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VMware Virtual SAN (or sometimes called also VSAN) is a powerful solution to implement an hyperconverged storage solution available, as a separated product, for vSphere 5.5 U1 environments.

Actually, although it is a 1.0 version, is almost promising, but some UI pieces is (in my opinion) still missing: the vSphere Web Client is the management tool, but the VSAN dashboard is really limited an several other information (most could be obtained from the performance monitor) could be added to provide, for example detailed usage information.

To be honest there is an experimental feature called VSAN Observer that could give you most of those data in a dashboard oriented way. I suppose also that there could be a future version of VMware vCenter Operations Manager with detailed VSAN information.

There are really several posts (and also some video) about VSAN Observer and how to configure and use it:

If you have the virtual appliance version of vCenter Server (vCSA) it will be really easy to enable it:

  1. Log in to the Ruby vSphere Console (RVC) on your vCenter Server Appliance via SSH and run the command
    rvc username@localhost
  2. Enter the password for the specified username
  3. To enable live monitoring for a cluster, run the command:
    vsan.observer <vcenter-hostname>/<Datacenter-name>/computers/<Cluster-Name>/ –-run-webserver -–force
  4. On a web browser, navigate to your vCenter Server hostname / IP Address with the port number specified in the output of previous step (usually 8010):
    http://vCenterServer_hostname_or_IP_Address:8010

The Ruby vSphere Console initially was a Fling, but now is included both in the vCenter Server Appliance and in the installable version.

For vCenter server running on Windows, is little more complicated: it include the RVC environment and has a simple batch file to start it %PROGRAMFILES%\VMware\Infrastructure\VirtualCenter Server\support\rvc\rvc.bat. Most post say that it works, but maybe they have tested only with the vCSA version.

I’ve found that on my Windows Server 2012 R2 (but also on 2008 R2) vCenter the RVC starts, but when you try to navigate across the inventory (with Unix style command cd and ls) you get this error:

RuntimeError: unknown VMODL type AnyType

Fortunately I’ve got a good hist on twitter on how resolve this issue that was related to a gem (a Ruby package) too much updated.

First step was install the old version of the affected gem. The Ruby gem.bat file is under %PROGRAMFILES%\VMware\Infrastructure\VirtualCenter Server\support\ruby-*\bin

You can use this command to view all the installed gems (note that rvc has several other gems included from the rvc.bat file):

gem list --all

To install the old version:

gem install nokogiri -v 1.5.5

At this point you can simple fix your rvc.bat by removing this part and also put the right name of your vCenter Server (instead of localhost, otherwise you need to use localhost instead of the name of your vCenter):

-Igems\nokogiri-1.5.6-x86-mingw32\lib

Note also that you can put the VSAN Observer command directly in your rcv.bat by using the option -c and quoting with “” the entire command line:

vsan.observer <vcenter-hostname>/<Datacenter-name>/computers/<Cluster-Name>/ –-run-webserver -–force

Note: the Ruby vSphere Console and the VSAN Observer tool are an experimental feature. There is no user authentication to the VSAN Observer website, and could be not save keep the VSAN Observer process running for too much hours (anyway it’s not so easy start it as a service).

Also the graphical aspect is limited and some data are not provided, but could be a nice idea of a possible GUI to VSAN or some monitor widget.

I hope that in the next version we can have something integrated in the vSphere Web Client provided by vCenter Server or Operations Manager, that include a simple way to watch your data distribution across the hosts, monitor the disks status (using SMART but also providing more data about the SSD usage and health), estimate the bandwidth efficiency and so on.

Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2190 Posts)

Virtualization & Cloud Architect. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). PernixPro 2014. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014. MVP 2014. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.


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