How to import VMware vSphere objects as regular Zabbix hosts

In a previous post we have seen how we can use Zabbix with vPoller working together in order to perform monitoring of our VMware vSphere environment.

The way we did it is by using vPoller in order to discover VMware vSphere objects and then use the Zabbix Low-level discovery protocol in order to create hosts based on the discovered data.

While Zabbix Low-level discovery is a powerful feature of Zabbix which you could use in order to automate the process of discovering and adding hosts to your Zabbix server, it still has some limitations and disadvantages.

One disadvantage of using Zabbix LLD is that once a host is being created by a Zabbix Discovery Rule that host becomes immutable - you cannot manually change or update anything on the host, unless these changes come from the discovery rule or the host profile applied to the host.

You can imagine that this might be a bit of frustrating, especially when you want to group your hosts in a better way, which obviously you cannot do since this host is now immutable.

Adding additional templates to a discovered host is also not possible, which is another big issue. Now that you've discovered your VMware Virtual Machines you probably wanted to add some additional templates to them, but you will soon discover that this is not possible either.

You cannot even add more interfaces to your hosts if needed... Like mentioned earlier - your host is immutable, so that means no changes at all.

And all these things are quite frustrating, at least to me, because Zabbix does not allow me to manage my environment the way I want, the way I believe I should be able to.

So, what can we do about it?

Well, we still can solve this issue. One way of solving this issue for me was to create a tool which would take care of discovering and importing discovered objects as regular Zabbix hosts. That way I get all the advantages of regular Zabbix hosts - I can add the host to any groups I want, adding more templates to my hosts, etc.

Now, let's see how to we can do that. We are going to use the zabbix-vsphere-import tool in order to discover and import vSphere objects as regular hosts into our Zabbix server.

The zabbix-vsphere-import tool uses vPoller for discovery of vSphere objects, so make sure you have vPoller up and running first.

First, let's create the config file which zabbix-vsphere-import will be using. Below is an example config file used by zabbix-vsphere-import:

---
vsphere:
  hostname: vc01.example.org

vpoller:
  endpoint: tcp://localhost:10123
  retries: 3
  timeout: 3000

zabbix:
  hostname: http://zabbix.example.org/zabbix
  username: Admin
  password: zabbix

  vsphere_object_host:
    proxy: zbx-proxy.example.org
    templates:
      - Template VMware vSphere Hypervisor - vPoller
    macros:
      VSPHERE_HOST: vc01.example.org
    groups:
      - Hypervisors

  vsphere_object_vm:
    templates:
      - Template VMware vSphere Virtual Machine - vPoller
    macros:
      VSPHERE_HOST: vc01.example.org
    groups:
      - Virtual Machines

  vsphere_object_datastore:
    templates:
      - Template VMware vSphere Datastore - vPoller
    macros:
      VSPHERE_HOST: vc01.example.org
    groups:
      - Datastores

In the example config file we have defined various config entries - Zabbix server, vPoller settings and also templates to be applied for the various vSphere objects, e.g. hosts, virtual machines and datastores.

Time to import our vSphere objects as regular Zabbix hosts. To do that simply execute the command below:

$ zabbix-vsphere-import -f /path/to/zabbix-vsphere-import.yaml

Once the import completes you should have your VMware hosts, virtual machines and datastores imported to Zabbix as regular hosts and already being monitored.

This is one way you could mimic the Zabbix Low-level discovery process and import vSphere objects as regular hosts into your Zabbix server.

Generally you would want to run the import perhaps once an hour (e.g. from cron(8)), so that your Zabbix server is in sync with your vSphere environment.

Written on April 29, 2014