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vCenter Operations Manager
Operating and managing a virtualized system can be a complex and arduous task. You not only need to keep track of the health of your various hypervisors, but also the underlying storage and networking components as well as the individual Virtual Machines themselves. Doing these tasks manually, while possible, is in and of itself a full time job; never mind the fact that your boss most likely wants you to actually do things as well as just monitor. For this reason VMware (as well as other vendors) have been bringing management dashboard applications to market to consolidate your view of all of these various items.
vCenter Operations Manager (vCOps or vCO for short) uses a system of “badges” to display various system health states. Green badges are good, red badges are bad, etc. Further there is a numeric score overlaid to allow you to quantify. Further these health measures can be seen throughout the hierarchy, ranging from the overall “world” health down to the individual VM or datastore. The goal of this is to let you see where your issues are and then go out and fix them. Views of this information once setup is available not only from the vCOps UI webpage but also from within the VI client once you install and enable the plugin.
Keep in mind that what you get with your vSphere Essentials Plus license (and up) is the Foundation edition, which has a greatly reduced toolset when compared to more feature rich, paid versions. The way I look at it the free edition lets you see what’s wrong whereas the paid editions will not only let you see what’s wrong but actually fix them on the fly. For a full side by side comparison of the 4 version please see the VMware supplied Editions Comparison.
Installation and setup ^
Prior to beginning your installation you will need to create an IP Pool for the virtual network you wish to deploy vCOps to. How to do this has been covered in a previous article.
Setup of vCOps is done via an OVA you download from VMware’s vSphere download page. Notice there are two possible files you can download; the OVA and the PAK file. Only use the PAK file in the case of an update of an in place installation. Support for the included version began with vCOps version 5.6 (which this article is based on) but version 5.7 has been recently announced. The steps below should be valid for either version.
Once you download your Virtual Appliance files you begin deployment in the normal way from the VI Client (File>Deploy OVF Template). This will begin a simple wizard toward deployment. Pay particular attention to the Deployment Configuration, Network Mapping, and IP Address Allocation screens to make sure these settings are optimized for your particular environment. After you complete the wizard you will notice you have a new vApp in your VI client. For the next step of setup start your vApp and then point a browser at https://IPOFUIVM/admin.
Now you will be in a new wizard where you set things like the login information for your vCenter, IP of the Analytics VM, passwords for local accounts, and which vCenters to monitor. All of this information is specific to your given installation. When finished simply drop the /admin from the URL and you can then login with your AD credentials to see what’s going on.
vCenter Operations Manager Foundation Edition is quite helpful in letting you see where the issues are in your VMware vSphere environment as long as you have sufficient technical resources to go with this information and fix the issues for yourself, but it is free which goes a long way. If you need guidance as to how to fix the issues or need support for multiple hypervisors (i.e. Hyper-V) you’ll need to look at either the bigger, expensive editions in the vCOps product line or third party products such as VeeamONE.