Review: Proactively Managing VMware vSphere with Goliath Performance Monitor

This unique monitoring solution allows you to be proactive in the management of VMware vSphere infrastructure while at the same time simplifying operations. In this review I will talk about how you can leverage the functionality and unique architecture to accomplish this dual purpose.

Just recently, I had the pleasure to work with the good folks at Goliath Technologies and review their solution, Goliath Performance Monitor (GPM).

My first impressions of GPM were pretty positive. If you’re unfamiliar with GPM, for VMware vSphere it’s a single solution for providing monitoring across the 5 layers of the virtual stack including Application, OS, VM, Hypervisor and Hardware. So it’s a single pane of glass to monitor your entire stack. The version of GPM I am reviewing is

The GPM Installation Process – Up & Running within Minutes

Goliath does an excellent job in creating an installation guide for the tool so I won’t go into detail about that. I just glanced over it and my deployment may have taken about 30 minutes or so.

Within minutes, I was playing with the monitoring tool’s consoles. One thing I would like to point out from the installation guide is the pre-requisites. You will need a VM or Physical Machine with the following settings:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 – 2012 R2
  • At least 8 vCPUs and 12GB RAM (these are soft limits but probably a good idea to follow these when deploying in production)
  • .NET 3.5 SP1 installed on the Virtual Server or Physical Machine
  • Internet Explorer Enhanced Security disabled
  • TCP ports 80 & 82 opened inbound
  • Download the Goliath Performance Monitor software
  • Proper credentials for the environments you would like to add to inventory (vCenter, XenServer, ZDC, DDC, etc.)

Goliath Performance Monitor vs vCOPs/vRealize Operations

Why XenServer credentials? Unlike some other popular tools in the space like vCOPs/vRealize Operations, GPM supports VMware vSphere and also XenServer, Hyper-V along with XenDesktop, XenApp and Horizon View.

So remember what I said about simplifying IT operations? You can use Goliath’s product to monitor VMware vSphere and everything else too. Not to mention you don’t have to fall prey to licensing that limits your functionality. Basically, you get full functionality with Performance Monitor on the base product, unlike some of its direct and indirect competitors.

As soon as the installation was complete, I pointed my browser to the IP address of the server the tool was installed on and this is where I landed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Unitrends Free – Review of the free edition

I have reviewed the Unitrends backup solution in the past. I have had some very good experience with it. The solution was licensed on a per socket basis and worked on both ESXi and Hyper-V. Unitrends have now announced the “Unitrend FreeTM” Edition, which is FREE.

FREE vSphere and Hyper-V VM Backup – Unlimited VMs and Sockets – Hypervisor level protection for vSphere and Hyper-V for up to 1TB of production VM data – there’s no tie to the number of VMs or sockets in the environment.”


The installation process is pretty straightforward. But you will need at least one windows machine to launch the installation from. Basically, the windows installer (exe) needs to be executed from a machine running .Net framework 4.0. That will fire up the installation wizard that requires some very basic information (IP address of the new backup appliance etc). I have only tested this for the ESXi version. In the ESXi version, I provided by vCenter address and credentials and it was pretty much next next next from that point on.

What happens in the background is an appliance is deployed with the information you have provided. Once the wizard is complete, the appliance is up and ready to be accessed via the web using the IP address you have provided.

In case you are skeptical about this approach versus just having access to an OVA/OVF that you can deploy yourself. Imagine this, you work in an environment that has a separate backup team, as a virtualization engineer you will only have to provide them with an account that has permissions to deploy the appliance and turn it on without giving them access to anything else. They can simply use the installation wizard without ever hitting the vSphere client. For that use case that approach makes a lot of sense. Read the rest of this entry »

Kemp's free loadbalancer

A few weeks back I reviewed Kemp’s LB for log Insight Manager. Today they have announced the availability of a free version of the LB they make. This covers a variety of different platforms. Of course if you are a large shop then the free version wouldn’t cut it for you but its definitely a good way to test the product out and be aware of its ability by running it in a lab. The differences in the free and paid versions are called out here. Enjoy!

Kemp LB for Log Insight Mgr

Just recently I was playing around with log insight or as they now like to call it vRealize Log Insight. One of the new features with 2.5 is the ability to have to have an integrated load balancer. In previous versions VMware allowed for log insight worker nodes to scale out but this introduced an issue with evenly distributing the load. With 2.5, the claim is an external load balancer is no longer needed.

KEMP has been in the industry for some time and offers load balancer for all kinds of solutions. In fact it was one of the first vendors to ever make a virtual load balancers for VMware ESXi back when it was just ESX as well as other hypervisors. Some of their VMware specific load balancers can be found here. The one we are interested in is called the LoadMaster for VMware vCenter Log Insight Manager. I know this can be a mouthful. But its functionality is pretty straightforward with simple deployment and maintenance.

I don’t want to go into the details of how to deploy KEMP’s LB. We will be referring to it as the VLM (Virtual LoadMaster). It is an OVF that can be downloaded from the KEMP Website. Once the OVF is deployed it takes minutes for this bad boy to start working. Their deployment guide can be found here which covers their entire process of deployment . Hence, there is no point in me repeating the same information. However, I will point out a couple of things which might make your deployment a bit easier specially if load balancing is not something you don’t work with on the regular basis or if you are new to log insight:

  1. You will need at least 2 Log Insight nodes deployed (you can work with 1 but then what’s the value of a LB?)
  2. Do not enable the ILB (internal load balancer if you are using log insight 2.5)
  3. Do not forget to install the Log Insight Add On pack once you have deployed the VLM (section 2)

NOTE: The LoadMaster build that will be posted to in early February will include the Add On Pack by default.

  1. A virtual address is the IP of the service often referred to as a VIP. Basically this will be the address your clients will connect to.
  2. The real servers in this case will be your Log Insight nodes. Once the client connects to the virtual IP, the VLM will forward them to one of the real servers (Log Insight nodes) based on configured scheduling methods and health checks.

The image below that I borrowed from KEMP does a pretty good job in giving you an over of what the VLM does.


I don’t generally deal with load balancers in general so I felt it was important for me to clarify some of the above information. The good news is that I was able to deploy and make this work within minuets and if I can, anyone can. I deployed 2 Log Insight nodes and configured my virtual services in VLM as well as added the two nodes as the real servers.. After pointing my ESXi servers to the virtual IP addresses, VLM was put to work.  Read the rest of this entry »

Boomerang to beam your VMs

Recently I got an opportunity to take BoomerangTM for a spin. I wasn’t familiar with the product prior to this opportunity. Boomerang allows you to move your VMware vSphere workloads to Amazon AWS. It allows you to do the following:

  1. Move your load to AWS
  2. Use AWS as a DR or backup
  3. Bring your load back from AWS to your vSphere environment

Boomerang has a very simple deployment, perhaps which would explain the absence of countless PDFs on their website. The steps to get going are simple. You will need the following:

  1. A vSphere environment
  2. An AWS account
  3. Connectivity between 1 and 2

To get started, you will download an appliance which is right under 600MB. Once deployed, the appliance can be powered on. It will acquire an IP address if DHCP is enabled and publish that in the summary page of the appliance in the vSphere client. But if DHCP is not enabled, accessing the appliance becomes a little interesting. I found some details here. Luckily for me I have DHCP available and was simply able to hit the appliance acquired IP once it was up. The default username and password are both ‘admin’ and it would obviously make sense for you to change them to something else. When you provide the appliance with the default credentials, you will be asked to provide the license key and the email associated with it. This will also be a good opportunity for you to change your default password. With a few other choices to make you will be ready to rock and roll within seconds.

In the Boomerang world you have the option to create protection groups that serve as containers. These containers are made up of VMs. In order to create a protection group, you will need to provide the following:

  1. vSphere admin credentials
  2. vSphere IP/DNS
  3. AWS access key
  4. AWS secret key
  5. S3 Bucket name

Once you provide this information, you will be able to create a protection group. In my case I used a PHDVBA appliance I had laying around. My only reason for picking this versus others was its smaller disk footprint. It would have been relatively faster for me to move this to and from AWS considering my Internet connection is not the fastest. Read the rest of this entry »