The Virtualization Practice

Performance Management

Performance Management covers monitoring the physical infrastructure, the virtual infrastructure and applications for end-to-end performance and service levels. It covers Application Performance Management, Infrastructure Performance Management, Operations Management, Capacity Planning, and Capacity Management. ...
Environments covered include Virtualization Performance Management, Software Defined Data Center Performance Management, and Cloud Performance Management. Key issues include ensuring the performance of virtualized and cloud based data centers, ensuring the performance of software defined data centers (SDDC performance management), ensuring virtualized application performance, cloud application performance, and SDDC application performance. Key vendors covered include VMware, AppDynamics, AppEnsure, AppFirst, AppNeta, Astute Networks, Aternity, BlueStripe, Boundary, Cirba, CloudPhysics, Correlsense, Compuware, Dell, Embotics, ExtraHop, GigaMon, Hotlink, HP, Intigua, ManageEngine, New Relic, Prelert, Puppet Labs, Riverbed, Splunk, Tintri, Virtual Instruments, Virtustream, VMTurbo, Xangati, and Zenoss.

I have been a big fan of VMware’s Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS). VMware DRS is a service or feature that will dynamically allocate and balance computing resources across the hosts in a cluster. In all of the environments I have work with so far, DRS has been a fantastic tool for getting and maintaining that balance across all the hosts in a cluster. Recently though I have come across a limitation of VMware’s DRS that is worth mentioning.

Monitoring from the Cloud

I have started the year 2011 out by looking at some of the different monitoring solutions available for us to have an insight into the health and welfare of the systems that we support. In your typical monitoring solution you would install the monitoring server in your environment and let the system discover all the devices in your infrastructure and or to control the licenses we would manually enter the devices that we want to monitor. Some of these monitoring servers solutions have to have a beefy box to begin with and all solutions will need a great deal of “tweaking” to control the number of false positives as well as time put in to be able to report on what exactly we care to be alerted about.

Given the VNXe’s expandability to include fibre channel cards in the future. This storage looks very attractive to those SMBs who have made the investment previously to move towards fibre. Making use of your existing infrastructure whether fabric or Ethernet would lower the cost of adoption for the low-end EMC product. The VNXe’s expandability is one of those items that makes it an attractive tool for other uses. What are those other uses with respect to security, DR, BC, and disaster avoidance?

If synthetic transactions are dead as an approach for determining availability and performance from the perspective of the end users of an application then something has to take their place. The two candidates are approaches that analyse data on the IP network, and client side agents. Both will likely rise in prominence as more applications become more dynamic.

Monitoring the performance of the infrastructure, applications and services in IT as a Service environments will require that monitoring solutions become multi-tenant, can be instantiated by ITaaS management tools without any further configuration, and that they automatically “find” their back end management systems through whatever firewalls may be in place. These requirements will probably be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the heavyweight complex legacy tools that were in place prior to to the onset of virtualization, the public cloud and now IT as a Service. ITaaS is the tipping point that should cause most enterprises ignore every monitoring tool that they have bought in the past and to start over with a clean sheet of paper.

The acquisition of Akorri by NetApp demonstrates the importance of Infrastructure Performance Management solutions as virtualization progresses into the realm of business critical applications, and as public clouds hope to do the same. However rather than signaling a “game over” this acquisition really raises both the visibility and the importance of both the problems that Akorri solved, and the true end-to-end problems that remain.

Given that vSphere provides significant benefits in terms of cost savings and business agility, those benefits are tied to and constrained by the ability of vSphere to provide backward compatibility with existing legacy enterprise systems. This backward compatibility makes it impossible for vSphere to provide infinite horizontal scalability. Moving to the same architecture as the most highly scaled out public cloud vendors provides for a more radical set of benefits, but at the cost of breaking backward compatibility for many applications.