VMware and Rivals Focus on Application Performance Management

VMware, Vizioncore, and other vendors and standards groups are quickly adding application performance management (APM) capability into their software and benchmarks as users are increasingly concerned about the availability of resources for applications running on virtual machines.

Management is the hot topic in server virtualization right now, but performance management is catching up fast.

Vendors such as VMware, Vizioncore and eG Innovations and organizations such as SPEC.ORG are quickly adding application performance management (APM) capability into their software and benchmarks as users are increasingly concerned about the availability of resources for applications running on virtual machines in their environments.

Recently VMware acquired B-hive, a company that makes a virtual appliance called B-hive Conductor, which allows IT to review both physical and virtual servers, allocate more resources to under-performing applications and provision additional resources if necessary.

"The acquisition of B-hive adds application response time capabilities to the VMware suite," says Bernd Herzog, CEO of Application Performance Management Experts and a former Gartner Group analyst. "For the vendors that used the old 'resource management way' of doing APM, the acquisition completely invalidates their approach and their products. This means that CIO's need to look to VMware and not IBM, CA, HP, BMC and NetIQ as the primary vendor for APM of their virtualized applications."

Herzog says further that VMware with its acquisition of B-hive has solved the 80 percent of the problem of knowing whether or not an application is performing well on a VMware ESX server. Managing performance on virtualized desktops is the other 20 percent of the problem, he says.

Previously, VMware tools could help users keep tabs on CPU utilization CPU performance, but not into the effect of application transactions and end-user availability. B-hive Conductors' ability to automatically allocate more resources to applications running in virtual machines will be integrated into VMware's VirtualCenter and VMotion management products, according to Bogomil Balkansky, the VMware's senior director of product marketing.

Other virtualization enhancements to software are forthcoming. Vizioncore rolled out VCharter Pro, a performance monitoring and management package for VMware ESX Server environments. The software provides views of different infrastructure layers from data centers through to ESX clusters, resource pools, shared storage and individual virtual machines and lets administrators discover contention for resources among CPUs, memory, disk or network adapters. The software also includes trending and reporting. (For more on Vizioncore and where its technology is headed next, see CIO.com's recent interview with Vizioncore president Chris Akerberg.)

eG Innovations enhanced its eG Enterprise Suite 4.1 by adding increased monitoring of VMware ESX 3i and Solaris container environments. The company's eG Enterprise Suite 4.1 will also monitor application performance for Citrix XenServer and Microsoft environments later this year.

eG Enterprise supports both agent-based and agentless monitoring for VMware ESX 3, 3.5 and 3i servers. In Sun container environments, an eG agent on a Solaris server can be configured to monitor all the zones on the server and compare resource usage levels across the zones. eG Enterprise v4.1 is priced per ESX server monitored. A 25-node environment would start at $50,000.

Further, Netuitive, a vendor with real-time performance management software for VMware environments, is expected to launch a version of its Netuitive Service Analyzer, which provides for self-learning performance management and automatically monitors the health of applications across both virtual and physical environments. It correlates the information gathered between physical and virtual environments and gives a view of the entire environment. Netuitive Service Analyzer is priced at $20,000 per application view; a small deployment could cost $100,000.

Finally, the Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. (SPEC), a non-profit corporation that establishes benchmarks, has established a new virtualization committee, which will develop an industry standard benchmark for virtual performance in data center servers. The committee's goal is to introduce a benchmark in the second half of this year. Among members of the committee are AMD, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Parallels, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, Trigence, Unisys and VMware.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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