VMWare Monitoring for your MSP

Scott Calonico

vmware logoBy implementing virtualization in your IT environment, you are reducing your costs and leveraging your existing infrastructure.

Virtual machines act as a software-based server, and with this technology, you can run multiple instances of the same or different operating systems on one physical server.

Imagine being able to run an Oracle database, and Windows Server on the same machine, and you understand the benefits of virtualization.

VMware Challenges

Virtual machines have an abundance of benefits, but there are also challenges. Monitoring VMware servers in your networked environment is a crucial step in preventing a disaster. Since the VMware servers allow for multi-server environments, there is a tendency to increase utilization of the physical infrastructure by having more VMware instances on each server. Although this reduces costs and increases the productivity of a development team, as an example, it creates a very large risk. What happens when the physical server fails?

Having a tested failover plan is one way to prevent this, as is a continuous monitoring process. By prioritizing VMWare monitoring on your servers you can prepare for, and often prevent, technical problems. Some of the statistics that need to be monitored in a VMware environment are the disk usage, latency, active memory and memory consumption, CPU usage, and CPU availability. These processes can give a strong, early sign that an issue is coming. It is very important to track performance on the VMware servers, as the quick fix for poor VMware performance is to spawn more instances of VMware.

Get a Good Toolbox

Setting up VMWare monitoring involves using monitoring tools. These usually come in either an agent or agentless version. These tools give the IT admins the power to isolate servers that are underperforming, eating up resources, and identify bottlenecks. These tools also allow for easier reconciliation of sprawl. Sprawl occurs when there is no tracking of the deployment of virtual machines in the data center and this can quickly cause compliance issues.

Lookout for License Compliance

Often overlooked are the licensing agreements that Enterprise environments have in place for software. Since it is very easy to set up multiple VMware servers, it's easy to forget that each instance of each operating system, and the subsequent programs that run on the servers, requires a license for the operating system, the application, and the VMware instance. Without proper monitoring, this can quickly copyright imagegrow out of control. If the company is ever audited, and there is a license deficiency, there are stiff fines that quickly follow.

Software asset management best practices that deal with compliance are having a central software license person who authorizes the purchase of new software, and harvests licenses no longer in use. A resource like that can give prompt reporting in the event of an audit, and they will take care of the monitoring of the software assets in the virtual environment.

Using VMware servers in a networked environment can drastically reduce costs, and it frees up space in the data center, not to mention the administrative burden on the IT staff. Just ensure that a VMWare monitoring program is implemented, and the investment will be worth it.