With the latest release of VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 1, vCenter server has a new feature for monitoring the health of each host joined to vCenter.

This feature has already been present for monitoring VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN) in the previous release, but the 6.7 U1 release now also allows monitoring the health of individual hosts even if your infrastructure does not use VMware vSAN.

This can be pretty useful since many customers simply continue using their shared storage arrays and do not plan on using a hyper-converged infrastructure based on VMware vSAN. VMware has only added the health view to the HTML 5-based web client in the 6.7 Update 1 release, so they've already phased out the Flex-based client that needed Adobe Flash.

Viewing health checks in the vSphere Client ^

It's fairly simple with one requirement: you must join the VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). If for any reason you haven't done this when installing a host, even if they recommend it, you can do it later.

Where do you enable the VMware CEIP?

After connecting to the vSphere HTML 5 web client, go to Menu > Administration.

Where to enable CEIP

Where to enable CEIP

And then go to Deployment > Customer Experience Improvement Program.

Enable the Customer Experience Improvement Program

Enable the Customer Experience Improvement Program

As you can see, in my lab, the option is enabled (Joined). In case it isn't, just click the Join button.

The VMware CEIP basically collects only some technical information about the infrastructure. This includes for example which firmware/driver combination you have present (important for stability and performance). Not having the right driver can lead to the purple screen of death (PSOD) like in our example later in the post below.

After enabling this, let's check the health of our hosts. We have to look at the datacenter level (vCenter), not the host level, even though you can also check individual host health as well.

You can find the health status at Menu > Hosts and Clusters; then go to vCenter Server > Monitor > Health.

Where to find the vCenter health check monitor

Where to find the vCenter health check monitor

By clicking the one in yellow, you can expand it to see which hosts are affected in your datacenter. You can have several clusters managed by a single vCenter Server or just a single cluster with a few hosts. It doesn't matter. The feature works for every host connected to vCenter Server. In my case, I only have two hosts managed by vCenter Server.

See the affected hosts

See the affected hosts

Once there, click the info link to see what you should do to remediate the problem.

vCenter Server health checks Ask VMware

vCenter Server health checks Ask VMware

And finally, by clicking the link, a VMware knowledge base (KB) article opens in new browser tab giving you the solution. However, resolving the problem needs manual intervention in our case. We have to download and install a new network driver version manually for one of our hosts.

VMware KB article with the resolution to the problem

VMware KB article with the resolution to the problem

The health status feature provides solutions to solve certain warnings and situations. Usually you have the yellow warning before a real problem occurs.

So far, this VMware service is new, so there aren't health checks for every single component. But over the next few months or years, this is certainly a good way to keep your infrastructure in a healthy state.

You must manually resolve problems, but in the case of vSAN, the service is more advanced. We can already upload a firmware flash tool directly from within the vSphere HTML 5 web client and do a firmware update on certain host bus adapter (HBA) cards certified for VMware vSAN.

So why not do the same for other critical hardware components such as NICs or motherboards? The future will tell.

Note that this service is free, so you don't need any special subscription or payment. VMware does collect some technical details but does not collect any personal information through this channel.

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In my opinion the vSphere health checks newly enhanced in vSphere 6.7 Update 1 are a cool way to check for potential problems or possible PSODs that might occur due to a faulty driver.

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