Test Driving the VMware vCenter Support Assistant 5.5

As posted by VMware’s Rick Blythe, the vCenter Support Assistant 5.5 has been released to the Interwebs and is available for download. Imagine that! So, of course, I just had to snag a copy and take it for a spin.

For those new to the tool, it is a small OVA that deploys into your environment to send alerts, recommends fixes, can transmit support bundles, and auto collects log data based on a defined schedule. You can also use it to file support requests (SRs) directly from the plugin by logging into MyVMware. I’ll walk through the installation and configuration steps using the Wahl Network lab for your viewing pleasure. Keep all hands and feet inside the unicorn at all times.

Installation

I’m going to assume that you have a healthy vSphere environment, have downloaded the OVA file, and have imported it into your infrastructure. The appliances uses 2 vCPUs and 2 GB of memory out of the box, along with just over 1.3 GB of disk space (provisioned for 250 GB). VMware recommends 65 GB of space at a minimum, plus another 300 MB per vCenter and 50 MB for each ESXi host.

Resources used by the appliance
Resources used by the appliance

Once powered on, cruise on over to https://IP_Address in order to launch the administrative user interface. The default credentials are root with the password vmware. This will kick off the installation wizard, with the first question requesting the location of your lookup service. It’s typically https://vcenter:7444 as shown below:

Entering the vCenter lookup service address
Entering the vCenter lookup service address

Once your server has been contacted, the URL will expand to https://vcenter:7444/lookupservice/sdk automagically and you may see a certificate identity warning. I’m in a lab and don’t care to toy with 3rd party certs (excuse: lazy), but you should ensure the fingerprint matches your production environment and the certificates are valid.

Checking the certificate details
Checking the certificate details

Following this step, you’re prompted to enter the Single Sign-On (SSO) administrator credentials. This is [email protected] for those on vCenter 5.5 and admin@system-domain for vCenter 5.1:

Providing the SSO admin credentials
Providing the SSO admin credentials

That wraps up the major configuration portion. It’s now time to add your vCenter Server instances.

Authorizing vCenter

The vCenter Support Assistant will need credentials to your vCenter environment(s) to pull logs, set alarms, and other tasks outlined in the installation document. You can use one master set of credentials, called the default administrator user name and password, or tweak the user name and password on a per-vCenter basis. In this walk-through, I’ve provided the appliance access to my vCenter service account, which holds the Administrator role on the Home Lab vCenter server:

Using my vCenter service account to authorize the appliance
Using my vCenter service account to authorize the appliance

I didn’t need to configure a proxy or email account and so clicked Finish at this point. Otherwise, continue through the wizard and test your Internet connection. The wizard will drop you back to the main screen and show the status of your overall configuration. The Proactive Support portion will show Disabled, along with a link to configure log gathering and collection settings:

The final results are in!
The final results are in!

Click the link to hop on into your vSphere Web Client and continue the configuration.

Proactive Support Configuration

The vCenter Support Assistant has two tabs in the Web Client: Monitor and Manage. If you have Welcome Pages turned on, you may see a third tab that, well … welcomes you. I find these pointless and turn them off. The Monitor tab will be blank, but the Manage tab has some default configuration values populated as shown below:

Not much going on here ... yet!
Not much going on here … yet!

Start by clicking the Enable button to turn on Log Gathering. This will take you to a short wizard where you can determine your gathering settings. I chose to collect data weekly at 2 AM on Sundays, and let the collector run for a maximum of 24 hours:

Configuration for my log gathering activities
Configuration for my log gathering activities

You can also tweak your entity selection or let it use the default value and just collect everything. My lab is simple enough that I left it in a state where it will collect everything. I also left the data scrubbing feature off, since I don’t care if they can see my email addresses, IP addresses, or MAC addresses. No tinfoil hat for this guy!

At this point the appliance is configured to my needs. You can review the user’s guide for more information on creating support requests – which I didn’t want to test for obvious reasons. :)