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Four pillars of VMware systems monitoring and management

VMware systems monitoring requires attention to many areas of your infrastructure. For solid VMware infrastructure monitoring, check host and VM health, and set alarms.

With every new product release, virtualization becomes easier to design, deploy and manage. Infrastructures are...

becoming more complex, however, so it’s more important than ever to pay attention to VMware systems monitoring.

Systems management and VMware infrastructure monitoring are ongoing vital operations. Instead of taking a reactive approach to VMware systems monitoring, you should use vSphere’s built-in tools to make proactive decisions. VMware provides several tools to help you monitor your vSphere 5 environment and locate the source of problems.

There are four main VMware systems management and monitoring disciplines to consider:

VM performance monitoring
Virtual machines (VMs) require constant performance monitoring to ensure a healthy state. If workflow automation tools such as Distributed Resource Scheduler and vMotion are enabled, some virtualization processes will dynamically allocate available resources depending on the status, utilization rates or pre-configured threshold points of VMs. Automation, however complicates VMware systems monitoring and makes it more difficult to obtain accurate information about the resource utilization of VMs and their applications.

VMware now provides VM-specific performance counter libraries for the Windows Perfmon utility that enable you to access accurate VM performance statistics. And of course, there are third-party options for VMware systems monitoring.

Host health monitoring
Physical hosts are one of the most important elements in a VMware infrastructure. For host health monitoring, VMware provides comprehensive data through the Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH) profiles. SMASH is an industry standard specification providing protocols for managing a variety of systems in the data center, and VMware gathers this information using sensors in on your server hardware.

You can monitor host health in two ways: by connecting the vSphere Client directly to a host, or by connecting to a vCenter Server system. For solid VMware systems management, you can also set alarms to trigger when the host health status changes.

The more host health variables you are able to gather, the better. Here is a granular list of host health statistics to gather for proper VMware systems monitoring:

  1. CPU processors
    1. Memory
    2. Fans
    3. Temperature
    4. Voltage
    5. Power
    6. Network
    7. Battery
    8. Storage
    9. Cable/interconnect
    10. Software component

Storage resource monitoring
One of the most over-utilized variables in your VMware infrastructure is storage. To properly monitor storage resources, you can use vSphere reports that display relationship tables for inventory objects and how they are associated with storage entities. These VMware infrastructure monitoring reports provide:

  • Summaries of storage usage data for the object’s virtual and physical storage resources.
  • Analysis of space utilization.
  • Reports on storage availability.
  • Multi-pathing status.
  • Other storage properties of the selected object and items related to it.

If you use storage arrays that support the vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA), these reports will include additional information about storage arrays, storage processors, ports, logical unit numbers, file systems and more.

Events and alarms for monitoring status
VSphere includes a user-configurable events and alarms subsystem to enhance your VMware systems monitoring. It tracks events happening throughout the vSphere environment and stores the data in log files and the vCenter Server database. You can even specify the conditions under which alarms are triggered, which is especially useful since the environment status can change at any time. Accordingly, the alarm states change from mild warnings to more serious alerts as conditions change.

The alarms can also trigger automatic actions in response to certain conditions. When dealing with a production environment, every second counts, so automated responses allow you to take a more proactive approach to VMware systems monitoring.

Uptime and maximum efficiency revolve around how well you are able to monitor and proactively support your VMware infrastructure. By knowing and understanding the VMware systems monitoring tools on hand, you can prepare for certain conditions and resolve them before anything major happens.

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