This is a follow-up post from my previous article on how to run a script using a vCenter Alarm action in the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA). What I had demonstrated was using a pyvmomi (vSphere SDK for Python) script to be triggered automatically to generate a VMware Support Bundle for all ESXi hosts for a given vSphere Cluster. The one caveat that I had mentioned in the blog post was that the solution slightly differed from the original request which was to create an ESXi performance support bundle. However, the vSphere API only supports the creation of generic VMware Support Bundle which may not be as useful if you are only interested in collecting more granular performance stats for troubleshooting purposes.

After publishing the article, I had thought about the problem a bit more and realized there is still a way to solve the original request. Before going into the solution, I wanted to quickly cover how you can generate an ESXi Performance Support Bundle which can be done either directly in the ESXi Shell using something like the following:

vm-support -p -d 60 -i 5 -w /vmfs/volumes/datastore1

or you can actually use a neat little trick which I had blogged about here back in 2011 where you can simply open a web browser and run the following:

https://esxi-1.primp-industries.com/cgi-bin/vm-support.cgi?performance=true&interval=5&duration=60

Obviously, the first option is not ideal as you would need to SSH (generally disabled for good security practices) to each and every ESXi host and then manually run the command and copy the support bundle off of each system. The second option still requires going to each and every ESXi host, however it does not require ESXi Shell or SSH access. This is still not ideal from an Automation standpoint, especially if these ESXi hosts are already being managed by vCenter Server.

However, the second option is what gave me the lightbulb idea! I had recalled a couple of years back that I had blogged about a way to efficiently transfer files to a vSphere Datastore using the vSphere API. The solution leveraged a neat little vSphere API method called AcquireGenericServiceTicket() which is part of the vCenter Server sessionManager. Using this method, we can request a ticket for a specific file with a one time HTTP request to connect directly to an ESXi host. This means, I can connect to vCenter Server using the vSphere API, retrieve all ESXi hosts from a given vSphere Cluster and request a one time ticket to remotely generate an ESXi performance support bundle and then download it locally to the VCSA (or any other place that you can run the pyvmomi sample).

Download the pyvmomi script: generate_esxi_perf_bundle_from_vsphere_cluster.py

Here is the sample log output when triggering this script from vCenter Alarm in the VCSA:

2016-06-08 19:29:42;INFO;Cluster passed from VC Alarm: Non-VSAN-Cluster
2016-06-08 19:29:42;INFO;Creating directory /storage/log/esxi-support-logs to store support bundle
2016-06-08 19:29:42;INFO;Requesting Session Ticket for 192.168.1.190
2016-06-08 19:29:42;INFO;Waiting for Performance support bundle to be generated on 192.168.1.190 to /storage/log/esxi-support-logs/vmsupport-192.168.1.190.tgz
2016-06-08 19:33:19;INFO;Requesting Session Ticket for 192.168.1.191
2016-06-08 19:33:19;INFO;Waiting for Performance support bundle to be generated on 192.168.1.191 to /storage/log/esxi-support-logs/vmsupport-192.168.1.191.tgz

I have also created a couple more scripts exercising some additional use cases that I think customers may also find useful. Stay tuned for those additional articles later this week.

UPDATE (06/16/16) - There was another question internally asking whether other types of ESXi Support Bundles could also be generated using this method and the answer is yes. You simply just need to specify the types of manifests you would like to collect, such as HungVM for example.

To list the available Manifests and their respective IDs, you can manually perform this operation once by opening browser specifying the following URL:

https://192.168.1.149/cgi-bin/vm-support.cgi?listmanifests=true

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 5.38.08 AM
To list the available Groups and their respective IDs, you can specify the following URL:

https://192.168.1.149/cgi-bin/vm-support.cgi?listgroups=true

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 5.45.56 AM
Here is an example URL constructed using some of these params:

https://192.168.1.149/cgi-bin/vm-support.cgi?manifests=HungVM:Coredump_VM%20HungVM:Suspend_VM&groups=Fault%20Hardware%20Logs%20Network%20Storage%20System%20Userworld%20Virtual&vm=FULL_PATH_TO_VM_VMX

The following VMware KB 2005715 may also be useful as it provides some additional examples on using these additional parameters.

One thought on “Using the vSphere API to remotely generate ESXi performance support bundles

  1. Hello William Lam,

    Nice Job…

    Could you please help me on below two issue.
    1: How I can take the snapshot of a vm with shared memory (which is having independent disk) via API.
    2: How i can generate log of hung vm and store it to some other vm not into the ESX host. as we dont have ssh access to ESX by using your api/HTTP request.

    Thanks in advance.
    Bhawesh

Thanks for the comment!