A really useful capability that vCenter Server used to provide was a feature called vCenter Maps. I say "used to" because this feature was only available when using the vSphere C# Client and was not available in the vSphere Web Client. vCenter Maps provided a visual representation of your vCenter Server inventory along with the different relationships between your Virtual Machines, Hosts, Networks and Datastores. There were a variety of use cases for this feature but it was especially useful when it came to troubleshooting storage or networking connectivity. An administrator could quickly identify if they had an ESXi host that was not connected to the right datastore for example with just a few clicks.

vcenter_server_and_platform_services_controller_topology_diagram_3
Although much of this information can be obtained either manually or programmatically using the vSphere API, the consumption of this data can sometimes be more effective when it is visualized.

I was recently reminded of the vCenter Maps feature as I have seen an increase in discussions around the different vSphere 6.0 deployment topology options. This is an area where I think we could have leveraged visualizations to provide a better user experience to help our customers understand what they have deployed as it relates to install, upgrade and expansion of their vSphere environment. Today, this information is spread across a variety interfaces ranging from the vSphere Web Client (here and here) as well as across different CLIs (here and here) and there is nothing that aggregates all of this dispart information into an easy to consume manner. Collecting this information can also be challenging as you scale up the number of environments you are managing or dealing with complex deployments that can also span multiple sites.

Would it not be cool if you could easily extract and visualize your vSphere 6.0 deployment topology? 🙂

Well, this was a little side project I recently took up. I have created a small python script called extract_vsphere_deployment_topology.py that can run on either a Windows Platform Services Controller (PSC) or a vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) PSC and from that system extract the current vSphere deployment topology which includes details about the individual vCenter Servers, SSO Sites as well as the PSC replication agreements. The result of the script is outputted in the DOT format, a popular graph description language which can then be used to generate a diagram like the example shown below.vcenter_server_and_platform_services_controller_topology_diagram_0Requirements:

  • vSphere 6.0 environment
  • Access to either a Windows or VCSA PSC as a System Administrator
  • SSO Administrator credentials

Step 1 - Download the extract_vsphere_deployment_topology.py python script to either your Windows vCenter Server PSC or vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) PSC.

Step 2 - To run on a vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) PSC, you will need to first set the script to an executable by running the following command:

chmod +x extract_vsphere_deployment_topology.py

To run on a vCenter Server for Windows PSC, you will need to first update your environmental PATH variable to include the python interpreter. Follow the directions here if you have never done this before and add C:\Program Files\VMware\vCenter Server\python

Step 3 - The script requires that you provide an SSO Administrator username and password. You can specify everything in the command-line or you omit the password in which you would then be prompted to enter.

To run the script on a VCSA PSC, run the following command specifying your credentials:

./extract_vsphere_deployment_topology.py  -u administrator@vghetto.local -p VMware1!

To run the script on Windows VC PSC, run the following command specifying your credentials:

python C:\Users\primp\Desktop\extract_vsphere_deployment_topology.py  -u administrator@vsphere.local -p VMware1!

Here is an example output from one of my environments.

Step 4 - Save the output from the script and then open a browser that has internet access to the following URL: http://www.webgraphviz.com Paste the output and then click on the "Generate Graph" which will generate a visual diagram of your vSphere deployment. Hopefully it is pretty straight forward to understand and I have also colorized the nodes to represent the different functionality such as Blue for a vCenter Server and Green for Platform Services Controller.

vcenter_server_and_platform_services_controller_topology_diagram_4
In addition, if you have deployed an Embedded vCenter Server which is replicating with an External PSC (which is considered a deprecated topology and will not be supported in the future), you will notice the node is colored Orange instead as seen in the example below.

vcenter_server_and_platform_services_controller_topology_diagram_1
This is pretty cool if you ask me! 😀 Just imagine the possibilities if you could use such an interface to also manage operations across a given vSphere deployment when it comes to install, upgrade and expansion of your existing environment. What do you think, would this be useful?

I have done a limited amount of testing across Windows and the VCSA using a couple of deployment scenarios. It is very possible that I could have missed something and if you are running into issues, it would be good to provide some details about your topology to help me further troubleshoot. I have not done any type of testing using load balancers, so it is very likely that the diagram may not be accurate for these scenarios but I would love to hear from folks if you have tried running the script in such environments.

12 thoughts on “Generating vCenter Server & Platform Services Controller deployment topology diagrams

  1. Can you pls help me on the below error , I think we need to set the environment for the VCSA PSC also..

    Script to extract the deployment topology of your vSphere
    enviornment (vCenter Server & PSC) and output as DOT Graph
    : command not found
    ./map.py: line 10: import: command not found
    ./map.py: line 11: import: command not found
    ./map.py: line 12: import: command not found
    ./map.py: line 13: import: command not found
    ./map.py: line 14: import: command not found
    ./map.py: line 15: import: command not found
    ./map.py: line 16: import: command not found
    ./map.py: line 17: syntax error near unexpected token os.environ['VMWARE_PYTHON_PATH'].split'
    ./map.py: line 17:
    sys.path.extend(os.environ[‘VMWARE_PYTHON_PATH’].split(‘;’))’

  2. Hi,

    Is there any acceptable network latency value between vCenter and external PSC loadbalancer VIP? Like for example – the network latency should be within 10 ms for vCenter services to successfully communicate with PSC or else they will timeout?

    Thanks,
    Ankit Mehrotra

  3. This works brilliantly, but doesn’t capture all the replication agreements between the PSCs in our environment – we have 5 PSCs in a fully meshed replication arrangement

  4. When I run it I get the following (Most Current VCSA PSC Release):

    ./extract_vsphere_deployment_topology.py: line 5: syntax error near unexpected token newline'
    ./extract_vsphere_deployment_topology.py: line 5:

Thanks for the comment!