Check_MK and vSphere – vCenter Server


This post is the third part in a series about Check_MK and vSphere. In the second part, I showed you the options for monitoring an ESXi host without using vCenter Server. In this post we will explore the options for monitoring a vCenter Server on Windows and also the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA).

vCenter Server Windows

For this POC we have a vCenter Server 6.0 U2 (build 3634793) on a Windows Server 2012 R2. As this is a normal Windows server, I installed the Check_MK agent for Windows and added the host to Check_MK. For the property Agent type, select “Check_MK Agent (Server)”.

2016-08-21_01Figure 1

By default the Check_MK Windows Agents presents – without further tweaking – a lot of information; CPU and Memory utilization, Disk I/O, status of the filesystems, status of the Network interfaces and many more.

Now it’s time to reveal the vSphere options. We follow the same procedure as we did for the ESXi host. In the WATO configuration go to Host & Service Parameters \ Datasource Programs and select Check state of VMware ESX via vSphere. Now create a second rule for the vCenter Server, start with providing a descriptive name.

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Check_MK and vSphere – ESXi


This post is the second part in a series about Check_MK monitor and vSphere. In the first part Check_MK was introduced and some basic Installation and Configuration was explained.

According to the documentation, for monitoring VMware ESXi and vCenter Server, Check_MK has implemented a plugin that uses the vSphere API for retrieving information. This plugin is much more efficient than versions based on the Perl API.

So let’s start and see what can be revealed. To get a clear understanding of the various options, I will perform a step-by-step configuration instead of ticking all options at once.

The first step is to go into WATO and add an ESXi host. Under WATO, choose, Hosts and New Host.

2016-08-10-01Figure 1

You must at least enter the Hostname and an IP address, the Alias is optional. Under Agent Type place a tick and select “No Agent”.

At this time, the result is not very exciting; the ESXi host will be pinged.

2016-08-10-02Figure 2

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Wots … Uh the Driver?


A modern server is besides our favorite ESXi hypervisor loaded with all kinds of additional software, like BIOS, and firmware and drivers for items like; Baseboard management , Remote support interfaces, Storage controllers, NICs, Power Supplies, to name a few.
If trouble arises and you must contact your hardware vendor or VMware support, in many situations you are kindly requested to install the latest updates, firmware versions and drivers.

Some vendors provide ISO images or repositories containing the actual updates, you may run the update process and voilà, ready and done.
If you want to stay in control and want some more insight in this subject, please read on.

It comes down to these four questions:

  • What hardware is in the server?
  • How to determine the current firmware and or driver?
  • Which driver and or firmware do I need?
  • How do I upgrade drivers and firmware?

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You still got time


As you may have heard, on 30 June 2015, the last minute of the day 23:59 UTC will last 61 seconds instead of 60 seconds. The reason for this leap second is to sync time with the rotation of our Earth. The previous leap second was added in 2012, websites like LinkedIn, Mozilla and Reddit went down due to this leap second.

20150628_01Figure 1

Because a progressive number of computer systems rely on time synchronization, this means extra work for System Administrators (that will take much longer than 1 second). On the other hand there is also a lot of discussion; are leap seconds really useful in a world that relies on computer systems?

That brought me to the question; “Are VMware products affected and what can we do to prevent misery?”

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Implementing CA signed SSL certificates with vSphere 5.x – Part 5– ESXi and Automation


In the previous posts, we discussed the need for certificates, how to obtain certificates, implementing certificates on a vCenter Server Appliance, vCenter Update Manager server and finally a vCenter Orchestrator Appliance. Although there are more vSphere components, we conclude with the implementation of certificates for ESXi hosts.

ESXi hosts

The configuration of CA certificates is explained in KB “Configuring CA signed certificates for ESXi 5.x hosts (2015499)”. Most important remark in this KB; “Each server must be unique to the component as it ties to the fully qualified domain name of the server. As such you cannot just take a single certificate and apply it to all hosts. Wildcard certificates are currently not supported, but even if they were, it is much more secure to have a proper certificate for each host.”

To create a certificate request for multiple ESXi servers, you can follow the procedure as describes in KB “Configuring OpenSSL for installation and configuration of CA signed certificates in the vSphere environment (2015387)”.

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VMFS-5 or an upgraded VMFS-3?


With vSphere 5.0, VMware also introduced a new version of its vSphere Virtual Machine File System, known as VMFS-5. For a complete list of the new features, see the “What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.0 – Storage” whitepaper. Since vSphere 5.5, the maximum supported VMDK size on a VMFS-5 datastore has been increased from 2 TB to 62 TB. More information on this in KB 2058287 “Support for virtual machine disks larger than 2 TB in VMware ESXi 5.5”.

Although vSphere 5.x fully supports predecessor VMFS-3, it’s also possible to upgrade an existing VMFS-3 to VMFS-5. See also this whitepaper “VMware vSphere VMFS-5 Upgrade Considerations
But beware; an upgraded VMFS-5 does not support all of the new features. Most noticeable are:

  • An upgrade VMFS-5 continues to use the previous file-block size, which may be larger than the unified 1MB file-block size. This can lead to stranded/unused disk space when there are lots of small files on the datastore. It is also stated that this can affect the performance of subsequent Storage vMotions.
  • An upgraded VMFS-5 datastore doesn’t have new features like; the new Sub-Block Size, Increased maximum number of files per datastore, no GPT.
  • Also, VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to have its partition starting on sector 128. Newly created VMFS-5 partitions will have their partition starting at sector 2048.

So, by deploying newly created VMFS-5 and upgraded VMFS-5 datastores, chances are that inconsistencies across your datastores are introduced.
So instead of upgrading existing datastores, another approach is rebuilding datastores (fresh formatted VMFS-5) and relocating your VM’s. Of course this takes some planning and you will need a spare LUN.

One question remains, how to recognize a new or an upgraded VMFS-5 datastore? OK, you can have a look in the vSphere Client or Web Client. If the Block Size is not 1 MB, it is an upgraded one. But now the block Size is 1 MB, can you be sure it is a newly created one?


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The ESXCLI tree


In a previous post, I presented an overview of the ESXCLI command. This command is part of the vSphere CLI. For an introduction read the post I just mentioned.

The ESXCLI command has a lot of Namespaces and command options. To get some more insight, I created a Mind map. But that was in 2012 and vSphere 5.0 was the actual version. Since then, vSphere 5.1 and 5.5 were released and with that the ESXCLI has undergo a lot of enhancements.

So time for an update. This new version of the ESXCLI Mind map has the following enhancements:

  • The previous version only contained namespaces. In this version, the command options have been added. Namespaces are normal font, command options are in Italic.
  • All vSphere 5.1 additions are coloured in blue.
  • All vSphere 5.5 additions are coloured in red.

esxclitree-01Figure 1 – ESXCLI Namespaces

The Complete picture, so that makes clear why Mind mapping tools are so useful. 🙂

esxclitree-02Figure 2 – Complete picture

The Mind map can be downloaded from here. WordPress still does not allow me to upload .mm files. So after downloading the file, change the extension from .doc to .mm.
FreeMind, the free mind mapping tool I use, can be found here.