Virtualize with Confidence: New Tools for Performance Management
We've been discussing virtual environment performance optimization for a while, focusing primarily on the performance of the environment after it's been virtualized. But a quick scan of the virtualization administrator blogs will show you that, quite often, it's hard to get a handle on what constitutes good performance before an application is virtualized, or before a virtual desktop implementation is rolled out. And, of course, if you don't know in detail how things are performing today, or how much IT resource each app or user consumes - hourly, daily, on average, at end-of-month, etc. - you'll have a hard time proving you've maintained performance after a migration to virtual servers or desktops.
I've been watching this challenge closely, and two young vendors have shown me interesting tools lately. BlueStripe's FactFinder is an application performance management tool that installs quickly and monitors network connections to build a real-time map of application components and connections. You can drill down, hop by hop, to find bottlenecks or failures, but what I like best is the snapshot files it creates, which can be used to play back, Tivo-like, any period of time, in order to re-examine a performance problem. You can quickly benchmark the performance profile of an application, without much work, before you begin a P2V conversion. Once you're converted, run FactFinder against the new app and validate. The tool's not limited to monitoring virtualized application performance, like VMware's AppSpeed, so it's worth a look if you're still migrating critical applications.
New kid Liquidware Labs and its Stratusphere product monitors app performance in a similar way, adding its Connector ID technology to track connectivity to and from each virtual desktop in a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) environment. The company likens it to "caller ID" - you'll know down to the specific user who's using the most resources or doing something that's killing performance or response time. The maps in this case are specialized for VDI: Liquidware monitors performance for a while, then produces a report classifying desktops/users based on how suitable each is for conversion to a virtual desktop. They're working with leading VDI integration partners to lower the barriers to VDI adoption.
There's no need to virtualize in the dark: build a performance baseline without too much effort and you'll thank yourself later.