Outing blind spots in the virtual realm

* Network Instruments provides visibility into network and application performance data in virtual server environments

Virtual servers help data centers provide more resources on demand, but they also create a bit of a blind spot for IT managers responsible for network and application performance across the virtual environment.

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The finger-pointing practice in IT may have subsided a bit over the years, but network managers still must prove they -- or rather their networks -- are not to blame when applications perform poorly while traversing both physical and virtual services. Yet now they have to deal with potential blind spots between client and application and application and application communications within the virtual environment, says Charles Thompson, product manager at Network Instruments.

"We hear from network managers all the time about how they have to be very focused on what is running across their network because often they are expected to be able to point to the cause of the performance problem even if it is not on the network," he says.

Thompson says network managers are challenged to access data streams with purpose-built devices such as packet analyzers, but by using a virtual component Network Instruments is able to provide visibility into otherwise blind areas while also correlating the data with other network and performance related data.

"Network managers lose perspective within the virtual machine host as well as with communications between applications and clients or between other applications," Thompson explains. "Basically Network Instruments has created a Virtual TAP technology to gain visibility into performance data that is internal to the host as well as communications data external to the virtual machine."

Network Instruments Virtual TAP works with the vendor's Observer product line and various probes. With this enhanced capability all virtual traffic and communication flowing within the virtual machine host can be copied and sent to the vendor's GigaStor appliance for back-in-time analysis or the Observer Reporting Server for enterprise-wise performance reports, according to Network Instruments.

Available now, the virtual performance management capabilities will be included as a standard upgrade for existing customers.

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