Friday, July 4, 2014

vCenter Operations Manager Groups

An aspect of vCenter Operations Manager that provides measurable benefits is Groups, which allows you to build an application group to make it easier for IT professionals to determine how applications are affected when change occurs. An application is a logical grouping of resources that represents a critical business application or business service. In software engineering, the standard multi-tier architecture includes web servers (presentation), application servers (application processing), and database servers (data management).

After you have specified an application group, you can view the real-time analysis across all tiers and resources that are contained within the application. This gives you the ability to get an early understanding of a major change that is occurring across an application, which might be an indication of a cascading performance problem.

In general, when you are going to create an application group there are a couple of approaches to consider for the design.

The first is a business reason, this usually encompasses all the components that make up a business application as it is seen by the application owner. Like mentioned earlier, this is the typical client-server model with the presentation, application, and data management functions. For example, this may include the application resources that make up the healthcare system Epic; or the systems that support an internally written enrollment application for benefits.

The second is a technical reason, a design that creates visibility from a technology perspective. This means that different application tiers are used in a basic application definition. Most likely, they include technical components like storage, networking, or other infrastructure capabilities.

Often times there is a mix of both approaches, utilizing both technical and business reasons. The below diagram shows a picture of a Management Operations Group I created, which includes two hosts and three virtual machines.

Before you add an application to a Group, you can manage the Group Types by clicking on Configuration and then selecting Manage Group Types. From here; you can Add, Delete, or Modify group types.

To add a new group, from the Environment tab select Actions and then Create new group...

When adding a new application group, it is going to ask you for the Name of the group, a Description, the Type, the Policy, and Membership Type. From the example below, you can see I am creating a group for my vCloud Connector Components that help me manage virtual machines between my lab enviornment and VMware vCloud Hybrid Services (vCHS). I have a custom policy called Gold Support which I have chosen for this particular group of virtual machines. The membership into the group is going to be done manually.

The next thing we are going to do is define the group membership, as you can see from the image below, we are going to expand our resource tree and then place a check mark next to the resource instances we want in our new group. In this case, I am going to select vCloud Connector Server and vCloud Connector Node and click Add.

To complete the group, we review the settings and click Finish. It will take a little while for it to populate the data in the different views, but now we should see the newly created group called Hybrid Cloud Connector under Application Tiers.

When looking at the Operations tab by Group we have a different view than the normal Hosts and Clusters, you will notice that the Health is for the entire custom group, in my case Management Operations. One item I find extremely helpful is the Top Offenders spark-lines. From this view, I can immediately see that my host is having some issues with 0% health.

If I click on the host, I can see the reason I am having an issue is because it has a Fault warning.

Using Groups is a dynamic way of being able to look at a subset of resources that make up an application tier. It can help you focus on the resource capabilities for a business critical application, which you can set a different set of policies.

At the end of the day, it is all about supporting the line of business and making sure that the most critical applications are being monitored at the highest levels. With vCenter Operation Manager Groups, you can build application containers that help you observe the health of the overall application tier and the impact of changes that are happening to the environment.

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