Friday, January 23, 2015

An IT Parable

Once there was a traveling salesman, he covered all the North East region for sales for a growing company. He made his living by building strong relationships with his clients, which required him to drive every day. The traveling salesman decided it was time to purchase a new car. At the dealership, he starts looking at a compact sedan. He likes that it has a blend of driving dynamics, gas efficiency, and a spacious interior.

The car has a quiet cabin for when he has to take meetings on the road and the hybrid model provides 50-mpg EPA city rating. Best of all, it comes in his favorite color of metallic midnight black with brown leather seats.

The traveling salesman racks up the miles on his car quickly, but because of his busy schedule neglects the routine maintenance of the car, doesn't follow-up on safety recalls, and doesn't follow the best practices for upkeep. He has gone 67,312 miles without an oil change.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

vRealize Operations 6.0 - Access Control and Dashboard Management

No doubt, vRealize Operations 6.0 is extremely powerful and provides a vast improvement over previous versions. However, it took me a while to navigate some aspects of the new merged UI, in all likelihood it is probably because of my familiarity with the vSphere and Custom UI in version 5.8. In my humble opinion, sometimes when developing a product we lose sight of the balance of usability and features. Recently, I read the book The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman, which I highly recommend; I think it should be standard reading for any product manager. When I use a product, I expect it to be as seamless and easy to use as an Apple iPad. Although my wife might not understand what is being presented in the product, I want it to be easy enough that she can manipulate the interface and have labels with detailed information that she can understand.

To illustrate my point, my youngest child was able to fluently use an iPad when he was 14 months old because it was designed with usability in mind, his favorite application at the time, Tom the Cat.

Now that I have digressed, I am going to explain how to setup access control for different users and manage the dashboards options to provide a custom portal for your application developers, IT operators, or business leadership. This is when vRealize Operations becomes a powerful tool, by focusing on specific criteria for your IT and business partners so they have relevant information from the data center metrics provided.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

vRealize Operations Concurrent User Connections

When deploying vRealize Operations 6.0, it is important to take into account the best practice for the concurrent user connections. This is an often misunderstood aspect when designing a deployment for vCenter Operations Manager 5.x and also the most complex. There are several factors that go into the amount of concurrent users that can access the product UI. In the prior version, when customers wanted to have more than a handful of users looking at the vSphere UI at a single time, it was recommended to create a custom dashboard with minimum overhead. You would want to limit the number alerts, alarms, and RCA information because it places a heavy load on the database, which can drag down the system. The vSphere UI in vCenter Operations 5.8 was able to handle about four concurrent connections, whereas an optimized custom dashboard in the Custom UI could handle anywhere between 10 to 20 concurrent users. There isn't a hard set number of concurrent connections, but out of the box for vCenter Operations Manager 5.8 you can expect 10 concurrent connections based on a large vApp deployment.

Below are some of the factors that affect the number of connections:
  • How busy are the collectors?
  • Are dynamic thresholds calculating during user sessions?
  • Are custom dashboards using widgets that are taxing (weather maps, TopN, distribution widgets, ect.)?
  • Is there good communication between the UI VM and Analytics VM?
  • Are the VMs running on separate hosts to reduce contention?
  • How many alerts, alarms, and RCAs are being processed?
  • How many back-end storage IOPs are supporting the vCOps virtual machines?
As you can recognize, there are a lot of elements that determine the overall performance and concurrency. The higher the concurrent connections when the system is under load, longer latency and ultimately unacceptable refresh rate become noticeable in the vSphere UI.

Monday, January 5, 2015

vRealize Operations 6.0 - New Merged UI

vRealize Operations 6.0 has had a major overhaul, one of the biggest changes is the feel and look of the new product UI; which incorporates the previous vSphere UI and Custom UI into a single console. With this in mind, the new vRealize 6.0 UI is split up into different panels. If you look at the image below, the panel on the left is called the Navigation panel. We have the Center panel, which is where all the data is displayed in the middle of the portal. And finally, at the top, we have all our Dashboards.

At the top of the Navigation Panel, you will recognize five buttons that are links to parts of the product UI. vRealize Operations 6.0 is broken up into five sections. They include the Home link, Alert link, Environments link, Content link, and the Administration link.

We start off in the Home screen, the screen that is displayed when you initially log into the product UI. The Home screen is where your dashboards reside, including any custom dashboards you may create and any custom product solutions you may install (vCenter solution, Hyperic Solution, SCOM Solution). These are the same type of dashboards that we were used to seeing in the vCenter Operations Manager Custom UI at https://(vCenter Operations Manager host)/vcops-custom/; now integrated into a single viewing panel on the Home screen of vRealize Operations 6.0.
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