How to improve visibility in mature virtual environments and the cloud
As companies grow their virtual infrastructures and transition into cloud computing, one of the greatest challenges they face is the lack of visibility into their IT environment. Getting a unified view of system capacity, performance, and underlying hardware information is often a manual exercise. The number of different tools required to maintain and manage multiple clouds and a mix of proprietary and open-source databases and hardware extends this challenge. In fact, a recent Forrester Consulting research report shows that tools creep and lack of visibility are big problem areas for companies. Additionally, the research showed that only 24 percent of companies could provision infrastructure in a matter of hours instead of days or weeks.
IT pros face system monitoring, alerting, and reporting challenges on multiple fronts for physical and virtual systems. The greatest challenges present themselves to IT personnel who have the responsibility for maintaining system and service uptimes. One of the most-common challenges facing support teams is that there’s no visual representation of relationships among hardware, storage, compute, and applications. No single group has the “big picture” and support staff, no matter how technically strong, can’t put together a definitive root cause for failures. And because no one can provide definitive root cause analyses, there’s no corresponding entries into knowledge bases, no triage training, and no preventative measures taken. Without the ability to take a deep dive into the underlying hardware, software, and relationships among the components, future failure analysis and troubleshooting must begin from scratch on each occurrence.
Close to 80 percent of all companies plan to grow their virtualization footprints in 2016, but have yet to make signi cant advances in doing so. The challenges of the lack of uni ed tools, poor automation, and provisioning time continue to plague efforts in widespread adoption of cloud computing.
Inevitably, technical staffers and themselves caught between software vendors and hardware vendors who point the nger at each other, which further exacerbate support challenges. Every software and hardware vendor has its own component or equipment management software, which doesn’t integrate with other vendor software and hardware. This segregation essentially creates a situation where every department in an IT or support organization operates independently of every other department, with no visibility into other environments. The only times that all departments collaborate is during outages. The only person who has a big picture view of the network and its infrastructure is often a single IT architect who has access to all components and access to every management interface.
In smaller companies, multiple management applications and disparate, non-integrated software tools mean longer learning curves, more task switching, and less attention to detail in any single application. And in business critical environments, regardless of size, lengthy mean-times-to-restore (MTTRs) and a lack of a full-spectrum view of infrastructure and applications can result in loss of revenue and unresolved root causes for outages. Close to one-third of high- virtualization organizations (those who have virtualized more than 50 percent of their workloads) use more than five tools to manage virtualized infrastructure. According to the Forrester report, a mere six percent of the high-virtualization companies use a single tool for virtual infrastructure management.
Management of critical systems doesn’t stop with simple operational views; it also includes alerting, predictive analytics, and capacity planning. A separate tool for each function and environment further complicates an organizational structure by requiring a separate hardware and software infrastructure for monitoring, management, and support.
The solution, it seems, is to deploy an integrated management application that not only views individual components, but also allows support staff to view relationships between applications and infrastructure. A unified approach supports cross-team collaboration outside crisis events and increases the ability to pinpoint problem areas faster, more accurately.
From an “in the trenches” perspective, having a single interface from which to view your whole environment is far more efficient than attempting to become proficient at multiple applications from different vendors. A single application that already exists in your infrastructure is a better answer. One that has the capability of being extended by third parties makes it a desirable choice for infrastructures of any size.
If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of organizations running VMware vSphere, VMware’s vRealize Operations (vROPs) management software may already exist in your environment. Your support staff could already be familiar with and comfortable with its interface and its ease of use. Your easiest path to better visibility may be to add modular integration for your server hardware, network hardware, Oracle databases, SAP environment, storage solution, databases, and other virtualization technologies such as XenApp, XenDesktop, and KVM.
vROPs is a single application that provides deep insight into your environment.
IT decision-makers in companies of all sizes across all industries in the US and in Europe agree that having a single interface for managing compute, storage, and network for all teams is a high priority.
For example, the F5 BIG-IP Management Pack installs into vROPs and allows administrators to view real-time F5 performance data. The administrator can also see how each of their resources relates to one another inside vROPs. They can see internal relationships between BIG-IP components, such as the System to the Pool and external relationships such as Pool Member to Virtual Machine.
The health status of each component is color coded for easy identication of problem areas. The BIG-IP Management Pack also connects to other Management Packs installed in vROPs to provide an integrated view of related components, such as the BIG-IP Pool, Pool Members, and the Virtual Layer that includes the virtual host systems and storage. On the same screen, an administrator can observe the statuses of NetApp LUN and Volume. Additionally, the administrator can see the UCS Blade and Chassis without switching screens or applications.
This unified view allows the administrator to see the Application Layer, the Virtual Layer, the Storage Layer, and the Computer Layer all on the same screen. A single interface displays the entire stack under the BIG-IP Pool. The Management Pack for BIG-IP also ships with seven dashboards and reports that provide additional data and insight.
The rise of IT Operations Analytics (ITOA), gathering data is easier than ever before on complex and often mixed (physical, virtual, and cloud) environments. Plus, that big data gathered by operations tools means that you’ll avoid missing critical details of your operations and troubleshooting won’t take as long. The problem with so much data is how to process it. That’s when you leave the backend processing to a single platform to translate it into usable metrics for you. This “big data for IT” phenomenon allows administrators and managers alike to gain new visibility into operations, costs, and efficiencies.
Blue Medora’s Management Packs enable VMware vRealize customers to leverage VMware vROPs for monitoring, alerting, predictive analytics and capacity planning.
But all that data and all that insight won’t do anything for you, if you can’t actually use the data to take action in your environment. Taking action rapidly with fewer resources and with minimal overhead is critical to infrastructure and application management success. Blue Medora’s Management Packs do just that. They gather data from your environment, package it into a simple interface, and provide you with actionable results. For you, those actionable results mean lower MTTRs and MTTIs, which in turn means quicker recovery and more uptime for your mission-critical environments.
For those administrators who don’t require so much data for their particular vantage points, administrators can customize their dashboards in order to focus effort on
what matters to them. For example, if an administrator only wants to see network information, he can customize his dashboard to hunt down bandwidth vampires without affecting anyone else’s dashboard. By customizing an individual dashboard, an administrator can take the big picture view of what’s going on in the environment or dissect out individual pixels.
What do consolidating your monitoring, alerting, application stack, hardware infrastructure, health checks, management, and troubleshooting into a single application really accomplish for your organization? In other words, what problem do these integrated dashboards, reports, management interfaces, and infrastructure relationships solve for your company?
Consolidating your monitoring increases visibility. Using VMware’s vRealize Operations as a foundation for keeping a watchful eye on your entire computing operation, means greater visibility into your environment. While some vendor management applications take a deep dive into their systems, they don’t integrate or provide visibility into upstream
or downstream devices, applications, or capabilities. At best, they provide a narrow view of one particular piece of what’s really going on in your network and nothing else.
A single tool is more efficient. A single tool that’s shared by all departments and support organizations is far more efficient and reassuring to support staff and to those who watch the clock and the checkbook. Rather than creating siloes of expertise around your organization, you can leverage the common vROPs interface, and buffer those pockets of high value and high cost experts with an application that every staff member can view all aspects of the computing environment and infrastructure.
However, the benefits of a consolidated or unified, interface don’t stop with passive observation by support staff; the benefits extend to predictive performance analytics, capacity trends, and pre-emptive troubleshooting by examining architecture, relationships, and real-time system health information.
With vRealize, you can observe and manage your VMs, hosts, and datastores and gather basic metrics on a limited piece of the whole compute picture. Blue Medora’s Management Packs expand those limited views into a single environment throughout your entire hardware and software stacks. Imagine being able to view applications, virtual machines, databases, datastores, storage, network, and more in a single application that you already have.
You can also visit the True Visibility Suite product page and download any of the Management Packs for a free trial to see for yourself how easily that Blue Medora’s products can give you a bigger picture of your computing environment.
Blue Medora creates software that extends the capabilities of VMware vRealize Operations (vROps), New Relic, Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM), and IBM Tivoli Monitoring (ITM). Blue Medora software exposes more elements of your underlying hardware and software solutions to provide you with detailed performance metrics and in-depth analytics. What you get is comprehensive visibility into your physical and virtual infrastructure for root cause analysis, predictive analytics, and overall infrastructure management.