In Applications Performance Equals Response Time, not Resource Utilization, we took the position that while for the majority of the applications deployed on physical hardware the general practice was to infer their performance by looking at normal vs. abnormal resource utilization statistics, once you virtualize an application, it becomes necessary to directly measure its response time in order to ensure adequate service to business constituents and end users.
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In “Using Microsoft SCOM to Manage the Performance of Virtualized Applications on vSphere“, we discussed how using the BlueStripe FactFinder Management Pack for SCOM, it was possible to get detailed application topology views along with end-to-end and hop-by-hop applications response time in the same management system a proven enterprise solution for managing physical and virtual windows servers (specifically Microsoft SCOM).
In “Performance Management Equals Response Time, not Resource Utilization“, we made the point that in order for you to be allowed (by the application owners) to virtualize business critical and performance critical applications that you (the team that owns the virtual infrastructure) are going to have to step up to managing the performance of applications on terms agreed to by applications owners.
It is now very clear the VMware vSphere 4.0 and 4.1 have demonstrated the robustness and performance necessary in order for them to be trusted virtualization platforms for many business critical applications. It is also very clear that many organizations are well down the road toward putting business critical applications on vSphere. We may not yet be at the point where the most response time critical applications (like online trading) are on vSphere, but we are certainly at the point where line of business applications like SAP and enterprise resident CRM applications are being virtualized.
We categorize the vendors that do performance and availability monitoring for virtualization and cloud computing into four categories:
- Resource and Availability Monitoring – This is primarily about taking data from the hypervisor vendor (most often the VMware vCenter API data), storing it, trending it, reporting on it, analyzing it, and alerting on it.
- Infrastructure Performance Management – This is primarily about understanding the end-to-end response time of the virtual/physical infrastructure from the guests to the spindles and back again as requests for work are placed upon the infrastructure by applications.
- Applications Performance Management – This is about understanding how applications are performing from a response time perspective. Some of these solutions go deep and provide code level root cause information, others focus on a broader set of applications from end to end.
- Transaction Performance Management – This is about following the response times of transactions through a complex n-Tier applications system.
On May 28th 2008, VMware announced that they were buying Applications Performance Management Vendor B-hive. The fact that VMware made this acquisition over a year ago, and is only now getting ready to ship the resulting product (AppSpeed) in concert with the vSphere rollout is in and of itself significant. The key message for vSphere is that it has the performance and scalability to virtualize “every” application, including business critical high transaction rate applications. The issue for enterprises with these applications is that the teams responsible for these applications are highly reluctant to insert another variable into their performance without a mechanism to assure the performance of these applications within the virtual environment. Assuring the performance of these types of applications in a virtual environment is a unique, demanding and largely unsolved problem. This problem must be solved in order for the growth of virtualization to extend beyond “low hanging fruit” and to include these business critical applications.