Installing a CIM provider to improve vSphere Client host monitoring

While ESXi includes support for many popular hardware platforms, comprehensive server health monitoring with the vSphere Client sometimes requires installing the correct CIM provider.

VMware vCenter Server offers extensive options to centralize health monitoring for your virtual infrastructure, but you can also monitor host health with the vSphere Client if you have the correct CIM provider.

Before understanding the health management options in a vSphere environment, you should know more about the Common Information Model (CIM), a standard used in the IT industry for hardware monitoring. The CIM standard defines the device characteristics that allow management software to recognize it, making it easier for administrators to manage heterogeneous data center hardware. Typically, a hardware vendor creates a CIM monitoring plug-in, often called a CIM provider. The CIM provider uses a language to describe hardware features so that the management software knows what to expect and how to read those featuresto perform management tasks.

Using the open CIM standard, any management software that implements CIM can manage your host. All you need is a CIM provider. That means that if some specific hardware can´t be monitored, the problem can probably be fixed by requesting a CIM provider from the hardware vendor.

If you have installed ESXi on a popular hardware platform, chances are that a CIM provider for that hardware is already included in ESXi. You can check how well your server is supported by selecting your host from the vSphere Client interface. Next click Configuration and make sure that Hardware > Health Status is selected for an overview of the current hardware status.

You may find that some parts of your server are not supported, which is the case for the Dell PowerEdge T310 server that was used as the test server to write this article. In the figure below, you can see that most components are properly recognized, but the status of the power supply is unknown.

If hardware components are not recognized, you probably need to update the CIM provider.

To make it easy to monitor your ESXi server hardware, most server hardware manufacturers offer a CIM provider in a vSphere Installation Bundle (.vib) file. After downloading the .vib file for your server, you can integrate it in the vSphere client.

  1. Download the .vib file for your server on the management workstation. This is the workstation where you have installed the vSphere Client. Make sure to install vCLI on this workstation as well.
  2. Place your host in Maintenance mode. You can do this from the vCenter client by selecting the Enter Maintenance Mode option on the Summary tab for your host.
  3. Open a vCLI shell on the management workstation, and from there, run the vihostupdate.pl --server (yourserver) --install --bundle (path to management bundle).vib command.
  4. From the vCenter Client, select the Configuration tab for your host and from there, select Software > Advanced Settings. Next, click UserVars.
  5. Make sure that all of the CIM provider options are enabled and click OK to save your settings.
  6. Reboot the host to activate the changes.

Make sure all the CIM options are enabled before saving your settings and rebooting the host.

After a successful installation of the CIM provider for your hardware platform, you can go back to the Configuration tab of your ESXi host. From there, you’ll see that the Health Status option gives more details than before, which enables you to better monitor your server’s health.

There are many features you need vCenter Server for, but host monitoring isn’t one of them. You can easily monitor your server’s health from the vSphere Client, if you have the appropriate CIM provider for your hardware.

This was first published in May 2012

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