This year has been the year of the home lab for me. I’ve been putting the pieces together for a great home lab. It all started with the purchase of a nice white box that I chose to run Windows 7 on, and then on top of it, VMware Workstation 8 (a great hosted hypervisor option). I’ve got a nested installation of ESXi 5 on two separate boxes, one named SHEPPARD and the other LOCKE (can you guess what my favorite all time show is?). I installed vCenter, and I’ve just started to build out several different VMs. I have a Windows 7 box, a Server 2008 R2 box (running vCenter), an Ubuntu box and an RHEL box, not a bad start at all! From there I’ve started looking for 3rd party applications that I can install to compliment vCenter and give me the opportunity to kick the tires a bit. Thanks to the good people at PHD Virtual, I was able to get a NFR key for their PHD Virtual Monitor offering. I dove in, and started installing it right off the bat. I have to say it is probably the single easiest piece of 3rd party software that I’ve had to install yet. I’ll walk through the process of installing first, and then share my thoughts on it.

Installing PHD Virtual Monitor

Step 1
The first order of business was to go out to the website and actually download the package in either 32 or 64bit versions. The files are downloaded to a .zip folder and after extracting all the files, I found the .exe and double clicked it.

Step 2
After launching the application file and running through the piece of cake wizard, I found the desktop icon which was installed and double clicked it to run PHD Virtual Monitor for the first time. Now, if you don’t have an NFR key or haven’t actually purchased it a license, by launching the program you will enable a 15 day trial of the product. My thought is that 15 days is pretty short, especially when you have the 60 day eval of ESXi in hand. At least make give it a 30 day trial, something to think about. Anyhow, this is a snapshot of what the home screen looks like:

Step 3
Your next step would be to click on the configuration tab on the home screen and enter either your vCenter Server IP and credentials or your ESXi host IP and credentials. This will allow the agent to contact your host or vCenter Server and gather the information it needs to begin monitoring your infrastructure. Once you click on the configure tab and then click ‘Introduction’ you will be prompted to enter your data, this is the screen that you will see next:

Once you have clicked ‘Introduction’ and then clicked ‘Configure Virtual environment’, select next and then click ‘Add’ and this is where you will add your host or vCenter IP and credentials. Here’s a screenshot of where you will enter your IP and credentials.

Get To Monitoring!
Once you have connected to your server or host, you are ready to begin monitoring your environment. What I like best about this software is the many tools you can use and the single pane of glass from which you can monitor it all. Some of the many metrics that you can monitor are memory, CPU usage, storage, event logs and more. Here are some of the screen shots of the monitoring in action:

Screenshot #1

Screenshot #2

Screenshot of the inventory page showing my actual PC and also one of my ESXi boxes running vSphere 5:

Conclusion
Alright, hopefully the screenshots in this post have given you a good idea of what to expect should you decide to kick the tires on PHD Virtual Monitor for VMware vSphere. I only have one gripe about this software, the eval period is not nearly long enough. As I mentioned earlier, we get 60 days evaluation of vSphere 5, the least PHD can do is offer a 30 day trial instead of their measly 15 days. The software is sound, and I really like the GUI. When I’m evaluating a product my big points are, “Is it easy to install?” “Is it worth my time installing and configuring it?” and “Does it do anything different that vCenter already does inherently?” Virtual Monitor satisfies all of my stipulations, it’s easy to install for sure, it was worth my time and it’s a viable 3rd party product to vSphere. In my opinion you can’t be too granular with monitoring of your virtual environment. There you have it, go out and download the 15 day free trial of PHD Virtual Monitor for VMware vSphere (or one of those other hypervisors) and have fun.

Disclaimer: PHD Virtual is a vDestination blog sponsor, but my opinions in this review have in now way been influenced or swayed by PHD Virtual itself. These are my own words and do not reflect any hand fed documentation from PHD Virtual.

Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *