One of the more significant challenges SAN administrators face 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. Administrators lack visibility into how I/O is navigating the infrastructure, where the congestion is concentrated and where the underutilized ports exist. Such knowledge 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. These two issues are the primary reasons for users' less-than-stellar experience virtualizing mission critical applications.
Virtual Instrument is a company that delivers solutions to monitor application-to-SAN transaction performance. With their announcement today of VirtualWisdom, an optimization tool for the virtualized SAN environment, they claim to have addressed the challenges of management/optimization of virtualized SAN’s. Len Rosenthal, their recently recruited VP Marketing,says 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 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 compute capabilities with significant growth in storage and server deployments. The aggressive adoption of virtualization has come on top of this explosion in physical resources. Virtual Instruments bullishly claims 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 Virtual Instruments claims that none 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 Bloomberg.com, Barclay’s, Allstate, AT&T and United Airlines. Admittedly many of these customers are inherited from Finisar, but the list does illustrate that the technology has established measurable traction. In this day of conservation, doing more with less, and adopting a green-biased philosophy, tools such as VirtualWisdom will become more commonplace in the administrators IT toolbox.
Action Item: If you have a SAN that needs a tune up or you are about to invest in another switch, I suggest that before spending scarce funds check out Virtual Instruments — either their products or their professional services.