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Configuring SMTP and Email Notifications in VMware Data Services Manager v1.5

Another nice feature of VMware Data Services Manager to help administrators to manage and monitor their fleet of databases is integration with SMTP, the Simple Mail Transport Protocol. This feature allows database owners to receive email notifications when there is an operational issue or failure with their database. In this post, I’ll show you the very simple configuration steps to enable SMTP notifications. I will also show you how to verify that this functionality is behaving as expected by introducing a few failure scenarios to some newly created and existing databases. We are using VMware DSM v1.5 in this post.

SMTP Configuration

To configure SMTP, login as the Provider Administrator, select Settings from the left hand menu and then select the SMTP tab. Populate with the “Sender Email”, “SMTP Host and “SMTP Port” fields. Additional fields around authentication and TLS are also available to secure communication.

Email Alerts automatically added to new databases

Note that existing databases do not inherit the email alert settings. You would need to edit these existing databases to add email alerts. However, newly provisioned databases will have email alerts included by default. Let’s now proceed with creating a new database. Note that I am changing user. I am no longer the Provider Administrator who configured the SMTP settings previously. I am now an Org Administrator, creating a database.

In the Alert Set section of the “Create Database” workflow, in the Webhook Alert/Email Alert Configuration, the user that is creating the database is automatically added to the Alerts for DB State Change and DB Operational Failure. This is who the emails are sent to. Once the database is created, the Email Alert configuration is also visible under the Alert Settings tab, as show below.

That completes the configuration. Now let’s test to see if it is working as expected.

Test #1 – DB Operation Failure

We begin by deploying a new database, and then cancelling the deployment task in vSphere to cause an operation failure.

Wait for the database VM deployment to begin, then switch over to the vSphere client where you should also see the matching ‘Deploy OVF template’ task in progress, as shown below:

At this point, click on the X in the task status field to cancel the deployment. This will cause the task to be canceled, as shown below:

The user who was creating this database should now receive an “Operational Failure” email indicating that the deployment task failed, similar to what is shown below.

Test #2 – DB Status Change

For this next test, we are going to introduce an issue where the status of the databases changes. In an earlier post, I highlighted the various checks that are carried out on databases provisioned via VMware DSM. If one of the checks fails, an alert is raised. We will now show how this alert can also trigger an email. In this case, we shall remove the management connection from the database VM via the vSphere Client. This should introduce a “Lost Connectivity” status change, raise an alert and trigger another email to the database owner.

From the vSphere Client, identify the database VM, edit the settings of the VM, and disconnect the management uplink. In this example, it is Network adapter 1, as shown below:

Back in the VMware DSM Provider UI, this will eventually show up as a critical connectivity issue in the Monitoring > Health Status view of the database. Note that the overall status on the top right hand side of the window appears as “Lost Connectivity”.

And as expected, we get another email alert, but this time the issue is a database “Status Change”.

Thus, we have verified that SMTP is working as expected in VMware Data Services Manager. Of course, there are other ways to get notifications as well, notably through webhooks. Two mechanisms are already implemented, one for Slack and another for ServiceNow. It is also possible to create your own custom webhook. We will look at how to verify the webhook feature in a future post.

If you are interested in learning more about VMware’s strategy around data management, especially databases, and you are attending VMware Explore 2023 in Las Vegas, check out this session from VMware Fellow, Christos Karamonlis. There are lots of interesting developments happening in this space at VMware, so be sure to check it out.

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