HP’s OneView Offers Deep Visibility via vSphere Web Client

While I’m certainly no fan of the term “single pane of glass” – and often re-word it as “single glass of pain” – HP’s OneView is reaching a point where I’m beginning to start believing in the phrase. OneView, a product released towards the later half of 2013, is HP’s from-scratch look at infrastructure management. As someone who has spent years managing Integrated Lights-Out (iLO), Virtual Connect (VC), and Onboard Administrator (OA), this is extremely appealing.

The bigger news is that OneView now has deep hooks into VMware vCenter by way of a plug-in that exposes a mountain of information to the fingertips of a vSphere admin / engineer. This information is provided directly to the vSphere Web Client based on what the HP OneView appliance is able to view. With VMware keeping a tight stance on ushering administrators over to the vSphere Web Client, it’s great news to see vendors writing code that takes advantage of the shift in platforms. I recently sat down to take OneView for a test drive in an HP lab – let’s take a look at some of the features I think are noteworthy to share. 🙂

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I also invite you to check out Chris Purcell’s post over on the official HP blog
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Server Information Overview

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the information that is provided in the vSphere Web Client with OneView. Below is a screenshot showing a BL460c Gen8 blade server overview from a lab environment. I can see the iLO IP address and license type – which was typically buried in OA – along with the firmware version and hardware information. Snazzy!

An overview of HP blade details in the vSphere Web Client
An overview of HP blade details in the vSphere Web Client

Even if I don’t personally need the information, I might just want to pass it along to a tech who needs to remote in and perform an upgrade, maintenance, or general health check on the blade. I can just peek over at the IP and toss him/her the details without having to dig.

Networking Diagram

Another part of the OneView value-add that I particularly find sexy is the Networking Diagram feature. It provides visibility into exactly what the virtual network adapters carved up in Virtual Connect (VC) are doing. Each vmnic is mapped to the VC network, module, and bay. This includes the VC names for the networks and VLAN IDs.

The relationship between vmnic and Virtual Connect network
The relationship between vmnic and Virtual Connect network

Networking is already difficult enough to visualize, and having to toggle back between OA / VC / and vSphere was never pleasant. This view gives me – a rather visual person – an easy way to understand the relationship between my vSphere blade network and the physical topology that is plugged in to. And it also eliminates a need to open up the VC portal.

Firmware Anyone?

Firmware is almost always my bane. Finding the current firmware and keeping it updated to an acceptable patch level is never fun (unless you just ignore firmware and let the box sit with whatever it came with). For those who like to keep their firmware updated – like me – you’re going to make use of the Software/Firmware option in OneView. Here’s a look at the information displayed with the feature:

Got firmware?
Got firmware?

You can also take things one step further and perform firmware updates. Click on the Actions widget in the upper right hand corner and select Update Firmware. A wizard will appear with the ability to view your current Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP), along with installing a new baseline package. The wizard can be set to run immediately or on a schedule, and includes the ability to put the vSphere host into maintenance mode automatically.

Using the Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) baseline to update a server
Using the Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) baseline to update a server

I’d like to get this in my lab and take the scheduled baseline upgrade feature for a spin before promoting it further. The idea of set-it-and-forget-it firmware upgrades make me a little squeamish, but I like the idea!

Server Provisioning Work Flows

The final feature I saw with the latest OneView leverages HP Server Provisioning to grow a cluster. The vSphere Web Client plug-in kicked off a bare metal installation on a blade based on an HP OneView reference profile. Growing a cluster isn’t the only option. There are other actions available, as shown below:

Using OneView to perform actions on the hardware
Using OneView to perform actions on the hardware

The entire “Grow Cluster” work flow installs ESXi, sets the IP address, and configures all of the networking. All of the steps are performed directly from the Web Client, such as the step below where the user selects the build plan and reference profile for a new build. In this step, for example, you’re given the choice of which enclosure, bay, and model blade to install ESXi upon. Or you can just choose to do all of them.

Choosing target servers for an ESXi deployment
Choosing target servers for an ESXi deployment

Even if you don’t find yourself building new hosts that often, it’s nice to know that you can kick off the entire process from vSphere and let OneView do the heavy lifting. It also makes a predictable process that eliminates a vast amount of human error without any need to create a custom script.

Thoughts

The API driven OneView offers a number of informative and time saving features that I wish I had access to back when I spent most of my day managing HP servers. I’ve downloaded the OVA and plan to put it to the test in a lab environment with a C7000 chassis, Gen7 blades, and FlexFabric modules. At the very least, it’ll make the lab environment easier to manage and visualize! 🙂

Details on the OneView appliance virtual machine
Details on the OneView appliance virtual machine
The OneView appliance login page
The OneView appliance login page

If you want to participate with others in the community around HP OneView, check out the community link here.