How to Configure VMware ESX Alarms

Once you have your VMware ESX Server Datacenter up and running, you are going to want to know when the virtualized financial server goes down or, much worse, when the virtualized email server goes down. So how do you know what is going on in your ESX farm when you aren’t sitting there and staring at the Virtual Infrastructure client? The answer is – you configure ESX Server Alarms. Let’s find out how.

What are VMware ESX Server Alarms?

I tend to call ESX Server alarms “alerts” but, no matter what you call them, VMware Alarms are used to notify you when something happens on your VMware ESX Servers. While it could be something good that you are getting notified of, many times, it is that you are getting notified if some error or issue.

In the VMware ESX vernacular, “alarms indicate the status of objects”. Those objects could be any of these: folders, datacenters, clusters, resource pools, hosts, and virtual machines. If you are familiar with the Virtual Infrastructure client, you know that, on the left hand side, all of these VMware objects are arranged in a sort of hierarchical tree, like this:


While I mentioned the fact that ESX can send an email when it has an alarm, really, ESX alarming can do a lot more than just that. Here are the list of Actions that ESX Server can take when an alarm is triggered, based on a condition that you defined.


Now lets configure an alarm…

How to configure a VMware ESX Server Alarm

To configure an alarm, first you need to know the hierarchical level that you want to configure the alarm at. Let’s say that we want to configure an alarm for just one server. Right-click on that server in the tree and click Add-Alarm.


Give the alarm a name that is meaningful for the function of the alarm, like this:


Set the alarm trigger. Notice how there are drop downs for each field.


Optionally, set the alarm reporting thresholds:


And lastly, Add the alarm action:


One more important thing to note: for email alarms to work, you must have configured the proper SMTP information inside Virtual Center. To do this, in your Virtual Infrastructure Client, go to Administration, then Virtual Center Management Server Configuration, then Mail, like this:


There is also some pre-setup if you choose to use SNMP server Alarms.

Now that your alarm is setup, I recommend you test it. Here are the results of my successful test:



Configuring VMware ESX Server Alarms are something that you should do once your VMware Virtual Infrastructure is up and ready and you are about to move into production. The hierarchical nature of these alarms means that you should take some time configuring these alarms because proper planning will pay off. Overall, VMware ESX Server Alarms are a very cool and useful feature that is not difficult to configure.

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