Lack of visibility is undoubtedly one of the downfalls many of you have encountered running virtualized operations. It definitely presented the biggest systems management challenge at Transplace, a third-party logistics provider in Dallas.
"We're such a big VMware shop, finding the point of failure in disparate systems -- whether at the ESX host or virtual machine level, in the network layer, on the storage side or in the application, RAM, CPU or operating system -- has been our biggest management challenge," said Ambers Ferrara, a senior systems administrator at the company, in a recent interview.
10 must-have virtualization toolsTransplace uses SiteScope and other tools in the HP Business Availability Center suite for overall enterprise systems monitoring -- but still, Ferrara said, blind spots were a problem. "We weren't getting into the VM interworkings adequately."
And while VMware's vSphere 4 does provide some performance monitoring, Transplace decided it could gain strategic advantage by looking elsewhere, Ferrara said.
Enter vFoglight, a virtualization management tool from Vizioncore, now a Quest Software company, that Transplace has started using to help systems administrators spot issues and trends and trace the problems to their sources. It's been a "tremendous" help thus far, Ferrara said.
"Now we're able to identify issues from among the tons of alerts we get from everywhere and for all sorts of things -- event log errors, resource settings, resource consumption, etc.," he said. "Plus, we have been able to give dashboards to different groups in the company so users can see how the hardware and ESX hosts are comparing in health status to what they're seeing on the application side."
Overall, Ferrara said, vFoglight has helped with troubleshooting and planning scenarios at Transplace, which currently has about 500 VMs on 40 ESX hosts. VOptimizer Pro, a Vizioncore tool that provides 64K alignment for VMs, comes in handy, too, he added.
"Now we're probably about 90% of where we need to be [with virtual systems management]," Ferrara said. "Of course, our virtual environment evolves so rapidly, I don't know if we'll ever really be finished managing that guy," he quipped, "so we'll say 90% and holding."
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Schultz is a longtime IT journalist. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her at http://www.linkedin.com/in/schultzbeth.