Monthly Archives: February 2015

Solarwinds AppStack with SRM Flavor and More!

I think every engineer or sysadmin wants the one monitoring tool that does it all.  It is elusive and many vendors claim they can do it.  You see in a lot of scenarios, that I have product vAwesome that monitors just my VMs.  Product PLENTYOFIOPS monitors storage.  Product iNEVERSLEEP monitors my network.  Then there’s overlap with SCOM, vCOPs or whatever product the DBA team has chosen.  There are probably monitoring tools in your environment that you aren’t aware of, that are running because teams just want something that works for their particular area of expertise. Eventually, there is so much chatter that people ignore the alerts.


Mom, mommy, ma, mum, mommy the C drive is full.  The C drive is full. Lois!


At Virtualization Field Day 4, Solarwinds demonstrated how many of their monitoring tools now integrate with AppStack, the ‘single pane of glass’ into your environment.

First, everything is based on their Orion platform.  It maintains the schema for the visualization into the UI.  Then there are integration pieces like Network Performance Monitoring (NPM), Server and Application Monitoring (SAM), Web Performance Monitoring (WPM and formerly pingdom). Also, through a Hyper 9 acquisition, they created Virtualization Manager(VMan) and integrated it into Orion. Solarwinds really has so many offerings, I can’t cover them all here.  Once a component is integrated with Orion, it becomes part of a powerful tool set.  There is now a definite SOAP API which I believe is moving to REST invoked with JSON.  There might be some PowerShell and Python down the road.  I’m seeing more and more Python around lately.

The really cool part is seeing these pieces under one tab through App Stack.  Solarwinds openly admits they are not trying to solve every sysadmin’s problem.  They are trying to make it easier to troubleshoot with all of the information in one place.


Now on to the exciting news on what’s new and available in AppStack:


Server & Application Monitor
The 6.2 version now enables monitoring of server and application performance hosted in IaaS cloud providers such as Amazon EC2, Rackspace, and Microsoft Azure. It  can combine the data it collects along with your on site server and application statistics all with one tool.  It now also features AppInsight for IIS.  Previously, only SQL and Exchange were available for AppInsight.  Most monitoring tools are agentless, using WMI and SNMP to gather data.  However,  SAM does use agents, in order to see your SQL queries, buffer size, etc.

Storage Resource Monitor
Storage Resource Monitor replaces Storage Manager in the Solarwinds offerings.  It features support for dozens of common SAN and NAS arrays and also new NetApp Cluster-mode, as well as NetApp IBM N-series, NetApp E-series family, EMC VNX family and Dell EqualLogic PS Series arrays.  You can now drill down and see if a specific LUN in your RAID group is impacting your application within AppStack.

Virtualization Manager
New in 6.2, Virtualization Manager is now AppStack enabled!  OpenStack and KVM are said to be on the roadmap.  Set baselines for your VMs and determine how much of a variance should be considered an anomaly.  Items such as host health and VM sprawl are now under one view with AppStack.

Web Performance Monitor
Web Performance Monitor 2.2 is also added to the AppStack dashboard.  Transaction health checks, page load speeds all integrated into AppStack!

Here is VMan with the AppStack view alongside it:

I can bring up the AppStack view and hit Spotlight to bring up pertinent alerts.

Yellow is not great, Red is bad, you know the drill.  Get more information on AppStack goodness.

My Take
If you already own these products, taking advantage of AppStack is a no-brainer. I think this is a good first approach by SolarWinds to bring so many pieces of a large puzzle under one roof. I look forward to seeing more products integrated into AppStack.  It not only brings monitoring to the sysadmin, but also maps out the underlying dependencies and infrastructure to help bring about swift resolution.


#VFD4 – VMTurbo, Master of the software-defined universe – Part 1

VMTurbo, was the third presenter, finishing off the first exciting day of Virtulization Field Day 4 in Austin.  It was great to see Eric Wright, also known as @discoposse in his new role as Technology Evangelist.  Actually, I wish he was more a part of the presentation because it was easy to be engaged with his presenting style.  Canadian, Nicholas Cage anyone?


VMTurbo uses a well known supply and demand economy model in order to ensure application performance and maximize efficiency.  The customer sets a desired state and VMTurbo, using its supply chain model, is proactive in it’s recommendations to migrate, increase/decrease CPU and so forth on a virtual machine ensuring performance before an anomoly can affect your critical VM or application.  Customers see a 20-40% VM density increase because of the data analytics of your workloads.

You can even determine the best place to deploy a new application workloads based on the projected demand and existing application workload demand within your clusters.

Instead of being a monitoring tool and alerting you that something is wrong in your environment, it presents decisions to mitigate risk. For example, chatty VMs will be placed together to eliminate network hops.  This isn’t an issue, just creating a better opportunity for performance.  You can have a cluster appear balanced in usage but maybe a VM is having high CPU ready times because it is over-sized.  VMTurbo will suggest a right-size for the VM in order to alleviate the ready queue or perhaps recommend another host to be added to the cluster.  This is common in a lot of environments since “more is better” can be a common way of thinking for delivering CPU and Memory to an application.


So back to the economy model of buyers and sellers. Your data-center is represented as a supply chain where your VMs are consumers and infrastructure components are supply.
Applications are grouped in a vPod and the infrastructure (hypervisor, storage, etc) are grouped into a dPod.  If memory is in high demand, the cost goes up to your VMs or grouped vPod.  Cost of transaction is also taken into account.  If the cost will be too high and the gain not worth the cost, recommendations will not be given. This ensures that you don’t have a VM bouncing back and forth in a cluster or going up and down in allocated RAM, CPU, etc.
If you schedule an event to take place, let’s say rightsizing a VM but recent activity shows it would suffer with the change then it will not take place.

To me this sounds like a dynamic resource pool that I don’t have to babysit or script to maintain shares for my critical applications!

Now on to my favorite part, RESTful APIs!  Not only does VMTurbo utilize them to interact with components such as Arista but you can also dig in and get information out of VMTurbo.  Eric ha a great post regarding the awesome that is API.

Part 2 will be – CHARGEBACK!