Skip to content
Best Practices

Monitoring Virtual Machines: Tips from an Open Source Pro

Blog Monitoring Virtual Machines: Tips from an Open Source Pro

Guest Blog

When it comes to mastering the monitoring and overall management of virtual machines, ITOps need choices that match their needs. Our software suite, Centreon EMS delivers plug and play unified views and interoperability, while our open source version puts you in the pilot seat for robust infrastructure systems and network performance monitoring—which is the focus of this post. Today, we’re welcoming Héctor Herrero, open source enthusiast, blogger at and owner of Open Services IT, a consultancy firm that offers specialized IT services in beautiful Bilbao, Spain. In this post, Héctor provides some top-level insights on the monitoring of virtual machines. Looking for a step-by-step on how monitor vSphere with Centreon? Find it here.

Q&A with Héctor Herrero: Fast Insights on Virtual Machines

Virtual machines have been around for a good 10 years now—What kind of organizations can benefit most from virtualization?

Any type of business, of any size, from the smallest to the largest, anyone working with computers can benefit from virtualization. It’s a great tool to optimize IT resources: such as servers, mitigating the risks of data loss, reducing hardware and energy costs, etc. In short, virtualization provides growing businesses with some elasticity in building the infrastructure they need when they need it. 

What’s the most common challenge in monitoring a virtual infrastructure?

I’d say it’s a visibility issue. The visibility you get depends on the virtualization solution you use. If you rely on commercial solutions, monitoring may typically be limited to what the solution provider lets you see. Most of those product-specific solutions are static and inflexible, because the provider probably offers more sophisticated IT monitoring with another product, which you’d need to purchase separately. 

Essentially, the monitoring solution that comes with your virtualization solution will be limited to the virtual assets, when in reality, you also need to monitor the rest of the IT environment: physical assets, services, applications and so on. In my practice as an IT consultant, I often see the need to centralize IT monitoring—to integrate it into a unique provider or product-agnostic view. Who would say no to the awesomeness of a single tool to check status and traffic of routers, switches or firewalls, as well as keeping an eye on company backups, certificates, domain expiration, issues in Active Directory…? This is one solid reason why I recommend using Centreon. It makes it easy to consolidate checks of the entire IT environment to give overall visibility.

You’ve written a comprehensive, 60-page guide on Monitoring vSphere with Centreon—Why did you pick vSphere as a topic of importance?

Good question. VMware vSphere is one of the most widely used solutions in data centers around the globe. It’s easy to use, very scalable and robust. Monitoring your VMware cluster is a great first step into gaining knowledge of what’s happening in your virtual environment, to ensure resources are optimized and check on their availability. 

There’s also a human dimension to this choice. The project started as a charity venture I undertook with 13 bloggers in LATAM that are VMware experts. We ended up publishing a 1000-page ebook on vSphere, in Spanish, downloadable for free. The greatest part is that we got onboard some industry sponsors, including Centreon, and through their support we were able to raise over 27,000€ which was fully donated to two NGOs. 

What are some things or challenges to look out for in integrating vSphere monitoring with the rest of infrastructure monitoring? 

Well, you need to be careful to install all the dependencies needed by the plugin as well as choose the correct Perl VMware SDK. If you follow the steps—in this guide for example, you should have no problem at all. 

The real challenge would be to know what you’re looking to monitor, so you don’t get lost in all the options. You can go as deep as you want, monitor specific virtual indicators, such as CPU Ready, CPU Wait, different memories such as ballooning or swapping, IOPS, latencies… And of course, you need to remember to monitor the entire environment, including physical hosts, SAN network and devices, etc. 

The best practice is to be aware of all the critical points of your infrastructure, with the objective to control them perfectly, seizing all opportunities to eliminate manual tasks that can be accomplished automatically through the monitoring console.

What are the advantages of using Centreon to monitor vSphere? 

Centreon differs from other solutions. It brings much needed elasticity and interoperability with a range of third-party applications, with the added benefit of an entire community behind it. And it’s not just accomplishing the actual monitoring, it’s building and sharing fantastic reports. 

A great idea for example is to keep a big TV screen in your IT department, showing various views—for example, real-time status, logical, traffic, network, and connectivity maps… or any kind of graphics that can help you make sense of your IT environment and quickly locate problems. Making it more visual is making IT more tangible to the rest of your colleagues at the frontline of the business—they finally get a way to understand what you do and the value you can bring them. 

Ultimately, you can scale the insights you get from the infrastructure at the level of the business, keeping track of the SLA compliance of any given server or function they perform, drawing a relation between the infrastructure that is monitored and the business services. 

You can directly launch self-correcting measures to fix problems early on. This is all attainable when integrating Centreon with the NagVis or Grafana solutions or the Centreon business intelligence module, Business Aware Monitoring or BAM, and integrating event management solutions.

Who Should Read Your Ebook on Monitoring vSphere with Centreon? 

Any IT administrator will want to take a look and learn. It’s nothing complicated. All you need is an open mind to grasp some basic principles—on which you can then build as you need and at your own pace. Ultimately, the journey is about understanding your IT environment, expanding the monitoring perimeter and being generally more empowered to manage all of it. 

The Monitoring vSphere with Centreon ebook provides you with all the steps necessary to monitor your virtual machine and the rest of your infrastructure – and having fun doing it – like the hundreds of thousands of ITOM pros around the globe that use Centreon. Download my ebook here. 


Want more tips from Héctor, our guest blogger? Check out his blog


Facebook picto Twitter picto Twitter picto

Ready to see how Centreon can transform your business?

Keep informed on our latest news