All posts by Margaret Hoagland

Roadblocks to Optimizing Application Performance in VMware Environments – Part I

This is the first post in a two-part series highlighting challenges IT teams face in optimizing VMware performance. The original text of this series appeared in an article on Data Informed.

When virtual computing first became popular, it was primarily used for non-business critical applications in pre-production environments, while critical applications were kept on physical servers. However, IT has warmed up to virtualization, recognizing the many benefits (reduced cost, increased agility, etc.) and moving more business-critical and database applications into virtual environments. In a recent survey of 518 IT professionals we conducted, we found that 81 percent of respondents are now running their business-critical applications, including SQL Server, Oracle or SAP, in their VMware environments.

VMware Performance Becomes Critical as More Important Applications Virtualized

While there are numerous benefits, virtualized environments introduce a new set of challenges for IT professionals. For IT teams tasked with finding and resolving VMware performance issues, specifically those that can impact business-critical applications, many find they are hitting the same cumbersome roadblocks related to tools, time and strategy.

IT Pros Need Multiple Tools to Gain a Holistic View of their VMware Environments.

vmware_performance_monitoring_toolsAccording to the survey results, 78 percent of IT professionals are using multiple tools– including application monitoring, reporting and infrastructure analytics– to identify the cause
of VMware performance issues for important applications. Even further, ten percent of IT professionals are using more than seven tools to understand their VMs and the issues that affect VMware performance. Optimizing VMWare performance and availability is incredibly complex, and the dynamic nature of these environments require highly advanced tools to address even the most standard performance issues.

Relying on several reporting tools every time an issue arises just isn’t sustainable for most IT teams. This is partly due to the fact that solving application performance issues requires a view of multiple IT disciplines or “silos” such as application, network, storage and compute. In larger organizations, that means each time an issue arises, representatives from each discipline need to come together and compare their findings– and the analysis results from the application team’s tool may point to a somewhat different cause than the storage team or the network team’s tool. The current strategy of relying on multiple tools and teams to evaluate each silo leaves IT with the manual, trial and error task of finding all the relevant data, assembling it and analyzing it to figure out what went wrong and what changed to cause the problem.

Stay tuned for part two of this series, where we’ll discuss issues related to time and resources wasted in uncovering issues, as well as finding the root cause of VMware performance issues.

Read Roadblocks to Optimizing Application Performance VMware Environments – Part II

IT Analytics for VMware: 5 Ways to Learn More About What Machine Learning Based Analytics Can Do for You

1. See Machine Learning IT Analytics in Action: Visit the SIOS Booth #307 at the 2016 PASS Summit Conference October 25-28th at
Washington Convention Center, Seattle, WA. Experience the power of SIOS iQ Machine Learning IT Analytics through an interactive demonstration using a Hololens augmented
reality headset. Learn more.

IT analytics with SIOS iQ machine learning based analytics

 2.  Attend the PASS the Bacon Breakfast panel discussion at PASS Summit on Thurs, October 25 at 6:50 AM. Hear experts David Klee, Founder Heraflux Technologies, Denny Cherry, principle, DC&AC, SQL expert Geoff Hiten, and others discussing techniques for improving SQL performance in VMware environments. and Registration required: click here for tickets.

3.  Visit the SIOS booth at VMUG Boston on November 3 at the Boston Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02115. See SIOS iQ in action and enter to win our raffle. Learn more here.

4.  Attend our upcoming webinar: Save Big by Right Sizing Your SQL Server VMware Environment
October 20, 2016 at 1:00 PM ET, 10 AM PT
According to leading analysts, companies are overprovisioning VMware environments by as much as 80%, wasting tens of thousands of dollars annually in unnecessary server and storage acceleration hardware, VMware and application licenses, and capacity. Under-provisioning is equally problematic – causing performance issues and, putting failovers (and critical applications that rely on them) at risk. Join this webinar to learn simple techniques for ensuring you have the performance and capacity your business needs without over provisioning. Find out how to quickly determine how to strike the perfect balance to right size your VMware environment while optimizing SQL Server performance. Learn about new machine learning based analytics tools that can provide you with a clear breakdown of your current environment (vMem, vCPU, hosts, and more) and recommendations for a fully optimized environment with a detailed calculation of the savings.
Click here for more information and to register

5.  Attend All Things Open (October 25-27th) at Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, NC.
Hear SIOS CTO, Sergey Razin, Ph.D., present “Open Source: Transforming Machine Learning and AI” at 11:30 AM on October 26th. Learn more here

 

SIOS: Essential for Mission-Critical VMware Environments

jason-96Guest Blog: Jason Bloomberg, Intellyx

Virtualization has unquestionably become a critical and ubiquitous feature of the enterprise operational environment, and VMware clearly predominates. Enterprises rely upon their VMware technology to support mission-critical infrastructure, including the systems of record that run the business.

Avoiding VMware-related performance issues – especially when such issues may lead to downtime – has thus become a mission-critical priority. And yet, finding the root cause of application performance issues in VMware vSphere environments can be difficult and costly.

The interrelated nature of infrastructure and applications – particularly for systems of record like Microsoft SQL Server – can obscure the root cause of performance issues. As a result, SQL database administrators, VMware infrastructure managers, network managers and perhaps other domain experts have to collaborate to find the real cause and devise a solution.

Implementing a solution in such complex, distributed VMware installations, however, is itself difficult to achieve in practice. Such solutions often take an expert – but such experts can be hard to find, and many shops find themselves making do with less skilled VMware professionals.

In other cases, VMware shops turn to third-party consultants for the proper configuration. Even assuming the consultants do their job properly, once they hand over the environment to their customer then maintaining it once again requires skills that may be in scant supply.

For today’s enterprises that depend upon VMware, however, there are rarely any viable alternatives. Their environments continue to grow in size and complexity, and their businesses increasingly depend upon them as the mission-critical infrastructure they are.

SIOS: Addressing VMware Complexity

This growth in complexity combined with scarce expert VMware skills is the challenge that SIOS addresses with their SIOS iQ product. SIOS fills this gap in the existing VMware management tools used to address infrastructure problems in complex, dynamic virtualized environments.

SIOS continues to enhance the capabilities of SIOS iQ since launching the product in 2015, helping its customers understand complex IT operations and resolve issues in dynamic VMware environments.

SIOS focuses on the needs of IT Operations Managers and application administrators to address the root causes of performance problems, identify underused resources, and optimize configurations to help them get the most value from their virtualized environment.

SIOS was among the first in the industry to integrate machine learning into its infrastructure analytics as well as deep database performance analytics. It uses advanced machine learning to eliminate false positives and alert storms, thus providing customers with the information they need in an easy to use, graphical interface.

SIOS iQ can also provide instantaneous root cause analytics and recommendations with deep database performance monitoring and optimization. In essence, SIOS iQ is a system that is able to learn about an organization’s virtual infrastructure and how it operates on a day-to-day basis. It can identify anomalies before they become serious issues, thus the chance of false alarms without human intervention.

New Capabilities from SIOS iQ

SIOS is now announcing additional capabilities for predicting and forecasting performance and capacity utilization in complex VMware environments. In addition, SIOS iQ users can now more clearly define Microsoft SQL Server application-specific root causes of performance issues by leveraging SQL Sentry Performance Advisor.

SIOS iQ supports the integration and correlation of Performance Advisor’s custom and standard events out of the box. As a result, users can immediately know where a problem started and whether it is infrastructure or application-specific. Instead of spending time gathering and reviewing data or arguing between departments, users can now directly take action to correct the problem before it becomes critical.

SQL Server is among the most popular databases that run on the VMware platform, explaining why SIOS leveraged its partnership with SQL Sentry to implement SQL Server-specific performance analysis. In addition, SIOS is planning on supporting a variety of systems of record, as the diagram below illustrates.

SIOS iQ Application-Specific Performance Monitoring and Root Cause Analysis (Source: SIOS)

The new capabilities from SIOS iQ directly correlate observed performance anomalies with intelligent performance-related events from deep within the SQL Server platform. It is now possible to link from a SQL performance alert within SIOS iQ to SQL Sentry in context.

Furthermore, SQL Sentry users can create their own events with description and appropriate tags for correlation with SIOS iQ, thus correlating events from the applications down to the infrastructure.

In addition to its newly added support for SQL Server, SIOS iQ also filters for selective analysis across vSphere Clusters. SIOS iQ shows the environment by each cluster, enabling users to select which cluster to view in the SIOS Dashboard. As a result, they can observe all environments together or isolate the view to individual cluster – even to specific events taking place within the cluster.

The Intellyx Take

The more complex the VMware environment, the more important it becomes to have a platform like SIOS iQ in place – and many of today’s enterprise VMware deployments are extraordinarily complex.

The fact that many enterprise systems of record now run on VMware environments ups the stakes for VMware performance. Systems of record are mission critical – and as organizations become increasingly software-driven, digitally transformed enterprises, this mission criticality only becomes more central to the viability of the business itself.

Complexity, however, is the enemy of mission criticality. Whether it be gaps in high availability, misconfigured VM instances, or other issues with capacity, performance, or availability, the list of things that can go wrong continues to explode. And as is particularly true in virtualized operational environments, what can go wrong eventually will.

With SIOS iQ, SIOS is bringing together all the elements that make up a monitoring and root cause analysis platform that modern enterprises with such complex, important VMware investments require. And in spite of the challenges with VMware’s complexity, it’s not going anywhere any time soon – and neither is SIOS.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. SIOS is an Intellyx client. At the time of writing, none of the other organizations mentioned in this paper are Intellyx clients. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.

Disaster Recovery Journal: SIOS Spotlights 5 Myths about Cloud HA and DR

SAN MATEO, Calif. – Enterprises are moving more and more applications to the cloud. The use of cloud computing is growing, and by 2016 this growth will increase to become the bulk of new IT spend, according to Gartner, Inc. 2016 will be a defining year for cloud as private cloud begins to give way to hybrid cloud, and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017.

“While the benefits of the cloud may be clear for applications that can tolerate brief periods of downtime, for mission-critical applications, such as SQL Server, Oracle and SAP, companies need a strategy for high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) protection,” said Jerry Melnick, COO of SIOS Technology Corp. (www.us.sios.com), maker of SAN and SANless clustering software. “While traditional SAN-based clusters are not possible in these environments, SANless clusters can provide an easy, cost-efficient alternative.”

According to Gartner, IT service failover automation provides end-to-end IT service startup, shutdown and failover operations for disaster recovery (DR) and continuous availability. It establishes ordering and dependency rules as well as IT service failover policies. The potential business impact of this emerging technology is high, reducing the amount of spare infrastructure that is needed to ensure DR and continuous availability, as well as helping ensure that recovery policies work when failures occur, thus improving business process uptimeii.

Jerry Melnick says separating the truths and myths of HA and DR in cloud deployments can dramatically reduce data center costs and risks. He debunks these five myths:

Myth #1 – Clouds are HA Environments. Public cloud deployments, particularly with leading cloud providers, are high availability environments where application downtime is negligible.

  • The Truth – Redundancy is not the same as HA.  Some cloud solutions offer some measure of data protection through redundancy. However, applications such as SQL Server and file servers still need additional configuration for automating and managing high availability and disaster recovery.
  • The Truth – You can provide high availability protection for Windows applications in a cloud simply by adding SANless cluster software as an ingredient and configuring a WSFC environment. The SANless software synchronizes local storage in the cloud through real-time, block level replication, providing applications with immediate access to current data in the event of a failover.

Myth #2 – Protecting business critical applications in a cloud with a cluster is impossible without shared storage.You cannot provide HA for Windows applications in a cloud using Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) to create a cluster because it requires a shared storage device, such a SAN. A SAN to support WSFC is not offered in public clouds, such as Amazon EC2 and Windows Azure.

Myth #3 – Remote replication isn’t needed for DRApplications and data are protected from disaster in the cloud without additional configuration. 

  • The Truth – Cloud providers experience downtime and regional disasters like any other large organization. While providing high availability within the cloud will protect data centers from normal hardware failures and other unexpected outages within an availability zone (Amazon) or fault domain (Azure), data centers still need to protect against regional disasters. The easiest solution is to configure a multisite (geographically separated) cluster within a cloud and extend it by adding an additional node(s) in an alternate datacenter or different geographic region.
  • The Truth: Companies can use the

Myth #4 – Using the cloud is “all or nothing.”

Myth #5 – HA in a cloud has to be costly and complicated.

  • The Truth: A cluster for high availability in a cloud can be easily created using SANless clustering software with an intuitive configuration interface that lets users create a standard WSFC in a cloud without specialized skills. SANless clustering software also eliminates the need to buy costly enterprise edition versions of Windows applications to get high availability and added disaster protection or as described in Myth 4, to eliminate the need to build out a remote recovery site.

iGartner Says Cloud Computing Will Become the Bulk of New IT Spend by 2016.(http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2613015)

iiGartner Hype Cycle for IT Service Continuity Management, 2014.  September 10, 2104.  Analysts:  John P Morency, Carl Claunch, Pushan Rinnen

About SIOS Technology Corp.

SIOS Technology Corp. makes SAN and #SANLess software solutions that make clusters easy to use and easy to own.An essential part of any cluster solution, SIOS SAN and #SANLess software provides the flexibility to build Clusters Your Wayto protect your choice of Windows or Linux environment in any configuration (or combination) of physical, virtual and cloud (public, private, and hybrid) without sacrificing performance or availability. The unique SIOS #SANLess clustering solution allows you to configure clusters with local storage, eliminating both the cost and the single-point-of-failure risk of traditional shared (SAN) storage.

Founded in 1999, SIOS Technology Corp. (www.us.sios.com) is headquartered in San Mateo, California, and has offices throughout the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.