Monday, February 23, 2009

Tools to help manage application-to-SAN transaction performance in a virtualized environment.

One of the more significant challenges a SAN administrator faces today is the lack of visibility they have regarding I/O behavior. This failing makes it difficult to optimize performance and utilization of their infrastructure assets. The past practice of blindly adding more ports to solve a performance issue is no longer an acceptable first choice in today’s climate of conservation and fiscal frugality. However, what administrators have been lacking is clear visibility and understanding of how I/O is navigating the infrastructure, where the congestion is concentrated and where the underutilized ports exist. Such knowledge, if readily available, would allow them to optimize their SAN by increasing port utilization, increasing performance and saving scarce cash.

As if SAN optimization has not been challenging enough, the aggressive trend towards virtualization has added yet another layer of complexity. This complexity and the lack of understanding of how I/O behavior impacts an application hosted in a virtual environment is one of the primary reasons why the adoption of virtualization with mission critical applications has been far from stellar.

Virtual Instrument is a company that delivers solutions to monitor application-to-SAN transaction performance and with their announcement today of VirtualWisdom, an optimization tool for the virtualized SAN environment, they claim to have addressed the challenge of management/optimization of virtualized SAN’s. Talking with Len Rosenthal, their recently recruited VP Marketing, they have high hopes that this new solution, available June 2009, will continue their growth trajectory which has been on a significantly upwards trend despite the current and rather harsh economic realities.

VirtualWisdom is positioned as the first real-time analytical tool with the claim that it provides a depth of insight and data not available from other solutions such that it will enable visualization technology to be deployed by mission-critical applications. Quoting from their press release “It provides real-time and historical insights into application latency and bandwidth consumption as well as early detection and advanced notification of device failures, congestion and errors. VirtualWisdom provides real-time performance information from the virtual machine on the server through the HBA out through the SAN switch and right to the LUN on the storage array.”

During the past few years the drive within data centers has been to build out their compute capabilities with significant growth in storage and server deployments. On top of this explosion in physical resource has been the aggressive adoption of virtualization. However the downside to this high energy expansion has been the compounding complexities associated with managing and optimizing these environments. Virtual Instruments bullishly claim to have identified a previously un-serviced need not satisfied by such existing vendors as akorri, vmSight, VEEAM or BlueStripe. I am sure there are others out there but none it is claimed offer the breadth or depth of analytical capabilities of this new offering.

Although a relatively new company they do have an impressive customer list which includes such notable companies as Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Raytheon, Caterpillar, US Customs and Border Protection, eBay, HSOB, Barclay’s, Allstate, AT&T and United Airlines. Admittedly many of these customers are inherited from Finisar but it does illustrate that the technology has established measurable traction and in this day of conservation, doing more with less and adopting a green biased philosophy, tools such as VirtualWisdom will become more common place in the administrators IT toolbox..

If you have a SAN that needs a tune up or you are about to invest in another switch, I suggest that Virtual Instrument is worth a look; either their products or their professional services.


Anonymous said...

hmm, this seems to be talking about the same product...

BillM said...

Mr Anonymous, Thank you for your comment. While I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog I always react negatively to folks who feel that they cannot take ownership of what they write, particularly when they are in selling mode. If you would to leverage my blog to present a competitive arguement GREAT - I welcome the dialog but openess would be appreciated.

The akorri promotion piece (blog) you referenced does present some interesting comparisons and sales arguements would encourage Virtual Instrument to respond.

I am not in the business of selling either product and would, as always, recommend potential users to do their homework and select the company they feel comfortable with and the solution that best fits their needs.