Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top vBlog 2015 Voting Open - Payback Time!

Time of the year when Eric Siebert of vsphere-land.com fame opens up the Top Virtualization Blog voting on his portal. Needless to say that each blogger listed in this ballot has spent hours of his personal time to give you content which has helped you in some way or form. Today, it's the payback time. Your vote is how you can appreciate the work these bloggers have done and the good thing is that it takes just about 2 minutes to caste it.

I have done my bit by voting for my favourite blogs which have helped me come out of difficult situations while implementing VMware products, helped me with my certification stints, gave me a scoop of how things work behind the scenes and most importantly help me understand how products come together to make a solution and how a solution helps solve business issues. In essence it has helped me develop as a Techie and as a Professional. 

Once again thank you to everyone who is in my TOP 10 LIST.

While I learn a bunch of stuff, I also try to share my learning's through vXpress and I am honoured that vXpress is listed as one of the blogs whom you can VOTE for. Last year vXpress was ranked 28th and it was a great achievement for me personally and professionally. 

So like your other favourite blogs, if vXpress has helped you in your professional journey last year, then go ahead and vote for it! Remember each vote counts and your support is what gets us going.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Catching up with World Cup Cricket 2015 using vRealize Operations Manager 6.0

This post was first published on VMware Management Blog by me as a contributor to that blog. Posting it here for my readers as well!

This post is to add a little FUN to how we use the VMware Management solutions in our day to day lives in our workplaces. We know the power of vRealize Operations Manager that allows us to capture structured and unstructured data from literally any object in your datacenter which understands the computer language, run smart analytics on this data and then give you some meaningful output based on which you can take some intelligent decisions which would help IT and ultimately your business. While all this helps IT to keep the lights on, I thought about using the same solutions to bring in some FUN in the daily life of the IT admin.
With this let's move our discussion to CRICKET. For those who do not know "Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players each on a field at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. Each team takes its turn to bat, attempting to score runs, while the other team fields. Each turn is known as an innings. Cricket was first played in southern England in the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century, it had developed to be the national sport of England. The expansion of the British Empire led to cricket being played overseas and by the mid-19th century the first international match was held. ICC, the game's governing body, has 10 full members. The game is most popular in Australia, New Zealand, England, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies and Southern Africa." - Source (wikipedia).
Like Soccer, Cricket has it's own world cup and it happens every four years. In the year 2011, India won the championship and now the 2015 World Cup is already on it's way. It started on the Valentine's Day and would run for 49 days. Since I am a big fan of the game, I used vRealize Operations Manager to create a dashboard which would give me the insights into each game of cricket happening in this tournament. This is how my dashboard looks like:
This dashboard shows all the World Cup Matches Fixtures along with the live score card, team information and even allows you to buy tickets to watch the match live in the stadium :-) Ain't it cool!
Now, if you are a Discovery Channel Fan like me, the next question you would have is this...
Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 4.48.48 pm

Well, to tell you the truth, this is as simple as this:
1- Create a new Dashboard on vROps with a single pane and a TEXT Widget
2- Give a name to your dashboard, I call it "ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2015"
3- Click the "html" option and place a link to the ICC Cricket World cup official website - http://www.icc-cricket.com/cricket-world-cup/fixtures  >> This is what essentially comes up on the Dashboard inside vROps and then you can surf around within the website which gives you the look and feel of a dashboard.
4- Save the settings of the dashboard and you are done.
Note : - You must have a internet connectivity on your vROps appliance for this website to open since its on the WEB. Also, some browsers might not load this dashboard and give you a warning symbol on the address bar of the browser which you are using to open the vROps Product UI. Just click on that warning symbol and allow the script to run. This will bring up the dashboard immediately.
With this example, I am just opening the possibilities of using vROps dashboards in a much more creative way to make operations management easier for an IT Admin. I have used this technique to create custom dashboards for customers which have helped them tremendously. Some of the use cases I can think of are:
1- TICKETING SYSTEM PAGE - If you have Service Ticket Management system which you would want to access from vROps, then you could create a Custom Dashboard pointing to the URL of your ticket management system.
2- INTERNAL / EXTERNAL KNOWLEDGE BASE - Based on the recommendation engine of vROps, while vROps can point you to a knowledge base article, instead of opening the same in a separate browser, you can open it with the KB Dashboard which basically uses the URL of your internal or external knowledge base such as http://kb.vmware.com/
3- POLICY / PROCEDURAL DOCUMENT ACCESS - You can create dashboards which point to a share-point or an INTRANET site which hosts your operational policies and procedures documents which might be useful for your operations team for troubleshooting, change management etc.
With vRealize operations, the possibilities are endless. I will leave it on you to explore and see how you can make use of this feature, both for FUN & Making your life easier at work. As always, do share your feedback and your stories around using this or a similar custom dashboard 
 Share & Spread the Knowledge

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Part 12: Monitoring Goals in vRealize Operations Manager 6.0

In the past I have written about vCenter Operations / vRealize Operations policies and how they play an important role in the way the analytics and capacity engine run to process the collected metrics in your environment. 

With the release of vRealize Operations Manager 6.0, the policies do not change much, however the way you configure them has changed a bit. With the introduction of a number of third party management packs and vROps treating all the objects as FIRST CLASS CITIZENS, it is important that with each management pack you have a specific set of policy which would define the monitoring criteria for a particular object being monitored by vRealize Operations. For instance, if you install a NetApp management pack or an EMC Storage Analytics management pack, then, you should either define your monitoring goals for the objects it brings into the system for monitoring or a better option would be to get this as a pre-defined policy from the management pack vendor. In this case, EMC or NetApp would be in a better position to tell you as to what are the things to monitor on their storage array than VMware. 

While all this sounds simple, this might end up to be pretty complex for someone who is using the solution for the first time or might not have expertise on the solution and the related management packs. Most of the customers using vCOps and now vROps have vague idea about how these policies work in the background and hence it becomes important that the management pack provider gives a canned set of rules or a questionnaire of some sorts to help you monitor the resources in an efficient manner. Since VMware vCenter itself is a solution being monitored by vROps, VMware provides the canned policies which can be used to monitor a VMware vSphere environment. In order to help you customize these policies in a most simplistic manner, the vCenter solution pack comes with a configuration wizard which helps you modify the default policy to the best of your requirement. This wizard is labeled as "DEFINE MONITORING GOALS".

Let me add a new vCenter in my lab instance and I will show you how this wizard looks like:-

  • Launch the vROps Product UI.

  • Click on Administration -> Solutions

  • By default you will see the VMware vSphere as one of the solutions. On this screen you can click on the plus sign to add a 3rd party management pack by clicking on the GREEN + symbol.

  • For us since we are just adding a vCenter Adapter we will click on the configure icon just next to the + symbol.

  •  Once you get the screen to configure an adapter, provide the adapter name, description, IP address of the vCenter and the credentials as shown below.

  • Once you click on save settings you will get a certificate warning from the vCenter. Click on OK.

  • Now click on Next and Click on the Yes to confirm the changes.

  • Now you get to the screen of DEFINING THE MONITORING GOALS

Answer these objective type questions and your policy will be defined as per your preferences here. Please remember that it is not an easy process to change these preferences once you have selected and clicked on finish (I will talk about the process in my next post). Hence, it is recommended that you make up your mind before registering your responses. Let me quickly explain these settings for the benefit of someone complete new to vROps.

Ques 1 - Which objects do you want to be alerter on in your environment?

Meaning - This one is pretty simple. With this you chose whether you want to monitor every object discovered by this adapter or just want to monitor virtual machines.

Ques 2 - Which types of alerts do you want to enable?

Meaning - The answer to this one would depend on whether you want to get alerted for efficiency and risk related issues in your environment or would you just want the alerts which need your immediate attention. Remember, Health denotes immediate problems, Risks are future issues and Efficiency is Optimisation Opportunities. If I was you I would just worry about Health Alerts.

Ques 3 - Do you want to Overcommit CPU & Memory in your environment?

Meaning - In a nutshell this option effects the Capacity and Time remaining results since any type of overcommitment will allow you to assign more logical or virtual resources as compared to what you have available at the physical layer.

Ques 4 - Do you want to include Network and Storage I/O when analysing capacity and workload.

Meaning - This is related to resources for which vROps will never have accurate allocation figures, hence if you select any of these options apart from the first one, Demand would be used to calculate the VM and Time Remaining values.

  • Click on Next when you are done and then click on finish.

Congratulations! You have successfully configured the vCenter Adapter to monitor your vCenter Server with specific monitoring goals. As I mentioned before, any changes to the policy now cannot be done through this wizard. You would have to manually edit the policy now to make changes or you could use my next post where I will tell you a hack which will allow you to re-run this wizard once again.

Till then.. Stay Tuned.

Share & Spread the Knowledge

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Part 11: Using vRealize Operations Manager to Monitor the Cluster Nodes

In the series on vRealize Operations, I wrote about the Architecture of vRealize Operations Manager which allows you to have Master and Replica nodes in a vROps Cluster. This not only allows you to distribute the adapters or solutions to more than one collectors present on each host, but also gives you resiliency in case the Master Node in the cluster fails.

With this post, I will actually share a failure which has been seen in my lab because of a couple of services failing on the master node. This resulted in a fail-over and the Replica switched over to become the Master Server. All this is possible because just like the previous releases, each and every service on your vROps nodes in being monitored by vROps itself.

Let me give you a brief description of my lab before I begin:

As you can see in the screenshot from my lab, I have a Master Node and a Replica Node. Since the past few days, when I tried accessing my vROps product UI through the Master Node IP address, it gave a Page Cannot Be Displayed. I immediately switched over to the other IP to see if I was able to access. As per the product behaviour, I can access the solution through any node of the cluster and I was able to achieve that without issues.

Today, I thought of looking at the issue with my Master Node and all I had to do was to click on a RED box on the recommendations page. Let me share that through a screenshot:

You can see that I have a red object on the Heat Weather Map and if I look down, I can immediately see an Alert for the the Master Node about services being down and 2 recommendations. Let us see what are the recommendations by clicking on this Alert:

Here, you can see that the Node Processing and Collector services are down and hence we are getting 2 recommendations to resolve this issue. One is to take the node offline and then bring it back online. The other option is to visit VMware Support. We could have also reached this screen, or could have directly jumped on a screen which monitors the entire vROps cluster by clicking on:

Home -> Environment -> vRealize Operations Cluster 

Here we can expand the cluster and see all the nodes and services associated with each node. Let us see this in a screenshot:

Here you can look at all the services and their health individually. Instead of going through these services, we will try to follow the recommendation given by the tool to make the affected node offline and then back online. Let us go into the cluster management and see the current state of the cluster:

Click on Home -> Administration -> Cluster Management 

Now you can see that the Replica Node has become a Master Node and vice-versa. We can select the VROPS-M node here and bring it offline.

As soon as I tried to take the host offline, I got an error that the Operation has failed and I should contact VMware support. Since, it's just a lab I will go ahead and restart the VROPS-M node from the vCenter Server and after a few minutes I was able to login to the Master Node IP address. Once I login into the Product UI, I can see that the resources have been distributed between both the clusters and the data gathering has started to work again. One thing to notice is that, after a failure the Master and Replica have switched over roles.

Voila, the issue seems to be fixed and I have all the nodes in a working state with objects and Metrics both shared between the nodes for a faster collection. If you go to the main recommendations page from where it all started, you would notice that that box will now turn green and you are good to go as the entire solution is up & running.

Hope this helps you in configuring your vROps clusters with confidence and a complete understanding of how the clusters are monitored and fail-over process works.

Share & Spread the Knowledge

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review : vROps Performance & Capacity Management + Coupon Code Inside!

Today I decided to spend the weekend by writing about books I have been reading for the past few days. Infact, this review is for a book which I officially reviewed as a Technical Reviewer and has my name on it. While I have been contemplating on writing a book myself on the topic of operations management, I believe with the release of "VMware vRealize Operations Performance & Capacity Management" by Iwan 'e1' Rahabok I have one task striken off from my list of things to do before I die :-)

I remember the time when Packt reached out to me a few months back and wanted me to write on vCenter Operations (that was the name of the solution to begin with). I passed the offer at that time since I knew that VMware would change the game completely by launching vRealize Operations Manager 6.0 and my blog series on vROps 6.0 clearly shows that the solution has come a long way from the previous releases.

About the author and his thought process:

While Iwan or "e1" as he likes to write his name, is not a stranger to the VMware community, the hidden side of his has a great author who has not only given a deep insight about vRealize Operations Manager as a product, but has devoted this book primarily to the concept of Operations Management in the Virtualized world. Infact I would compliment him for taking this one level above and talk about operationalization of the Software Defined Datacenter which is one of the key pillars of the VMware's vision of transforming the way data centers have been created and operated in the traditional world to this new way of computing.

The book is aimed at:

As a Consultant in my previous role and as an Architect now, I help customers in the adoption of this Software Defined IT. In my humble opinion, while the CIOs, CFOs and the CEOs completely understand the benefit of this new generation IT, it is still a big learning curve for individuals who run the day to day IT operations. If you are the modern day System Administrator who is the the midst of this big change then this BOOK is for YOU. The Book also helps the modern day Solution Architect to understand how they can build solutions around vSphere Hypervisor and what are the Key Performance Indicators in the entire ecosystem which define the performance and service level of the solution they create using the VMware vSphere hypervisor. The book would also help Delivery Consultants who implement virtual infrastructure built on VMware platforms. Iwan in the book has sections which gives you the much needed dope on designing the vSphere platform and implementing them with specific design decisions which can make the environment simplified for day 1 operations. 

The Capacity angle of vRealize Operations and the way Iwan has explained it in this book will help the IT Heads and the IT procurement teams including project managers to understand how they can finally have a scientific forecast for augmenting IT capacity in their data centers without maintaining heaps of spreadsheets and purchase orders to understand their IT consumption behaviour. Lastly, it will provides key insights to a Technical Support Engineer about how the vSphere hypervisor works under the layers and what are the metrics associated with vSphere hypervisor which defines the behaviour of the workloads running on tope the hypervisor. In a nutshell, I have not seen such a great repository which describes each metric which vCenter collects and vROps both collects and derives using its analytics engine. Hence this can be a bible for a person who troubleshoots virtual infrastructure for a living.

The content and the value proposition:

While I love writing, I am not the biggest fan of reading books. They can quickly get boring for me if they just talk about the technology and not give insights into how it can be used to solve real world business problems. Moreover a book on Operations Management can only be interesting to me if it speaks about the real world experiences and examples. When Iwan reached out for a book review via Packt, I immediately agreed to the same since, I believed that if not anything, I would end up learning a bunch of stuff from a Staff Engineer who is working with the biggest enterprise clients in Singapore.

In the first few sections of this book, Iwan has clearly defined how this new way of running IT is functionally, operationally and technically different from the traditional IT or in his words, The Hardware Defined Datacenter. Then he dives deep into each area of the ecosystem and talks about the "metrics which matter". Whether it is compute, network or storage, he digs down into each of these areas and helps the reader understand how we can use these metrics in various different ways in their respective roles.

When I commit to a book, I see the value proposition, and IMHO one should always look at what value would an article, blog post or a book would bring to you and how it can help you with your work, with your personal and professional development. Remember in the world which speaks about the internet of things, their is too much information out their to consume and with our so called bandwidth decreasing on a daily basis, it is important that we pick and chose what matters the most!!

Well I think with this I will close the review and would let you pick a copy for your self to see how this book can help you the way it has helped me. When I spoke to Iwan about publishing this article, he was kind enough to help me with a coupon code which can be used to get a FLAT 50% discount on buying an e-copy of this book from Packt's website. Here are the details:

DISCOUNT CODE                  - SunnyDua

DISCOUNT START DATE       - 5th February 2015

DISCOUNT EXPIRY DATE      - 10th March 2015


MAX USES                            - 500

MAX USES PER USER             - 01

FORMAT                               - eBook

Go ahead order and enjoy the book.. Do leave your comments here to share your experiences with this read.

**************UPDATE 12TH FEB 2015****************

The publisher has been kind enough to give me 500 more discount codes. Please feel free to use the code to get the required discounts.