So Much for Simplicity

It’s one thing to add more processing power and memory to optimize a specific application or VM. But the last thing you want are such changes being made automatically and uncontrollably as the ROI many not merit the investment.

That’s where capacity and performance management tools come in from vendors like TeamQuest, CA, and BMC Corp. They monitor existing performance levels and enable IT to model different scenarios to determine what changes should be made to better support VMs. Perhaps more importantly, they relate the cost of proposed changes to the performance benefits of implementing them. By viewing this in advance, IT can then find the sweet spot in terms of cost/benefits and implement accordingly.

Take the case of a large insurance firm that demanded a response time of 1.5 seconds for a new application. Using TeamQuest Model, the capacity planner discovered that this solution would cost $15M. Further modeling revealed that a 3-second response time would reduce the budget to $12M and a 5-second response time would cost $10 million. By providing management with this information, they took a second look at their original specifications, concluding that it was better to accept a short delay than to pay an extra $3M for 1.5 seconds of response.

In addition, capacity planning facilitates the rightsizing of new applications. Ruble tells of an IT service provider implementing a new application where the capacity planner modeled the new app and discovered it would flood the network with log traffic. This data was presented to designers who corrected the bug before it became a problem.

“Capacity planning takes the guesswork out of accommodating future business workloads,” said Ruble. “It also ensures that a virtualized infrastructure is configured optimally to meet required service levels.”

Virtually Lacking

A recent survey by Netuitive, Inc., supports the lack of virtualization management. VMware customers were polled about their ability to manage VMs. 94 percent weren’t confident in the tools they currently use to manage their virtual environments. Respondents cited poor visibility into performance, difficulty in isolating root causes and high administration time as their major complaints.

“A new approach is needed, one that uses sophisticated, real-time analytics to reduce the massive manual effort of managing VM complexity and ultimately creates confidence and restores performance predictability to managing VMs,” said Mann. “That requires collecting metrics across virtualization technologies, vendors, and platforms, and across both guests and hosts, correlating them with each other and with physical metrics, and aligning them with application and business policies.”

Capacity and performance tools fulfill many of these needs. In addition, Mann names Netuitive, Hyperic Inc. of San Francisco, InfoVista SA in Paris and eG Innovations Inc. of Iselin, NJ as niche vendors with promising technology in analytics and VM monitoring.