Thursday, March 29, 2012

Modify Timeout in vC Ops vSphere UI

If you're using vC Ops 5 you may have noticed there's a timeout for the vSphere UI login.  Kind of a pain if you're wanting to display the "skittles" view at your NOC or on an extra monitor at your workstation.  While there's no way to configure this timeout in the UI, you can change the timeout or set it to unlimited by modification of an XML file on the UI VM.

On the UI VM the file /usr/lib/vmware-vcops/tomcat/webapps/vcops-vsphere/WEB-INF/web.xml contains the setting in the section (conveniently near the top of the file).  By default it is 30 minutes.  Setting it to -1 will make it unlimited.  From the web.xml file -

Session timeout is measured in minutes. Use '-1' to have infinite session.

Simply modify the file using vi or editor of your choice.  You'll need to restart your vC Ops service:

vcops-admin restart

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Demo, Trial, POC, Pilot, Project - What's the difference?

Frequently I'll be asked to help a customer with a Proof of Concept or POC.  Almost always, the requester (be it a sales executive or a customer) actually wants something else and we spend some time trying to figure out what that is.  I'll define each of the terms from the title of this post which I hope will be helpful.  These terms may seem self-explanatory but I have seen a lot of time wasted when two parties do not have the same understanding.

Demo - a demonstration, or demo, for short, is a brief overview of the product's features and capabilities followed by a live presentation of the product going through various tasks that provide the customer with a practical understanding of how the product works.  A demo typically is the first time the customer has seen the product in action.  Demos usually take no more than 1-2 hours and can be customized to focus on features important to the customer.  Demos may also be recorded so that they can be viewed at the convenience of the customer but this does not provide an opportunity for questions or customization of the presentation.

Trial - A trial, sometimes called a live trial or evaluation, is an opportunity for the customer to implement the product (with or without assistance) in their own environment.  The objective is to give the customer the ability to have hands-on experience with the product and to validate the features and capabilities pitched by the manufacturer in the demo.  Trials typically have a duration of 30-60 days and in the case of hardware may involve an agreement to return the evaluation equipment or to purchase at the end of the trial.

Proof of Concept - Often referred to as a POC, this is a more formalized version of the trial and involves a more targeted and guided implementation of the product in the customer's environment.  The goal is to provide a high level of understanding of how the product may function for a specific use case and give the manufacturer an opportunity to more closely align the product's capabilities with the customer's needs.  As it is a more formal engagement, the customer and manufacturer should agree on the specific objectives and outcomes expected as well as the responsibilities of each party (i.e. the customer should devote resources such as staff and infrastructure and the manufacturer provide technical support and training).  A POC can vary in length, depending on the objectives agreed to at the outset but great care should be taken by the customer and the manufacturer to conclude the POC as agreed

Pilot - As the POC builds on the trial, likewise the pilot provides more focus and structure.  A pilot usually, but not always, is proceeded by some level of commitment by the customer and manufacturer through the purchase of a limited amount of the product suitable for testing against s sample of the proposed solution set.  The understanding is that the customer has made a decision to purchase the product pending the successful outcome of the pilot.  Unlike the previous stages (demo, trial and POC) the pilot is typically not a competitive engagement.  The pilot can also be used to measure the real benefits of implementing the product (versus those proposed by the manufacturer or perceived by the customer).  Data collected during the pilot can be used in developing and executing the implementation project.

Project - Typically done after a purchase has been made, the project is often a collaboration of the customer, manufacturer and any partners involved to fully implement the product in the customer's environment.  Projects have some of the same characteristics and methodologies employed in the POC and pilot engagements - desired outcome, agreement on responsibilities, defined start and end dates.  However, the project adds one more key element; SUCCESSFUL turnover of the project to an operational team.  Unlike the previous engagements, the project costs incurred by the manufacturer are typically paid by the customer as part of the overall solution purchase.

I welcome your comments on these definitions.  As you can see, these tend to build on each other and could be considered stages in making a purchasing decision.  Also, they can be combined (for example a demo and trial could be one engagement).  If nothing else it is always good to make sure that you and the other party agree on what is meant by each term at the outset.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Creating Custom Map Dashboards with vC Ops 5

Unless you were a user of the previous 1.x version of vCenter Operations Enterprise edition,  you've probably never seen the full dashboard which was boiled down to vSphere specific elements and standardized with the now familiar "3 badges" for health, workload and capacity.

As you're probably aware, with newly available vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.0 the vC Ops dashboard has been enhanced with a number of new badges and additional graphs and charts.  Lot's a good info and still very intuitive and easy to use.

Good news is that the custom UI is also available in vC Ops 5.0, giving you the ability to create dashboards for app owners, executive management team and the like.  You can even create a dashboard using Google Maps to show various physical locations with status indicators for various infrastructure resources like the one below.

You can access the custom UI by hitting


and logging in with your vC Ops admin credentials.  Feel free to look around, but to activate and use the GEO location feature to enable the maps on your dashboard, you will first need to get a Google Maps API key. To do this, you'll need a Google account so you can log into the Google APIs Console -

Once you log in, provided you've never used Google APIs console before, you will be presented with the image below - click the "Create project...." button and give your project a name.
From the list of available APIs you will want to enable the Google Maps API v2 shown in the image below.

You will have to read and agree to the Google EULA.  Please read and understand the Google EULA.  I am simply guiding you in how to set up this feature and any questions about entitlements for use should be directed to Google.  Note that you have a "courtesy limit" of 25,000 queries per day.  This should be ample for a lab or demo environment, but if you're going to use this for your production monitoring it would be a good idea to get pricing for activity above that limit.  From the Google APIs console, you can monitor the amount of queries against your API, if you're interested.

Once that has been done, you can now get your key from your project's API console by selecting the API Access link.  You only need the Simple API Access key for vC Ops.

Back in the vC Ops custom UI, select the Admin pull down menu item and choose Global Settings.  As shown below, you will enter your Google API key here - be sure to select Google as the map provider.  My key was obscured for this image, you will want to protect your key so that someone else doesn't use it and eat up all your queries!

Now you will need to add values for the GEO location resource tag.  This resource tag is created by default but is not populated with information.  Basically, this is where you will add map locations that you want to link to various resources (e.g. datacenters).

1. From the Environment pull down menu item choose "Environment Overview."
2. From the "List" tab view, click on the wrench icon to bring up the "Manage Resource Tags" pop-up.
3. Select "GEO Location" tag name and click the icon indicated below to add a "Tag Value"
4. Enter the name of your location
5. Click on the wrench icon to manage the location - this will pop up a Google map an allow you to search for and select a location.  Notice I've selected LSU's world famous Tiger Stadium, where Alabama will suffer a humiliating loss on November 3rd, 2012. :)

BE SURE to click on the blue hyperlink of the location you wish to activate that as your GEO location before clicking the "Save" button.

At this point, you just need to add some resources to your data center location.  While in the Environment Overview, simply drag any resources you want to associate onto the GEO Location tag you created.  In my case, I added several types of objects as you can see below.

You can now check your GEO Location on a map by switching to the Geographical tab.  As seen in the image below I have zoomed in for more detail on my location at Tiger Stadium.  Notice the boxes with the associated health scores for each resource associated with this location.

Finally, you can create your dashboard containing a map with your GEO Location tags in it.  From the Home page, click on the plus sign to the right of the last dashboard tab.

This is the easiest part, just scroll down through the template sets on the left side of the screen to find the template containing the GEO widget - you can't miss it, it's the only one with a map! :)

Drag the template to the right side and drop it onto the placeholder there.  You can change the name of the template if you wish.  Save the template and you're done!

Of course, you can play around with the dashboard and use another widget if you don't want the heatmap.  For example, I edited the dashboard to a single column so the map would take up the whole screen - much better if you have a lot of locations to view and are presenting this on a large screen at the NOC.

Reference the VMware vCenter Operations Manager Enterprise Administration Guide for vCenter Operations Manager Enterprise 5.0 for more details on configuring Resources.