A VMware Tools Report seems to be one the recurring questions that comes up in more and more meetings lately. Reason being these days for environments using a combination of different Operating Systems this is also extending the question to the “alter-ego” of the VMware Tools: the open-vm-tools.
These VM Guest additions are important and beneficial to the overall performances of the Virtual Machine and the associated VMware Host. For example amongst the many other notable features they include the memory balloning feature which allows a more dynamic and efficient usage of memory resources between the vSphere Host and the pertinent virtual machines.
Not only that. VMware Tools also help with many other functionalities which include the options for example to cooperate with backup applications to help creating and maintain application, file and crash consistent backups. In fact these are not just used by backup applications but also when taking crash consistent backup during hardware storage snapshots.
In the case of Microsoft Windows based operating systems there is also an integration with VSS framework which facilitates the quiescing of Applications for which the VSS writer is detected on the current machine to backup. For Unix and Linux based operating systems the open-vm-tools offer almost the same feature parity for the official VMware Tools. There might be differences based on the actual Unix or Linux distribution. In general for non Windows based VMs the recommendation is to use the open-vm-tools instead.
What are the benefits of using these and why is it important to run a VMware Tools Report?
Both VMware Tools and open-vm-tools (VMware Tools from now on in this article) offer nice capabilities mainly around improved performances and support for the virtualised hardware drivers (network, storage, display drivers to name a few). In addition, these provide:
- ability to gracefully perform a shutdown of the VM
- execution of scripts before/after the hypervisor snapshot is taken (eg. pre-freeze and post-thaw scripts)
- ability to run programs, commands and file system operations
- collection of VM parameters and usage information
- clock synchronization
- quiescing file system for file consistent backups
- shared folders and a lot more
So these VM tools are pretty important and put it simply can help with the overall management and performance improvements for the entire virtual infrastructure.
Running a VMware Tools Report simply allows to determine and even prevent failures during normal or forecasted operations. For example a report which shows specific capabilities, the status , versions and the VMware Tools update policy certainly helps to filter out all VMs not suitable for certain operation and schedule time in a separate task. Usually VMware Tools releases go hand in hand with Virtual Hardware releases shipping with VMware vSphere. VMware Tools Report can also prove useful detecting which VMs should or should not be moved to specific VMware Hosts based on their version. One more info that comes handy with Host Affinity rules with DRS Clusters.
There are plenty of examples and this articles shows how simple is to create a custom VMware Tools Report using Veeam ONE including the option to export/ import the template for example into another Veeam ONE environment. The idea is to start building a gallery of free templates to use and ready to customize with Veeam ONE.
Create a custom VMware Report
Creating a custom report using Veeam ONE is a pretty simple operation. Once Veeam ONE is installed and data is collected, it is possible to start using the Veeam ONE Reporter component to create the custom VMware Tools Report. In this instance it allows to create a personal structure of Folders where to place the reports.
Next step is to browse the Custom Reports > Custom Infrastructure to use a built-in report as a template.
At this point from this template it allows to:
- Choose against which session data report should be run against (useful to know how things were at a specific point in time)
- Select the Scope: by default is the entire virtual infrastructure or selected objects like Hosts, Clusters and Data Centers.
- Limit the report to specific objects categorized on specific criteria (eg. VMs running for a specific Application or Department)
- Choose the Object type (extensive list of all hypervisor objects)
- Select the columns to include in the report
- Choose how to Filter, sort and Group the results.
Selecting the Virtual Machine as object the next step is to select which column to include in the VMware Tools Report. By filtering with “tools” it shows all the columns matching the criteria.
It is also possible to add columns with a desired order.
And also add extra fields from the same object container “Virtual Machine” to further qualify info in the report.
Once the columns for the VMware Tools Report have been selected the next step is the ability to create custom filters based on the values for each column. For example exclude VMs where the name starts or include “dev”.
Another filter provides the option to “Group By” the results with an aggregate function. In this case “Count”.
Last filter gives the option to “Sort By” the results as desired for specific columns.
Once ready with the selected settings the “Preview” button runs the report and shows the content organised as configured. In a simple page an interactive VMware Tools Report which shows the VMs divided in categories based on the VMware Tools statuses.
By clicking on each section it shows the requested information.
Save Report in other formats
In the “Preview” mode there is the option to automatically save the results in Excel, Word and PDF formats.
When happy with the results Veeam ONE allows to save the VMware Tools Report as a generic template that can also be exported and imported into other systems.
Other options include the ability to Publish, Schedule and even provide the direct URL to access to this custom Report from any web browser.
Import / Export VMware Report template
As an optional step Veeam ONE allows to export and import the Report templates. The procedure also in this case couldn’t be any easier. Still, from the Veeam ONE Reporter > Configuration > Extension modules > Report Management the option to import and export the templates in an .XML file format.
When exporting, using the wizard it is just a matter of selecting the desired reports.
Likewise, when importing the report templates it is just a matter to select the desired location. Which can be created ad hoc as shown at the beginning of this article.
For those who would like to try and run the VMware Tools Report with Veeam ONE it is possible to download a copy from here.