Configuring the VMware VirtualCenter Management Server
When working with VMware, you will immediately note the benefits of consolidating the management of multiple ESX servers in your environment to the VirtualCenter for centralized control. The VirtualCenter is a great solution to provide high availability (HA) services and centralized monitoring. It is also fairly easy to personalize the VirtualCenter after your initial installation. In this article, we will look at how to configure the VMware VirtualCenter Management Server and personalize it.
Configuring VirtualCenter Management Server Options
The VMware VirtualCenter (or VC for short), is used for centralized management of multiple VMware ESX servers. The VC helps to provide reporting, logging and other management services for your virtualized environment. Licensing, Active Directory configuration, SNMP, e-mail monitoring and advanced security are all configurable within the VC. Launch the VMware Infrastructre Client (VIC) to access the VC. When working within the VC, go to Administration in the toolbar and select ‘VirtualCenter Management Server Configuration’.
Once selected, the VirtualCenter Management Server Configuration dialog appears and allows you to configure options within the VC. These options will help you to not only license the VC, but also maintain it. Below are some configuration options for:
Gathering statistical data
Configuring runtime settings
Web-based protocol settings
Here, you can see each option from the left side of the VirtualCenter Management Server Configuration dialog box. To learn about each section we must drill down into each one where we can look at the details for each configurable option.
Next, you can configure options for licensing. Once you install the VC, post intallation configuration options will allow you to evaluate a VC, or license it for production use. The License Server can be configured to use license services on the VC server itself, or use a separate Licsene Server. Other configfuration options include selecting a VC edition and allowing for new hosts to be added to inventory once added.
When you select Statistics, you can configure how the VC collects statistics. In this section, you can view the Statistics Intervals already in place by default, as well as edit them.
To edit at currently configured intervals, simply highlight the statistics interval setting you want to edit and click on the Edit button.
Now you can configure the time period, days to keep samples for and which level to use for specific collections. For example, Level 1 includes basic metrics, such as Average Usage for CPU/Memory/Disk and Network, as well as System Uptime and VMware DRS metrics. You can learn more about DRS in the links section of this article.
Other than configuring things such as collection intervals, statistics collection thread limit, and statistics collection level, you can also specify the number of threads used for collecting performance statistics from managed hosts and the level of detail for performance statistics collection.
As you move down the VirtualCenter Management Server Configuration settings, you will note the Runtime Settings. You can view or configure the unique run-time settings for the VirtualCenter installation. Here, you can see that the VC Server unique ID is set at 36. You can also configure the VirtualCenter TCP/IP port number. Here, the port is set at 902. Laslty, you can configure a managed server IP address.
You would have to restart the VC to change all settings except that of the managed IP.
Most applications connect to a LDAP based directory for authentication and other security reasons. Active Directory (Microsoft LDAP offering) is a commonly used directory service. Here you will be able to configure specific settings such as; the Active Directory timeout, maximum number of users and groups to display in the Add Permissions dialog box, and the frequency for performing a synchronization and validation of VirtualCenter’s known users and groups. The Enable Validation check box allows you to configure the Validation Period (in minutes). This allows you to configure the number of minutes the VC will wait before performing a synchronization and validation of VC known users and groups against Active Directory.
Next, you can configure the Mail options which are very simple to configure. Simply specify the SMTP server and mail account you would like the VC to use to relay mail.
You can also configure the Simple Network Management Protocol (or SNMP) for the VirtualCenter.
You can now configure and specify SNMP receiver URLs, ports, and community strings. Note that the default is generally called public and private, so many times it is common to change these default passwords (or community strings).
In this section you will be able to configure the Web Service. For VC, you can connect via a Web browser and manage the VC, download VICs and other software and check on the status of your ESX environemnt. You can specifiy the commonly used Web ports – such as port 80 for HTTP and port 443 for HTTPS.
Within Timeout Settings, adjust the settings the VC should use for both connections and timeouts. If a Client connects to the VC, then there should be a specified timeout period. Specify the VIC (Virtual Interface Client) connection timeout values for normal operations and long operations, in this case it is set at 30 seconds for normal operations and 120 minutes for longer operations.
In Logging Options, you can specify the degree of detail and extent of logs collected during normal VirtualCenter operations. There are multiple options such as:
Info (Normal Logging)
None (Disable Logging)
Warning (Errors and Warnings)
Info (Normal Logging)
Verbose (Verbose Logging)
Trivia (Extended Verbose)
At this point you can configure which level of logging you want the VC to undertake. This should be used with care. For example, if you decide to do advanced troubleshooting and change the logging type for the VC, you should make sure you are working closely with VMware technical support and/or known exactly what you are doing.
When configuring the Database section, simply specify a password required to access the VirtualCenter database. You can also change the maximum number of database conections to be created. If you change this option, you will have to manually restart the VC.
When working with SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, you should make sure that the VC is configure to do so as well. For example, if you configure this option and check the box for Check host certificates, you will ensure that the VC Server and VIC verify the authenticity of the SSL certificates you choose to use. To use this, you will need to know how to use, work with and replace VirtualCenter Server Certificates. Check the links section to learn more.
Laslty, you can configure Advanced Settings. Here, you can add rows with keys and values.
You can use the Advanced Settings page to modify the VC Server configuration file, which is called vpxd.cfg. You can use the SDK to edit this file as well. This file should not be edited unless you know exactly what you are doing. You can use this section to add entries to the vpxd.cfg file, but it cannot be used to edit or delete them. To add configuration settings, click Add Row to create a blank row. Depending on the specific change you make to the vpxd.cfg file, will depend on if you need to restart the VC or not.
In this article we looked at some of the lesser understood or known configuration changes you can make to your VirtualCenter management configuation. The VMware VirtualCenter (or VC for short), is used for centralized management of multiple VMware ESX servers. The VC helps to provide reporting, logging and other management services for your virtualized environment. If you want to do further customization, review the links and resources wihin this article for more information.
Links and Resources
- VMware Homepage
- VC Info
- VC Release Notes
- ESX Server 3 Configuration Guide (Update 2 Release for ESX Server 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5)
- Configure a VM with VMware
- Configure VMware’s Virtual Switch
- Replacing VirtualCenter Server Certificates
- Understanding DRS
- Understanding DRS 2
- DRS and Clustering
- SDK 2.0