VMware management and performance monitoring tools are essential for a VMware infrastructure. If you want optimal VMware performance, it's important to familiarize yourself with these key VMware monitoring tools and trends.
With VMware performance monitoring, you are alerted immediately about data loss, security breaches, corruption and other failures. Routine checkups and other VMware management best practices also help keep an infrastructure in tip-top shape.
In addition, admins who want to perform VMware management from the command line have scripting and command tools at their disposal. With utilities such as VMware Management Assistant, PowerShell, PowerCLI and the esxtop/resxtop commands, you can handle in-depth VMware monitoring tasks and troubleshoot performance issues.
To develop a solid virtualization management strategy, you need to know about all sorts of VMware tools, from vCenter Server and AppSpeed to VMware High Availability and Perfmon. Keep tabs on your hosts, network, VMs and even mailboxes. You should also stay up to date on licensing and/or support changes that can affect a VMware infrastructure setup.
The best guide to VMware's management products
With so many VMware management products, it can be overwhelming. You're probably schooled on vCenter Server, vCenter Server Heartbeat and vCenter Site Recovery Manager. But what about vCenter Chargeback, Capacity IQ or AppSpeed? VMware offers plenty of tools for capacity planning, application performance, resource utilization, virtual machine (VM) conversions and VMware monitoring needs.
VMware vSphere's built-in performance monitoring tools
VSphere includes built-in tools for VMware performance monitoring, alerting and reporting. VSphere VMs and hosts compete for resources, so you have to watch out for bottlenecks. The Perfmon utility provides performance monitoring, and vCenter Server alarms can alert you to problems in your infrastructure as they happen.
VMware maintenance checklist: Daily, weekly and monthly tasks
It's important to run routine VMware maintenance checks in your infrastructure, including checkups on ESX, vSphere, vCenter and VMware Workstation. The details -- such as monitoring mailboxes, checking fans in the server room and even updating your support agreements -- can make the difference in preventing failures.
VMware pricing: How does the new per-VM model affect customers?
VMware has changed licensing models that were established in the pre-virtualization days. For certain management products, the company recently adopted per-virtual machine (VM) licensing to account for multiprocessor, multicore servers. If you use vCenter AppSpeed, Chargeback, Site Recovery Manager and other VMware management tools, your pricing model could be affected.
VMware vCenter Server is the main management tool for vSphere hosts and VMs. Many other features of the vSphere suite require vCenter, so it's a useful console for centralized VMware management. It's scalable across hundreds of host servers and thousands of VMs. VCenter also provides monitoring, automation and alert systems.
For resource management, admins can use Distributed Power Management (DPM) and Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS). These tools minimize energy consumption and optimize resource utilization. Virtualization creates competition for resources, such as CPUs and memory, and numerous VMware management tools address this issue.
Configuring VMware vCenter Server Linked Mode: A walkthrough
VCenter Server includes the Linked Mode feature, which can increase the number of VMs supported on a host and improve VMware management. Linked Mode provides a centralized view of multiple servers so you can perform administrative tasks without having to shift between client sessions. It's also easy to implement Linked Mode in a vCenter installation.
Special considerations for vCenter Site Recovery Manager deployment
Don't forget about disaster recovery in your management suite. VCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) automates failover between data centers and disaster recovery sites. Plus, it can test a failover plan without disrupting a production environment. But before deploying this tool, you need to consider VM placement, application dependencies and VMware performance
VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS clustering improvements
In vSphere 4.1, Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) allows you to restrict where a VM runs to specific groups of ESX hosts within a cluster. You can group VMs by name and control their execution, which ensures that your infrastructure meets software vendors' VM licensing requirements.
Using VMware Distributed Power Management
Distributed Power Management is a component of DRS. This VMware management feature reduces energy consumption by suspending a server when a VM is idle and resuming it when a VM needs additional resources. Learning the basics of DPM helps an organization save on data center power and cooling costs.
Installing and using VMware vCenter Lab Manager
VMware vCenter Lab Manager is an interface for the development team to provision, use, snapshot and retire its own VMs. Lab Manager limits the core resources that developers can consume. To prevent too many cooks in the kitchen, this VMware management tool also limits administrator access to the infrastructure.
For VMware monitoring and management, there are alternatives to vCenter and DRS/DPM. Some admins prefer the command line for managing and monitoring the infrastructure. Commands give you control over administrative tasks, providing greater flexibility. The most popular command-line tools are PowerShell, PowerCLI, vMA and esxtop/resxtop.
Ease into ESXi with VMware Management Assistant
The VMware Management Assistant (vMA) is a remote command-line utility for the VMware ESXi hypervisor that allows you to run many commands you may currently use with ESX. Console OS admins can use the same "old" commands with this tool. With its FastPass feature, you can set up the vMA and authenticate to it only once instead of repeatedly logging in to each ESX host to send instructions.
Tackling esxtop for VMware performance management prowess
The esxtop performance management utility runs in a shell session and provides advanced information about VMs to ease troubleshooting. Esxtop commands report on VMs and hosts, as well as on CPU, memory, disk and network resource usage. You can run this utility in interactive, batch and replay modes.
Using PowerShell and PowerCLI: Training for VMware admins
PowerShell and vSphere PowerCLI provides automated VMware management. With less room for human error, your infrastructure can reap the benefits of scripts created by admins. PowerCLI is a snap-in for PowerShell, which automates administrative tasks through cmdlets, executables and scripts.
This was first published in November 2010