Tag Archives: dashboard

vSphere visibility for Network Team

This post continues from the Operationalize Your World post. Do read it first so you get the context.

Similar to the problem face between Storage Team and Platform Team, VMware Admin needs to reach out to Network Team. A set of purpose-built dashboards will enable both team to look at issue from the same point of view.

The dashboards must answer the following basic questions for Network Team:

  1. What have I got in this virtual environment?
    • What is the virtual network configuration? What are the networks, and how big are they?
    • We have Distributed vSwitches, Distributed Port Group, Datacenter, Cluster, ESXi, etc. How are they related?
    • Who are the consumer of my network? Where are they located?
  2. Are they healthy?
    • Do we have any errors in our networks? Which port groups see packets dropped? If there is problem, which VMs or ESXi, are affected?
    • Do we have too many special packets? Broadcast, multicast and unknown packets. Who generates them and when?
  3. Are they optimized?
    • Just because something is healthy does not mean they are optimized. Look for opportunity to right size.

Once Network Admin know what they are facing, they are in better position to analyse:

  1. Utilization
    • Is any VM or ESXi near its peak?
    • Who are the top consumer for each physical datacenter?
    • How is the workload distributed in this shared environment?
  2. Performance
    • When VM Owner thinks Network is the culprit, can both Network Team and Platform verify that quickly?
  3. Configuration
    • Are the config consistent?
    • Do they follow best practice?

Once we know the questions and requirements, we can plan a set of dashboards. I’ll show some sample dashboards to get you going. They follow the dashboard best practices.

What have I got? 

This first dashboard provides overall visibility to Network team. It gives insight into the SDDC.

  • It shows the total environment at a glance. A Network Admin can see how the virtual network maps to the virtual environment (ESXi, vCenter Datacenter, vCenter).
  • It quickly shows the structure of virtual network. For each Distributed vSwitch, you can see what its port groups are and ESXi are connected to it. You see the config of both objects (port group and ESXi). You can see if the configuration is not consistent.
  • The heatmap quickly shows all port groups by size, so you can find out your largest ones easily. The color code also lets you see which ones are used the most.

overview

Once you know your environment, you are in a position to do monitoring. I don’t feel comfortable doing monitoring unless I have the big picture. It gives me context.

Are they healthy?

The next dashboard shows quickly if there is dropped packet and error packet in your network.

  • The first line chart shows the maximum packet dropped among all Distributed Switch. So if any switch has dropped packet, it will show up.
  • The second line chart sums all the error packets.

Both line charts are color coded, and you should expect to see green. This means no dropped packets nor error packets.

performance

The dashboard above has interaction, allowing you to drill down when the line charts are not showing green.

  • If you do not see green, you can drill down into each Distributed Switch.
    • As a virtual switch can span thousands of ports, it helps if you can drill down by Port Group and ESXi host. The dashboard automatically shows the relevant Port Group and ESXi of the distributed switch.
  • If there is a need to, you can even drill down to individual VM.
    • The table at the bottom is collapsed by default. Expand it and you’ll see all VMs with dropped packets information.

Other than dropped packets and error packets, Network Admin can also check for multicast, broadcast, and unknown packets. You don’t want to have too many of them zipping around your DC.

special-packets

The same concept is being applied, hence Network team only need to learn the dashboard once.

The line charts show the total broadcast and total multicast packets. We are not doing hourly average as at the global level, the law of large numbers will ensure its smooth. A significant deviation is required to move the number. Hence if there is big jump, you know something amiss.

Just like the previous dashboard, this dashboard lets you drill down too. You can check which VMs are generating broadcast packets.

Is Utilisation running high? 

Another factor that can impact performance is high utilization. Network team can see the total utilization of the network. The following dashboard answers questions such as:

  • What’s the total workload hitting our physical switches?
  • If the total workload increasing?
  • Any crazy pattern in utilization? Any sudden spike that should not have happened?

capacity

Line charts are used instead of a single number, as you can see pattern over time. In fact, 2 line charts are provided: detailed and big picture.

The chart gives you the Total throughput hitting the physical switches, so you know how much bandwidth is generated. The chart will be defaulted to 1 month as this is more of a long term view, not really for troubleshooting.

Based on the line charts, you can drill down into a specific time period where the peak was high. The Top-N lists the ESXi with the highest usage. Click on it, and its detailed utilization will be shown. You can see if any of its vmnic is near the physical limit. The super metric takes into account both RX and TX, and you can hit a limit on either.

If you see an ESXi is saturated, but others are barely used, that means your workload is not well distributed. Note that vSphere 6.0 DRS does not consider network, so unbalance is possible. vSphere 6.5 DRS takes network into account.

Customisation:

  • You can add the total line chart as above, but for VM.
    • VM traffic does not include hypervisor traffic (vMotion, management network, IP storage). So it’s pure business workload.
    • We should be expecting this number to slowly rise, reflecting growth.
    • A sudden spike is bad, and so is a sudden drop. We can turn on analytics on it so you get alert.
  • For details on how to do it, see http://virtual-red-dot.info/is-any-of-your-esxi-vmnics-saturated/

How is the workload distributed?

Distributed Switch does not span beyond vSphere Data Center. So data center is a logical choice to start analysing the traffic. The following dashboard compares the workload of each data center. Using color code makes it easy to see which DC reaches a workload that is high.

You can drill down inside the datacenter object. Click on it, and all the ESXi and port groups connected to it will be automaticaly shown. Click on an ESXi, and you can drill down into a VM.

workload-distribution

You can change the threshold (limitation: same limit for every DC) to suit your need.

Who are the Top Talkers? 

Another reason for performance is you have VMs that are consuming excessive network resources. Or you have a peak period, where the total is simply much higher than low period. The next dashboard provides 2 line charts. Again, line chart is used as you can see the pattern.

The table provides a list of VM, sorted by their peak utilization. You can find out who are the bursty-users (5 minute highest), and who are the sustained-users (1 hour highest and 1 day highest).

top-consumers

This example is only for the VM. We can build one for the ESXi if that’s needed. The concept is the same.

Is Network the culprit?

Lastly, it’s all about Service, not System or Architecture. When a VM Owner complains that IaaS is causing the problem, Network Admin and VMware Admin can quickly see the same dashboard to agree whether network is the culprit or not.

vm-troubleshooting

Hope you find the material useful. If you do, go back to the Main Page for the complete coverage of SDDC Operations. It gives you the big picture so you can see how everything fits together. If you already know how it all fits, you can go straight to download here.

SDDC Operations Dashboards for SMB environment

This post continues from the Operationalize Your World post. Do read it first so you get the context.

The SMB segment is a world of its own. There are things that are mandatory in Enterprise segment, but not relevant in SMB segment. As a result, products should be tailored for that market segment.

IMHO, there are actually 4 different market segments when it comes to SDDC Operations. I use No of VM as the marker for each segment. Each of the following segment requires different dashboards and reports:

  1. 100 VM
  2. 1000 VM
  3. 10000 VM
  4. 100000 VM

Now, it will be difficult to create a product with 4 sets of vROps dashboards & reports. I make a compromise on the above, and use this one instead:

  1. 400 VM: SMB market
  2. 4000 VM: Enterprise market
  3. 40000 VM: <give me a name here folks> market

I hope the above is acceptable. As the above has very wide range, I’d take the following reference point

  1. SMB market: 250 VM
  2. Enterprise market: 2500 VM
  3. Huge Private Cloud: 25000 VM

Let’s dive to the 250 VM segment. What are the unique characteristics?

  • 1-2 guys doing everything. No siloes in the team. You and your best friends take care of the whole darn IT.
  • You only have a few clusters. Each cluster only has a few ESXi Host.
  • You know your environment very well because it’s small. They all fit into 1 rack. Architecture is simple. You have a mental picture of it in your head.
  • You don’t buy hardware or VMware every quarter. Likely it’s every 2 years. Capacity planning and monitoring are simple.
  • The workload is quite stable. You are not adding/removing/changing VM every day.
  • Service Tier is an overkill as you only have 1-2 clusters for all workload.

Which of the above points apply to a large environment?

You are right. None.

As a result, SMB needs a purpose-built dashboards. It covers the following:

  1. Availability
  2. Performance
  3. Capacity
  4. Reclaimable Capacity
  5. Compliance
  6. When a VM Owner complains

Home

Your main dashboard. It’s the first dashboard you check, likely on a daily basis as part of your cadence. It answers the no 1 question: is everything healthy?

This is what it looks like in vR Ops 6.3. I’ve added explanation so you can easily see that it’s layered into 4 areas.

home

Availability

The first element of Health is Availability. If a VM or ESXi is down, there is no need to talk about performance or capacity as the damn thing is dead 🙂

The Availability dashboard gives you details info. You can answer questions such as “When did it go down? For how long?”

availability

The dashboard is also useful when you need to report uptime. You do need to create a report and customize it though. If you need it, email me your requirement.

Performance

Just because something is up, does not mean it’s fast. Performance dashboard provides the info here. The dashboard sports the new concept of Performance, which you can review here. It does not apply the formal SLA, as that’s not applicable in SMB. Even without SLA, you can use it to prove your innocence, or justify new hardware purchase.

Line Charts are used as performance problem might have started earlier, or it’s no longer happening and you’re doing a root cause.

If the performance issue is caused by villain VM, the dashboard lets you find the VM. Change the time line in the Top-N widget to the time where there is performance problem.

BTW, if you like the ability to find out which VM was causing the problem, send your thank you to Matthew Hurley

Capacity

Generally speaking, Performance problem happens because supply is not being met by demand. The Capacity dashboard gives detail info on the supply side. As there are only a few clusters, capacity management is much simpler.

capacity

Notice it takes into account performance.

If you mix Prod and Non Prod, capacity management becomes harder. Since the hardware is shared, we need to monitor at the overall cluster level. Since the Production VMs have a more stringent SLA, naturally their number reflects that. As a result, we need to show Prod and Non Prod differently. Let me know if you need it, as to me that complicates operations. This is another reason why I advocate separate cluster for Prod and Non Prod.

One common issue in virtual environment is VM sprawl. Some of these VMs end up not being used. You can reclaim CPU, RAM and Disk from these VMs.

  • The easiest to reclaim is from orphaned VMs, as they are not even registered in vCenter.
  • The second easiest is snapshot. You should only keep snapshot for 1 day or less.

Once the above is reclaimed, you need to look at Powered Off VMs and Idle VMs

  • CPU and RAM are reclaimed from running VMs, as powered off VMs are no longer consuming the resource.
  • CPU: claim from large VM (e.g. 8 vCPU or more). Avoid reclaiming from 2 vCPU unless you’ve completed the large VMs.
  • RAM: claim from large VM (e.g. 16 GB RAM of more) that has Guest OS metrics. It’s more accurate than hypervisor metric.

The Reclaimable dashboard lists all the VMs that have been idle or powered off. It also lists the orphaned VMs and large snapshots.

reclaimable

Configuration

If you configure vSphere hardening guide, and your Infra and VMs comply to it, you will see all green in the dashboard below. If not, you can see exactly which VM or infra is not complying. You can customize the default threshold, although it’s better than you customize the symptoms & alert instead.

You can see compliance for Network and vCenter too, under the vSphere Compliance widget. There is a drop-down there that is not shown.

IaaS

Last but not least, your job is actually about making sure the VM is being served well. It’s a service. Your customers don’t care about your infrastructure. So when they complain that their VM has a problem, you need a dashboard that quickly prove if the problem is at your end or their end. TTI is not Time to Investigate, but Time to Innocence 😉

The Troubleshoot a VM dashboard is built exactly for that!

troubleshoot-a-vm

This dashboard is quite long, as it lets you check underlying ESXi and datastore. You can collapse the widget, as shown below, to see more.

troubleshoot-a-vm-2

Hope you find the material useful. If you do, go back to the Main Page. It gives you the big picture so you can see how everything fits together. If you already know how it all fits, you can go straight to download here.

vSphere visibility for Storage Team

This post is part of Operationalize Your World post. Do read it first to get the context.

Ask any Storage Team and Platform Team whether the collaboration between them can be improved by a mile, and you are likely to get a nod. One reason for this issue is there is lack of common visibility. You need to see the same thing if you want to collaborate. Storage Team do not get always get access vSphere vSphere. Even if they do, vCenter UI is not designed for Storage team. It is designed for VMware Admin.

vRealize Operations and Log Insight can bridge that providing a set of read-only, purpose-built dashboards, that answer common questions such as:

  • When a VM Owner complains, can we clear if it’s a storage issue within 1 minute?
    • No ping pong between VM Owner, vSphere Admin, Storage Admin
  • Is the Storage serving all the VMs well?
    • If not, who are affected, when and how bad? Read or Write?
    • The answer has to be tier based, as Tier 1 VM expects lower latency than Tier 3
  • What’s the total demand hitting the array? Are they growing fast?
    • Who are the heavy hitters among the VMs?
  • When & where are we running out of capacity?
    • How much disk space can be reclaimed? From which VMs?
  • What have we got?
    • Are they consistently configured?

The questions above cover the main areas of SDDC Operations, such as performance, capacity, configuration and availability. They enable joint troubleshooting, capacity planning, performance monitoring. For better collaboration, add Blue Medora TVS, so you can analyze physical arrays and fabrics, and then correlate back with vSphere.

Overview

The first dashboard provides overall visibility to Storage team. It gives insight into the SDDC by showing relevant objects.

  • It quickly show the summary of key information.
  • It shows VM, datastore, datastore clusters, compute cluster, and datacenter. It shows their relationship, which you can interact and drill down.
  • It shows all the VMs, where they are located, how much space they are allocated, and how they are using it.

overview

Limitations & Customisation:

  • No RDM. Customers are moving away, and not many are using it to begin with.
  • Physical array Availability. This requires Storage MP or Blue Medora MP

Performance

The purpose of the vSphere platform is running VM. So long it is providing good service to the VM, we don’t have to explain the thing underneath. Whether 10,000 IOPS at VM level translates into 8,000 at hypervisor level due to caching at the host, is not as important as the VMs are being served well (as defined by SLA).

So we need to find out what’s the latency of every single VM in the vCenter. This is near impossible to establish in vCenter, as you have to go thru a lot of VMs. vR Ops helps using super metric.

Overall Performance

The set of dashboards answer questions such as:

  • What’s the overall performance, for each cluster and datastore? No point troubleshooting a VM or ESXi if the overall array is heavily hit.
  • What’s the total demand hitting the storage system? Who are the heavy hitters?
  • When a cluster is not performing, do we know when and which VMs were affected? Looking at cluster is useful as that’s where the demand comes from.

performance-overall

Total Latency is not Read + Write latency. In IP Storage, it is not Tx and Rx. It is both Tx as the ESXi host is sending the packets.

Datastore Performance

As this is for Storage Team, we can drill down to a specific datastore. It provides detail line charts of the datastore latency, throughput, outstanding IO and IOPS.

It also shows the VMs in the datastore, and if any of them is generating a lot of IOPS (villain VM).

performance-troubleshooting

Heavy Hitters

The performance problem could be caused by high overall loads. The dashboard shows you the total IOPS and total Throughput. If the number is high, you can drill down to see if there are Heavy Hitters.

What is Heavy Hitters? It has to be defined.

  1. What: IOPS or Throughput?
    • A VM with large block size can generate high throughput without doing excessive IOPS.
  2. How long: 5 minutes, 1 day, 1 week?
    • When we say heavy, how long before it becomes heavy?
    • The heavy hitters dashboard distinguishes between Bursty Hitter and Sustained Hitter.
  3. When: Today or yesterday? Any pattern?
    • The heavy hitters of yesterday may not be the heavy hitters of today.

It uses line chart so you can see pattern.

heavy-hitters

Limitation and Customisation:

  • Storage Team normally want sharper granularity than 5 minute. You can complement the above view VMkernel. I’ve shared posted here, so follow that link.
  • VM-level IOPS are different to Infra-level IOPS
    • Front-End IOPS are different to Back-End IOPS.
    • Distributed Storage has its own set back-end IOPS, such as synchronisation and replication.
  • We should know the cause of the poor storage performance.
    • The array?
      • Is it near its peak? Low cache, not enough spindle, etc.
      • Is it uneven (one SP doing the bulk of the work)? SP trespass?
      • Does it have hot spots?
    • The network or fabric?
      • Higher chance if you’re on IP Storage.
      • Happens if you don’t turn on Network QoS. There could be storage vMotion happening.
    • The ESX?
      • This could be bad configuration, like wrong multipath or insufficient HBA queue depth.
    • The VM?
      • Why does it generate high IOPS. Which process inside the Guest OS doing that?
      • A snapshot not removed?
      • A developer running IOmeter?

Capacity

The set of dashboards answer questions such as:

  • What’s the overall capacity? How is it used? Where are we on over-subscription?
  • Any datastore is running low on capacity? Are we using the datastores equally?
  • Are the VMs equally distributed among the datastores?
  • For each shared datastores, what are the capacity?

capacity-overall

The heat maps are useful in comparing across datastores:

  • Size by capacity
    • This shows if datastores are consistent in sizes. You should not have too many variance in size.
  • Color by capacity remaining.
    • Red = running out of capacity. Do not deploy more VM
    • Black = wastage. You’re not using it.
    • You should expect green.
  • Group by vCenter, then Datastore Cluster.
    • You know quickly where they are.

Combining the above 3 info into a single heat map tells you if you are using your storage properly.

You should use Datastore Cluster as part of your design. If you do, you also get visibility into their capacity, as shown below:

capacity-overall-datastore-cluster

You can drill down into each datastore and determine their capacity.

capacity-details-datastore

Limitation and Customisation:

  • Use datastore cluster. This should be part of your architecture anyway.
    • A limitation here is distributed storage, as it has no datastore clusters. You should exclude them and deal with them separately as the monitoring metrics are different.
  • If you have too many datastore clusters, then use Service Tier to group them

Capacity: Space Reclamation

There are 4 places where you can reclaim storage, from easiest to the hardest

  1. Orphaned VMs and orphaned VMDK. They are the easiest as they are not even owned.
  2. Snapshot.
  3. Powered Off VM
  4. Idle VM

capacity-reclamation

The dashboard does not list active VM because politically it’s hard to reclaim. Don’t bother trying 🙂

Storage as a Service

When a VM owner complain, can we rule out within 1 minute whether Storage is the issue?

Using the following dashboard, you select or browse for the VM in question. Its key storage properties and KPI will be automatically shown. We are using line chart as the problem might happen in the past and no longer present. You can also verify if it’s one off issue or regular issue.

The VM’s datastore will be shown automatically. The VM in the screenshot has its VMDK files in 3 different datastores. You can click on each, and the performance will be automatically shown. This lets you verify if the underlying datastore was able to cope or not.

performance-single-vm-troubleshooting

Limitation and Customisation:

  • The dashboard does not show Throughput. Throughput matters more on large block size. 4 – 32K block size should not be problem when IOPS is low.
  • The dashboard does not show Outstanding IO. This is useful to tell if underlying infra unable to process.
  • Add snapshot. Latency for snapshot will be higher as it has to go through multiple operations.

Hope you find the material useful. If you do, go back to the Main Page for the complete coverage of SDDC Operations. It gives you the big picture so you can see how everything fits together. If you already know how it all fits, you can go straight to download here.