Exploring vCenter Server's Management Features
After your ESX/ESXi hosts are managed by vCenter Server, you can take advantage of some of vCenter Server's management features. In this section, you'll take a quick look at the following:
• Basic host management tasks in Hosts And Clusters inventory view
• Scheduled tasks
• Host profiles
Understanding Basic Host Management
A great deal of the day-to-day management tasks for ESX/ESXi hosts in vCenter Server occurs in the Hosts And Clusters inventory view. From this area, the right-click context menu for an ESX/ESXi host shows some of the options available:
• Create A New Virtual Machine
• Create A New Resource Pool
• Create A New vApp
• Disconnect From The Selected ESX/ESXi Host
• Enter Maintenance Mode
• Add Permission
• Manage Alarms For The Selected ESX/ESXi Host
• Shut Down, Reboot, Power On, Or Place The ESX/ESXi Host Into Standby Mode
• Produce Reports
• Remove The ESX/ESXi Host From vCenter Server
Of the remaining actions-shutting down, rebooting, powering on, standing by, disconnecting, and removing from vCenter Server-are self-explanatory and do not need any additional explanation.
Additional commands may appear on this right-dick menu as extensions are installed into vCenter Server. For example, after you install vCenter Update Manager, several new commands appear on the context menu for an ESX/ESXi host.
In addition to the context menu, the tabs across the top of the right side of the vSphere Client window also provide some host management features.
For the most part, these tabs correspond closely to the commands on the context menu. Here are the tabs that are displayed when a host is selected in the inventory view, along with a brief description of what each tab does:
The Summary tab gathers and display information about the underlying physical hardware, the storage devices that are configured and accessible, the networks that are configured and accessible, and the status of certain features such as VMotion and VMware FT. In addition, the Commands area of the Summary tab provides links to commonly performed host management tasks.
The Virtual Machines tab lists the virtual machines currently running on that host. The list of virtual machines also provides summary information on the VM's status, provisioned vs. used space, and how much CPU and RAM the VM is actually using.
The Performance tab displays performance information for the host, such as overall CPU utilization, memory utilization, disk I/O, and network throughput.
The Configuration tab is where you will make configuration changes to the host. Tasks such as configuring storage, configuring network, changing security settings, configuring hardware, and so forth, are all performed here.
Tasks & Events
All tasks and events related to the selected host are displayed here. The Tasks view shows all tasks, the target object, what account initiated the task, what vCenter Server was involved, and the result of the task. The Events view lists all events related to the selected host.
The Alarms tab shows either triggered alarms or alarm definitions. If a host is using almost all of its RAM or if a host's CPU utilization is very high, you may see some triggered alarms. The Alarms Definition section allows you to define your own alarms.
The Permissions tab shows permissions on the selected host. This includes permissions inherited from parent objects/containers as well as permissions granted directly to the selected host.
The Maps tab shows a graphical topology map of resources and VMs associated with that host. vCenter Server's maps functionality is described in more detail later in this chapter.
The Storage Views tab brings together a number of important storage-related pieces of information. For each VM on the selected host, the Storage Views tab shows the current multipathing status, the amount of disk space used, the amount of snapshot space used, and the current number of disks.
The Hardware Status tab displays sensor information on hardware components such as fans, CPU temperature, power supplies, network interface cards (NICs) and NIC firmware, and more.
As you can see, vCenter Server provides all the tools that most administrators will need to manage ESX/ESXi hosts. Although these host management tools are visible in the Hosts And Clusters inventory view, vCenter Server's other management features are found in the Management view, accessible from the View Management menu.
Using Scheduled Tasks
Selecting View -^Management -^Scheduled Tasks displays the Scheduled Tasks area of vCenter Server. You can also use the Ctrl+Shift+T keyboard shortcut. From here, you can create jobs to run based on a defined logic. The list of tasks that can be scheduled include the following:
• You can change the power state of a virtual machine.
• You can clone a virtual machine.
• You can deploy a virtual machine from a template.
• You can move a virtual machine with VMotion.
• You can move a virtual machine's virtual disks with Storage VMotion.
• You can create a virtual machine.
• You can make a snapshot of a virtual machine.
• You can add a host.
• You can change resource settings for a resource pool or virtual machine.
• You can check compliance for a profile.
As you can see, vCenter Server supports quite a list of tasks you can schedule to run automatically. Because the information required for each scheduled task varies, the wizards are different for each of the tasks. Let's take a look at one task that you might find quite useful to schedule: adding a host.
Why might you want to schedule a task to add a host? Perhaps you know that you will be adding a host to vCenter Server, but you want to add the host after hours. You can schedule a task to add the host to vCenter Server later tonight, although keep in mind that the host must be reachable and responding when the task is created.
Scheduling the addition of an ESX/ESXi host is of fairly limited value. However, the ability to schedule tasks such as powering off a group of virtual machines, moving their virtual disks to a new datastore, and then powering them back on again is quite powerful.
Using Events View in vCenter Server
The Events view in vCenter Server brings together all the events that have been logged by vCenter Server. You can view the details of an event by simply clicking it in the list. Any text highlighted in blue is a hyperlink; clicking that text will take you to that object in vCenter Server. You can search through the events using the search box in the upper-right corner of the vSphere Client window, and just below the navigation bar is a button to export the events to a text file.
Using vCenter Server's Maps
The Maps feature of vCenter Server is a great tool for quickly reviewing your virtual infrastructure. Topology maps graphically represent the relationship that exists between different types of objects in the virtual infrastructure. The maps can display any of the following relationships:
• Host to virtual machine
• Host to network
• Host to datastore
• Virtual machine to network
• Virtual machine to datastore
In addition to defining the relationships to display, you can include or exclude specific objects from the inventory. Perhaps you are interested only in the relationship that exists between the virtual machines and the networks on a single host. In this case, you can exclude all other hosts from the list of relationships by deselecting their icons in the vCenter Server inventory on the left side of the window.
Topology maps are available from the menu by selecting View -^Management -^Maps, by using the navigation bar, or by using the Ctrl+Shift+M keyboard shortcut. You can also select an inventory object and then select the Maps tab. Figure 3.17 showed the Maps feature from the vCenter Server menu. In either case, the depth of the relationship can be identified by enabling or disabling options in the list of relationships on the right side of the maps display. The Maps button on the menu allows for the scope of the relationship to be edited by enabling and disabling objects in the vCenter Server inventory. By selecting an inventory object and then viewing the topology map, the focus is limited to just that object. In both cases, the Overview mini-window lets you zoom in to view specific parts of the topology map or zoom out to view the whole topology map.
Working with Host Profiles
Host profiles are an exciting new feature of vCenter Server. Although vCenter Server and the vSphere Client make it easy to perform these configuration tasks, it's easy to overlook something. Additionally, making all these changes manually for multiple hosts can be time-consuming and even more error-prone. That's where host profiles can help. A host profile is essentially a collection of all the various configuration settings for an ESX/ESXi host. This includes settings such as Service Console memory, Nrc assignments, virtual switches, storage configuration, date and time settings, and more. By attaching a host profile to an ESX/ESXi host, you can then compare the compliance of that host with the settings outlined in the host profile. If the host is compliant, then you know its settings are the same as the settings in the host profile. If the host is not compliant, then you can enforce the settings in the host profile to make it compliant. This provides administrators with a way not only to verify consistent settings across ESX/ESXi hosts but also with a way to quickly and easily apply settings to new ESX/ESXi hosts.
To work with host profiles, select View -^Management -^Host Profiles, or use the Ctrl+Shift+P keyboard shortcut. There are four toolbar buttons across the top of the window, just below the navigation bar. These buttons allow you to create a new host profile, edit an existing host profile, delete a host profile, and attach a host or cluster to a profile.
To create a new profile, you must either create one from an existing host or import a profile that was already created somewhere else. Creating a new profile from an existing host requires that you only select the reference host for the new profile. vCenter Server will then compile the host profile based on that host's configuration.
After a profile is created, you can edit the profile to fine-tune the settings contained in it. For example, you might need to change the IP addresses of the DNS servers found in the profile because they've changed since the profile was created.
Host profiles don't do anything until they are attached to ESX/ESXi hosts. Click the Attach Host/Cluster toolbar button just below the navigation bar in the vSphere Client to open a dialog box that allows you to select one or more ESX/ESXi hosts to which the host profile should be attached.
After a host profile has been attached to an ESX/ESXi host, checking for compliance is as simple as right-clicking that host on the Hosts And Clusters tab and selecting Check Compliance Now. If an ESX/ESXi host is found noncompliant with the settings in a host profile, you can then place the host in maintenance mode and apply the host profile. When you apply the host profile, the settings found in the host profile are enforced on that ESX/ESXi host to bring it into compliance. Note that some settings, such as changing the Service Console memory on an ESX host, require a reboot in order to take effect.
To truly understand the power of host profiles, consider this scenario: you have a group of hosts in a cluster. With a host profile that captures those settings, adding a new host to the cluster is a simple two-step process:
• Add the host to vCenter Server and to the cluster.
• Attach the host profile and apply it.
That's it. The host profile will enforce all the settings on this new host that are required to bring it into compliance with the settings on the rest of the servers in the cluster. This is a huge advantage for larger organizations that need to be able to quickly deploy new ESX/ESXi hosts.
At this point, you have installed vCenter Server, added at least one ESX/ESXi host, and explored some of vCenter Server's features for managing settings on ESX/ESXi hosts. Now I'll cover how to manage some of the settings for vCenter Server.