Thursday, June 22, 2017

Part 4 - Capacity & Utilization Dashboards in vRealize Operations 6.6.

Welcome back to the vROps 6.6 What's New Series. In the last post of this series we took a tour of the dashboards which help you run production IT Operations.

In this post we will move a step forward and cater to the personas in an organization who are responsible for managing existing capacity and plan for future capacity for the Software Defined Datacenter. The set of dashboards which can help these roles in an oragnization are categorized under the "Capacity & Utilization" category:

Here is how Capacity & Utilization shows up on the Getting Started Page:


As mentioned before, Capacity and Utilization category caters to the teams responsible for tracking the utilization of the provisioned capacity in there virtual infrastructure. The dashboards within this category allow you to take capacity procurement decisions, reduce wastage through reclamation, and track usage trends to avoid performance problems due to capacity shortfalls.

Key questions these dashboards help you answer are :

  • How much capacity I have, how much is used and what are the usage trends for a specific vCenter, datacenter or cluster?
  • How much Disk, vCPU or Memory I can reclaim from large VMs in my environment to reduce wastage & improve performance?
  • Which clusters have the highest resource demands?
  • Which hosts are being heavily utilized and why?
  • Which datastores are running out of disk space and who are the top consumers?
  • How is the storage capacity & utilization of my vSAN environment along with savings achieved by enabling deduplication and compression?

Let us look at each of these dashboard and I will provide a summary of what these dashboards can do for you along with a quick view of the dashboard:


Capacity Overview

The Capacity Overview Dashboard provides you a summary of the total physical capacity available across all your environments being monitored by vRealize Operations Manager. The dashboard provides a summary of CPU, Memory and Storage Capacity provisioned along with the resource reclamation opportunities available in those environments.

Since capacity decisions are mostly tied to logical resource groups, this dashboard allow you to assess Capacity and Utilization at each resource group level such as vCenter, Datacenter, Custom Datacenter or vSphere Cluster. You can quickly select an object and view it's total capacity and used capacity to understand the current capacity situation. Capacity planning requires you to have visibility into the historical trends and future forecasts, hence the trend views within the dashboard provide you this information to predict how soon you will run out of capacity.

If you plan to report the current capacity situation to others within your organization, you can simply expand the Cluster Capacity Details view on this dashboard and export this as a report for sharing purposes.




Capacity Reclaimable

The Capacity Reclaimable Dashboard provides you a quick view of resource reclamation opportunities within your virtual infrastructure. This dashboard is focused on improving the efficiency of your environment by reducing the wastage of resources. While this wastage is usually caused by idle or powered off virtual machines another biggest contributor to this wastage is oversized virtual machines.

This dashboard allows you to select an environment and quickly view the amount of capacity which can be reclaimed from the environment in form of reclaimable CPU, Memory and Disk Space.

You can start with the view which lists down all the virtual machines running on old snapshots or are powered off. These VMs provide you the opportunity of reclaiming storage by deleting the old snapshots on them or by deleting the unwanted virtual machines. You can take these action right from this view by using the actions framework available within vRealize Operations Manager.

The dashboard provides you recommended best practices around reclaiming CPU and Memory from large virtual machines in your environment. Since large and oversized virtual machines can increase contention between VMs, you can use the phased approach of using aggressive or conservative reclamation techniques to right size your virtual machines.




vSAN Capacity Overview

The vSAN Capacity Overview dashboard provides an overview of vSAN storage capacity along with savings achieved by enabling dedupe and compression across all your vSAN clusters.

The dashboard allows you to answer key questions around capacity management such as total provisioned capacity, current and historical utilization trends and future procurement requirements. You can view things like capacity remaining, time remaining and storage reclamation opportunities to take effective capacity management decisions.

The dashboard also focuses on how vSAN is using the disk capacity by showing you a distribution of utilization amongst vSAN disks. You can view these details either as an aggregate or at individual cluster level.




Datastore Utilization

The Datastore Utilization dashboard is a quick and easy way to identify storage provisioning and utilization patterns in a virtual infrastructure. It is a best practice to have standard datastore sizes to ensure you can easily manage storage in your virtual environments. The heatmap on this dashboard plots each and every datastore monitored by vRealize Operations Manager and groups them by clusters.

The utilization pattern of these datastores is depicted by colors, where grey represent an underutilized datastore, red represents a datastore running out of disk space and green represents an optimally used datastore.

By selecting a datastore, you can see the past utilization trend and forecasted usage. The view within the dashboard will list all the virtual machines running on the selected datastore and provide you with the opportunity to reclaim storage used by large virtual machines snapshots or powered off VMs.
You can use the vRealize Operations Manager action framework to quickly reclaim resources by deleting the snapshots or unwanted powered off VMs.





Cluster Utilization

The Cluster Utilization dashboard allows you to identify the vSphere clusters that are being heavily consumed from a CPU, memory, disk, and network perspective. High or unexpected resource usage on clusters may result in performance bottlenecks. Using this dashboard you can quickly identify the clusters which are struggling to keep up with the virtual machine demand.

On selecting a cluster with high CPU, Memory, Disk or Network demand, the dashboard provides you with the list of ESXi hosts that are participating in the given cluster. If you notice imbalance between how the hosts within the selected clusters are being used, you might have an opportunity to balance the hosts by moving virtual machines within the cluster.

In situations where the cluster demand has been historically chronic virtual machines should be moved out of these clusters to avoid potential performance issues using Workload Balance. If such patterns are observed on all the clusters in a given environment, it indicates that new capacity might be required to cater to the increase in demand.




Heavy Hitter VMs

The Heavy Hitter VMs dashboard helps you identify virtual machines which are consistently consuming high amount of resources from your virtual infrastructure. In heavily overprovisioned environments, this might create resource bottlenecks resulting in potential performance issues.
With the use of this dashboard you can easily identify the resource utilization trends of each of your vSphere clusters. Along with the utilization trends, you are also provided with a list of Virtual Machines within those clusters based on their resource demands from CPU, Memory, Disk and Network within your environment. The views also analyze the workload pattern of these VMs over the past week to identify heavy hitter VMs which might be running a sustained heavy workload (measured over a day), or bursty workloads (measure using peak demand).

You can export the list of offenders using these views and take appropriate actions to distribute this demand and reduce potential bottlenecks. 




Host Utilization

The Host Utilization dashboard allows you to identify the hosts that are being heavily consumed from a CPU, memory, disk, and network perspective. High or unexpected resource usage on hosts may result in performance bottlenecks. Using this dashboard you can quickly identify the hosts which are struggling to keep up with the virtual machine demand. The dashboard also provides you with the list of top 10 virtual machines to easily identify the source of this unexpected demand and take appropriate actions.

Since the demand of resources fluctuates over a period of time, the dashboard allows you to look at demand patterns over the last 24 hours to identify hosts which might have a chronic history of high demand. If such cases virtual machines should be moved out of these hosts to avoid potential performance issues. If such patterns are observed on all the hosts of a given cluster, it indicates that new capacity might be required to cater to the increase in demand.



VM Utilization

The VM Utilization Dashboard helps the VI Administrator to capture the utilization trends of any virtual machine in their environment. The primary use case is to list down the key properties of a virtual machine and the resource utilization trends for a specific time period and share the same with the VM/Application owners.

The VM/Application owners often want to look at the resource utilization trends at specific time periods where they are expecting high load on applications. Activities like, batch jobs, backup schedules, load testing etc. could be a few examples. The application owners want to ensure that VMs are not consuming 100% of the provisioned resources during these periods as that could lead to resource contention within applications causing performance issues.




In case you are like me, and don't like to READ. You can see the dashboards in action in this video playlist:

See all dashboards in action here.


More to come.. Stay Tuned!!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Part 3 - Operations Dashboards in vRealize Operations 6.6.

In my last post I gave you an overview of the new user interface of vRealize Operations 6.6 along with some other important enhancements. Do go through that post to get a context of what we are going to discuss here.

With the introduction of Getting Started page within dashboards, one of the categories which is available out of the box is called the "Operations".

Here is how operations shows up on the Getting Started Page:




The Operations category is most suitable for roles within an organization who require a summary of important data points to take quick decisions. This could be a member of a NOC team who wants to quickly identify issues and take actions, or executives who want a quick overview of their environments to keep a track of important KPIs.

Key questions these dashboards help you answer are :
  • What does the infrastructure inventory look like?
  • What is the alert volume trend in the environment?
  • Are virtual machines being served well?
  • Are there hot-spots in the datacenter I need to worry about?
  • What does the vSAN environment look like and are their optimization opportunities by migrating VMs to vSAN?

Let us look at each of these dashboard and I will provide a summary of what these dashboards can do for you along with a quick view of the dashboard.

Datastore Usage Overview


The Datastore Usage Dashboard is suitable for a NOC environment. The dashboard provides a quick glimpse of all the virtual machines in your environment using a heatmap. Each virtual machine is represented by a box on the heatmap. Using this dashboard, a NOC administrator can quickly identify virtual machines which are generating high IOPS since the boxes representing the virtual machine are sized by the number of IOPS they are generating.


Along with the storage demand, the color of the boxes represents the latency experienced by these virtual machines from the underlying storage. A NOC administrator can take the next steps in his investigation to find the root cause of this latency and resolve it to avoid potential performance issues. 



Host Usage Overview



The Host Usage Dashboard is suitable for a NOC environment. The dashboard provides a quick glimpse of all the ESXi hosts in your environment using a heatmap. Using this dashboard the NOC administrator can easily find resource bottlenecks in your environment created due to high Memory Demand, Memory Consumption or CPU Demand.


Since the hosts in the heatmap are grouped by clusters, you can easily find out if you have clusters with high CPU or Memory Load. It can also help you to identify if you have ESXi hosts with the clusters which are not evenly utilized and hence an admin can trigger activities such as workload balance or enable DRS to ensure that hotspots are eliminated.



Operations Overview



The Operations Overview dashboard provides a high level view of objects which make up you virtual environment. It provides you an aggregate view of virtual machine growth trends across your different datacenters being monitored by vRealize Operations Manager.

The dashboard also provides a list of all your datacenters along with inventory information about how many clusters, hosts and virtual machines you are running in each of your datacenters. By selecting a particular datacenter you can zoom into the areas of availability and performance. The dashboard provides a trend of known issues in each of your datacenters based on the alerts which have triggered in the past.

Along with the overall health of your environment, the dashboard also allows you to zoom in at the Virtual Machine level and list out the top 15 virtual machines in the selected datacenter which might be contending for resources.




Optimize vSAN Deployments



The Optimize vSAN deployments dashboard is an easy way to device a migration strategy to move virtual machines from your existing storage to your newly deployed vSAN storage. The dashboard provides you with an ability to select your non vSAN datastores which might be struggling to serve the virtual machine IO demand. By selecting the VMs on a given datastore, you can easily identify the historical IO demand and latency trends of a given virtual machine.

You can then find a suitable vSAN datastore which has the space and the performance characteristics to serve the demand of this VM. With a simple move operation within vRealize Operations Manager, you can move the virtual machine from the existing non vSAN datastore to the vSAN datastore.

Once the VM is moved, you can continue to watch the utilization patterns to see how the VM is being served by vSAN.


















vSAN Operations Overview


The vSAN Operations Overview Dashboard provides an aggregated view of health and performance of your vSAN clusters. While you can get a holistic view of your vSAN environment and what components make up that environment, you can also see the growth trend of virtual machines which are being served by vSAN.

The goal of this dashboard is to help understand the utilization and performance patterns for each of your vSAN clusters by simply selecting one from the provided list. VSAN properties such as Hybrid or All Flash, Dedupe & Compression or a Stretched vSAN cluster can be easily tracked through this dashboard.

Along with the current state, the dashboard also provides you a historic view of performance, utilization, growth trends and events related to vSAN.






















In case you are like me, and don't like to READ. You can see the dashboards in action in this video playlist:

See all dashboards in action here.



More to come.. Stay Tuned!!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Part 2 - Introduction to vRealize Operations Manager 6.6 User Interface.

In my previous post I gave you a high level overview of What's New with vRealize Operations 6.6. In continuation to that post, I will deep dive into each of the areas which are worth noticing in this release and will help you learn more about how you can use vROps to make day to day operational tasks simpler and quicker.

In my last post, I spoke about the different personas and how they matter. One common theme across all the personas running operations was ease of use and time to value. vROps 6.6 user interface was made with this design goal in mind.

The major changes done with this release were primarily around the following areas:

New HTML5 User Interface

This interface within VMware is called Clarity User Interface. For the last couple of years, all the VMware products are moving towards this common user interface to ensure that the look and feel of all VMware products is consistent. This helps in 2 ways, one, as a user you can jump between products which are tightly integrated to each other without impacting the user experience. Secondly, since all the products use the same standards, if you have learned one product, you can pretty much use other products, reducing the overall learning curve.

This is how vRealize Operations Manager looks like with this release:




Enhanced Menu Options

Along with the HTML5 changes, the menu options within vROps are consolidated and re-arranged. I have been using the new user interface with these options for just over a month and now, and I find it hard to use the user interface of the previous releases. This signifies that the changes are for better and they will make it easier and simpler for you to do tasks within the product. I think this is another big step towards improving the user experience and reducing the time to value.

This is how the new options within the high-level menus are arranged:



Quick Navigation using the Getting Started Dashboard

The Getting Started dashboard provides a guide to answering the most frequent questions of the IT staff. The dashboard breaks tasks into broad categories including Operations, Capacity and Utilization, Performance Troubleshooting, Workload Balance and Configuration and Compliance.

With each of these categories you can drill down into specific use cases and problems you are trying to solve. Each problem statement associates to an out of the box dashboard which you can access through this page. To view a dashboard, click the dashboard name listed on the right side of the Getting Started Dashboard.

⏯See Getting Started Page in action here.


Persona Based Dashboards
    
With this release, a complete refresh of all the out of the box dashboards has been done to meet the technical and business requirements of multiple personas within an organization. With the Getting Started page, it is quick and simple to get to different dashboards which answer specific questions pertaining to a persona. The dashboards are designed to ensure that they can meet multiple use cases and scenarios. Be in a troubleshooting war room or a NOC environment, meaningful dashboards help you with day to day operations at all levels in the organization. As mentioned before here are categories and the corresponding dashboards within them. With each dashboard link, you get a quick overview of the associated use case on this page.

I will dive into each of these categories in the upcoming posts of this series.













Out of the Box Integration with vSAN & vRA

With every release of vROps, a massive effort is made to integrate the various products of VMware into the platform out of the box to provide you a seamless experience and quick time to value. With the previous releases, vRealize Business and vRealize Log Insight were natively integrated in vRealize Operations Manager. With this release, the solution is extended further to integrate monitoring and management of other VMware products such as vSAN and vRA.

With the massive increase in demand for Virtual SAN, it was required to provide deep insights into the vSAN platform for our customers. As we all know that data is the most critical asset of any organization, IT teams want full insight onto the platform where your data sits. While vROps has provided management packs in the past to monitor vSAN, with this release the capabilities are built into the product without a requirement of downloading and installing any management packs.

All you need to do is to point to your vCenter and vSAN is monitored right away. This enhancement has also been made to incorporate vRealize Automation out of the box. Once you deploy a new instance or upgrade to the vROps 6.6, you will see the following out of the box solutions which can be easily configured.












There is too much goodness which you will realize with vROps 6.6. This is just the tip of the ice-berg. Stay tuned for more posts in this series.






Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Part 1 - What's New with vRealize Operations Manager 6.6.

I am happy to share that VMware has released the vRealize Operations Manager 6.6 version which was anounced through a blog post by Taruna Gandhi a few days back.

While I have been closely following all the releases of vROps for the past couple of years, this release is special to me as I am a part of the engineering group which has worked on making this release possible for the last 6 months.

The goal behind vRealize Operations Manager 6.6 was to improve the time to value and accelerate the user experience by providing out of the box answers to questions which are faced by IT on a day to day basis. Be it the administrators who manage the IT systems and applications, or the Executives, who are responsible for making strategic decisions around Capacity and Growth, this release of vROps caters to all the personas will multiple use cases out of the box.

In my opinion, operations at all levels and across all the areas of IT is ran in two modes. The preferred choice is Proactive, however many times one has to be Reactive as well. Be it Performance, Capacity, Utilization, Availability, Configuration or Compliance, one must have easy ways to answer simple questions while running operations.



For instance, a person responsible for procuring capacity should have simple yet exhaustive statistics which allow them to take the next procurement decision proactively. A System Administrator should have simple yet comprehensive metrics and logs to troubleshoot an issue in a fire-fighting situation. 

If you notice, the requirements above are conflicting and it is always important to strike a balance between TOO SIMPLE and TOO COMPLEX. You sway either ways and the value is lost.

With the above thought process in mind, vROps 6.6 was designed and I am happy to give you a quick preview of What's New with this release!!

Note, this is just the first part, in the coming days, you will see a series of blog posts which will deep dive into individual areas to help you use all the goodness coming with this release. With that, let's dissect the release notes to see what all is coming in:


  • Simplified usability and faster time to value capabilities:
    • New HTML5 user interface provides an easier and consistent experience. The new UI is clarity based which is a standard used by all the products of VMware. This allows you to seamlessly go from one area of the solution to another whether it is metrics, logs or cost without learning the menus or impacting your user experience.
    • Consolidation and simpler grouping of menus leading to enhanced user experience.
    • The Getting Started dashboard allows for quick navigation.
    • Persona based dashboards provides for answers in one place. Dashboards are separated into categories such as Operations, Capacity and Utilization, Performance Troubleshooting, Workload Balance, and Configuration and Compliance.
    • Out of the box integration with vSAN and vRealize Automation provides quick time to value. 

  • Added Native vSAN management capabilities:
    • Allows for centralized management across stretched clusters.
    • Ability for complete vSAN management, which includes administering performance, capacity, logs, and configuration and health.

  • Fully Automated Workload Balancing:
    • Ensures performance across the datacenter's with fully automated workload balancing, across clusters and across data stores.
    • Ensures DRS Configurations and provides the option to set DRS automation level for individual objects.
    • Predictive DRS takes action to preempt resource contention.
    • Utilizes operations analytics to optimize initial placement of workloads through vRealize Automation.
  • Additional out-of-the-box compliance capabilities:
    • Ability to tackle compliance problems through the new vSphere hardening dashboard
    • Extends compliance through PCI & HIPAA compliance for vSphere.
    • Ensures business configurations through new cluster, host, and VM configuration dashboards.

    • Sizing & Scalability Enhancements:
      • You can now scale to 6 Extra Large Nodes in a cluster which can support up to 180,000 Objects and 45,000,000 metrics.
      • You can now monitor up to 60 vCenter Servers with a single instance of vROps.
      • A large Remote Collector can support up to 15000 objects.
      • and many more.....
    In the upcoming parts of this series, I will deep dive into each of the above mentioned areas and give you more details on how you can operationalize some of these features to match your day to day operational use cases.


    Stay tuned for more!!



    Thursday, June 8, 2017

    Do It Yourself - vROps Ninja Sticker


    In a recent collaboration with Simon Eady, we created a cool vROps sticker which came out really well post production. The sticker represents a Ninja who can solve world problems through vRealize Operations Manager. 

    I might have exaggerated the magnitude and capabilites of Mr. Ninja here 😜, but all it symbolises and relates to is a VMware Expert who can be a Ninja when it comes to solving IT problems. Be it Capacity Mangement, Performance Troubleshooting or day to day Operational Nuiances, A Ninja always raises his sword and is ready to face the situation.  

    In the world of Virtualization and Software Defined Datacener, whether it is about apps or infratsructure, vRealize Operations can be the sword of Mr. Ninja.

    Hence we call this persona a "vROps Ninja". Here is how Mr. Ninja looks like:


    I ordered them from stickermule and they came out really well. This is how the set looks like post production.



    While I am giving away all the stickers to people I meet in various VMUGs and the upcoming VMworld in Las Vegas and Barcelona, I have a lot of internal and external requests on how people can create there own Mr. Ninjas 😊😊

    With this post, I am essentially sharing the secret sauce.

    Here is where you can order them - https://www.stickermule.com/unlock?ref_id=7298480701  (if you order through this link you get a $10 discount.)

    I ordered a 3inch x 3inch and it came out as the exact size I wanted. So I would recommend that size to you. You will need a high contrast photo of Mr. Ninja to get the right resolution. Here is the full contrast picture which you can download and use.


    So go ahead, create your own Ninjas and use the sword of vRealize Operations Manager to Solve world problems....