Monitoring vSphere Virtual Machines in the vSphere Web Client (Part 1)

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In my last two articles, I discussed resource management in vSphere. The first article, Getting Started with Resource Management in VMware vSphere provided the background on the difference between the physical and virtual datacenter, vsphere resource types, resource providers, resource consumers, and why it’s so important to manage your resources. In the second article, VMware vSphere Resource Management Configuration Basics, I talked about how to configure reservations, resource pools, shares, and limits.

In this two-part series, I’d like to capitalize on that knowledge of vSphere resources and discuss monitoring virtual machines in vSphere (part of which will be resource monitoring, using the vSphere web client). The web client, which you should push to be your standard management interface for vSphere, is very different in it’s usability. In most cases the usability is better but re-training yourself to use the new interface will take time. What better way than to use the web client to monitor your virtual machines, right? That experience with the web client and your knowledge of how to find information fast will really pay off the next time that a problem or trouble arises in the virtual infrastructure as you will be able to solve it quicker.

Using the vSphere 5.5 Web Client Monitoring Tab

The Monitoring tab in the vSphere 5.5 Web Client is the single best place to go for any sort of monitoring. As it is contextual, the options available on the tab will change as you move, let’s say, from a host to a VM or over a virtual datacenter, folder, cluster, or resource pool. For example, the monitoring tab for a host has a hardware sub-tab that provides information and statistics about how the host hardware is performing. Even the vCenter server (if you click on the hostname of that server) has it’s own monitoring tab. Going all the way up to the vCenter server level is the top of the hosts and clusters tree, just like it is the top of other resource trees like Storage and Network. Even the vCenter server level has a contextual tab that contains service health and system logs, along with the other standard sub-tab options like issues, tasks, events, and log browser.

If we start from the top of the hosts and clusters tree and move from vCenter server, to host, to VM, here’s what you’ll see that is unique from one to the other:

  • vCenter – contains system logs (which is different from log browser) and service health. System logs are your vCenter server log files that all start with “vpxd”. You can browse all the vpxd log files from here as well as export them. The vCenter server monitor tab also contains the service health tab that provides the status of all the vCenter server services (which today is a lot of services). Here’s what it looks like for the vCenter Server Appliance, version 5.5-

Figure 1

  • Virtual Datacenter – moving down to the virtual datacenter level, what you’ll find here is the storage reports sub tab. The storage reports sub-tab is actually very useful. On that tab you’ll find information about multipathing, space used, snapshot space used, and more for a long list of vSphere objects such as virtual machines, hosts, data stores, clusters, SCSI volumes, SCSI targets, NAS mounts, and more. I encourage you to check out this info as you may learn things you didn’t know about your virtual infrastructure.

Figure 2

Another interesting sub tab here is the performance sub tab. This is the first level of the hosts and clusters tree that you can view performance. In this case, performance is viewed at the virtual datacenter level. There is overview information as well as advanced performance reporting. In the overview section of the datacenter level, you can only view storage information and in the advanced section, you can only view virtual machine operations.

Figure 3

  • Hosts – moving down to the virtual datacenter host level, you’ll find the traditional sub tabs of issues, tasks, events, and log browser but you’ll also find some more important sub tabs like performance. The host (or resource pool or cluster levels, if your hosts are in one of those) is the first level where you can view performance information other than the storage performance data available at the virtual data center level. In fact, in the advanced graphs, you can graph based on CPU, datastore, disk, memory, network, power, storage adaptor, storage path, and system.

Figure 4

If you go into Chart Options, it’s here that you can create your own custom charts and graphs and save them for later use. These graphs can get VERY customizable with each of the major chart metrics (like CPU, memory, etc) having MANY counters available to graph. When selecting counters, check the rollup and unit values for each. Also, carefully look at the objects that you want to create the chart on. For example, for CPU, and object is a physical CPU core (or a virtual CPU core if hyper threading is enabled). Finally, verify carefully the timespan that you are creating the chart for. Examples of timespans are real-time (for real-time troubleshooting), last day, last week, last month, last year, or a custom timespan.

Here’s what a CPU chart might look like-

Fiugre 5

Still under the host monitor tab, you’ll find another sub tab called Resource Allocation. It’s here that you can view what resources have been allocated related to CPU, memory, and storage. This really comes back to what you have reserved, either with specific VM reservations or with resource pools. The idea here is to show, for this host, how much of the resources have been reserved vs how much is available.

Fiugre 6

Lastly, under the host monitor tab is the hardware status sub tab. It shows who made the server, detailed hardware info, BIOS date, serial number, and alerts/warnings. This is where you would find out, let’s say, if a server had a fan stop working, that you had a fan alert and which fan it was. This data can be exported as well for your record-keeping.

Figure 7

  • Virtual Machine – finally, moving into the virtual machine monitoring section, you’ll find sub tabs like issues, performance, resource allocation, storage reports, tasks, and events. This is where you get into the “nitty-gritty” VM monitoring. The tasks, events, and issues will always be important when troubleshooting a VM. As we demo’ed above, the performance sub tab offers both overview and advanced reports but, this time from a VM level. The storage reports, now on a per VM basis, can also be very useful for determining what is happening with a VM’s storage, from a variety of different angles.

Figure 8

That’s it for this post on the vSphere Web Client Monitoring tab but we still have more to cover! In the next post in this series, we’ll explore the additional functionality that you’ll find out of the monitoring tab of the vSphere Web Client including how to use tasks and events, how to create and save custom performance reports, and more!

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