Dell ESXi Management

Unlike the traditional ESX software, the ESXi software does not have a service console. It helps reduce the installation footprint of the software and can allow the hypervisor to be directly installed on the system’s internal flash storage or a USB key.

At the moment I am investigating moving to ESXi from ESX, after resolving the DSET issue I was then faced with the management of the ESXi hosts, currently the full fat ESX hosts have the Dell open management agent installed on them and SNMP configured, this allows the Dell management server to keep track of the underlying hardware and report any hardware issues or firmware updates.

But what happens with ESXi 4.0 and the removal of the service console ?

Earlier with ESXi 3.5, OpenManage component were integrated with the downloadable Dell ESX3i ISO image
but from ESXi 4.0 onwards, VMware introduced a new concept called vSphere Installation Bundle (VIB), this allows the end users to download VIB files and install it directly into ESXi 4.0. Dell are now posting their OpenManage component as a VIB on support.dell.com.

To help reduce the system footprint and to simplify deployment, the ESXi software does not have a traditional service console management interface where Dell OpenManage agents are installed. Instead, to provide the required hardware manageability, VMware has incorporated the standard Common Information Model (CIM) management profiles into the ESXi software.

The CIM framework is an open standard framework that defines how managed hardware elements in a system are represented.The CIM framework consists of CIM providers developed by hardware vendors to enable monitoring and managing of the hardware device. By representing the hardware elements using standard CIM, ESXi provides any management tool (that implements the same open standards) the ability to manage the system.

The installation manual takes you through the install of this VIB using the RCLI and the vihostupdate command but if you are like me and wish to automate these tasks you could use the following PowerCLI script to install the VIB, this script not only installs the VIB but will also setup SNMP and the Advanced Configuration setting which tells ESXi to use the installed Dell components to report on the hardware via CIM.

# Set the following variables
$ESXHost = "testesx4i"
$SNMPCommunity = "public"
$SNMPTargetHost = "192.168.0.50"
$FolderName = "oem-dell-openmanage-esxi_6.2.0-A00"
$DellOMSA = "c:\temp\$FolderName"

Connect-VIServer $ESXHost
Write "Retriving $ESXHost object"
$VMHostObj = Get-VMHost $ESXHost
Write "Checking for OMSA install files"

if (-Not (Test-Path "$DellOMSA\metadata.zip")){
	Write "$DellOMSA does not exist, please make sure this is the OMSA zip file extracted contents."
	Exit
} Else {
	Write "Install files found"
}
Write "Copying OMSA client to the host datastore"
$ds = $VMHostObj | Get-Datastore | Select -first 1
Copy-DatastoreItem $DellOMSA $ds.DatastoreBrowserPath -Recurse

Write "Installing Dell OMSA"
$DSName = $ds.Name
$InstalledOMSA = $VMHostObj | Install-VMHostPatch -HostPath /vmfs/volumes/$DSName/$FolderName/metadata.zip

Write "Enabling CIM OEM Providers"
Set-VMHostAdvancedConfiguration -Name UserVars.CIMOEMProvidersEnabled -Value 1 | Out-Null

Write "Removing Install files"
$urlPath = "https://" + $esxhost + "/folder/" + $FolderName + "?dcPath=ha-datacenter&dsName=" + $dsName
$fileMgr = Get-View (Get-View ServiceInstance).Content.FileManager
$fileMgr.DeleteDatastoreFile_Task($urlPath,$null)

If ($InstalledOMSA.NeedsRestart -eq $true){
	$Reboot = Read-Host "A reboot is needed type YES to reboot now or press enter to complete the install:"
	If ($Reboot -eq "YES"){
		Write "Putting host into maintenance Mode"
		Set-VMHost $VMHostObj -State Maintenance -Confirm:$false | Out-Null
		Write "Rebooting host now"
		Restart-VMHost $VMHostObj -Confirm:$false | Out-Null
	} Else {
		Write "A reboot is needed before the DELL OMSA will work correctly"
	}
}

If ((Get-VMHostSnmp).ReadOnlyCommunities -ne $SNMPCommunity){
	Write "Setting SNMP Configuration"
	$VMHostObj | Get-VMHostsnmp | Set-VMHostSnmp -TargetHost $SNMPTargetHost -TargetCommunity $SNMPCommunity -AddTarget -ReadOnlyCommunity $SNMPCommunity -Enabled:$true
}

Write "OMSA Install Completed"

To use the above script:

  • Download the latest version of the VIB (currently 6.2.0 here)
  • Extract the downloaded zip to a folder with the same name
  • Adjust the Foldername and DELLOMSA variables to reflect the path and folder name
  • Alter the ESXHost variable with the hostname or IP address of the server you will be installing to
  • Alter the SNMPCommunity variable to your settings
  • Alter the SNMPTargetHost variable to your setting (ITA server)
  • Run the script from a PowerCLI prompt.

The hardware management data is provided to management applications using CIM Extensible Markup Language (XML) as well as WS-Management (WSMAN).

The VMware Infrastructure (VI) client provides hardware health status of various hardware devices. The VI client uses CIM XML to read hardware information provided by the CIM providers. Each of the monitored hardware devices are listed along with the health status.

Once this has been installed you will still not be able to access the normal OMSA website which is accessed via https://<hostname>:1311/ if you do want to access this you will need to install the ‘Dell OpenManage Server Administrator Managed Node’ onto a windows or linux box which acts as a proxy and relays the information back to the webpage as below:

image

You will also be able to discover the host in your Dell OpenManage IT Assistant (ITA) using SNMP but it will not have the full functionality which was offered in the full fat version of ESX with OMSA installed, you can add limited network discovery and health monitoring by using the DRAC card and allowing ITA to find this, the below diagram gives an overview of ESXi management for Dell systems:

image

So the conclusion is just to keep in mind that the management interfaces which you may use at the moment for Dell servers to report on hardware and health performances may have changed and this will require your internal processes and monitoring to be adapted when adopting ESXi.

For further information on Dell system management for ESXi please see this document.

24 thoughts on “Dell ESXi Management”

  1. You wouldn’t by chance have updated this for ESXi 5.X? I know VUM can do it much more easily now, but not available in my scenario. Thanks!

  2. I have a similar script that runs from the vMA, finds the platform and installs the correct hardware agent (i.e. Dell or HP). Our problem is the integration between Dell ITA and the ESXi offline bundle, unfortunately ITA isn’t able to poll the vCenter API or validate the CIM providers. Because of this the ESXi hosts shows an unknown status in ITA because ITA doesn’t know the “status” of the offline bundle. For us this is a huge validation step that can’t be performed because via the vMA we can tell if the VIB is installed, but can’t validate that it’s functioning. In our environment we can’t just leave it to bunnies and sunshine and just hope that it’s working.

    Have you messed with polling the Dell VIB via CIM or WS-man in order to validate functionality? I know that the Dell vCenter plugin has this sort of function but only host-by-host, not an all encompassing view. Plus I don’t want to pay for another tool. Thanks!

  3. Dell Tech support states the 6.2.0 VIBs should work.

    I now get an error…

    Cannot find drive. A drive with the name ‘vmstores’ does not exist.
    At :line:21 char:18
    + Copy-DatastoreItem <<<< $DellOMSA $ds.DatastoreBrowserPath -Recurse

    Anyone else getting this error and have a fix?

    Thanks

  4. Does anyone know if the 6.2.0 VIBs work with PE 1955 Blades? The 1955 isn’t listed in the Dell compatability list for the 6.2.0 version.

    The PE 1955 is listed on the VMware ESX4i HCL.

  5. FYI, i had to remove those lines from vmware.xml (in metadata.zip) to get rid of this error : This Vib supports hardware vendor ‘Dell Inc.’ but BIOS reports vendor as ‘Dell Inc. ‘

  6. No I doubt if you can do what you want by creating your own VIB, you could however call putty using Powershell and get it to run the script after you copy the data up to the host using Copy-DatastoreItem to automate the process.

  7. Alan, how is the metadata.zip file formatted?

    I would like to use a similar method during a build for ESX classic to install the HP Agents automatically. I run an unattended install and then copy over the snmpd.conf and restart the service.
    My script which is run from a Putty session is:
    cd /vmfs/volumes/vmiso/HP_Insight_Agent/hpmgmt/825
    ./install825vibs.sh –silent –inputfile hpmgmt.conf
    /bin/cp ../../us_esx4_snmpd.conf /etc/snmp/snmpd.conf
    service snmpd restart

    Could I use the Install-VMHostPatch to do this in PowerCLI?

  8. Ha ha, hey it resolved an issue for me so hopefully it will help others, I can now deploy my ESXi hosts with one script, including OMSA, setting up everything, updating them to the latest version and adding them to vCenter !

  9. Nevermind, I found my issue:

    Looks like all of the remote tools (RCLI, VI Toolkit, etc.) are “read only” when running against the “free” ESXi

    1. Yeah you are correct, I should have mentioned that this will not work against the free version, thanks for the reminder !

  10. I get a lot of errors during the script, but it still exists with a status of “OMSA Install Completed”

    I don’t run powershell often so this is almost certainly my fault.

    Copy-DatastoreItem : fault.RestrictedVersion.summary
    At D:\oem-dell-openmanage-esxi_6.2.0-A00\dell_esxi_installer.ps1:21 char:19
    + Copy-DatastoreItem <<<< $DellOMSA $ds.DatastoreBrowserPath -Recurse
    + CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [Copy-DatastoreItem], ViError
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : Client20_DatastoreServiceImpl_MakeDatastoreDirectory_ViError,VMware.VimAutomation.VimAutomation.Commands.CopyData
    storeItem

    Copy-DatastoreItem : fault.RestrictedVersion.summary
    At D:\oem-dell-openmanage-esxi_6.2.0-A00\dell_esxi_installer.ps1:21 char:19
    + Copy-DatastoreItem <<<< $DellOMSA $ds.DatastoreBrowserPath -Recurse
    + CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [Copy-DatastoreItem], ViError
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : Client20_DatastoreServiceImpl_MakeDatastoreDirectory_ViError,VMware.VimAutomation.VimAutomation.Commands.CopyData
    storeItem

    Copy-DatastoreItem : File [datastore1] /oem-dell-openmanage-esxi_6.2.0-A00/ was not found
    At D:\oem-dell-openmanage-esxi_6.2.0-A00\dell_esxi_installer.ps1:21 char:19
    + Copy-DatastoreItem <<<< $DellOMSA $ds.DatastoreBrowserPath -Recurse
    + CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [Copy-DatastoreItem], ViError
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : VMware.VimAutomation.Types.ViError,VMware.VimAutomation.VimAutomation.Commands.CopyDatastoreItem

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