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Taneja Blog / Data Center Systems

Virtual Instruments and Data Centers, and Why it Matters. A Lot.

In March I published my article on meaningful visibility into the data center. I mentioned several vendors who are doing good work in this challenging field including Virtual Instruments (VI).

There are lots of monitoring, capacity planning and general trending products out there. These vendors market their products to virtualization and cloud markets hoping to catch the big wave of investment in those fields. There is nothing wrong with these tools and IT needs them in discrete settings, but they don’t go nearly far enough in managing new levels of data center complexity. They offer some visibility, but dynamic data centers require not only information but also the ability to correlate information across multiple systems and to automatically act on it. We call this crucial piece of the puzzle “instrumentation.”

So why is instrumentation more important than ever before? Because virtualization and cloud computing add layers of complexity to the IT infrastructure, while simultaneously generating high expectations and SLAs to match. This is an impossible state of affairs if you have little visibility into your data center. There is just no way to track performance and SLAs, let alone optimize them. You need instrumentation that lets you see what’s going on and to efficiently act on it.

Your instrumentation product needs to have some critical capabilities. First off it needs to provide insight starting at the lowest physical layer, not just surveying across the logical or virtual layers. Data centers are both physical and logical entities and each element contributes to its health (or lack thereof). Purely logical visibility will ignore the base physical layer, even though those problems will cascade into big ones in a complex infrastructure. You need to optimize your lowly wiring just as much as you do your hulking SAN, because if your wiring or optics or any other physical element is compromised, your whole data center suffers. In addition to vertical movement up and down the stack, cross-correlation allows for horizontal movement across storage, server and networking domains to further optimize data center operations. Combining these two movement axes is powerful stuff.

The solution also needs to be low impact and real-time. If your instrumentation product is sucking cycles from your data center, then you are shooting yourself in the foot. Get an efficient package with minimal impact on the infrastructure. And make sure it’s as dynamic as your data center is – you need real-time observation, alerting and action across multiple domains.

Sure this level of control is a tall order, but this capability is what separates vendors like VI from the pack. The products are out there and they work, and we strongly urge you to take advantage of them.

  • Premiered: 04/26/12
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): instrumentation Data Center Virtual Instruments VI correlation


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