use to. One of such a feature is the Capacity Remaining Breakdown.

We all know that vROps has the capability of trend analysis and forecasting for capacity on the basis of policies which are pre-defined by IT for an organization or for an environment. One of the outcomes of the policies is to derive the CAPACITY REMAINING. This derived metric uses either the Demand or Allocation model for capacity planning and determines the number of VMs Remaining (in other words, the number of VMs which can be deployed on a container before it is declared full). A container here is a logical abstract of resources and are denoted by an ESXi host, a resource pool, a cluster, a virtual datacenter, a vCenter Server or it could also be the entire Universe.

If you remember the One Click cluster capacity dashboard which I created for vCOps 5.x here and then re-created for vROps 6.x here, you would notice that I plot the VM Remaining value which denotes the number of VMs which are left in a given cluster. Here are the screenshots where I am pointing at both the dashboards with a little explanation:

Dashboard with vCOps 5.x

If you notice the highlighted fields in RED, you can clearly see that, I am showcasing the number of VMs left in the cluster & I am showcasing the number of VMs left in the cluster resource wise, such as CPU, Memory, Disk & Network. In this case, the number of VMs remaining is calculated using the following formula:

VM Remaining = (Total Resources Average VM Profile Size) - VMs Deployed

Remember the Average VM Profile Size here is automatically determined by vROps and hence the VMs Remaining would be of that Profile Size. This size can bee seen easily under the analysis tab of vROps/vCOps.

Dashboard with vROps 6.x

Now lets's look at the Dashboard which I created for version 6.x (to be precise any version of vROps 6.x except 6.1).

Here you can notice that apart from the VM Remaining metric, I have four profiles defined which are showing the VM remaining. So the profiles take 4 VM profiles into consideration Small, Average, Medium & Large. Well this is better but not best because again, we are dependent on the VM profile sizes which are defined automatically by vROps.

Now with vROps 6.1, this has changed a little bit and for the best. Let me show you what I am talking about. If we look at vROps 6.0.x, we can see that the default 4 profiles here:

Select a Cluster from the Inventory List -> Click on Analysis Tab -> Click on Capacity Remaining and you would see the 4 profiles and the VMs remaining.

Here you can see that we have 4 profiles which are showing the virtual machines remaining in the cluster. If you click on the black triangle on any of the profiles, it would display the Profile Definition calculated automatically by vROps, see the screenshot below:

Remember, this is fixed and cannot be altered with any version of vROps except version 6.1. Yes, you heard it right, you can define custom profile sizes in vROps 6.1 which can match the standard offerings from your service catalog (if you have one) and make the results more predictable for the business in terms of how many more VMs and what type of more VMs before you actually run out of capacity. Read the above again. Yeah.. THIS IS SUPERCOOL because now I have better visibility into capacity remaining which resonates to my business and not just a random size.

Without further ado let's have a look at the same on vROps 6.1.

While you see the standard profiles here defined out of the box, you also have an opportunity to click on that box highlighted in RED and click on the + Sign to define a profile of your own. This is how you can get more predictive results which relate to your own environment. Let us click on the plus sign to add a new profile.

Let us fill this up and see what inputs go into creating this profile:

You can clearly see the options available to either model out of an existing VM or define your own profile. You even have the option to model anything which you are running capacity planning on, whether Virtual Machine, Datastores or 3rd party object. Finally you can chose between Allocation based Capacity Modelling or Demand based Capacity Modelling. Let's click on OK to save this and refresh the window to check if the new profile is available:

You can see that the new profile is available now, however the calculation on the number of VMs remaining shows a question mark. This is because the next Capacity Calculation would happen at 9 PM in the night. This is the default time of the vROps instance to run the capacity engine and redo all the capacity calculations every night.

So, wait for one more day and you would start seeing values there. Or wait for for my next post where I will post a tweak by which you can Force the Capacity engine to run on demand ;-) (GRIN..). Till then, enjoy the new feature and implement it to meet your business requirements.

And do not forget to SHARE & SPREAD THE KNOWLEDGE!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Configuring vRealize Suite 6.0 for Backup and Restore by Using Symantec NetBackup 7.6

Just wanted to quickly post about a great whitepaper which was recently released by VMware. The whitepaper is titled "Configuring vRealize Suite 6.0 for Backup and Restore by Using Symantec NetBackup 7.6" and as the same suggests it s a prescriptive guide which can be used to backup all the components of vCloud Suite 6.0.

This has been developed by engineers working in engineering and field organization of VMware and it provides you some great insights on how you can plan to plan the recover-ability of the vCloud Suite Management stack.

Some of the areas which the white paper covers are:-

  • Backup & Restore Procedures for all the vCloud Suite components such as:
    • vRealize Automation 6.2
    • vRealize Orchestrator 6.0
    • vRealize Operations Manager 6.1
    • vRealize Log Insight 2.5 & 3.0
    • vRealize Business 6.1
  • Backup and Restore Sequences
  • Backup Policies for vCloud Suite 6.0 components in Netbackup 7.6

The paper is available for public consumption and you can download the same here.

vRealize Suite Product Documentation
vRealize Suite Getting Started GuideViewDownload
Configuring vRealize Suite 6.0 for Backup and Restore by Using Symantec NetBackup 7.6ViewDownload

Share & Spread the knowledge!