When discussing Virtualization Performance Management, we separate the vendors that focus upon this area in to three groups:

  • Resource and Availability Management – this group of vendors focuses upon collecting the resource utilization metrics that are made available by the virtualization platform vendors for the purposes of capacity planning, capacity management, and ensuring the overall availability of the environment. Leaders in this category include Vizioncore (vFoglight), Veeam (Veeam Monitor), VMware (Hyperic), Hyper9, Netuitive, and Zenoss.
  • Infrastructure Performance Management – this group of vendors focuses upon understanding the actual performance of the virtual infrastructure. Performance in this case does not mean resource utilization, but rather the response time of of the infrastructure to requests for work placed upon it by various workloads. The leaders in of this group are Akorri (BalancePoint), CA (CA Virtual Assurance), Virtual Instruments (Virtual Wisdom), and Xangati.
  • Applications Performance Management – this group focuses upon allowing the owners of the applications that run on a virtual infrastructure to understand the performance of their applications. The key functionality here is the ability to keep up with the changing topology of the application system, and to be able to handle distributed deployment of the applications across public and private clouds. The leaders of this group are AppDynamics, BlueStripe, and New Relic.

Two of the leaders in the IPM category, Akorri and Xangati have announced significant new releases of their products.

The Akorri Announcement

Akorri has significantly expanded the functionality of BalancePoint with the following additions:

  • BalancePoint Predictor for Storage – Automatically detects physical or virtualized I/O workload “bullies” and “victims” and alerts on disk contention issues to prevent brownouts and downtime.
  • Disk Utilization – Provides an intelligent early warning for stressed disks. This new metric warns against dangerously increasing loads on a disk.
  • Heterogeneous Hypervisor Support – New support for Microsoft Hyper-V in addition to support for VMware vSphere 4.1 allows users to manage both vSphere and Hyper-V with a single BalancePoint system.
  • Expanded Storage Support – Support for NetApp V-series, HP SVSP, HDS Dynamic Provisioning.

Of particular significance is the automated ability to predict and troubleshoot when storage I/O bottlenecks will cause performance issues in the virtualized infrastructure. As enterprises virtualize more mission critical applications, brownouts due to infrastructure response time issues will become unacceptable. The ability to anticipate these brownouts and prevent is an essential part of the process of assuring acceptable performance on the part of the virtual infrastructure in support of these applications.

The Xangati Announcement

Xangati already announced a significant expansion in the functionality of their IPM solution targeted at the VMware customer base as well as a new free version of their product.

The new functionality in the Xangati solution includes:

  • The entire virtual infrastructure presented in one pane of glass: servers, VMs, network, storage, applications, end-users in the same dashboard without server/desktop agents
  • Continuous scroll-bar views for Virtual Infrastructure (VI) performance (including vCenter “real-time” CPU, memory and disk statistics);
  • Auto-thresholding, alerting and recording for response time metrics (within the VI, VI-to-physical network, and VI-to-storage);
  • vCenter alerts trigger rich DVR recordings (at VM and ESX host level);
  • One-click Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) end-user initiated problem recordings; and,
  • Partitioned, real-time VM visibility login for application and server owners to obtain vCenter statistics.

The New Free Xangati for ESX Tool

Xangati for ESX gives virtualization administrators the ability to actually solve problems in real-time for both server virtualization and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments. Providing ESX host level visibility, Xangati for ESX offers an unparalleled user interface (UI) presentation with live, continuous “scroll bar” views, DVR recordings and reports – surpassing all other free solutions in terms of its sheer usability. Xangati for ESX expands the number of data sources typically covered and includes breakthrough functionality not found in other free offerings. Features include:

  • Multiple data sources, including: traffic traversing vSwitches and VMware API
  • Optimized for visibility and troubleshooting
  • Superior UI with live navigational drill-down and streaming views with full details for VMs and the ESX
  • DVR recordings triggered by VMware alerts
  • 20+ top 10 real-time views

The free Xangati for ESX can be downloaded here.

Summary

While Akorri, CA, Virtual Instruments and Xangati are all Infrastructure Performance Management vendors, these solutions are quite a bit different from each other. Akorri does the best job of mapping the virtual infrastructure (the VM’s and the hosts) to the spindles in the storage arrays and calculating a round trip infrastructure response time and several other advanced metrics off of this data. Akorri is also now the first vendor to provide automated troubleshooting in a predictive manner. CA has integrated components of the NetQos SuperAgent into its Virtual Assurance product and therefore has a very robust view of performance from a network perspective combined with the resource utilization data from vCenter. Virtual Instruments is the only vendor who has a real time and comprehensive view of the performance data available in the SAN the benefits of which were detailed in this article. Xangati now occupies a unique position as well. By instrumenting the physical and virtual network that supports a virtual environment, Xangati is able to discover the virtual topology of that network (who is talking to who) and measure the end to end response times. This has proven to be especially useful in VDI  environments  where spikes in network activity can lead to degradations in end user experience – potentially dooming the project.  Xangati and CA are therefore the only two vendors that have taken instrumentation of the network to this level. Akorri and Virtual Instruments by way of contrast are more focused upon the impacts of storage upon infrastructure performance.

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Bernd Harzog (324 Posts)

Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud).

Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets.

Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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