Virtualization Manager - VM Sprawl Report

Large virtualized environments are typically characterized by a multitude of virtual hosts, each hosting tens of virtual machines. Administrators need to periodically review the usage of these VMs in order to identify those VMs that have been utilized optimally and those that have been under-utilized. Since each VM, regardless of its powered-on state and user activity, consumes disk space and memory, the knowledge of unused/under-used VMs will enable administrators to decide whether/not to pull down such VMs in an effort to conserve valuable physical resources. The resources thus released may be used to support critical operations performed by other VMs or to avert slowdowns/performance degradations experienced by mission-critical applications executing on these VMs.

To provide administrators with insights into the state and usage of VMs across their virtualized environment, and to enable them to instantly identify unused VMs, eG Enterprise offers the Cluster VM Sprawl report. Using this report, administrators can figure out the following:

  • How many VMs across the environment are in a powered-off state? Which ones are they?
  • What percentage of time has a VM been in a powered-off state?
  • Are there any powered-on VMs to which users have not logged in for a long time? If so, which ones are they?
  • How much memory and disk space has each unused VM been configured with? Can the removal of these unused VMs improve the performance of other VMs and applications executing on them?

To generate this report, do the following:

  1. Select VM Sprawl option from the vCenter Reports node of the REPORTS BY FUNCTION tree. Figure 1 then appears.

    Figure 1 : Providing the specifications for the Cluster VM SPRAWL report

  2. As shown in Figure 1, for a graphical report, select Graph as the Report Type. For a tabular report, select Data.
  3. Then, select a criterion for analysis from the Analyze by list box. Using this report, you can analyze the performance of one/more vCenter components, or those that are part of a Zone. The options provided by the Analyze by list box are discussed hereunder:

    • Component: Select this option to choose the vCenter component(s) from across all the components that are available in the cluster environment. For instance, for a report on the powered-on state of VMs executing within the clusters managed by an independent vCenter server in the environment, select Component from the Analyze by list, select VMware vCenter from the Component Type list, and then select the VMware vCenter host listed in the Component list.
    • Zone: Pick this option for a report on the performance of vCenter components that are included in a zone. Then, choose a Zone. When a zone is picked, the Include Subzone flag is set to "Yes" by default, indicating that the vCenter components within the subzones of the chosen zone will also be considered for report generation. To exclude subzones from the scope of your report, set this flag to "No". If the chosen zone (or its subzones) includes one/more components of vCenter type, then the Component Type list will include the VMware vCenter option. Selecting this type will populate the Components list with all components of that type, which are present in the selected zone. Select a vCenter component from this list.
  4. Select a cluster managed by the VMware vCenter Component from the Cluster drop-down list.
  5. Then, select a physical server type that is included in the cluster from the Server Type drop-down list. The servers of the chosen type will then be listed in the Server list box. Pick one/more servers from this list. If the Server list consists of too many servers, then viewing all the servers and selecting the ones you need for report generation could require endless scrolling. To avoid this, you can click the icon next to the Server list. The SERVERS pop up window will then appear using which you can view almost all the servers in a single interface and select the ones for which the report is to be generated.
  6. Then, specify the Timeline for the graph. You can either provide a fixed time line such as 1 hour, 2 days, etc., or select the Any option from the list to provide a From and To date/time for report generation.

    Note:

    For every user registered with the eG Enterprise system, the administrator can indicate the maximum timeline for which that user can generate a report. Once the maximum timeline is set for a user, then, whenever that user logs into eG Reporter and attempts to generate a report, the Timeline list box in the report page will display options according to the maximum timeline setting of that user. For instance, if a user can generate a report for a maximum period of 3 days only, then 3 days will be the highest option displayed in the Timeline list - i.e., 3 days will be the last option in the fixed Timeline list. Similarly, if the user chooses the Any option from the Timeline list and proceeds to provide a start date and end date for report generation using the From and To specifications, eG Enterprise will first check if the user's Timeline specification conforms to his/her maximum timeline setting. If not, report generation will fail. For instance, for a user who is allowed to generate reports spanning over a maximum period of 3 days only, the difference between the From and To dates should never be over 3 days. If it is, then, upon clicking the Run Report button a message box will appear, prompting the user to change the From and To specification.

  7. In addition to the settings discussed above, this report comes with a set of default specifications. These settings are hidden by default. If you do not want to disturb these default settings, then you can proceed to generate the report by clicking the Run Report button soon after you pick one/more Servers. However, if you want to view and then alter these settings (if required), click on the button. The default settings will then appear in the MORE OPTIONS drop down window (see Figure 2). The steps below discuss each of these settings and how they can be customized.

    Figure 2 : The default settings for generating the Cluster VM Sprawl reportk

  8. Select any one of the following options from the Metric list:

    • For ESX hosts in the environment, the default selection from the Metric drop-down is Powered On.
    • For VDI environments, the Metric drop-down will provide an additional Powered On With User option.
  9. Then, select a convenient show option from the Show drop list.

    Note:

    The Show drop down list appears only when a graphical report is to be generated. The selection from this list governs the maximum number of VMs to be displayed in the bar graph. The default options of the Show list are: Top-25, Top-50, All, Last-25, Last-50. This default setting is governed by the ShowTop parameter in the [VM_SPRAWL] section of the eg_report.ini file (in the [EG_INSTALL_DIR]\manager\config directory). By default, this ShowTop parameter is set to 50. To view bar graphs for a more or less number of VMs, you may want to change this value. For example, if you set ShowTop to 100, then, the Show drop-down list in the report page will provide administrators with the following options: Top-100, Top-50, All, Last-100, and Last-50.

  10. In large environments, reports generated using months of data can take a long time to complete. Administrators now have the option of generating reports on-line or in the background. When a report is scheduled for background generation, administrators can proceed with their other monitoring, diagnosis, and reporting tasks, while the eG manager is processing the report. This saves the administrator valuable time. To schedule background processing of a report, you can either select the Background Save - PDF option or the Background Save - CSV option from the Report Generation list. In this case, a Report Name text box will appear, where you would have to provide the name with which the report is to be saved in the background. To process reports in the foreground, select the Foreground Generation - HTML option from this list.

    Note:

    • The Report Generation list will appear only if the EnableBackgroundReport flag in the [BACKGROUND_PROCESS] section of the eg_report.ini file (in the [EG_INSTALL_DIR]\manager\config directory) is set to Yes.
    • The default selection in the Report Generation list will change according to the Timeline specified for the report. If the Timeline set is greater than or equal to the number of days specified against the MinDurationForReport parameter in the [BACKGROUND_PROCESS] section of the eg_report.ini file, then the default selection in the Report Generation list will be Background Save - PDF. On the other hand, if the Timeline set for the report is lesser than the value of the MinDurationForReport parameter, then the default selection in the Report Generation list will be Foreground. This is because, the MinDurationForReport setting governs when reports are to be processed in the background. By default, this parameter is set to 2 weeks - this indicates that by default, reports with a timeline of 2 weeks and above will be processed in the background.
  11. Finally, click the Run Report button to generate the report.

    Figure 3 : Graph showing the Powered On state of the VMs

  12. For ESX virtual hosts environment, if the Report Type is Graph, you will view a report comprising a bar chart that reveals the VMs that have been configured on all the chosen virtual hosts, and the percentage of time (during the chosen Timeline) for which each VM has been in a powered-on state. Using this graph, you can instantly identify VMs that have remained in a powered-off state for a considerably long time; this way, VMs that have been unnecessarily eroding the allocated resources can be identified. shows the bar graph of this report.
  13. For VDI environments, if the Display option chosen is Powered On With User, then, the resulting bar chart will reveal the percentage of time each VM in the environment has been in the powered on state with a user logged in. Using this graph, you can not only identify VMs that have been powered-off for a long time, but also powered-on VMs that have remained idle for a long time.

    Note:

    You can configure the bar colors of the bar chart in the report, by editing the eg_report.ini file in the [EG_INSTALL_DIR]\manager\config directory. The FusionColorForPowerOnPercent parameter in the [VM_SPRAWL] section of the file defines the default colors of the bars in your graph. You can change any of the color codes to change the color of a bar.

  14. Unlike a Graph report, a Data report does not graphically represent the measure data. Instead, the configured details are presented in a tabular format in the report.
  15. If the Report Type is Data, clicking on the Run Report button will lead you to .
  16. For each VM configured on the chosen vCenter components, the data report will display the percentage of time for which that VM was in a powered-on state during the stated timeline (Refer ). In addition, the Last Powered On time of a VM is also revealed - this is nothing but the last time the eG agent checked the status of the VM and found that it was powered-on. Using this information, you can determine whether the VM was powered-on or off during the last measurement period. Also the measures such as Memory and Disk Capacity can also be viewed per VM, thus enabling you to assess how removal of unused VMs will impact the resource availability on the host.

    Figure 4 : Data report of the VMs in VDI environments

  17. In case of VDI environments, the data report will additionally reveal the percentage of time for which each VM was powered-on with an active user session; this way, you can quickly identify powered-on VMs that have been idle for long time periods. Also, a Last User Access Time will be available for each VM, which will reveal the last time a user had logged into that VM - this is nothing but the last time the eG agent checked the state of the VM and found that it was powered on with a user session active on it.

    Note:

    • Before emailing reports, ensure that the SMTP mail host and eG Admdinistrator ID are properly configured in the eG administrative interface (using the Alerts -> Mail Settings -> Server Settings option).
    • When reports are sent by email, the body of the email will contain the reports so sent in HTML format. You can, if you so desire, send the report as an attachment by setting the SendMailAsAttachment flag to Yes (or True). This flag is available in the [MISC_ARGS] section of the eg_services.ini file (in the [EG_INSTALL_DIR]\manager\config directory).
  18. If the Background Save - PDF option is chosen from the Report Generation list, then clicking on the Run Report button will not generate the report and display it in this page for your benefit. Instead, a message indicating that the report is being processed in the background will appear. This will be accompanied by a link, which will lead you to the page that lists all the reports that are being processed in the background, and their current status. If background report generation fails for a report, you can regenerate that report using this page, or can even delete that report if need be. On the other hand, if background processing successfully completes for your report, then, you can view a PDF of the report by clicking on the icon in that page.