vCenter Operations Manager Part 3: Nice, but yeah I’ve also got some other stuff to monitor

While consulting on using vCenter Operations Manager (vCOPS) I am often (or is this always) confronted with the current organizations monitoring product in place and/or the multiple components in the infrastructure. It is unknown that vCOPS can also be leveraged to `other than that VMware hypervisor’ infrastructure components. Or let it work together with other specialistic monitoring solutions. With the latter it is important to define who works with what solution as a point of entry, where the specific solution is used for detailed information , and where a single monitoring dashboard can be created for a single monitoring pane.

vCOPS provides a complete VMware hypervisor monitoring, analysis and reporting tool from the box. It’s required to have an license /configuration investment for the analysis / reporting, and for example the additional vCenter Hyperic installations to include other than VMware hypervisor monitoring and application landscape. vCenter Hyperic uses a Hyperic Server (can be deployed as a virtual appliance) and agent architecture, and uses a management pack from VMware solution Exchange (https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/) to provide with collectors and dashboards. Next to Hyper-V this adds SQL and Exchange to your custom dashboard.

Hyperic Dashboard

The agent is installed on the to monitor hosts where there are Windows agents for your Hyper-V or Windows based workloads, and Linux agents for XenServer and Linux based workloads.

Further more there is a SCOM management Pack to leverage the SCOM monitoring that is usialy found with Microsoft deployments. The following model shows them both.

vCOPS-Hyperic

Other devices such as networking can be integrated by vendor specific adapters/management packs, SNMP and/or leveraging Log Insight integration. Not all vendors have a vCOPS adapter/management pack, for these SNMP will need to be leveraged. Traps can be catched with a vCenter Orchestrator workflow to add an alert to the monitoring solution. Plus side on vCOPS is the addon to the vCenter Management interface providing a single pane of glass for management, monitoring and reporting. Yes, it needs some more management packs to be a replacement of all the monitoring solutions.

Getting more with adding VMware vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager 1.1 to the vCenter management layer. This provides means to manage Hyper-V from vCenter. vCenter Orchestrator can be leveraged to manage XenServer tasks, with SSH workflows to run xe actions for example. Putting the vCenter, vCenter Orchestrator, vCOPS and Multi-Hypervisor support provides a management, monitoring and control plane of a software defined data center.

Collectors, adapters and Management Packs

Adapters work closely with the collectors. The collector is the gateway between the adapters and vCOPS. The adapters connect to and collect data from data sources, transforming the data into a vCOPS format. The analytics VM houses the collector or in a distributed architectures remote collectors gather metrics locally and feed the central vCOPS to offload the central install. Depending on the data source and the adapter implementation, an adapter might collect data by making API calls, using a command-line interface, or sending database queries.

Management Packs have specific configuration/information to connect to specific data sources with it’s specific connection and gathering method. They also offer ready to use custom dashboards or automatic discovery information adding the adapters to the environment.

vCOPS Architecture

Custom collectors and management packs can be downloaded from solution exchange. These are in *.pak format.

Monitoring other hypervisor or workloads with Hyperic

Hyperic server component can be downloaded from my.vmware.com (that is if you have a valid download account). There are the installable downloads, but also the Hyperic vApp. I am deploying this one as the server. You need the install bundle for the agent installation (that is the easy one). The appliance creates two VM’s in a Hyperic vApp, the Hyperic server and the vFabric vPostgres database server. Deploy the OVF in your ESXi environement. Fill in the values as required (location, size, space and networking) and fill in the hqadmin details. Or choose a new user account. Start up the Hyperic vApp when finished. You can manage the Hyperic environment by using: https://<fqdn or IP>:5480/ for the appliance, http://<fqdn or ip>:7880, https://<fqdn or ip>:7443 or logging on to the console. Logon with root and the password supplied for the hqadmin user in the OVF deployment. Here you can set the time zone and view networking (managed by VAMI).

Hyperic Agent

Deploy a Hyperic Agent. For this demo I am using the Windows agent on a Hyper-V host (demo/test environment that is).
Create a destination directory, for example program files\Hyperic. Start by extracting the zip and command prompting to that directory (run as….). Run setup.bat -full. Accept EULA and choose 2. for the HQ Agent installation. 

HQ Agent

Type the destination path created. For the example C:\Program Files\Hyperic.
When entering the setup this unpacks the agent to this directory. Go to the Hyperic Agent installation at with the c:\Program Files\Hyperic\agent-5.8.1-EE/bin/. Do a hq-agent.bat install to install as a Windows service. Do a hq-agent.bat start to start the service for the first time and do an initial configuration. Here you define, communication method, IP of the HQ server, login credentials, port numbers et al. Accept self signed when trusted. Don’t forget firewalls when they are in the transport.

Configuration Agent (a yes failed to type in the password on the first go 😉 )

Creating the match made in heaven…

Next up is configuring vCenter Hyperic and vCOPS to find each other (going from one interface back to the other and back again warning).

The Hyperic management PAK can be installed via the Update tab in the admin console of vCOPS. Browse to the https://<UI fqdn (or IP)>/admin. Log in and go to the Update tab. Browse the pak file and update. Notice the warning that updates are irreversible, you should have a back-up or this is the time.

vcops updateConfirm Update

Login to the vCOPS custom dashboard (/vcops-custom/).  Select Admin > Support. On the Info tab, find the Adapters Info pane. Check if MP for Hyperic in the pane. If not, click the Describe icon. The Describe icon is located at the top right of the Adapters Info pane.Click Yes to start the describe process and click OK. And be patience….

Log in to the vCenter Hyperic site, at http://<hyperic fqdn or IP>:7080/ or https at port 7443. Here you can check the autodiscovery. My hyper-v.testlab.local is found and can be added to the inventory. Yeah!

Hyperic Found Hyper-V

Go to the Hyperic  Administration tab. Select the HQ Server Settings link and configure the vCenter Server settings. Click ok on the bottom to save. This will find vCenter as a resource. Sometimes a little discovery will get it from stuck state (this can also be just my lab environment).

Management Pack for vCenter Hyperic instance requires a user name and password to connect to vCenter Hyperic server. vCenter Hyperic server requires a user name and password to connect to the vCOPS adapter. You must provide this information in a credential in vCOPS. Go to the custom vCOPS and browse to Environment > Configuration > Credentials. In the manage credentials select the MP Hyperic and Hyperic credentials type. Click add. Fill in the required values.

 Credentials

Are we there yet? Almost. Add an adapter instance to vCOPS. Go to Environment > Configuration > Adapter Instances. You will only find the default adapters if you haven’t added any. Select the vCOPS collector and adapter kind MP for Hyperic and click on the add icon (the first). Fill in the required values in the Add window. Important are the url’s, the certificate checking and the auto discovery. I select no checking for the certificates, but if you want you have to import the required certificates in the appropriate trust stores. For the URL of the vCenter Hyperic server in the Hyperic Server URL text box.For example: https://<fqdn IP Hyperic server>:7443. The URL of your vCenter Operations Manager server in the vCenter Operations Manager URL text box.For example: https://<fqdn or IP vCOPS>. Select the credential name you created in the previous step.

Add Adapter

Click test to test the connections. Ok to add the adapter. When auto discovery is finished the Hyper-V VM’s pop up in the vCOPS custom dashboard. Just take a look at Hyperic Hyper-V VM utilzation tab. My lab isn’t much but you will get it.

HYper-V VM's

– Happy Monitoring your other hypervisors and workloads!

Sources: vmware.com

Managing multi-hypervisor environments, what is out there?

A little part of the virtualization world I visit are in the phase of doing multi-hypervisor environments. But I expect more and more organizations to be not one type only and are open to using a second line of hypervisors other then their current install base. Some will choose on specific features or on product lines for specific workloads or changing strategies to opensource for example.

Some providers of hypervisors are having or bringing multi support to their productlines. VMware NSX brings support for multi-hypervisor network environments via the Open vSwitch support in NSX (with a separate product choice that is), where XenServer leverages the Open vSwitch as an standard virtual switch option. Appliances are standard delivered in the OVF format. Several suites are out there that claim a single management for multi-hypervisors.

But how easily is this multi-hypervisor environment managed and for what perspective? Is there support in only a specific management plane? Is multi-hypervisor bound to multi-management products and thus adding extra complexity? Let’s try and find out what is currently available for the multi-hypervisor world.

What do we have?

Networking, Open vSwitch; a multi-layer virtual switch which is licensed under the open source Apache 2.0 license. Open vSwitch is designed to enable network automation through programmatic extension, and still supporting standard management protocols (e.g. NetFlow, sFlow, SPAN, RSPAN, CLI, LACP, 802.1ag). Furthermore it is designed to support distribution across multiple physical servers similar to VMware’s distributed vswitch concept. It is distributed standard in many Linux kernel’s and available for KVM, XenServer (default option), VirtualBox, OpenStack and VMware NSX for multi-hypervisor infrastructures. Hyper-V can use the Open vSwitch, but needs a third party extension (for example using OpenStack extension). Specifically for networking, but it is a real start for supporting true multi-hypervisors.

Transportation, Open format OVF/OVA; Possibly the oldest of the open standards in the virtual world. Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is an open standard for packaging and distributing virtual appliances or more generally software to be run in virtual machines. Used for offline transportation of VM’s. Wildly used for transporting appliances of all sorts. Supported by muiltiple hypervisor parties, but sometimes conversion are  needed especially for the disk types. OVF’s with a VHD disk needs to be converted to VMDK to be used on VMware (and vice versa). Supported by XenServer, VMware, Virtualbox and such. OVF is also supported for Hyper-V, but not in all versions of System Center Virtual Machine Manager support importing/exporting functionality. OVF allows a virtual appliance vendor to add items like a EULA, comments about the virtual machine, boot parameters, minimum requirements and a host of other features to the package. Specifically for offline transportation.

VMware vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager; Feature of vCenter to manage other hypervisors next to ESXi hosts from the vCenter management plane. Started as a VMware Lab fling, but now a VMware supported product (only support for the product, underlying Hyper-V issues are still for the Microsoft corporation) available as a free download with a standard license. Currently at version 1.1. Management of host and provisioning actions to third party hypervisors. Supported other then VMware hypervisors is limited to Hyper-V. And to be honest not primarily marketed as a management but more a conversion tool to vSphere.

vCloud Automation Center (vCAC);  vCloud Automation Center focuses on managing multiple infrastructure pools at the cloud level. You can define other then vSphere endpoints and collect information or add these computing resources to an enterprise group. For certain tasks (like destroying a VM) there still is manual discovery necessary for these endpoints to be updated accordantly. But you can leverage vCAC workflow capabilities to get over this. Uses vCAC agents to support vSphere, XenServer, Hyper-V or KVM hypervisors resource provisioning. Hypervisor management is limited to vSphere and Hyper-V (via SCVMM) only. vCAC does offer integration of different management applications for example server management (iLO, Drac, Blades, UCS), powerShell, VDI connection brokers (Citrix/VMware), provisioning (WinPE, PVS, SCCM, kickstart) and cloud platforms from VMware and Amazon (AWS) to one management tool. And thus providing a single interface for delivery of infrastructure pools. Support and management is limited as the product is focussed on workflows and automation for provisioning, and not management per se. But interested to see what the future holds for this product. Not primarily for organisations that are managing their own infrastructures and servicing only their own. Specifically for automated delivery of multi-tenant infrastructure pools but limited.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM); A management tool with the ability to manage VMware vSphere and Citrix XenServer hosts in addition to those running Hyper-V. But just as the product title says, it is primarily the management of your virtual machines. As SC VMM can be able to read and understand configurations, and do VM migrations leveraging vMotion. But need to do management tasks on networking, datastores, resource pools, VM templates (SCVMM only imports metadata to it’s library), host profile compliancy (and more) or fully use distributed cluster features you will need to switch to or rely on vCenter to do this tasks. Some actions can be done by extending SCVMM with a vCenter system, but that is again limited to managing VM tasks. Interesting that there is support to more then one other hypervisor with vSphere and XenServer support. And leveraging the system center suite gives you a data center broader management suite, but that is out of scope for this subject. Specifically for virtual machine management, and with another attempt to get you to convert to the primary hypervisor (in this case Hyper-V).

Other options?; Yes, automation! Not a single management solution but more of a close the gap between management tasks and support of management suites. Use automation and orchestration tools together with scripting extension to solve these management task gaps. Yes, you still have to have multiple management tools, but you can automate repetitive tasks (if you can repeat it, automate it) between them. PowerShell/CLI for example is a great way to script tasks in your vSphere, Hyper-V and XenServer environments. Use a interface like Webcommander (read at a previous blog post https://www.pascalswereld.nl/post/65524940391/webcommander) to present a single management interface to your users. But yes, here some work and effort is expected to solve the complexity issue.

– Third parties?; Are there any out there? Yes. They are providing ways to manage multi-hypervisor environment as add-ons/extensions that use already in place management. For example HOTLINK Supervisor adds management of Hyper-V, XenServer and KVM hosts from a single vCenter inventory. And Hotlink hybrid express adds Amazon cloud support to SCVMM or vCenter. Big advantage is that Hotlink is using the tools in place and integrate to those tools so there is just a minimal learning curve to worry about. But why choose a third party when the hypervisor vendors are moving there products to the same open scope, will an addon add extra troubleshooting complexity, how is support when using multiple products from multiple vendors where does one ends and the other starts? Well that’s up to you if these are pro’s or cons. And the maturity of the product of course.

Conclusion

With the growing number of organisations adopting a multi-hypervisor environment, these organisation still rely on multiple management interfaces/applications and thus bringing extra complexity to management of the virtual environments. Complexity adds extra time and extra costs, and that isn’t what the large portion of the organisations want. At this time, simply don’t expect a true single management experience if you bring in different hypervisors or be prepared to close the gaps yourself (the community can be of great help here) or use third party products like Hotlink.
We are getting closer with the adoption of open standards, hybrid clouds and a growing support of multiple hypervisors in the management suites of the hypervisor players. But a step at a time. Let’s see when we are there, at the true single management of multi-hypervisor environments.

Interested about telling your opinion, have a idea or party I missed? Leave a comment. I’m always interested in the view of the community.

– Happy (or happily) managing your environment!