May 7th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

Up until now I went through a basic ViPR SRM installation, getting a basic single VM environment setup. What I want to show in this post is my favorite ViPR SRM feature – topology maps. To understand why these are useful, lets step back and give some scenarios:

You are the personal responsible for supporting the storage within your environment, you may support other things but ultimately when there is a storage related problem your name is called. An application own comes to you and says their application is slow, and that the network team said everything on their end is fine so its probably the storage. Great – now what?

  1. You come into a new organization – whether as an internal IT person or a var and you’ve inherited an environment cabled by 3 monkeys and a cat with no documentation – now what?

This is where topology maps can be very useful. The topology maps is that end-to-end visualization and monitoring component I mentioned in previous posts. I see from my virtual machine or even some applications such as SQL Server all the way through to the underlying storage, and drill down on each component. Let me shows you some examples.

To access the topology maps, click on Explore >> Hosts – small aside here – host could be any physical or virtual server in the environment discovered by ViPR SRM, not just ESXi hosts. So this could be an ESXi host, a virtual machine, or a physical host running its own OS.

vipr-srm-explore-reports-hosts

From this report, you can see a list of all the hosts in the environment, which for some could be a very extensive list. I should mention that the filter field is not a search field, so you cannot type the end of a machine name; for example maybe all your VM names end in OS type or some other identifier, you couldn’t just type W2K8 to find a server name myserver-w2k8, you would have to start with myserver, but would then see a list of all servers starting with that string. You can filter on any column that has the funnel icon, so for example I could filter on just physical hosts, or virtual machines by clicking the funnel icon in the host type column;

vipr-srm-filter

Using the example above, let’s say an application owner has complained about performance and you need to investigate to see if storage could be the problem. Filter on the host name, in this case I will pick on mhmbd078-W2K8, as you can see below I start typing that name and can select it from a the list or type it in full and hit enter to filter on that one host

vipr-srm-filter-hostname

 

Now I just see that specific host, in this case a virtual machine as you can see here with 16GB of memory and 4 vCPU:

vipr-srm-single-host-explore

This much information is available in just a few clicks, now there are many places you could get this information but as I continue to drill deeper, you will start to see just how much information we have at hand. With just what is available so far, you might be able to say to the application owner who issued the complain that there is not enough memory, for example maybe you know that this particular application needs 32GB of memory, so disk I/O could be a problem if the application and OS are constantly swapping to disk. But, maybe so far everything checks out, if I click on any of the text here, it will take me into the detail of that virtual machine.

Now, this is where it gets interesting; what you see below is the topology map for mbmbd078-w2k8, we can see the host, the datastore it is on, the host it is on, the VSANs it is connected to and the arrays connected to those VSANs. Also, notice to the right we have different reports related to the host, we can see attributes about the host which is show by default, you can also see:

  • Capacity information about the hosts local disks, in this case VMDKs and since it is a virtual machine, the datastore
  • Path details for the disks attached to the host
  • Related storage performance
  • Events related to the host

vipr-srm-topology-map

You can click on any element in the map to see details specific to that item, for example if you click on the datastore – DS_Bootcamp_D you can see reports about the datastore, or on the host – you guessed it, reports about the host. You may have also noticed the + icon next to some of the elements, this is because there are additional components, using VSAN0040 as an example, we can click on the + sign to see switches in that VSAN

vipr-srm-exapanded-element

Now I see two switches, each with their own + icon, I can keep drilling down and see ports on that switch as well. I can expand different elements and hover over different components to see how they are connected. For example I have expanded my host to see my HBAs, I can see that the particular HBA I am interested in is connected to VSAN mptb023 so I have expanded that as well and drilled down to see the switch ports. While I have some limited lab resolution available, you can see here that when I hover over the HBA from the host it highlights the path to the port on the switch – in this case fc1/6 (as shown by the blue highlighted line)

vipr-srm-show-details

This is just one specific report, and I have only skimmed the surface of the data available in this report. Imagine being able to show this to an application owner as you troubleshoot each component, and explain how/why any particular piece of the infrastructure supporting the application is, or isn’t doing what it is supposed to. For those folks who worked in a silo’d type group, I’d urge you not use this information to punt back over your wall to someone else, but rather be the person to start poking some pinholes in the silo, call up a virtualization, OS, or network person depending on what you might think the problem is and work with them, sharing knowledge and help the application owner be a happy customer. After all, even if you are “internal” IT – you are still providing a service to the business – they are you customers, treat them like it. Silos will only fall if someone starts poking holes, no reason it can’t be you.

If you haven’t done so, chat with your EMC rep (they can likey get you in touch with an SE who can help if you have any setup questions) and head over to support.emc.com to sign up for an account and download ViPR SRM which comes with a 30 day license.

ViPR SRM Explore Reports and Topology Maps

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April 23rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

One of the upcoming tools I will be working with is ViPR SRM. ViPR SRM is a storage management tool that allows for monitoring the end-to-end health of your environment. I know what you’re thinking, “C’mon now Frapp that sounds awfully marketingy” and you’re right – it does, BUT let me give you an example of why some of the tools in ViPR SRM interest me.

network-is-fineHave you ever went over to a friends cube to chat and they say the app it ain’t no good? The reports are slow, the app keeps crashing, and the chicken taste like wood. Okay, but seriously how many times has someone walked over and said “my application is slow/down/broken” with no further detail, leaving it up to you to isolate what is going on? It has happened to me often. Worse is when you are the personal responsible for storage and someone else responsible for networking does the Jedi hand wave and says the network is fine, it must be storage.

 

That is where ViPR SRM comes it, it can show you the relation from virtual machine, through the hypervisor, datastore, data path to the storage array hosting the virtual machine. Further, for heterogeneous it supports multiple types of applications, operating systems, hypervisors and storage arrays. Of course it supports more EMC products, since it is an EMC product but you don’t necessarily have to run an EMC array to leverage ViPR SRM.

Below are some of the systems supported by ViPR SRM, an updated list can always be found at emc.com.

vipr

While getting ready for the installation, know that you can deploy as either a pre-packed vApp or install the application on 64-bit versions of RedHat, CentOS, SUSE, or Windows; during my post I will be deploying the vApp version which includes 4 virtual machines. The 4 virtual machines each have unique roles as a typical multi-tier application would – there is a web front end for UI and reporting, database backend for storing data, and collector for, well, collecting data. In large environments with multiple arrays you may deploy multiple collectors.

vipr-srm-components

In my next few blog posts I’ll be reviewing the installation of ViPR SRM, and review some of the dashboards and how they might help you in the day to day monitoring, and troubleshooting of your environment. If you’d like to learn along with me check out the ViPR SRM free e-Learning on ECN.

Getting to know ViPR SRM

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April 23rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

*Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

In my last ViPR SRM post, I introduced you to some of the features if you were not already aware of them. In this post, I will look at installing ViPR SRM 6.5.2. I downloaded ViPR SRM from support.emc.com; while I am an EMC employee, I logged into the support site with my personal email account to download the files. Once logged in, search for ViPR SRM and click on the downloads menu, as I mentioned I will be going with the vApp option versus a binary installation.

vipr-srm-search-support

Once downloaded, extract the content of the zip file – you’ll have 2 OVF’s. One is the 4 VM vApp I mentioned in my last post, the other, a 1VM vApp useful for lab and evaluation purposes. Given I have limited resources in my home lab, I will be deploying the 1 VM vApp.

info

Important note here, you will need to deploy the OVF to vCenter, not a stand-alone ESXi host as some of the OVF properties will not be exposed properly, causing the deployment to fail.

Follow the OVF deployment wizard, when prompted select the All-In-One configuration:

vipr-srm-all-in-one-ovf

By default, the VM deploys with 4 vCPU – adjust according to your lab, I have set mine to 2, 16GB RAM and removed the reservation (performance here would not be ideal obviously, but this is for lab purposes only). Once the OVF has been deployed, you should be able to log into http://:58080/APG. Login as admin/change me to access ViPR SRM.

vipr-srm-UI

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By default, you are in the “User” interface, if you click on “Administration” in the upper right corner, you will go to the administration screen. Go ahead and click on Administration >> Centralized Management (on the left nav menu) >> License Management (also on the left nav menu). As you can see you have a 30 day trial license to test out ViPR SRM.

vipr-srm-trial-license

Close the license window/tab. Notice where the “Administration” menu was, you now see a “User Interface” menu, this will (like the administration link did) take you to the User interface (where you initially landed when you logged in.

In the next post, I will look at connecting ViPR SRM to vCenter and, in my case, XtremIO.

Installing ViPR SRM

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April 23rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

In my last two posts I touched on what ViPR SRM can do, and the quick installation.

With the ViPR SRM installation out of the way, it’s time to start adding Solution Packs. Solution Packs are use to connect to various systems, such as VMware vCenter, so ViPR SRM can collection information about virtual machines, ESXi hosts, datastores, and HBA’s. Additionally, you connect ViPR SRM to your switches and storage for, quite literally, an end to end view of your environment.

  • First, log into http://:58080/APG and click on Administration (upper right corner)
  • Once you are in the Administration interface, click on Centralized Management on the left navigation menu, a new window or tab will open
  • In the new window, click on Solution Pack Center (back in the upper right corner)

vipr-srm-solution-packs

  • In the search box in the upper right corner, type vCenter to filer the results, and click on VMware vCenter
  • When the vCenter box opens, click on the install button.

virp-srm-vcenter-install-pack

  • Follow the wizard and review the options; it’s a basic wizard – next, next; if using PowerPath click Enable the Host PowerPath alerts for example and click next, next, next, next, and finally install. ViPR SRM will go through and install the selected components.

vipr-srm-solutions-pack-vcenter-installed

  • Click OK. Repeat the above steps for your environment. At the very least, the Storage Compliance pack is useful. Here is the EMC XtremIO solution pack which I will be installing to show examples from.

vipr-srm-solution-pack-xtremio

  • With the solution packs installed, we need to provide each some information. Expand Discovery Center in the left navigation menu, expand Devices Management and click on VMware vCenter
  • Click on the Add new device… button and fill in the information to connect to vCenter. I suggest using dedicated accounts for external services, so for example here is my app_viprsrm user account which has admin privileges in vCenter. Click the test button to confirm the account has access, and then click OK. Repeat for multiple vCenters or the storage in your environment you added a pack for.

info

Don’t forget to click the Save button!

save

vcenter-vipr-srm-credsDepending on your environment, you may also want to add your FC switches as well. Switch monitoring is done by adding a Solution pack for your switch, and connecting to it via SNMP. While logged in as admin go to http://:58080/device-discovery, click Collectors, click New Collector, and Save. This will add an SNMP collector to the local VM. Once the collector is added click on Devices, New Device, and fill in the appropriate information.

vipr-srm-snp-device-discovery

With all switches added, click the check box next to it, and click the magnifying glass icon under actions; this will discover the switch.

ViPR SRM will now start collecting data, to expidite the process click on Scheduled Tasks (left navigation menu), check box for the “import-properties-default” task, and click the Run Now button. If you return to the User Interface (back in the Administration page, click User Interface) and go to Explore >> Hosts you should see your vCenter hosts as well as virtual machines.

vipr-srm-vcenter-hosts

If you navigate to Explore >> Storage you should also see the storage devices you added.

vipr-srm-storage

With the configuration out of the way, I can now start to explore my environment with the various reports available, which I will do in the next post!

ViPR SRM Solution Packs for vCenter and XtremIO

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February 3rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Before you get started with virtualization in your environment there are a few things you will need to have in place.

First and foremost you will need a working network in place to provide the various components of you vSphere solution connectivity to one another.  A working DNS solution must be in place, in most cases this is provided by the Domain Controllers in a Windows Active Directory environment.  DNS and AD will support both name resolution of your hosts as well as Single Sign-On (SSO) used by vCenter.

In addition to DNS, NTP is very important, especially if you plan to introduce solutions such as vRealize Automation. Even if virtual machines are just a few minutes off, products may not work properly.

Here are the components in a typical setup:

  • 1 or more switches, preferably with support for VLANs
  • Defined IP scheme and IP documentation solution (spreadsheet, IPAM tool etc)
  • LDAP server, typically Microsoft Windows
  • DNS server, typically provided by Windows Domain Controller
  • NTP server, typically running on linux but you could use your DC as well

Once the above items are in place, you can now create DNS records for each of your ESXi hosts.  With DNS records created, you can breeze through the installation and configuration of ESXi via the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI). Additionally, kickstart files can be used to configure your ESXi hosts during installation by pressing “shift-O” during startup to access to the boot options or by using Auto Deploy. If you do opt for Auto Deploy, consider a management cluster built on ESXi hosts installed to local disk or SD/USB drives. In this cluster you would run your critical services such as AD, DHCP, DNS, and vCenter so that during an outage you have the ability to recover core services that do not rely on the very services you are trying to restore. Once the management cluster is restored, Auto Deploy can service. Rob Nelson covers Auto Deploy nicely on a #vBrownBag over at professionalvmware.com.

Other components you need to also consider installing during production builds include a centralized syslog server (vCenter provides one for free, or Log Insight which is an enterprise grade solution. You can also use syslog-ng, Graylog, Splunk, or Nagios Log Monitor. Other tools that ship with vCenter include the dump collector, VMware Update Manager, the VMware Support Assistant and some type of monitoring solution such as Nagios, Realize Operations (vR Ops) or Hyperic. With a working environment ready, you can move on to installing your first ESXi host.

Of course this is a basic list, even the 5 bullet points I listed could consume months of learning if you’re not familiar with VLANs, or for planning IP schemas. If you’ve read though this list and not overwhelmed, you shouldn’t have a problem virtualizing if you have not already.

Back to basics – Getting ready for virtualization

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