TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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How to ease the management and monitoring of VMware Snapshots

 

Recently I have been doing some cleaning up of old snapshots that users have created and forgotten to delete and have therefore been around for too long and are in danger of either using up all the space on the datastore they are on or corrupting once the snapshot is ”deleted”/applied to the vm. I came across an additional way I can make my management and monitoring snapshot tasks easier and so I though I would write up a quick post of all the tools I use that save me having to manually go through a crazy amount of machines. I have used a few of my fellow virtualisation friends scripts and tools to help me do this.

  • First and the one i use the most is the SnapReminder script by scripting guru Alan Renouf. Alan’s script is a fairly straight forward one (his words not mine as I’m not at the level yet to be able to write this). The script is simple yet so very effective as it automatically finds the snapshot that meets your time criteria,finds out who created it ,retrieves their mail address from AD and mails them reminding them that they have this snapshot and it is older than a number of days. It’s really great when you get a mail back from a user replying to one of these mails and saying they don’t need it anymore as you know it’s going to make your environment better while you barely had to do anything to remind and alert them to it.
  • Next is part of the vCheck daily report ,one I have spoken of before which is also created by Alan. The vCheck tool is a brilliant reporter for gathering all the information you need to know to make sure your environment isn’t having any problems and enables you to be proactive so as to stop problems before the arise. The snapshot part of this report is always helpful so i know if people have removed their snapshots after being pestered by the SnapReminder e-mails and gives me a good idea of my progress in minimising the amount of snapshots over the limit.
  • Last one is one I stumbled across this morning while researching some other things and is one i didn’t think of creating but is one that is a brilliant idea especially for automated monitoring. Sadly i can’t seem to find the name of the guy who wrote up the article and did the video as i like to give credit where i can but good work to them for doing a video of it. The article shows and details how to configure VMware vCenter Server to send alerts when virtual machines are running from snapshots and reach a certain size. I’ve always used the alerts for memory,cpu and hosts errors which are pretty much the standard ones you get with vSphere with the additional and tweaking of a few to customise it for our environment but I’ve never thought of it for alerting me about snapshots. 

 Hopefully these tips and tricks will help save you some time and heartache with the management and monitoring of your companies snapshots.

Gregg Robertson

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***UPDATE****

As is my luck ,on the heels of me posting this Alan brings out his latest instalment of vCheck, version 5. This new one has some brilliant features and really is an improvement over the last one. I’ve already given it a run over a few of the environments I support and the webpage view it now allows you to view the report in is actually a bit overwhelming with all the data and reporting you get back and has flared up some warnings i didn’t even know were there which is brilliant!

Also a quick congrats to Alan who has now become the latest member of Chad Sakac’s vSpecialists. A brilliant hire there if I do say so myself and very exciting for an EMC employee like myself that someone like him is now part of the team.


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London VMware User Group

Last week Tuesday i attended my first VMware user group. I have to admit that i was sadly really excited to be attending it for learning about new things from my fellow peers and also about finally meeting some of the people i follow on twitter and whose blogs i read and receive so much information from. The event was help not far from EMC Consulting’s London offices at the Chambers of commerce and trade near Southwark bridge.

I confirmed my attendance to Jonathan Medd’s( @jonathanmedd) powershell session before the user group as  i knew my powershell skills are far from competent and what better way than to get a run through of the best tools and methods i should learn for administering my VMware environment. Jonathon covered a couple of very interesting applications the first one being the vCheck by Alan Renouf(@alanrenouf). I don’t know how i never learnt or heard about his tool but it is definitely something i am planning on rolling out for my VMware environment as soon as possible as it’s reporting of any problems and things you need to watch/resolve is a great tool for any VMware administrator wanting to keep his/her environment running smoothly.

Another topic which was covered by Jonathan which I’m definitely now planning to make a concerted effort of attempting to get through and learn is using powershell and powergui to automate and administer my environment. Fellow VMware user group attendee Simon Long @simonlong_) wrote a great blog about learning it which I’m definitely going to try and get through.

Jonathan also covered onyx alpha and VESI. New applications to me which look to be very helpful also in the maintenance of your VMware environment. I really do have a lot of reading a research to do on this scripting/powershell side!

Next was the sponsors chat who were Symantec. I was quite impressed with them as i have to be honest i had no idea they had so many tools and solutions geared towards virtualisation. Their next set of releases in 2010 are well worth looking out for especially if you have a number of their solutions in your environment already.

Then Simon Gallagher(@vinf_net) spoke about creating a white box environment for home testing/learning. His T.A.R.D.I.S. (no i can’t remember what exactly the acronym stands for) was a real eye opener especially the vmotioning of a machine from a virtual esx server in a virtual machine(yes this isn’t a typo) to a physical host was very impressive and definitely showed how well developed the VMware technology really is. Simon Seagrave(@kiwi_si) who was meant to co host this session but couldn’t because of work commitments has a really great page on his site about the equipment they used and deals on equipment you could use for your own white box lab environment.

The final session was by Mike Laverick(@mikelaverick) and Guy Chapman talking about their opinions and thoughts on cloud computing and the new vSphere features. This was a great session as really brought up a nice discussion from everyone. I’m definitely looking forward to going through his slides once they are published as he had some brilliant comments and references and his describing of the cloud was especially interesting to me as I’m also trying to understand what the cloud is and what it will do for me and my organisation.

A big thank you to Alaric and the rest of the guys for organising the user group. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to be able to make the next one. If you live in the south of England and wish to come to the next one i would recommend joining the community on http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmug/emea/london?view=discussions and subscribing to any new posting on the community or mailing londonvmug@yahoo.com and requesting to be added to the list for the next one early next year.

Gregg Robertson

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