VMware vCenter Operations in Memory Constrained Lab Environments


I’m always eager to learn some new cool pieces of technology. Yes, I know vCenter Operations for quite some time, but it makes a difference, if you install it on your own. Thus said, I grabbed the VMware vCenter Operations vApp (referred to as vCOps) as an evaluation copy here. After downloading the ova I logged in to my vCenter server and went for Deploy OVF Template…. Looking at the memory specifications for a small vCOps deployment I realized quickly that it won’t work on my Mac Mini (vCOps minimum requirement of 16GB RAM).

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But I refused to let go…

Tweaking…

So, I thought, bearing in mind that VMware won’t like it, maybe I can tweak the memory settings a little and give it a go. Basically, the ova-format is nothing else but a tape archive. In other words untaring the ova-file gives me access to the ovf–descriptor file that I’d like to tweak. For the purpose of using tar-operations I downloaded & installed Ubuntu Desktop on my laptop as a Virtual Machine (after experiencing some tar-operations issues on my Mac – oh yes, I lost some time figuring out what it was, and I used to work with tar in the past, too).

First, I was having a look at the archive, itself:

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The sequence on how the archive is ordered is important. Therefore, opening the original file is important if you later re-tar the file after tweaking the ovf-descriptor file. Next, I extracted the tar-file by using the command tar xvf . It appears that the vApp consists of two VMs.

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Then, I opened the ovf-descriptor file using the vi-editor (any editor can be used, if you are not familiar with vi, please consult the cheat sheet). Looking at the ovf-descriptor file the vApp consists of two VMs. This means you will need to tweak the memory setting for two VMs (UI VM and Analytics VM), in total. There will be a total of four edits you need to make. Search for the term MB within the file. The search returns the first entry where MB appears, if you’ve searched from the top of the file.Edit the values in both tags, ElementName and VirtualQuantity. The values need to be identical. I decided to cut the memory values down to roughly one third (I pretty sure you can even go lower). For the first VM (UI VM) I’ve chosen the value of 2560 MB.

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Do not alter the memory values for the items medium (Item ovf:configuration=”medium”) and large (Item ovf:configuration=”large”)! This applies to both VMs in the ovf-descriptor file. I scrolled down within the ovf-descriptor file until the end of large memory configuration for the first VM. I did a new search for the term MB. This jumped me right to the beginning of the next VM (Analytics VM), for which I’ve chosen a value of 3072 MB, written to and exited the ovf-descriptor file.

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Now, you are ready to re-tar the ova-file. To do that I firstly removed the old ova-file with rm *ova. Use tar cvf filename.ova file1 file2 file3 file4 command to create a new tar-file, where you keep the sequence you’ve been shown by the command tar tvf filename.ova.

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This is important: do not add the files with the extensions .mf and .cert to the archive, these two files contain checksums for the other files within the original ova file. Check the newly created ova file that it contains the four files in the correct sequence.

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Installing…

Then, switch back to your vSphere Client. If you haven’t done already create an IP-Poolat the Datacenter-level of your environment, before deploying the ova file. Associate this pool with the VM Network you want your vCOps vApp to be running on.

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Then, go to File – Deploy OVF Template…. Browse to your newly created ova-file. Tip: I am using a NAS system that is capable of sharing a file system via NFS and CIFS. If interested, please have a look at this freely downloadable NAS System (not for use in production). That allows you to only have one repository for your ova-, ovf-, and iso-files in VMware environments. Choose the configuration Small.

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To save disk space you may want to use the Disk Format Thin.

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For my implementation I chose Transient to allocate the IP addresses.

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Proceed to finish the wizard. After the deployment power on the vApp and use the Virtual Machine Console of your vSphere Client to check the settings of the UI VM which can be found in thevCOps vApp.

Setup…

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Select Configure Network from the screen. Enter 0 to show the Current Configuration. Check whether the settings are correct and exit by pressing 1. Also, check the Timezone settings, they need to be correct for accurate statistics. Note: To enter any of the VMs within the appliance using ssh the credentials are: username root, password vmware.

Open a browser and point it to the URL of your UI VM (https://ip-address/admin). To enter use ssh the credentials are: username admin, password admin. Follow the instructions of the wizard that appears.

First, you need to provide the credentials of your vCenter Server and the address of the Analytics VM of the vCOps vApp (can be derived from the vSphere Client).

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Then, you need to change the password and proceed to Specify vCenter Server. Fill in the mask with credentials of the vCenter Server you want to monitor (which was the same that also runs the vCOps vApp, in my case). Additionally, provide the credentials for the users Registration and Collector (optional). Hint: Pointing your mouse on a bracket gives you help on what to fill in. Continue to finish the wizard.

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After vCOps completed the configuration go back to your vSphere Client and you should see a request to accept the certificate from the vCOps vApp. Accept it.

Logging in to the administration page of the vCOps vApp from your browser (https://ip-address/admin) you will see that the vApp is not yet licensed.

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In order to log in to the appliance as user (https://ip-address) you need to license vCOps, first. To do this, exit your vSphere Client and re-open it. On the Home screen you should see a new icon:

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Navigate to Administration – Licensing and right-click on the icon vCenter Operations Manager. Choose Change License Key… from the menu.

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Enter the license key provided by VMware and click accept the changes.

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Congratulations! Now, you are able to log in to the vCOps appliance (https://ip-address) for the first time. Use your admin account and the password you have chosen. After logging in you might find that not all the information is displayed on the Dashboard. That’s perfectly fine. It will take some time for vCOps to discover your environment.

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Enjoy your 60 days of evaluating the product!

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