Virtualization Pro

Feb 24 2009   6:29PM GMT

vCenter Server 2.5 Update 4 release brings Performance Overview Charts

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

Many people were hoping that VMware would use VMworld Europe to announce the release date of the next generation VI3 software called vSphere 4.0. While this didn’t happen, VMware did release the next maintenance version of vCenter Server 2.5, which is Update 4. This new release brings the usual bug fixes but also adds a new feature, performance overview charts.

Performance Overview Charts aggregate the normal VM and host performance charts into a single view of key performance metrics for CPU, memory, disk and network usage. This eliminates the need to have to look at each factor individually and helps to show trends or resource issues.

This new feature is a plug-in component to vCenter Server and uses Java, so to use it you’ll need to download the Java SE Development Kit 6u11 and install Java Development Kit 1.6. If you are using Oracle or SQL Express there are some additional steps that you need to complete. Below are the KB articles you should read if you want to use this new plug-in:

KB Article on how to install the Performance Overview plug-in
KB Article on using the plug-in with Oracle database
KB Article on using the plug-in with SQL Express

One other interesting new feature is an update to the Virtual Machine Monitoring feature that is part of HA (High Availability) and will restart VMs on the same host if there is an guest operating system failure and the OS stops responding.  This feature previously relied on a “heartbeat” provided by the VMware Tools application, which is installed on the guest OS. If that heartbeat were to stop, the guest OS would be considered defunct and automatically restarted.

The enhancement allows vCenter Server to not only monitor the heartbeat but also the disk and network activity on the VM. Together, these features add more failure triggers to better indicate a failed OS. One situation where heartbeats may stop for a short period of time is when the VMware Tools application is being upgraded. This would previously cause the VM to restart, as the short stop time would indicate a failure. The added requirement vCenter to report dead network and disk activity for a predetermined I/O stats interval ensures that the VM guest OS is truly in a failed state (i.e. Blue Screen of Death) before it’s restarted.

As usual, it’s a best practice to read the release notes before you install the upgrade to vCenter Server. This upgrade includes updated plug-ins for both Converter and Update Manager, so you should read the release notes for them also. Finally, once you install the upgrade you will have to manually update your plug-ins in the VMware Infrastructure Client on your workstations that use them.

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