One of the tools which is part of the vCenter Operations Management Suite is vCenter Infrastructure Navigator (VIN). VIN is part of vCops Suite Advanced/Enterprise and part of VMware’s vCloud Suite Advanced and Enteprise. The foundation and standard versions of vCops suite lack VIN.
vCenter Infrastructure Navigator is a great tool that discovers application dependencies. VIN comes as a virtual appliance, which makes installation pretty simple. Just upload the appliance and link it to your vCenter Server. The VIN interface is only available in the vSphere Web Client.
After the installation of VIN, you have to configure a useraccount for VIN to use. After you’ve configured this user, VIN will start discovering application dependencies using VMware Tools. No additional drivers are required here.
vCenter Infrastructure Navigator is doing its magic right away. VIN will discover applications running in your virtual machines and will show to which other virtual machines/applications are connecting:
In this example you see a server called “vcenter” which is running a VMware vCenter service and a MS SQL service connecting to Active Directory/DNS server. VIN is (in this case) displaying a subset of all discovered application dependencies; 7+ services are connecting to this VM, this particular VM is connecting to 16 other services as indicated by the +7 and +16 tags.
VIN discovers about 250 different applications. A full list of all the apps is on the VMware website in the Infrastructure Navigator download portal. There’s also a document available describing the methods used during an active discovery.
Notice that you can also add your own applications/services. In the example below you see an unknown service which is using port 53 and is called dns.exe.
Obviously this is the DNS service which you can add to VIN by simply clicking the “+”.
An excellent use case for vCenter Infrastructure Navigator is the link with Site Recovery Manager (SRM). The application dependency information displayed by VIN is very valuable when creating an SRM Disaster Recovery plan. On top of this VIN displays if a VM is SRM protected, so you can easily determine which VMs are/aren’t protected when looking at the application relationships.
Give VIN a try if you’re a vCops advanced or enterprise user. You can of course also download a vCops trial from the VMware website.