Cool Tool: VisualEsxtop

My ESXTOP page is still one of the most visited pages I have, it actually comes in on a second spot just right after the HA Deepdive. Every once in a while I revise the page and this week it was time to add VisualEsxtop to the list of tools people should use. I figured I would write a regular blog post first and roll it up in to the page at the same time. So what is VisualEsxtop?

VisualEsxtop is an enhanced version of resxtop and esxtop. VisualEsxtop can connect to VMware vCenter Server or ESX hosts, and display ESX server stats with a better user interface and more advanced features.

That sounds nice right? Lets have a look how it works, this is what I did to get it up and running:

  • Go to “http://labs.vmware.com/flings/visualesxtop” and click “download”
  • Unzip “VisualEsxtop.zip” in to a folder you want to store the tool
  • Go to the folder
  • Double click “visualesxtop.bat” when running Windows (Or follow William’s tip for the Mac)
  • Click “File” and “Connect to Live Server”
  • Enter the “Hostname”, “Username” and “Password” and hit “Connect”
  • That is it…

Now some simple tips:

  • By default the refresh interval is set to 5 seconds. You can change this by hitting “Configuration” and then “Change Interval”
  • You can also load Batch Output, this might come in handy when you are a consultant for instance and a customers sends you captured data, you can do this under: File -> Load Batch Output
  • You can filter output, very useful if you are looking for info on a specific virtual machine / world! See the filter section.
  • When you click “Charts”  and double click “Object Types” you will see a list of metrics that you can create a chart with. Just unfold the ones you need and double click them to add them to the right pane

There are a bunch of other cool features in their like color-coding of important metrics for instance. Also the fact that you can show multiple windows at the same time is useful if you ask me and of course the tooltips that provide a description of the counter! If you ask me, a tool everyone should download and check out.

If you have feedback, make sure to leave a comment on the flings site as the engineers of this tool will be tracking that to see where improvements can be made.

 

Awesome Fling: vCenter 5.1 Pre-Install Check

One of the things that many people have asked me is how they could check if their environment was meeting the requirements for an upgrade to 5.1. Until today I never really had a good answer for it but fortunately that has changed. Alan Renouf has spent countless of hours developing a script that validated your environment and assesses if it is ready for an upgrade to vSphere 5.1.

This is a PowerShell script written to help customers validate their environment and assess if it is ready for a 5.1.x upgrade. The script checks against known misconfiguration and issues raised with VMware Support. This script checks the Windows Server and Active Directory configuration and provides an on screen report of known issues or configuration issues, the script also provides a text report which can help with further trouble shooting.

Is that helpful or what? Instead of going through the motion your just run this pre-flight script and it will tell you if you are good to go or not, or if changes are required. If you are planning an upgrade or are about to upgrade make sure to run this script.

Awesome job Alan, lets keep these coming!

Fling: vBenchmark 1.0.1 just released

An update to the recently released fling vBenchmark was just posted. This update includes some fixes and a feature request which was heard often… Here is what’s new/fixed with 1.0.1:

  • Added a checkbox to include or exclude vCenter license keys when submitting the data to the community repository
  • The application now listens on port 443 (https), requests to port 80 will be automatically redirected to 443
  • The appliance will now prompt you to change the root password at first logon
  • Fixed bugs that prevented some customers from proceeding to the dashboard when they have ESX 3.x hosts in their cluster or are using vCenter credentials that did not have access to the full inventory
  • vBenchmark application log is now written to the VM serial port. If you are using the VMX package, the serial port output will be redirected to a file named vBenchmark.log in the virtual machine folder. If you are importing an OVA or OVF, you need to manually add a serial port device and specify a filename.

Make sure to download the latest version of vBenchmark and try it out! If you don’t have a clue what it does, check out my introduction post here…

Cool tool: vBenchmark fling

Today I decided to start testing the vBenchmark fling. It sounded like a cool tool so I installed it in my lab. You can find the fling here for those wanting to test it themselves. So what doe the tool do? The VMware Labs website summarizes it in a good way:

Have you ever wondered how to quantify the benefits of virtualization to your management? If so, please consider using vBenchmark. vBenchmark measures the performance of a VMware virtualized infrastructure across three categories:

  • Efficiency: for example, how much physical RAM are you saving by using virtualization?
  • Operational Agility: for example, how much time do you take on average to provision a VM?
  • Quality of Service: for example, how much downtime do you avoid by using availability features?

vBenchmark provides a succinct set of metrics in these categories for your VMware virtualized private cloud. Additionally, if you choose to contribute your metrics to the community repository, vBenchmark also allows you to compare your metrics against those of comparable companies in your peer group. The data you submit is anonymized and encrypted for secure transmission.

The appliance can be deployed in a fairly simple way:

  • Download OVA –> unzip
  • Open vCenter client –> File –> Deploy OVF Template
  • Select the vBenchmark OVA as a source
  • Give it a name, I used used the default (vBenchmark)
  • Select a resource pool
  • Select a datastore or datastore cluster
  • Select the disk format
  • Select the appropriate (dv)portgroup
  • Fill out the network details
  • Finish

Now after it has been deployed you can power it on. When it is powered on check the summary tab and remember the ip-address (for those using dhcp). You can access the web interface on “http://<ip-address>:8080/”.

Now you will see a config screen. You can simply enter the details of the vCenter Server of the vSphere environment you want to “analyze” and hit “Initiate Query & Proceed to Dashboard”.

Now comes the cool part. vBenchmark will analyze your environment and provide you with a nice clean looking dashboard… but that is not it. You can decide to upload your dataset to VMware and compare it with “peers”. I tried it and noticed their wasn’t enough data for the peer group I selected. So I decided to select “All / All” to make sure I saw something.

I can understand that many of you don’t want to send data to an “unknown” destination. The good thing is though that you can inspect what is being sent. Before you configure the upload just hit “Preview all data to be sent” and you will get a CSV file of the data set. This data is transported over SSL, just in case you were wondering.

I am going to leave this one running for a while and am looking forward to see what the averages are of my peers. I also am wondering what this tool will evolve in to.

One thing that stood out from the “peer results” is the amount of GBs of Storage per VM: 116.40GB. That did surprise me as I would have estimated this to be around 65GB. Anyway, download it and try it out. It is worth it.

Fling: ESX System Analyzer

When I joined Tech Marketing in February of this year my first task literally was the ESX System Analyzer. I was part of the team who developed the specs and test the app, but the main driving force behind the tool was my colleague Kyle Gleed (@VMwareESXi).

The tool / fling was designed specifically to help people migrate from ESX to ESXi and to smoothen the transition especially in those environments where the Service Console was customized over the years. If you haven’t migrated yet, and want to make the jump to a lean and mean hypervisor I suggest to take a look at this fling and analyze your environment to help with planning the transition!

Source: VMware Labs

The ESX System Analyzer is a tool designed to help administrators plan a migration from ESX to ESXi. It analyzes the ESX hosts in your environment and, for each host, collects information on factors that pertain to the migration process:

  • Hardware compatibility with ESXi
  • VMs registered on the ESX host, as well as VMs located on the host’s local disk
  • Modifications to the Service Console
    • RPMs which have been added or removed
    • Files which have been added
    • Users and cronjobs which have been added

This tool also provides summary information for the whole existing environment

  • Version of VMware Tools and Virtual Hardware for all VMs
  • Version of Filesystem for all datastores

By having this information, administrators can determine what tasks need to be done prior to the migration. Examples include:

  • Relocate VMs from local datastores to shared datastores
  • Make note of what agent software has been added to the host and obtain the equivalent agentless version
  • Replace cronjobs with equivalent remote scripts written with PowerCLI or vCLI