VMware and Quest Join the Infrastructure Performance Management Party

Infrastructure Performance Management is about measuring the performance of an infrastructure by measuring the end-to-end latency for the requests that workloads placed upon that infrastructure. At VMworld Europe, both VMware and Quest joined the Infrastructure Performance Management party.

For the last several years we have proposed the notion that virtualization and cloud computing require a redefinition of performance and a re-implementation of how performance is measured. The notion is simple. In the static and physical world, inferring the performance of a system or the applications that ran on that system via resource utilization was “good enough” for most applications and systems. However once we move into abstracted, dynamic and organizationally distributed systems the only way to measure and monitor the performance of either a system or an application is to measure how long it takes for it to do what it is asked to do. In other words, latency becomes the cardinal measure of infrastructure performance, and response time becomes the cardinal measure of application performance.

VMware Joins the Infrastructure Performance Management Party

At VMworld Europe, VMware announced the EMC Storage Analytics Suite, an extension to vCenter Operations that provides both storage administrators and vSphere administrators improved visibility into the relationship between the performance of the storage array and the performance of the workloads in the virtual machines mapped to the array.  This initial product in this space only support the EMC VNX product line. It would be reasonable to assume that similar products will be forthcoming in partnership with other storage vendors.

vCenter.Operations.for .VNX .Storage.Analytics.Suite

 Dell/Quest Joins the Infrastructure Performance Management Party

At VMworld Europe, Dell/Quest (specifically the vKernel group at Quest) announced vFoglight storage, their entry into the Infrastructure Performance Management space. Quest’s promise here is application to spindle visibility including round trip latency measurements. Support is included for EMC VNX, and Dell Compellent storage arrays.

vfoglight storage data paths

The IPM Innovators

The set of vendors in the Infrastructure Performance Management business and a brief descriptions of their products are in the table below. Subsequent posts will go into these products in a great more detail.

Vendor Focus of the Product Data Collection Methods Deployment Model
Dell/Quest Software  Monitoirng of Infrastructure Response Time from the application in the VM to the spindle of the array and back again  Specific integration with the CLI of the storage array, SMIS and the vCenter API data  Deployed as a virtual appliance in a VMware environment.
ExtraHop Networks Infrastructure Response Time is collected End-to-End (from Guest to Spindle on Storage Array) Physical appliance on physical mirror ports of switches, virtual appliance on virtual mirror ports of vSwitches in the VMware environment Deployed as a physical appliance attached to a mirror port on a physical switch, and/or a virtual appliance attached to a virtual mirror port on the vSphere vSwitch.
GigaMon Infrastructure Response Time is collected for each application identified via port and protocol from the guest through the entire IP network (LAN, WAN, and IP Storage). Physical and virtual taps into the IP infrastructure Deployed as one virtual appliance on the vSwitch in each VMware host, physical appliances on the physical mirror ports on the LAN switches and one management appliance
 Riverbed  Monitoring of the virtual VXLAN network  Instrumentation of the new VXLAN interface in vSphere 5.1  Deployed as a virtual appliance in a VMware environment.
 Virtual Instruments Measures the Response Times of individual Fiber Channel Frames, and maps this to LUNs vCenter API’s, FC switch polling through SNMP, proprietary taps into SAN fabric Deployed as a physical TAP on the Fiber Channel SAN, plus standards-based interfaces to switches and vCenter
VMware Monitoirng of Infrastructure Response Time from the application in the VM to the spindle of the array and back again Specific integration with the CLI of the storage array, and the vCenter API data  Deployed as a virtual appliance in a VMware environment.
Xangati Infrastructure Response Time is collected through IP SLA technology and Xangati’s Remote Object Viewer vCenter API’s, external directories like DNS and Active Directory, NetFlow data from physical and virtual switches/routers Deployed as a Virtual Appliance in each VMware host, and a separate virtual appliance for management dashboard.



Infrastructure Performance Management is the single most important performance and capacity management issue that owners of a virtual environment need to address. The reason for this is that since the low hanging fruit has been virtualized, what is left is business critical and performance critical applications in the hands of applications owners and their business constituents. In order to convince these groups that the virtual infrastructure is performing acceptably in support of these important applications Operations groups in charge of virtual environments need to move beyond trying to infer infrastructure performance from resource utilization patterns. This does not work and will not be received by applications owners and their business constituents as a credible approach. The solutions profiled in this article take important steps towards addressing these issues and should be evaluated as a part of putting any performance critical or business critical application on a virtualization platform like VMware vSphere.

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Bernd Harzog
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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