Monitoring

Netdata VMware vSphere Monitoring Configuration

Monitor your VMware vSphere environment in real-time with Netdata's cloud-based monitoring solution. Collect data, status metrics, and other metrics like hosts, virtual machines, external databases, and more.

Netdata has come onto the scene as a very easy-to-configure and quick time-to-value monitoring solution. It is cloud-based, and you can easily use it to monitor endpoints on-premises, including virtualization and hypervisor environments like VMware vSphere.

What is Netdata?

Netdata provides real-time monitoring metric capabilities and detailed insights into system performance that aligns with cloud native computing foundation best practices. Using a plugin-type architecture, you can collect status metrics, data collection, and monitor various environments using Netdata’s monitoring design.

Netdata parses through all the data collected and can display meaningful analytics from the data for many different things, including hosts, virtual machines, servers, external databases, disk resources, CPU, memory, cloud deployments and instance, network traffic, and a number of other different metrics.

Using these, Netdata can create interactive visualizations and charts of the data collected and create custom dashboards. These can help quickly understand the performance impact of behavior in the environment.

1. Install a Netdata collector system

The first step is the installation of the Netdata agent. The agent serves as the collector system that runs Netdata on-prem and will poll your vCenter Server for monitoring.

After you have signed up for a free community account with Netdata Cloud. Then you will add a node. Click Manage Room > Add Node. Then, choose the operating system in which you want to install Netdata. Netdata actively supports most operating system platforms. The command displayed will have your claim token and room ID embedded.

Getting the command to run on your remote netdata agent
Getting the command to run on your remote netdata agent

Run the command in your collector machine. In my case I am using an Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Linux server. When you run the command, you will need to confirm a couple of prompts to install software and restart services.

First install prompt
The first install prompt

First service restart prompt.

First service restart prompt during installation of netdata
First service restart prompt during installation of netdata

Next prompt to install software.

Second prompt during installation
Second prompt during installation

Final service restart prompt.

Second service restart prompt
Second service restart prompt

Once the Netdata installation finishes, you can refresh your Netdata room nodes screen and you should see the collected data starting to stream to the dashboard from the collector node itself which will collect data from your other production systems.

The netdata agent node is connected to netdata cloud
The netdata agent node is connected to netdata cloud

2. Configure Netdata to monitor VMware vSphere

Now, let’s delve into configuring Netdata to work with VMware vSphere. This section will provide step-by-step instructions.

Netdata includes a command line tool used to edit files needed to configure the connection to our vSphere vCenter Server.

Navigate to the following directory:

/etc/netdata

If you list the directory you will see the edit-config Netdata monitoring tool editor.

The netdata edit config tool
The netdata edit config tool

3. Using the edit-config tool to list the plugins

We can use the tool to view the built-in modules included out of the box with Netdata. Use the command:

edit-config --list

When you do, you will see the file:

go.d/vsphere.conf
The vsphere configuration file in netdata
The vsphere configuration file in netdata

4. Edit the vSphere configuration file

Now, we can use the edit-config command to edit the vSphere config file:

edit-config go.d/vsphere.conf
Using edit config to edit vsphere configuration
Using edit config to edit vsphere configuration

It will open the file for editing.

Viewing the default vsphere configuration file
Viewing the default vsphere configuration file

In the file, you need to uncomment one of the blocks for filling in the information for your specific vCenter server. The block contains the name, URL, username, and password. Below I am configuring my vCenter Server appliance hostname for the setup. 

Populating the vsphere configuration with my environment config
Populating the vsphere configuration with my environment config

5. Edit the plugin configuration file

Once you have entered your details, close and save the file. Next, we need to edit the go.d.conf.

edit-config go.d.conf
Editing the plugin configuration file
Editing the plugin configuration file

In this file, you will see the plugin modules you can activate. All are commented out. So, we need to uncomment the vSphere module.

Viewing the plugin configuration file
Viewing the plugin configuration file

Scroll down and uncomment vsphere.

Uncommenting the vsphere plugin
Uncommenting the vsphere plugin

Save and close the file.

6. Restart the Netdata service

Restarting the service and viewing its status
Restarting the service and viewing its status

7. Troubleshooting the vSphere connection

After I restarted the service, I didn’t see any activity in the Netdata console. Netdata has included some useful steps to help troubleshoot. As it turns out, there was some additional configuration needed to make the connection to vCenter Server.

To debug your vSphere connection, run the following commands:

## Navigate to the plugins.d directory
cd /usr/libexec/netdata/plugins.d/

## Switch to the netdata user
sudo -u netdata -s

## Run the go.d.plugin to debug the collector:
./go.d.plugin -d -m vsphere

As you can see below, the problem was related to the untrusted self-signed certificate.

Failed to verify tls certificate error
Failed to verify tls certificate error

After doing a bit of Googling, I found the additional configuration was needed:

tls_skip_verify: yes
Adding skip tls verify
Adding skip tls verify

Netdata collects data from your vSphere vCenter Server integration after the service is restarted and we immediately start to see visualization of performance with chart values, virtual component health, etc. Below is the default configuration for the vSphere collector that starts showing utilization of VMware instances, including clusters in the environment, including auto detection of various metrics and values collected from our vSphere environment.

Netdata is connected to vsphere
Netdata is connected to vsphere

 Below, we see host memory usage with labels for the hosts and a description of the utilization metrics to have immediate feedback on memory pressure. One gripe and this may be a setting is the names of the hosts. These are not set to friendly names. However, this could be in the options that I need to explore

Viewing hosts memory in netdata vmware monitoring
Viewing hosts memory in netdata vmware monitoring

Next, we see hosts CPU output.

Viewing hosts cpu in netdata vmware monitoring
Viewing hosts cpu in netdata vmware monitoring

A look at VMware ESXi hosts disk latency.

Esxi host disk latency in netdata vmware monitoring
Esxi host disk latency in netdata vmware monitoring

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Netdata enable VMware vSphere Monitoring?

Netdata provides real-time monitoring and visualizations of virtual machine performance, host performance, networking, etc. It collects metrics that offer insights into various aspects like disk resources, network traffic, and system health of your vSphere infrastructure.

Can Netdata Operate in Cloud and On-Premises Environments?

Netdata can operate in both cloud deployments and on-premises. This capability offers data collection and monitoring capabilities regardless of the location.

What Makes Netdata Different from Other Monitoring Tools?

Unlike other monitoring solutions, Netdata provides real-time data processing and minimal impact on system resources. It has an auto-detection feature for metrics and machine learning algorithms that provide a view of your systems and help identify issues before they become major.

How Does Netdata Handle Data from External Databases?

Netdata can interface with external databases, collecting and integrating data for a unified monitoring experience. This is useful for environments where data is spread across multiple sources.

Is There a Way to Customize Netdata Dashboards for Specific Needs?

You can customize dashboards to display specific metrics important to operations. This makes sure data presented is what you need to see from the environment.

How Can I Ensure Netdata Is Collecting the Right Metrics?

To verify that Netdata collects the appropriate metrics, you can customize and adjust the configuration files as needed as we have detailed in the post. This makes sure the data collected is relevant and valuable for your specific monitoring objectives.

Does Netdata Provide Alerts for System Anomalies?

Yes, Netdata can alert across a wide range of metrics. You can configure alerts so you get notified in case of any anomalies or issues in your VMware vSphere environment.

How Can Netdata Improve My VMware vSphere Performance Analysis?

It collects and presents metrics in an intuitive way. This lets you quickly identify and address performance bottlenecks in your VMware vSphere environment.

How does Netdata use machine learning?

It uses ML for predictive analysis and anomaly detection. 

Wrapping up Netdata and VMware vSphere

Netdata provides a really intuitive and simple monitoring solution for VMware vSphere to enable discovery of hundreds of metrics and data points. It allows you to see patterns, errors, vms, CPU, memory, storage, and many other sources of info for VM performance and overall issue detection and capacity management.

I think it is a little rough around the edges compared to some other monitoring solutions, but considering the ease with which you can set up a collector and immediately start getting metrics this would be great for edge environments and others where you need quick and dirty monitoring. Also it is free for the community edition features.

Hopefully, this guide will help you get up and running with Netdata monitoring your VMware environment.

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for documenting this. The netdata documentation lacked some of these key steps. This should be in the official docks. Works perfectly in my home lab. Thanks again!

    Scott

    1. Scott, thanks so much for the comment! I agree, I was totally frustrated by the official documentation. I had to make some assumptions and piece this together from various sources. Hopefully this will help to fill the gaps. Thanks again!

      Brandon

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