VSSI VMware vCenter Infrastructure

Document version

Release 1.0.1 (working draft)
Date 2013/07/03

See also EDMS 1264733. Document version may differ.


You may need check the VSSI Centralized General Glossary

VMware vSphere Infrastructure

The next graphic shows the general VMware vSphere Infrastructure.

The VMware vSphere Infrastructure is composed mainly by a set of hosts, in which the hypervisors (VMware ESXi) will be installed and the virtual machines running, and a centralized management server (VMware vCenter Server), which provides centralized management and allows administrator to configure and monitor ESXi hosts, provision also a platform to manage storage, networking and much more. This server can be located in a VM running in one of the hypervisors or in an external server, and it is going to store the configurations of virtual datacenters, virtual clusters and advanced networking (across different hosts). For this, a in a database is going to be used and it can be stored in the same server or in an external server (Oracle Database Server or SQL Server, being this last option the included and default option, through a local database server).

To manage this infrastructure or initially some configurations of the hypervisors, a client software, the VMware vCenter Client must be used.

VMware vSphere Infrastructure

Connect to vSphere Server using the vSphere Client

The first step is starting a connection with the VMware vSphere Server using the VMware vSphere Client. An icon in the desktop or in Star menu should be available.

vSphere Client, connection dialog

In the previous dialog, we must put the name or IP of the server (in this case, “vssi-vcs-lhc0”) and our NICE username and password. We also can select using the current Windows session credentials in the button of the dialog window.

VMware vSphere home window

The vSphere Client home window is the last one you used, but initially is the home window:

vSphere Client Home

From this window we can access all the features available. These features will change depending on the user privileges we have.

Also, if there are some plugins installed, will be in the button of the central area, in the section “Solutions and Applications”:

vSphere Client Home with plugins

In any point we could be, pressing the “Home” button we will return to this section:

vSphere Client: Home button

Who am I?

In vSphere we could find the answer to this millenary and existential question. Just look the button of the Window, in the right side (and it is always shown):

vSphere Client: see username

It could be very useful when we have different users and roles to connect to a server and even we have more than a concurrent session opened from our desktop.


In the vSphere Client home panel, the top part is the related to Inventory elements. This is what se can see in the next screenshot:

vSphere Client Home: Inventory Icons


Using the button search, we can search anything that we can access with our privileges using the inventory. For example, this user can, at least, see the ssm-ps0 virtual machine.

vSphere Client: Search (limited user view)

In the next picture, we can see the same datacenter but connected as other user. As you can see, we can see two machines instead one: the previous user cannot see the second one, ssm-test, because this user has no read privileges.

vSphere Client: Search (administrator user view)

VMs and Templates

Here is where an operator user (or similar) should work usually.

vSphere Client: VMs and Templates

Here we can see the same problem of vSphere Client. It seems we can create a datacenter (as operator user), but it could not be done, as can be seen in the next picture.

vSphere Client: VMs and Templates, cannot create a datacenter as normal user

Hosts and Clusters

This view should be used only by users with administration privileges or administrators (other users will see more elements than they can use).

vSphere Client:  Hosts and Clusters

Datastores and Datastore Cluters

In this screen we can see the datacenter and the connected datastores to this datacenter.

vSphere Client:  Datastores and Datastore Clusters

In the next picture, we can see the same datacenter but connected as other user. As you can see, we cannot see the datastores, only the datacenter.

vSphere Client:  Datastores and Datastore Clusters as limited user

Also, as an important detail, a limited user (operator user or view-only for example) cannot add a datastore, but vSphere Client shows anyway the option, although it could not be completed.


Here the network virtual infrastructure could be seen:

vSphere Client:  Networking

As habitual in vSphere, a basic user cannot see the all the features

vSphere Client:  Networking (normal user view)

Also, only an administrative user can see the next window networking configuration

Adding permisions to vNetworks

But the place where an administrative user can configure the network is the Host and Clusters section, in “Inventory”. To see the virtual switches or add/edit networks, we must go to the Configuration tab, Hardware section; there we can see the Networking button:

vSphere Client, Networking: Virtual Switchs

To see the physical network adapters, we must press the “Network adapters” button:

vSphere Client, Networking: Physical Adapters

To configure the DNS and Routing, in the Software section, we must press “DNS and Routing”:

vSphere Client, Networking: DNS and Routing


The administration section of the vSphere panel, by default, is like the next screenshot:

vSphere Client Home: Administration Icons


Different at different levels could be defined. Take in account that some roles only have sense in some determined level. All the permissions defined at some level will be inherited in other lower levels. At these levels, some permissions could make sense. It is recommended to check the “VSSI User Roles and Privileges” document.

vSphere Client, Administration: Roles


Here we can see the connected users and opened sessions in vSphere.

vSphere Client, Administration: opened sessions


The introduced licenses are shown here. Also, new licenses could be added.

vSphere Client, Administration: Licensing

System Logs

The System Logs (SysLogs) show detailed technical information. This is not planned that a normal user or operator could use this information, in fact, only an administrative user could see it:

vSphere Client, Administration: <span class=SysLogs" src="https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/pub/Main/VSSIVMwarevCenterInfrastructure/25-vSphere_Client-Admn-04-SysLogs_adm.png" title="vSphere Client, Administration: SysLogs" height="691" />

A non-administrative user will see the next window:

vSphere Client, Administration: <span class=SysLogs for a non-administrative user" src="https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/pub/Main/VSSIVMwarevCenterInfrastructure/26-vSphere_Client-Admn-04-SysLogs.png" title="vSphere Client, Administration: SysLogs for a non-administrative user" height="436" />

vCenter Service Status

The status of vCenter could be checked in the vCenter Service Status

vCenter, administration: Service Status

vCenter Server Settings

Here the vCenter Server Settings (not VM or Hypervisor settings) could be adjusted.

vCenter, administration: Server Settings

vCenter Solutions Manager

vCenter Solutions Manager is a view in the vSphere client that allow us to monitor and interact with the registered solutions (developed according the vSphere Solutions SDK for vSphere API) using the vCenter Server instance.

vCenter, administration: vCenter Solutions Manager

A solution could be installed to add functionality from third-party technologies to the standard functions of vCenter Server. These solutions are often delivered as OVF packages and can be installed and deployed directly from the vSphere client.

Storage Providers

The Storage Providers could be managed using this console.

vCenter, administration: Storage Providers


The management section is the following one:

vSphere Client Home: Management Icons

Scheduled Tasks

In Management, Scheduled Tasks we can see the scheduled tasks and create a new one if we need to do it.

vSphere Client, management: Scheduled Tasks


vSphere Events and vSphere Alarms must be used instead of SysLogs by normal non-administrative.



Maps shows to us a structure of our vSphere Infrastructure, according our view permissions.

A non-administrative user could see something like the next screenshot:

vSphere Client, management: Maps

But an administrative user will have a different view of the same Infrastructure:

vSphere Client, management: Maps (administrative user veiw)

Host Profiles

To capture the configuration of a specific host, we can use host profiles. With this profile, we can configure other host of to ensure if some requirements set by the profile are being accomplished in some host.

vSphere Client, management: Host Profiles

VM Storage Profiles

To define the storage capabilities required by the virtual machine and its virtual disks we use VM Storage Profiles.

vSphere Client, management: Storage Profiles

Using Storage Profiles, different VM storage profiles could be assigned to the VM files and the vDisks depending on their storage needs.

Once assigned to a VM or a vDisk, the VM Storage Profile performs a compliance check to verify whether the VM or vDisk uses the storage capacities defined in the profile. Those storage capabilities indicate the storage characteristics provided by a datastore, and can be capacity, performance, availability and so on.

Customization Specifications Manager

You can customize the menu doing right click, as shown in the next picture:

vSphere Client, management: Customization Specifications Manager


vSphere Alarms and vSphere Events must be used instead of SysLogs by normal non-administrative.

We can see an alarm icon in in every window of vSphere if some alarm is running:

Alarm icon in vSphere client

If we do double click in the icon, the alarm problem could be seen:

Alarm section in vSphere client

Status of the host hardware

To see the hardware status of the hosts, we must go to the tab “Hardware Status” in “Hosts and Clusters”.

There we can see sensors status, alerts and warnings and system eventlog. Some sensing data could be classified with a tag, like Memory, Power, etc. This tags could be deployed to see in detail the gathered elements (individual sensors), as you can see in the next picture.

vSphere: host hardware status

A non-administrative user (with read permissions in the hosts) could see the status too:

vSphere: host hardware status (same view as admin)

Appendix I: vSphere business benefits and base for an enterprise cloud platform

A virtual platform is useful for almost all kind of organizations. Also, this virtual infrastructure it could be used as a base for a cloud computing platform (the VMware vCloud, OpenStack or another). A deployment of this infrastructure could be represented in the next VMware diagram [5]:

vSphere Enterprise Diagram

vSphere allow to transform IT infrastructure into a private cloud, delivering IT infrastructure as an easily accessible service. It allows to [1]:

  • Reduce costs and increase IT efficiency, reducing capital and operational expenses and minimizing potential lost revenue due to downtime, outages and failures.
  • Increase application availability and control, automating the enforcement of service-level agreements to ensure availability, security and scalability of enterprise applications.
vSphere is comprised of a number of features to transform industry standard hardware into a shared, mainframe-like resilient environment with built-in service level controls for all applications:
  • Infrastructure services to virtualize server, storage and network resources, and aggregate and allocate them precisely on demand to applications based on business priority.
  • Application services to provide built-in service level controls for availability, security and scalability to all applications running on the vSphere platform, regardless of application type or operating system.

Appendix II: vSphere Optional Features

On this section the vSphere services for virtualization and infrastructure for cloud computing will be analysed more on detail. Remember the most relevant sub-products (building these services) for VSSI project have a specific analysis collected on independent documents available at EDMS.

vSphere services for virtualization and architecture

vSphere infraestructure and application services

Open Architecture

According VMware, they have embraced an open, standards-based approach to virtualization that allows customers to leverage existing tools and infrastructure while adopting new generation applications.
vSphere also includes a comprehensive set of APIs for building tools and solutions that enhance and extend storage, networking, security and management capabilities.

Infrastructure Services

  • Compute: vSphere provides a virtualization layer that enables organizations to create multicore virtual machines and virtual machine clusters that span across hardware platforms.
    According VMware, vSphere can boost application performance by nearly 50% with dynamic, automated, policy-based resource allocation. Furthermore, according VMware, vSphere also helps customers cut IT power usage by up to 55% with distributed power-management capabilities that continuously and automatically optimize the power consumption of underlying server hardware.
  • Storage: according VMware, by enabling administrators to defer storage purchases until they are really required, vSphere helps to reduce storage expenditures by up to 5%. vSphere also enables on-demand expansion of virtual machine storage capacity.
  • Network: vSphere brings visibility, control and scalability to virtual machine networks. Administrators can move beyond per-host network configurations and maintain continuous enforcement of network policies for virtual machines as they live-migrate from one server to another.

Application Services

  • Availability: vSphere helps IT organizations ensure business continuity and prevent data loss with always-on IT capabilities such as automated failover, zero-downtime maintenance, virtual machine fault tolerance and cost-effective data protection.
  • Security: IT security is inherently more complex in virtual environments. VMware say that vSphere simplifies security and compliance by helping to enforce policies at the application level within logical zones in a shared environment while maintaining network segmentation of users and sensitive data.
  • Scalability: vSphere makes it possible to achieve cloud-scale capacity with central management for thousands of virtual machines and hundreds of hosts. According VMware, vSphere also delivers record-breaking performance for business-critical applications from Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and other leading software providers.
Some of these vSphere services included (depending on version) are:
  • vSphere ESXi
  • vSphere DRS
  • vSphere vMotion
  • vSphere High Availability (HA)
  • vSphere Fault Tolerance (FT)
  • vSphere Distributed Switch
  • NEW: vSphere Storage DRS
  • NEW: vSphere Profile-Driven Storage
You could see more info at [6] or see the detailed classification in the next graph:

vSphere services and sub-packages


  1. “Introducing vCenter Solutions Manager”: http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.sdk.doc_50%2FGUID-F158619D-F451-485A-B041-3B34F40C9917.html
  2. “Open Virtualization Format” (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Virtualization_Format [last access on 2012-10-10]
  3. OVF Whitepaper (VMware): http://www.vmware.com/pdf/ovf_whitepaper_specification.pdf
  4. http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/11638/what-is-the-point-of-the-operator-user
  5. “vSphere Enterprise Diagram V1” (Wikipedia. Source: Hany R. Michal, from www.hypevisor.com): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VSphere_Enterprise_Diagram_V1.gif [uploaded on 2010-08-14, last visit: 2012-04-24]
  6. “VMware vSphere™ for Enterprise. BUILD YOUR INFRASTRUCTURE ON THE MOST TRUSTED PLATFORM, features” (VMWare Corporation): http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/mid-size-and-enterprise-business/features.html [last visit: 2012-04-25]
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Topic revision: r3 - 2013-07-04 - BreoCosta
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