/ #management #operations 

Application dependencies with vCenter Infrastructure Navigator

VMware vCenter Infrastructure Navigator (VIN) is a component of the Operations Management Suite which automatically discovers application services, and allows you to visualize relationships and to map dependencies of applications in vSphere Web Client.

The discovery and mapping of  the application services that exist on virtual machines and their interdependencies permits to understand the relation among them. Infrastructure Navigator is doing its awesomeness without the need for additional agents as it leverages VMware Tools: it’s quite a Fire-and-Forget application. :)

You will need at least the Advanced version of the Suite to be able to implement VIN (neither included in Foundation, nor in Standard).

vCenter Operations Management Suite Features Comparison

Architecture & Overview

vCenter Solutions Manager

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator performs the following high-level functions:
  • Maps virtual infrastructure resources such as virtual machines, Web servers, mail servers, database servers, application servers, cache servers, messaging servers, application management servers, and virtualization management servers.
  • Displays relationships between virtual machines and external machines through services.
  • Allows you to detect inconsistencies from the norm.
  • Allows you to take advantage of integration with other VMware products such as vCenter Server, VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM), and vCenter Operations Manager.
  • Allows you to define multi-tier application pattern and then discovers all of this pattern instances in the vCenter Server. You can then view these application instance maps.
  • Allows you to create or define manual applications that in turn allow you to track a group of virtual machines.
  • Allows you to create or define roles that you can use to find instances of the applications in your environment.
  • Allows you to customize vCenter Hyperic agent profiles that you can then select when deploying the agent on multiple virtual machines, so that the selected profile is applied to all those machines.

Infrastructure Navigator is composed of the following elements:

  • A Virtual Appliance,

  • A Plug-in for vSphere Web Client.

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator Architecture Diagram

What is interesting to notice is that vCenter Infrastructure Navigator exports its data into vCenter Inventory Service.

Infrastructure Navigator Deployment

The deployment is quite straightforward (even without RTFM). The Virtual Appliance is based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 (as usual with VMware) and available as an OVA/OVF.

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator OVA Deployment

Apart of the common configuration steps of an OVA (name, location, storage, etc.), you will need to configure network settings and define a root password.

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator OVA Properties (Network settings and Password)

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator : vCenter Extension Installation


After the deployment process, you will need to log out of the vSphere Web Client and log in again to discover a new Infrastructure Navigator icon in Web Client Home Page.

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator : vSphere Web Client Integration

Note: you may have an error message if you don’t have any valid Operations Manager Suite license (yet).

Access to VMs is disabled as no license key is found. Assign a license key to enable access to VMs.

Without any valid license, the “Turn on access to VMs” button will remain greyed out. After the association of the license, you will get the following message:

Access to VMs is stopped as credentials are invalid or missing.

Finally, you will have to enter vCenter administrator credentials.

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator Activation

And that’s it ! :)

Infrastructure Navigator Usage

If vCenter Infrastructure Navigator is completely deployed (virtual appliance and plug-in) and if all prerequisites are met, you will see an Application Services tab at the vCenter entity level and an Application Dependencies tab at the Virtual Machine level ("Manage > Application Dependencies").

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator Application Dependencies Map View

Application Dependencies are available as a Map View or as a Table View.

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator Application Dependencies Table View

Infrastructure Navigator is by default aware of several applications like MySQL, Apache, Exchange, and so on: you can download a list of Infrastructure Navigator Discovery Coverage in the download page of Infrastructure Navigator. However, you have the possibility to create your own User Defined Service Definition for the unknown services: your own service definition can be based on the process name and/or port number.

Create your own service definition in vCenter Infrastructure Navigator

Infrastructure Navigator Integration with SRM

You may need the information provided by vCenter Infrastructure Navigator for several reasons. However, I think that the most important use case is to understand the Application Dependencies for Disaster Recovery purpose. Infrastructure Navigator does its magic by providing an integration into SRM (Site Recovery Manager) and gives visibility into the applications that are grouped into SRM Protection Group.

This new level of visibility allows you to better understand the impact, the dependencies between the VMs of a same application and the risks associated.



Staff II Technical Product Manager, technologist with 18+ years of Networking and Security experience in Data Center, Public Cloud & Virtualization (VMs and Containers). He is a double VCDX (DCV and NV, #120), VCDX panelist, frequent VMUG/VMworld speaker and contributor to the community via this blog or social media (follow him on Twitter @woueb).