ExtraHop is a “network aware APM” vendor that has historically focused on putting an appliance on a mirror or span port of a switch and then using deep packet inspection techniques and TCP/IP flow analysis techniques to understand the performance of applications running on the network from the perspective of the network.  Today, ExtraHop has announced the addition of a virtual appliance to its product line – allowing for the data collection appliance to be implemented entirely in software, and to us the virtual mirror port on the vSphere vSwitch to collect its data.

Adding a virtual appliance to the product line allows ExtraHop to accomplish two very important new things. The first is that conversations between VM’s on one host are now visible, and their response time can now be part of the picture of the response time of the entire application. But the second is far more important. Since ExtraHop can already measure the true performance (end-to-end response time) of every application on a physical TCP/IP network, adding the virtual appliance means that now ExtraHop can cover both the physical network (and applications that are not virtualized yet), as well as the virtual network (covering applications that are either completely or partially virtualized).

The New p2V Process

It is very clear that the difficulty of virtualizing business critical applications for many enterprises means that for business critical and performance critical applications the P2V process is either broken or completely fails to exist in a relevant manner. Measuring how much CPU and memory and application uses is a necessary but a completely insufficient step towards virtualizing a business critical application.

What is required to virtualize a business critical and performance critical application is a P2V process that is focused upon the performance of the application in the eyes of its owner and its owners. That means that performance is equal to response time, not resource utilization. This process must therefore start with building a response time and load profile of the application in its physical home, agreeing on the aspects of that profile that will be the basis of the SLA when that application gets virtualized, and then continuously updating that profile as the application gets virtualized.

Criteria for Application Performance Based P2V

With this announcement ExtraHop joins the fray for the set of solutions that are viable candidates for being the basis of an applications response time based P2V process. The criteria for selecting such a tool are:

  • Ability to measure response time for every application in the environment (or at the minimum all X86 applications that use TCP/IP).
  • Ability to automatically discover the applications in the environment and their topology
  • Ability to automatically measure response time for each application end-to-end and hop-by-hop
  • Measure response time on a continuous, real-time, and deterministic basis. This means no averages, no sampling of data, no synthetic transactions. It means seeing the response time for every transaction over the network, and being able to pass the slow ones up to the management system in real time.
  • The solution should work in the existing physical environment of the application, in the new virtual envionment of the application and any mixture of the two.
  • The diagnostics in such a solution should focus on providing pointers to where in the virtual and physical infrastructure the problem likely lies, as opposed to pointing to code issues which is what developer focused tools do.
Who to Pick From?

Other than ExtraHop there are two other solutions that are appropriate IT Operations oriented (as opposed to developer oriented) solutions. Those two solutions come from BlueStripe and AppFirst. All three of these solutions are profiled in an upcoming post about the use of these solutions in the context of the new capabilities of VMware vSphere 5.0.

Conclusion

ExtraHop has now made an important contribution to the question of how to measure applications performance across physical and virtual environments. Properly deployed ExtraHop can play a critical role in helping enterprises virtualize the 60% of the remaining applications that are “hard”, “performance critical”, and “business critical”. As vSphere 5.0 is right around the corner, the timing could not be better.

The full ExtraHop announcement is copied in below:

ExtraHop Creates Fastest Virtual Application Performance Management (APM) Solution with New EH1000v Appliance

ExtraHop’s New Virtual Appliance Provides Ideal APM Solution for Branch-Office Deployments and Virtual and Cloud Environments

July 10, 2011 – ExtraHop Networks, a leading provider of network-based application performance management (APM) solutions, today at Cisco Live announced its virtual appliance for APM, the EH1000v. The new appliance furthers ExtraHop’s commitment to building the fastest APM solutions available by providing real-time transaction analysis at up to 1Gbps speeds for applications running in virtual and cloud environments—more than 10 times faster than competing products. As a virtualized version of the company’s passive, network-based ExtraHop Application Delivery Assurance system, the EH1000v delivers a small-footprint solution for branch-office deployments and offers deep, end-to-end application visibility for virtualized environments.

The EH1000v virtual appliance lowers IT infrastructure requirements for monitoring network and application performance across geographically distributed environments. In line with Gartner’s prediction that 20 percent of companies will own no IT hardware assets by next year, the EH1000v eliminates the need to ship and install hardware for each geographic location. With more companies using virtualized systems in remote-office applications, the new virtual appliance from ExtraHop Networks will help these organizations deploy and remotely administer a powerful monitoring solution for branch-office deployments that also can monitor traffic within virtualized environments.

As they have increasingly virtualized their systems, many organizations have lost visibility into transactions passing between virtual machines on the same physical host, leading to a growing blind spot for heavily virtualized organizations. According to an InformationWeek survey, nearly 50 percent of companies using APM solutions run more than half of their applications in virtualized environments, creating a significant amount of traffic that enterprises cannot see on the network. The EH1000v can monitor traffic that passes only through virtual switches and restore deep visibility into applications running in such environments, even those with large traffic volumes among multiple virtual machines.
“While server virtualization offers many benefits such as flexibility, scalability, and lower cost, it also can limit visibility into virtualized environments,” said Jesse Rothstein, CEO and co-founder, ExtraHop Networks. “In these cases, the physical limitations of many APM solutions present obstacles to monitoring application performance. The EH1000v gives companies a small-footprint solution that helps them to get around these roadblocks and realize the benefits of virtual and cloud technologies without compromising application performance.”

About ExtraHop Networks

ExtraHop Networks is a leading provider of network-based application performance management (APM) solutions. The ExtraHop Application Delivery Assurance system performs the fastest and deepest analysis in the industry, achieving real-time transaction monitoring at speeds up to 10Gbps in a single appliance and application-level visibility with no agents, configuration, or overhead. The ExtraHop system quickly auto-discovers and auto-classifies applications and devices, delivering immediate value out of the box. ExtraHop Networks provides award-winning solutions to companies across a wide range of industries, including ecommerce, communications, and financial services. The privately held company was founded in 2007 by Jesse Rothstein and Raja Mukerji, engineering veterans from F5 Networks and architects of the BIG-IP v9 product.

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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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