CapacityIQ: Installing VMware’s capacity planning tool

CapacityIQ adds an advanced reporting element to vCenter Server. By installing this capacity planning tool, you can capacity-plan for infrastructure expansion and control VM sprawl.

VMware vCenter CapacityIQ is a capacity planning tool that adds much-needed reporting features to vCenter Server. While the installation process is pretty straightforward, some subtle configuration choices can optimize CapacityIQ deployment.

CapacityIQ seamlessly integrates with vCenter Server, and it offers detailed infrastructure metrics, such as CPU, memory and disk I/O. This capacity planning tool offers information so VMware administrators can plan for future capacity, Control VM sprawl and streamline resource usage.

The installation and configuration requires you to download the appliance and set up the storage and networking. When linking CapacityIQ to vCenter Server, you'll designate which hosts and virtual machines should be analyzed by adjusting vCenter Server permissions.

CapacityIQ installation

First, download the CapacityIQ appliance from VMware's website, unzip the file and extract the contents. It consists of five files, including Open Virtualization Format (OVF) and Virtual Machine Disk files.

Next, in vCenter Server, select File, then Deploy OVF Template. Once the wizard launches, select the extracted OVF file, then choose a name and location (i.e., cluster, host and data store) for the virtual machine (VM).

If you're using vSphere 4.1, you'll now see the Disk Format screen, which allows you to select either thin or thick disks for a storage medium. Thin disks are recommended, because they grow as necessary until they reach a predetermined threshold. Thick disks, on the other hand, take up a large amount of disk space that you may not use right away. (In vSphere 4.0, you must use the command-line utility OVF Tool to deploy CapacityIQ with thin disks. See the installation guide for more information.)

In the next screen, choose a network for the capacity planning tool. The network must have access to the vCenter Server.

Figure 1
(Click image for an enlarged view.)

Next, power on the appliance and launch the VM console. It will prompt you to set a password for the root account, which you won't generally use. (All administrative actions can be preformed from the Web interface. The root account provides access to the appliance's local Linux OS, which you won't typically need after the initial setup.) At the next prompt, set a password for the ciqadmin user account, which is the administrative account for the CapacityIQ Web user interface.

Once the VM finishes booting, you'll see a basic configuration screen, where you can set the network and time-zone information. If your network uses Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, the appliance will automatically get an IP address. Otherwise, select Configure Network to set an IP address. It's also important that the CapacityIQ server, hosts and vCenter Server have the correct time to prevent any conflicts with the reporting, time stamps and dates in the dashboard.

Next, type the appliance's IP address in a Web browser to access the CapacityIQ Administration interface. Log in using the ciqadmin username. In the tabbed interface, you can update the appliance and configure the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), licensing and Secure Sockets Layer certificates:

The SMTP information is required if you want reports sent via email. The License tab is used only to apply legacy per-CPU licenses. Newer, per-VM license keys are applied through vCenter Server. (This option requires vCenter Server 4.1 or later.)

Registering the capacity planning tool

Before you register CapacityIQ with a vCenter Server, consider which VMs and clusters to monitor. This step is important for licensing compliance. CapacityIQ is licensed in 25-VM increments, and the vCenter Server user account tied to CapacityIQ's registration defines the scope of reporting analysis. In other words: If you have 100 VMs on a vCenter Server and the administrative account can access all of them, the 100 VMs will be visible to CapacityIQ.

To limit the VMs included in CapacityIQ's analysis, create a new role in vCenter Server (e.g., CIQ_Admin). Assign this role to a user account that has permissions to access only those objects that you want to monitor. The capacity planning tool focuses on viewing data at the cluster level, so it's best to exclude whole clusters and not individual VMs. (VMware's Knowledge Base has more details on limiting the scope of analysis.)

To register CapacityIQ, use the account with the CIQ_Admin role, which must have the following vCenter Server privileges to register and configure CapacityIQ:

  • Global
    • Manage custom attributes
    • Set custom attribute
    • Licenses privileges
  • Extensions
    • Register extension
    • Unregister extension
    • Update extension
  • Storage Views
    • Views

These permissions are necessary to register and configure CapacityIQ. Manage custom attributes, for example, allows a user to add and edit the extra fields to vCenter Server's forms and views.

Figure 2
You can add custom fields to vCenter Server for additional information about virtual machines and hosts. This function is frequently used for documentation purposes.(Click image for an enlarged view.)

Extensions allow users to create, modify and remove vCenter Server plug-ins. And Storage View is a plug-in that allows vCenter Server to displays storage-specific information about VMs.

Linking CapacityIQ to vCenter Server

The final step is to link CapacityIQ to vCenter Server. Go to the Setup tab in the capacity planning tool's Web user interface. Click the Register button and enter the vCenter Server's IP address, host name and credentials to log in.

You can control CapacityIQ from the vSphere Client through a plug-in. After registering CapacityIQ with vCenter Server, restart the vSphere Client for the plug-in to appear under the Solutions and Applications tab. To verify that the plug-in is installed and enabled, select Plug-ins > Manage Plug-ins, and CapacityIQ should be listed.

Don't forget to apply your license keys, because the default license is good for only 60 days (although it does cover an unlimited number of VMs).

The next tip in this series covers how to use CapacityIQ.

More on capacity planning

  • Virtualization capacity planning strategy guide
  • Capacity planning FAQ
  • Why capacity planning is essential for virtualization

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