Virtualization: What to do when vSphere goes down

Troubleshooting doesn't have to be difficult, even in the virtual world. Here are some tips.

VMware's vSphere virtualization platform is known for its reliability and offers built-in features like High Availability (HA) to ensure that physical server failures have only minor effects on end-user applications. But not everyone chooses to use these features and, as with any technology, bad things can happen even if you do use them. So, what do you do when the unexpected happens -- when a virtual machine is slow or down or when an ESXi server or vCenter is unresponsive?

vSphere troubleshooting overview

As part of my preparation for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional -- Data Center Administrator certification, and throughout the process of creating my (caution: shameless plug alert) vSphere Troubleshooting course, I have spent a lot of time troubleshooting vSphere. I have intentionally broken it and then tried to fix it, sometimes with success and sometimes without.

To be successful at troubleshooting vSphere, you need to consider all the pieces that make it possible. If any of the following pieces aren't functioning, then the whole virtual infrastructure (VI) could fall apart.

Physical servers: The servers that ESX and ESXi run on require power and have power supplies, CPUs, RAM and local disks, all of which can fail.

Physical network: The local LAN provides critical connectivity for the physical servers, switches, SAN/NAS, DNS servers, end users and even you (the admin), when you're trying to run the vSphere client. (The client is a management tool, and it's where you'll spend 99% of your time administering vSphere.)

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