VMware has released a new version of their flagship monitoring and remediation product for vSphere: vRealize Operations (vROps) 8.0. It has a much simpler deployment model where you only need to deploy a single virtual machine (VM) to provide all the functionality. For large-scale environments, you can deploy several nodes and use built-in clustered features.

Vladan Seget

Vladan Seget is an independent consultant, professional blogger, vExpert 2009-2019, VCAP-DCA/DCD and MCSA. He has been working for over 20 years as a system engineer.

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VMware's vSphere offering on Amazon Web Services (AWS) lets you extend your on-prem datacenter to the cloud and scale it on demand. Microsoft on the other hand is pushing hybrid cloud with their own Azure offering through Windows Server 2019. With this, you can connect to Azure through Windows Admin Center and have direct connectivity to Azure.

Today we'll look at VMware's vROps 8. Its new features are another step in the hybrid cloud direction. The product has a new welcome screen inviting you to create a cloud account. This lets you connect to VMware on AWS or Microsoft Azure as a cloud infrastructure.

vROps 8 overview ^

You can configure and optimize the vSphere infrastructure to align with both business objectives and compliance objectives. Many automatic performance features can automate and optimize vSphere without admin interaction.

The self-driving automation built into vROps can provide:

  • Intent-driven performance optimization
  • Automated capacity and cost management
  • Remediation based on intelligent operations
  • Integrated compliance features

The product itself is packaged as a virtual appliance via an .ova file you can import into vCenter Server or a VMware ESXi host. The screenshot below displays the welcome screen.

VMware vROps Manager welcome screen

VMware vROps Manager welcome screen

When selecting a new account type, you can add a vCenter account, an AWS account, or a Microsoft Azure account.

There are no limitations to accounts. You can configure all three accounts if you like.

Select a new account type

Select a new account type

Once you select the account type, you can simply add this account to the user interface by entering your credentials for this particular account. There is also a test button allowing you to test the connection before validating.

In my example, I simply added vCenter Server credentials for my local lab vCenter.

Local vCenter Server account

Local vCenter Server account

vROps 8 has prebuilt integration with two other VMware products:

  • vRealize Log Insight: log management and machine learning
  • vRealize Automation 8: workflow creation and automation
Integration with vRealize Log Insight and vRealize Automation

Integration with vRealize Log Insight and vRealize Automation

After connecting, you can finally click on the Quick Start button on the left and see the overview dashboard, which allows you to drill in further.

vROps Manager 8 is part of the vRealize suite, which includes vRealize Log Insight, vRealize Automation 8, vRealize Orchestrator, vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, and VMware Identity Manager.

As you can see, the whole suite has six products in total. The main vROps 8 screen provides shortcuts to Optimize Performance, Optimize Capacity, Troubleshoot, or Manage Configuration.

vROps quick start screen

vROps quick start screen

vROps Manager 8 new features ^

Intelligent remediation: This allows troubleshooting to find the root cause of problems quickly. Without this tool, when you experience poor performance, you'd have to check many metrics manually. A new event display shows major events and metrics that are outside normal parameters.

Anomalous metrics: These show drastic changes within the selected scope and time. The metrics rank the results based on the degree of change. They give the highest weighting to the most recent anomalous metric based on a time-sliced comparison in the current time range.

Workload balancing: An automated workload-balancing feature lets you balance workloads across clusters. The balance is based on business needs and performance. You can balance workloads running on premises, on VMware Cloud, in an AWS environment, or in Microsoft Azure.

Service discovery: This is natively built into vROps now; previously you had to install agents. Now there are 41 known services to discover for monitoring your apps. You do not need to install any agents in your VMs. The only requirements are to have VMware tools installed in each of your VMs.

VMware vROps Cloud: This is in beta right now. A free sign-up page for the vROps Cloud offering lets you connect to vROps online as software as a service (SaaS).

Capacity and cost management: You can project costs when planning to deploy new VMs. You can check whether it's cheaper to deploy particular VMs on Amazon, Azure, or buy more hardware and run it locally.

Integrated compliance: You can track whether your software-defined datacenter (SDDC) on AWS is in compliance, and the new vROps 8 also has support for NSX-T. VMware has already added vSAN support in a previous release.

How to install additional nodes to extend a vROps cluster ^

You can extend vROps 8 by installing additional nodes that will work in clusters. The first node is mandatory—the master node. You can then install a master replica node, which provides high availability (HA), and a data node, which lets you scale out the cluster. Clusters consist of a master node, a replica node, and a witness node.

Enabling HA duplicates data in the system and doubles the system's compute and capacity requirements. When you enable HA, you protect vROps from data loss if you should lose a single node.

You can use VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) anti-affinity rules to ensure VMs remain on separate hosts when DRS rebalances the vSphere workloads.

If you have a hybrid environment, you can have fewer local nodes for a larger environment and one remote node installed at a remote site. This remote collector node lets you perform data collection, which it sends back to the master node. You can install a remote node behind firewalls or with limited bandwidth.

Once you have one node running, adding additional nodes is easy. Simply deploy an additional node by importing the .ovf file into your vCenter.

After connecting via web browser to the appliance management URL, simply click the Expand an Existing Installation button.

Add an additional node to vROps

Add an additional node to vROps

You'll see another screen that lets you add an additional node to the cluster. You'll also see an assistant that will walk you through the process.

All you need is the address of the master node and the admin password you entered when you installed the master node.

Expand an existing vROps cluster

Expand an existing vROps cluster

You'll see the settings of the node you're adding. You have three possibilities here.

There are three types of nodes:

  • Data node: allows scaling out clusters and provides duplication of data, which is useful in case one node fails
  • Remote collector: usually deployed behind firewalls in remote datacenters; lets you reduce bandwidth across datacenters or reduce the load on the vROps cluster
  • Witness node: has a tiebreaker role where it must make a decision in case of a lost network connection between the two nodes
vROps node types and certificate

vROps node types and certificate

Once you have all three nodes up and running, you can see them within the main vROps UI. There you can also activate High Availability or Continuous Availability. The latter one lets you protect multiple sites. When one site goes down, the vROps cluster is still up and running, collecting data from the remaining clusters.

The screenshot below from the lab shows Continuous Availability enabled.

vROps Manager Continuous Availability

vROps Manager Continuous Availability

You can also extend the product via management packs that hardware and software vendors provide. Many popular storage vendors create their own management packs, which are then available as free downloads.

You can download management packs and Endpoint Operations plug-ins for vROps Manager from the VMware Solution Exchange.

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