Getting Insights into Configuration & Compliance with vROps 6.6 Dashboards

In my last post, I discussed the Capacity & Utilization use cases and how vRealize Operations Manager 6.6 can answer those questions with the help of out of the box dashboards. We also looked at how the Getting Started Page can be used to dive into each of these use cases.

In this post we will talk aboutConfiguration & Compliance.The Configuration and Compliance category caters to the administrators who are responsible to manage configuration drifts within a virtual infrastructure. Since most of the issues in a virtual infrastructure are a result of inconsistent configurations, dashboards in this category highlight the inconsistencies at various levels such as Virtual Machines, Hosts, Clusters and Virtual Networks. You can view a list of configuration improvements that helps you to avoid problems that are caused because of misconfigurations.

Here is how Configuration & Compliance shows up on the Getting Started Page:


Key questions these dashboards help you answer are :


1- Are the vSphere clusters consistently configured for high availability and optimal performance?

2- Are the ESXi hosts consistently configured and available to use?

3- Are the Virtual Machines sized and configured as per recommended best practices?

4- Are virtual switches configured optimally?

5- Is the environment configured in accordance with the vSphere Hardening Guide?


Let us look at each of these dashboard and I will provide a summary of what these dashboards can do for you along with a quick view of the dashboard:

Cluster Configuration

The Cluster Configuration Dashboard provides you a quick overview of your vSphere cluster configurations. It highlights the areas which are important to deliver performance and availability to your virtual machines. The dashboard quickly highlights if there are clusters which are not configured for DRS, HA or Admission Control to avoid any resource bottlenecks or availability issues in case of a host failure.

The heatmap on this dashboard, quickly identifies if you have hosts where vMotion was not enabled as this would not allow the VMs to move from or to that host. This could cause potential performance issues on the VMs living on that host if the host gets too busy. The dashboard also provides you a quick view of how consistently your clusters are sized and whether the hosts on each of those clusters are consistently configured.

The Cluster Properties view in this dashboard allows you to easily report on all these parameters by simply exporting the data and share the same with relevant stakeholders within your organization.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here


Host Configuration

The Host Configuration dashboard provides you a quick overview of your ESXi host configurations and capture inconsistencies to take corrective actions. Along with configurations, the dashboard measures the ESXi hosts against the vSphere best practices and calls out if it finds a deviation which can impact the performance or availability of your virtual infrastructure.

While you can always view this data using the dashboards, the ESXi Configuration view on this page allows you to export this data and share the same with administrator responsible to manage the hosts.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here


Network Configuration

The Network Configuration dashboard provides a detailed view of virtual switch configuration and utilization. On selecting a virtual switch you can see the list of ESXi hosts, DV port Groups and virtual machines which are being served by the select switch.

You can easily identify any misconfigurations within various network components by reviewing the properties listed in the views within the dashboard. The drill down to the virtual machine levels allows you to track important information such as IP address and MAC address assigned to the virtual machines.

A network administrator can use this dashboard to get a visibility into the virtual infrastructure network configuration.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here


VM Configuration

The Virtual Machine Configuration dashboard focuses on highlighting the key configurations of the virtual machines in your environment. The goal of this dashboard is to help you find inconsistencies of configuration within your virtual machines in order to take quick remediation measures. This helps you safeguard the applications which are hosted on these virtual machines by avoiding potential issues due to misconfigurations.

Some of the basic issues the dashboard focuses on includes identifying VMs running on older VMware tools versions, VMware tools not running or virtual machines running on large disk snapshots. VMs with such symptoms can lead to potential performance issues and hence it is important to ensure that they do not deviate from the defined standards.

This dashboard is complimented with an out of the box report named “Virtual Machine Inventory Summary” which can be used to report the configurations highlighted on this dashboard for quick remediation.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here


vSphere Hardening Compliance

The vSphere Hardening Compliance dashboard measures you environment against the vSphere Hardening Guide and lists down the objects which are non-compliant. You can see the trend of High Risk, Medium Risk and Low Risk violations and see the overall compliance score of your virtual infrastructure.

The dashboard also allows you to drill down into various components to check compliance for your ESXi hosts, Clusters, Port Groups and virtual machines using heatmaps.

Each non-compliant object is listed in the dashboard with recommendations on remediation required to secure your virtual infrastructure.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here


Hope this post will give you insights on how each of these dashboards can help you ensure that your environments are configured as per VMware best practices and comply to the security standards set by your organization.


The post Getting Insights into Configuration & Compliance with vROps 6.6 Dashboards appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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PCI-DSS & HIPAA compliance with vRealize Operations

Hardening and Compliance for vSphere

For some time now vRealize Operations has been able to check the vSphere environment against VMware&#rsquo;s vSphere Hardening Guidelines – vRealize Operations vSphere Hardening.


More and more organizations have the need to meet certain regulatory requirements, namely PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and others. With the recent release of vRealize Operations 6.6 VMware has also introduced PCI-DSS and HIPAA compliance for vSphere. This is available to clients with vRealize Operations Advanced edition and higher.



Download and Install the Management Packs for PCI-DSS and HIPAA

Lets start by where you need to go to get this content. Simply go to VMware&#rsquo;s MarketPlace (also known as VMware Solution Exchange) A simple search on PCI-DSS or HIPAA will get you to the vRealize Operations Management Packs.


Install the Management Pack(s) you desire. This is done in the ADMINISTRATION page under SOLUTIONS


Enable PCI-DSS and HIPAA compliance for vSphere

Now that the solution management packs are installed simply make sure they are turned on. This is done in the policy by enabling the alerts. Go to step 6 in the policy, and do two searches, the first for PCI DSS and the second for HIPAA

Change the STATE column from &#rsquo;Inherited Blocked&#rdquo; to &#rsquo;Local Enabled&#rdquo; to enable the alerts (essentially enabling the compliance checking)


Leveraging the vSphere Hardening Compliance dashboard you will now be able to see any alerts related to PCI DSS and HIPAA in addition to the already available (if turned on) vSphere compliance alerts.



Object Level View

From here you can also drill into an object check on it’s compliance posture!




After installing these solutions Management Packs you will notice that each has installed a compliance report. One for PCI-DSS and the second for HIPAA. This is a great way to check on your compliance posture and make sure that you are trending upwards with time (getting to PCI and HIPAA compliance doesn&#rsquo;t happen over night). Here’s a report snippet below.




vRealize Operations Current Standards Coverage

  • vSphere Hardening Guidelines for 5.5
  • vSphere Hardening Guidelines for 6.0
  • PCI DSS 3.2 for vSphere (as of July 2017 – download the management pack)
  • HIPAA for vSphere (as of July 2017 – download the management pack)
  • vSphere Hardening Guidelines for 6.5 (Management Pack is Planned, but I can’t provide any dates - sorry)




Want to harden your vSphere environment? Do you need to adhere to PCI-DSS or HIPAA regulatory requirements for your vSphere environment? Visit the VMware market place today!



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Introducing “Operations” Dashboards in vRealize Operations 6.6

Now that you have a sneak preview of the launch of vRealize Operations 6.6, it is time that we unwrap the goodies and take you through the new features in detail. One of my favorite areas of vRealize Operations Manager is Dashboards. A dashboard for me is like an empty canvas which allows you to paint the picture of what is most important to you, when it comes to managing day to day IT operations. Whether you are a help desk engineer, or a CIO, to be successful in your role, you need quick access to meaningful information. While their are numerous tools which will provide you data, the art of filtering down that data into information is what matters when it comes to decision making.

Dashboards being an empty slate, allows you to do so in a quick and efficient manner. This enhanced capability allowed us to create multiple out of the box categories matching the various persona of users in an IT organization. This resulted in a set of out-of-the-box dashboards which will help provide you a jump start into running product operations from Day 1. These dashboards are battle tested in large IT organizations and now are a part of vRealize Operations Manager 6.6.

It was important that all this valuable IP was easily accessible through a centralized console which acts as an anchor for user of vRealize Operations Manager. In order to achieve this, we introuduced a “Getting Started” dashboard which would step you through some useful categories and use cases.


Today we will have a look at the first category which is called Operations. Here is how operations shows up on the Getting Started Page:


The Operations category is most suitable for roles within an organization who require a summary of important data points to take quick decisions. This could be a member of a NOC team who wants to quickly identify issues and take actions, or executives who want a quick overview of their environments to keep a track of important KPIs.


Key questions these dashboards help you answer are :

  • What does the infrastructure inventory look like?
  • What is the alert volume trend in the environment?
  • Are virtual machines being served well?
  • Are there hot-spots in the datacenter I need to worry about?
  • What does the vSAN environment look like and are their optimization opportunities by migrating VMs to vSAN?


Let us look at each of these dashboard and I will provide a summary of what these dashboards can do for you along with a quick view of the dashboard.

Datastore Usage Overview

The Datastore Usage Dashboard is suitable for a NOC environment. The dashboard provides a quick glimpse of all the virtual machines in your environment using a heatmap. Each virtual machine is represented by a box on the heatmap. Using this dashboard, a NOC administrator can quickly identify virtual machines which are generating high IOPS since the boxes representing the virtual machine are sized by the number of IOPS they are generating.

Along with the storage demand, the color of the boxes represents the latency experienced by these virtual machines from the underlying storage. A NOC administrator can take the next steps in his investigation to find the root cause of this latency and resolve it to avoid potential performance issues.

To see this dashboard in action click here


Host Usage Overview

The Host Usage Dashboard is suitable for a NOC environment. The dashboard provides a quick glimpse of all the ESXi hosts in your environment using a heatmap. Using this dashboard the NOC administrator can easily find resource bottlenecks in your environment created due to high Memory Demand, Memory Consumption or CPU Demand.

Since the hosts in the heatmap are grouped by clusters, you can easily find out if you have clusters with high CPU or Memory Load. It can also help you to identify if you have ESXi hosts with the clusters which are not evenly utilized and hence an admin can trigger activities such as workload balance or enable DRS to ensure that hotspots are eliminated.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here


Operations Overview

The Operations Overview dashboard provides a high level view of objects which make up you virtual environment. It provides you an aggregate view of virtual machine growth trends across your different datacenters being monitored by vRealize Operations Manager.

The dashboard also provides a list of all your datacenters along with inventory information about how many clusters, hosts and virtual machines you are running in each of your datacenters. By selecting a particular datacenter you can zoom into the areas of availability and performance. The dashboard provides a trend of known issues in each of your datacenters based on the alerts which have triggered in the past.

Along with the overall health of your environment, the dashboard also allows you to zoom in at the Virtual Machine level and list out the top 15 virtual machines in the selected datacenter which might be contending for resources.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

Optimize vSAN Deployments

The Optimize vSAN deployments dashboard is an easy way to device a migration strategy to move virtual machines from your existing storage to your newly deployed vSAN storage. The dashboard provides you with an ability to select your non vSAN datastores which might be struggling to serve the virtual machine IO demand. By selecting the VMs on a given datastore, you can easily identify the historical IO demand and latency trends of a given virtual machine.

You can then find a suitable vSAN datastore which has the space and the performance characteristics to serve the demand of this VM. With a simple move operation within vRealize Operations Manager, you can move the virtual machine from the existing non vSAN datastore to the vSAN datastore.

Once the VM is moved, you can continue to watch the utilization patterns to see how the VM is being served by vSAN.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

vSAN Operations Overview

The vSAN Operations Overview Dashboard provides an aggregated view of health and performance of your vSAN clusters. While you can get a holistic view of your vSAN environment and what components make up that environment, you can also see the growth trend of virtual machines which are being served by vSAN.

The goal of this dashboard is to help understand the utilization and performance patterns for each of your vSAN clusters by simply selecting one from the provided list. VSAN properties such as Hybrid or All Flash, Dedupe & Compression or a Stretched vSAN cluster can be easily tracked through this dashboard.

Along with the current state, the dashboard also provides you a historic view of performance, utilization, growth trends and events related to vSAN.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here


Hope this post will give you insights on how each of these dashboards can help you run smoother operations and ensure that you have answer to those difficult questions at the back of you hand. Stay tuned for more information on other categories.


The post Introducing “Operations” Dashboards in vRealize Operations 6.6 appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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vRealize Operations 6.6: “I’m too sexy for my skin!”

vRealize Operations 6.6 gets sleeker and sexier in it’s new skin!

On June 13, many of the vRealize Suite components (namely vRealize Operations (vR Ops), vRealize Log Insight (vRLI), and vRealize Business for Cloud (vRBC) had an update GA release. With this latest release of vR Ops a big focus has been on “simplifying the user experience” and “quicker time to value”. We really want to simplify the lives of “Anita” the VI Admin, “Brian” the Infrastructure and Operations Admin, “Ethan” the Fire Fighter.

The slick new HTML 5 UI is based on the Clarity Design System. Upon login to vR Ops you will see the following screen. You will notice that in the left-hand pane we have single-click links to commonly used environment overview dashboards, including Workload Balancing, as well as bringing Log Analytics, and Business and Cost Insights all into one place - vR Ops.



See the FULL picture!

While we’re here let us first take a quick peek at bringing together Log Analytics with vR Ops. We commonly refer to this as “360 degree troubleshooting” as you are able to troubleshoot across structured and unstructured data in one place.


See the BIG picture!

Secondly, take a look at how Cloud Costing and vR Ops come together. Imagine being able to do things like capacity management or forecasting and being able to see the cost associated with these activities, or looking at reclaiming capacity and being able to associate a dollar figure to the potential cost (and resource) savings.


BALANCE your life, yes you “Anita”, “Brian” and “Ethan”!

WOW, how about the enhanced Workload Balancing? Validate and modify DRS settings; Rebalance unbalanced Data Centers or Custom Data Centers, and Automate!


Persona-Based Content

Let’s head over to the DASHBOARD page. Start with the “Getting Started” dashboard. This is a Persona-Based dashboard that allows the user to look at five different categories of dashboards and very quick open any of them from there. These categories are: Operations, Capacity & Utilization, Performance Troubleshooting, Workload Balance, and Configuration & Compliance. Included in there are also vSAN dashboards as well as vRealize Automation (vRA) dashboards. In this release both vSAN and vRA are natively supported, so anyone using vSAN or vRA can quickly take advantage of this native support.


Resolve Issues Faster

What about Alerting? You can now slice-and-dice alerts any which way you want to help you accelerate resolving alerts and fixing issues faster.


Secure the Software Defined Data Center

So what about securing the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC)? Well, that’s really important! You can now install - out of band - PCI DSS and HIPAA compliance content for the vSphere environment. This helps organizations with regulatory requirements improve their compliance posture.



vRealize Operations 6.6 has made some incredible improvements inspired by many of you out there that continue to challenge VMware and the Cloud Management Business Unit to do better! Thank you! Simplification; quicker time to value; persona-based dashboards and troubleshooting flows; enhanced fully automatable workload balancing; improved alerting to resolve issues quicker, and better securing the SDDC, are just scratching the surface of what vRealize Operations and vRealize Suite can help you with. I hope you enjoy this release!


Download and Try vRealize Operations 6.6 here!

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Automated Workload Balance

Welcome to your lights-out datacenter! With vRealize Operation 6.6 automated workload balance is easier and more controllable than ever. This latest release of vRealize Operation gives you the ability to balance workloads across clusters and datastores, simple controls to govern how much balance you want based on your business needs, three ways to activate it (automated, scheduled or manual), and a powerful dashboard from which you can view and regulate everything related to balance.

Why is workload balance so important?

Workload balance ensures all clusters have enough resources to avoid future contention. Contention is the bane of any VI/Cloud administrator, because it means applications and users are adversely affected. Do these questions sound like something you have faced in the past?

  • I don&#rsquo;t want to have a contention issue with my business critical applications. How do I ensure that clusters don&#rsquo;t get filled up beyond a target utilization level that will ensure there are enough resources for all?
  • If clusters and datastores get full, how can my team build confidence to move VMs around that will guarantee that the VMs and the applications get the resources they want?
  • Budget cuts are happening, I must ensure Windows and Oracle license costs are contained. Can I limit their movement to a few set of clusters that I pay for?

Workload balance attempts to prevent hot spots by intelligently spreading VMs across clusters and datastores. If a cluster is filled to the brim with VMs, any resource spike will cause contention in the cluster. However, if we balance the VMs across clusters, giving each cluster has a little bit of wiggle room, they can better handle with any sudden resource needs. Think of workload balance as an insurance policy against resource contention. Automating this process is KEY because it allows the system to automatically adjust when balance is needed, which means healthier applications, which means more time for you to concentrate on more strategic work and not application babysitting.

Wait a minute doesn&#rsquo;t DRS do that?

Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Storage DRS work to ensure balance and fight contention at the host level where as vRealize Operations workload balance does this at the cluster level. You can think of it like this, DRS is the best solution to automatically mitigate contention WITHIN the cluster and vRealize Operations is the best solution to automatically mitigate contention BETWEEN clusters. Together these create one tightly integrated cohesive solution working together to ensure your applications are always getting the resources they need.

How do other niche product move VMs?

Other products that claim to deal with contention will FIGHT with DRS causing a &#rsquo;ping-pong&#rdquo; affect. This happens when their product moves a VM into a host, but DRS quickly determines its not the RIGHT host for the workload and then moves it to an appropriate host. This causes the VM to be moved multiple times before it is properly placed. This is a waste of overhead and if the ping-ponging gets bad enough can actually CAUSE contention. To resolve this, these products have you turn off DRS all together leaving you without the benefits of DRS like host maintenancemode or affinity and anti-affinityrules or many others. Its like someone giving you a new pair of gloves and then asking you to cut your hands off. It just doesn’t make sense.

So how does automated workload balancework?

vRealize Operations workload balance runs at the datacenter level watches the CPU, memory and disk space across the different clusters therein. When it determines clusters are out of balance it steps in to provide its recommended balance plan highlighting which VMs should be moved to which clusters. It also provides a view of the resource utilization before and after the balance occurs so you can visualize the benefits. Again, this entire process can be automated and scheduled as we will see later to make it hands-free.

Once you accept the balance plan, vRealize Operations workload balance begins moving the VMs to their new cluster and allows DRS/SDRS to determine the proper host/datastore within the cluster in which to place the VMs. This mean no &#rsquo;ping-pong&#rdquo; affect. We also get the added benefit of leveraging the DRS processes that ensure VMs are running on the right hosts (e.g. HW Compatibility checks, HA & Admission control policies, Reservations, Shares and Limits).

How do you control balance?

vRealize Operations workload balance complete control over how evenly you want to spread your workloads across clusters. It provides two simple to use &#rsquo;knobs&#rdquo; that regulate how the balance process.

The first is the Balance Workloads slider which simply states how aggressively I want to pursue balance for a given datacenter. A setting of CONSERVATIVE means not worry about balance until one of the clusters starts to get too busy to handle the load. This might be something you would use in a very dynamic environment. On the other hand, the AGGRESSIVE setting tries to keep things as closely balanced as possible. Obviously, this later means more VMs will move, but will also mean the clusters will be better equipped to deal with any recourse spikes (remember this is an insurance policy again contention).


The Cluster Headroom setting allows you to control &#rsquo;how full is full&#rdquo; for the clusters and datastores. This allows you to set a percentage of free space you want kept available and ensures clusters have a resource buffer for CPU, memory and disk space for which you are comfortable. When a cluster breaches that Cluster Headroom barrier it is a good indicator that a rebalance may be needed.

When does workload balance take action?

There are three ways to engage the workload balance process and begin moving VMs manual, automated and scheduled.

The manual method can be run directly from one of the rebalance alerts which indicate a workload balance is needed based on your control settings for Balance Workloads and Cluster Headroom above. It can also be run from the Workload Balance dashboard which gives you a quick view of the current workload of each cluster so you can determine if a rebalance is desired.

Either way it&#rsquo;s simply click the REBALANCE button, review the balance plan and hit START to run it. Easy!

But running this process manually is old-school and in today&#rsquo;s datacenters we need to automate as much as possible. Workload balance in vRealize Operations can be automated on a datacenter basis by simply switching the Automate flag to &#rsquo;yes&#rdquo; in the policy. This means you can automate it in your test datacenter and not in production or visa-versa. This means the next time a rebalance alert is generated instead of you having to deal with it it&#rsquo;s sent to the automation framework of vRealize Operations and automatically remediated.

The third option is the best one yet in my opinion. Instead of manually inspecting your datacenter balance or waiting for an alert to fire and automatically fixing it (which could happen in the middle of a work day) why not create an ongoing rebalance schedule? vRealize Operations allows you to ensure balance across your clusters using a schedules process that can be run during your standard maintenance windows, which is when these types of actions should be taken. In a very dynamic datacenter you may want to do this once a week or once a month in a more static environment. You should of course still use the automated method as a backup in case its needed, but with the scheduled rebalance hopefully it never will be.

Everything in one place

Finally, vRealize Operations 6.6 provides you one place to go and do everything associated with balance. The new Workload Balance dashboard gives you the ability to view current cluster balance in each datacenter, access to the workload balance settings, the ability to set up a rebalance schedule, and the ability to run a rebalance action at any time. It&#rsquo;s your one-stop-shop for automated workload balance!


Try vRealize Operations 6.6 today and experience how automated workload balance can change your environment to a contention free lights-out datacenter! Stop babysitting your applications and free yourself up to start thinking about bigger more strategic activities in the workplace…or maybe take a well deserved vacation.

If you want to see it all working you can watch this Automated Workload Balance video.

The post Automated Workload Balance appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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Aligning vRealize Operations with Business Outcomes – vROps White Paper

VMware just published my vROps White Paper titled “Aligning vRealize Operations with Business Outcomes” on the VMware Tech Papers site. In particular, this white paper explores a common theme among many VMware customers. Specifically, customersare looking for IT reporting that closelyresembles their lines of business such as services, departments, applications, and other logical business models. Furthermore, for most customers, measuring performance, utilization, and consumption at the logical business unit is more important to business leaders than at the vSphere Cluster.This is because in today&#rsquo;s world, services and applications can span multiple infrastructures from private, through hybrid, to public.Generally, IT reporting around business services has been difficult with traditionaltools as they are very infrastructure-centric. In addition, lack of metadata or context and abstraction technologies compound the problem, making simple correlation difficult.

This vROps White Paper is your guide

This vROps White Paper is designed toserve as a comprehensive guide that ties various distinct vROps features into a cohesive solution. Therefore, the goal of this white paper is to enable IT to become more transparent and alignedwith business structure. As a result, the white paper walks through extending vROpsto provide business-oriented reporting that empowers business stakeholdersto make better decisions by gaining visibility and insight into various business services in the datacenter or cloud. Consequently, this white paper covers the following topis in depth and connects the dots among them:

Custom Group

Define Custom Groups that align the IT infrastructure with the business structure of your organization.

Super Metrics

Turn business questions into Super Metrics that quantify the way you do business by metering service utilization, performance, and consumption.

Custom Dashboards

Present the new-found information in business consumable dashboards that aid in the decision-making processes.


Provide secure access and authorize users to only view information relevant to their organizational role.


Explore various options to automate various aspects of this process or the complete solution.

In conclusion, vRealize Operations Manager does a great job at providing infrastructure analytics; however, it does not automatically provide performance, utilization, and consumption around business units, applications, and services. Leveraging this white paper, IT can use the same set of analytics they are already familiar with to answer real-world business questions and better align IT with business-oriented outcomes.

The post Aligning vRealize Operations with Business Outcomes - vROps White Paper appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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