The Ruby vSphere Console (RVC) is an extremely useful tool for vSphere Administrators and has been bundled as part of vCenter Server (Windows and the vCenter Server Appliance) since vSphere 6.0. One feature that is only available in the VCSA's version of RVC is the VSAN Observer which is used to capture and analyze performance statistics for a VSAN environment for troubleshooting purposes.
For customers who are still using the Windows version of vCenter Server and wish to leverage this tool, it is generally recommended that you deploy a standalone VCSA just for the VSAN Observer capability which does not require any additional licensing. Although it only takes 10 minutes or so to setup, having to download and deploy a full blown VCSA to just use the VSAN Observer is definitely not ideal, especially if you are resource constrained in your environment. You also may only need the VSAN Observer for a short amount of time, but it could take you longer to deploy and in a troubleshooting situation, time is of the essence.
I recently came across an internal Socialcast thread and one of the suggestion was why not build a tiny Photon OS VM that already contained RVC? Instead of building a specific Photon OS that was specific to RVC, why not just create a Docker Container for RVC? This also means you could pull down the Docker Container from Photon OS or any other system that has Docker installed. In fact, I had already built a Docker Container for some handy VMware Utilities, it would be simple enough to just have an RVC Docker Container.
The one challenge that I had was that the current RVC github repo does not contain the latest vSphere 6.x changes. The fix was simple, I just copied the latest RVC files from a vSphere 6.0 Update 1 deployment of the VCSA (/opt/vmware/rvc and /usr/bin/rvc) and used that to build my RVC Docker Container which is now hosted on Docker Hub here and includes the Dockerfile in case someone was interested in how I built it.
To use the RVC Docker Container, you just need access to a Linux Container Host, for example VMware Photon OS which can be deployed using an ISO or OVA. For instructions on setting that up, please take a look here which should only take a minute or so. Once logged in, you just need to run the following commands to pull down the RVC Docker Container and to star the container:
docker pull lamw/rvc
docker run --rm -it lamw/rvc
As seen in the screenshot above, once the Docker Container has started, you can then access RVC like you normally would. Below is an quick example of logging into one of my VSAN environments and using RVC to run the VSAN Health Check command.
If you wish to run the VSAN Observer with the live web server, you will need to map the port from the Linux Container Host to the VSAN Observer port which runs on 8010 by default when starting the RVC Docker Container. To keep things simple, I would recommend mapping 80->8010 and you would run the following command:
docker run --rm -it -p 80:8010 lamw/rvc
Once the RVC Docker Container has started, you can then start the VSAN Observer with --run-webserver option and if you connect to the IP Address of your Linux Container Host using a browser, you should see the VSAN Observer Stats UI.
Hopefully this will come in handy for anyone who needs to quickly access RVC.