jmbrinkman

Mini review: VKernel vScope Explorer

In Virtualization on October 27, 2011 at 20:51

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This is my first post in what might become a series 🙂 In these post I  want to give a short review of an interesting piece of software or hardware. Today’s victim is VKernel vScope Explorer.

I found out about this tool through a post on Eric Sloof’s blog and because I got a promotional email from VKernel (apparently I left my email address there for some reason 😉 ).

What does it do?

vScope Explorer is a tool that will visualize and analyze data about your vSphere or Hyper-V environment.

So what I expect it to do is to check for configuration Best Practices and analyze both host, vCenter\SCVMM and guest metrics in order to determine possible bottlenecks and inefficiencies. And of course – pretty pictures with lots of green (or red depending on how hard they want to sell the paid complement – vOperations).

How does it do whatever it does?

vScope Explorer is a virtual appliance with a web interface. You download an OVF and deploy the appliance. It has relatively high system requirements:

  • 4 vCPUs
  • 8 GB of memory
  • 64 GB of storage space

The website says they have a instruction video – but I couldn’t find it. So I just fired it up, went through a small text based setup to configure ip,dns,ntp and http proxy settings and was presented with a login screen. (For those interested the appliance runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1). Seeing this is a web based tool I decided to stop peeking around in the VM itself and opened the web interface. One note on the ip address – since the tool will connect to vCenter you should ensure the vm can connect to vCenter. And there is a user’s guide included in the download.

On the web interface (which runs on port 80) after accepting the agreement I added our vCenter server and immediately ran into an error:

This gives us a hint that the product is indeed looking into performance metrics in great detail. Since this just a test I changed the logging level and it discovered my vCenter server and I finished the setup. I logged in using the default username and password and was then presented with a nice dialog telling me it would take approximately an hour(5 minutes for 10 vm’s) for the data to be collected. I decided not to add any alarms to vCenter or to install the client plugin at this time btw.

In all honesty – it didn’t even take an hour until the collection was finished. Once it was finished the tool will showed a status screen that defaulted to the VM performance “vScope”. You can then switch to the Host performance vScope, the Capacity,the VM Efficiency or the Datastore Efficiency vScope.

Each Object (a host,a VM or a Datastore grouped together by resource cluster) will have a colour indicating its status (red, yellow or green). On mouse over or when you click the object it will give you some details on why it has a certain status. A red or yellow status can be caused by an inefficient storage allocation, high memory or cpu utilization or on a host level even a projected performance bottleneck or capacity problem with a estimated amount of time until this bottleneck or problem will be reached or occur.

I had a quick look at the status of our environment and all the statuses of the objects seemed plausible. However sometimes issues aren’t really issues – we know we have a lot of wasted space on our datastores – that’s because we need a certain amount of IOPS. There is no way to “override” these checks from the vScope interface. And as I said before – in order to properly solve the actual issues something more elaborate such as the vOperations product will be necessary.

And what do I think about it?

I think this a very nice piece of software – but its only a part of what should be a full virtualization management and monitoring solution. And I think VKernel would agree 😉

It was easy to install, easy to use and easy to interpret. And since you can connect to several vCenter servers (and SCVMM servers) you could provide an high level “single pane glass” overview that’s understandable for just about everyone.But the lack of customization features (and the abundance of red blocks caused by that limition – no one wants to many red blocks…) makes me doubt if vScope can be used as a “Manager Dashboard”

One big plus – its very portable. You download the OVF, deploy it and you have a very nice overview of the general health of your environment or your customer’s.

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  1. […] did a mini-review of vScope Explorer not to long ago and am going to do one on vOperations as well. Maybe I’ll […]

  2. […] did a mini-review of vScope Explorer not to long ago and am going to do one on vOperations as well. Maybe I’ll […]

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