Less is not always more. We can agree that virtualization and server admins need less data to process and analyze. In a recent post, I mentioned some brilliant advances that are serving that end, including data compression technology, data crunching speeds and algorithm sophistication. We also agree that a virtualization management solution can and should minimize the need for root cause analysis. But the steps between a) the information about your virtual infrastructure and b) the data you must process and deal with to effectively manage the environment are important and varied.
Processing and storing the vast amounts of data about both the physical and virtual network and all areas of interoperability is hard—really hard. That’s why some vendors want to convince you it’s unnecessary. Their thought process goes something like this: You don’t really need all that data. It’s just for troubleshooting. Wouldn’t you rather have a solution that just solves your problems outright? And I have to admit, it sounds enticing, dare I say, too good to be true.
In truth, a virtualization management solution that strips out useful data required for effective problem-solving and performance management is doing you a disservice. That doesn’t mean the right solution leaves you overwhelmed underneath a mountain of data. Rather it’s what data you’re presented with—in the context of your unique challenges.
When a virtualization management tool skimps on data and analysis, you could end up wasting time, effort and money—in direct contrast to the promised benefits. Many of these tools base results on the most recent hour of data only—and probably can’t correlate that data with historical maximum resource usage. In consequence, the results and recommendations don’t tell the whole story about your virtual environment. You could end up moving resource workloads into some unnecessary places. And if the tool constantly makes recommendations from hour to hour, you’ll end up thrashing your virtual environment around for no real performance benefit. The most effective virtualization performance management solutions are aware of historical resource usage, and may go even further to place that usage into context. Following this example, the ideal solution remembers that a particular VM spikes every Tuesday at 2 p.m. without negative consequences, and shapes its recommendations accordingly. The knowledge is based on more comprehensive data collection, aggregation and analysis, but it means less work and wasted effort for you.
The problem isn’t too much data. The real problem is wrapping context around the data. We have devoted a lot of intellectual property to solving this challenge in order to put performance, capacity, right sizing, workload, configuration management, monitoring and security data into the proper perspective for our customers. It’s context, not simply less data, that enables more efficient and effective virtualization management.Aaron Bawcom is the Chief Technology Officer for Reflex Systems, a provider of end-to-end virtualization management solutions based out of Atlanta, GA. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.