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Matt Ray

Virtualization Monitoring vs. Control: How many speeding tickets do you have?

Oftentimes I find myself explaining how VMTurbo works. How we define a desired state and control the environment in that desired state. How we’re different than a traditional virtualization monitoring tool in that we don’t set thresholds and wait for lines to be crossed. Inevitably five minutes later I get THE question, “Where do we set the thresholds?”

For some of you, the previous paragraph will make no sense, and you will be asking yourself, “Isn’t a “desired state” and a “threshold’ the same thing?” Let me explain both to you through an example that I think will be more familiar… speed limits.

monitor vs. control

Imagine yourself driving down I-35 from Dallas to Austin (or whatever your highway/city combination of choice is) and you see a set of flashing lights behind you. All of a sudden you look down and notice that your speed has crept up from 75 to 90 mph. It’s all over. You pull to the side of the road and explain to the officer that it was your intention to go 75 you just went over for a bit. If you’ve ever been in a situation similar to this, or know somebody that has, then, “Congratulations!” You now know what it’s like to cross a threshold. You go about your day and eventually pay your ticket like everybody else. But, did that ticket stop you, or maybe your buddy, from ever speeding again? Sure you’ll slow down for a week or two, but eventually you’re crossing the threshold again.

Now let’s say you turn on cruise control and set your speed to 75. You’ve just set your “desired state!” All of a sudden that drive becomes a lot easier. As you head up a hill, cruise control accelerates for you. As you start heading down a hill, cruise control decelerates for you. But, even with these minor fluctuations something great happens. You never get to a point where you’ve crossed the threshold, and you never get a ticket. PLUS you spent a whole lot less time worrying about how fast you were going and if you were outside of your desired speed. Now wasn’t that drive a whole lot easier? That’s the difference between a threshold and a desired state.

I hope by now you’ve started to realize how nice this idea of a control system is, or at the very least, how it’s different than a traditional threshold based system. Let’s do another exercise.

Imagine yourself in a deep sleep. All of a sudden you hear the blaring text message tone of your phone. You wake up and look at the clock and its 3:00 AM! Turns out you’ve crossed a threshold in the virtual environment and something is “slow.” You drag yourself out of bed and over to the computer to login. First you think it’s the vm, or maybe it’s the host, or could it be the storage, what about the network…? Two hours later you have it fixed and can hop in bed from 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM just to get a little more sleep before work. Maybe the changes you made turn out great and things don’t break again for another two days, or maybe the changes you made cause something else to go wrong and when you walk in the door at 9:00 AM there is another fire to fight, but at some point something goes wrong again. Personally I’d rather get a speeding ticket than wake up at 3:00 AM to firefight.

Now let’s say you turn on control for the datacenter. It’s 3:00 AM and you’re asleep, two hours go by and you’re still asleep, another two hours go by and it’s 7:00 AM and you have to start waking up to go to work but at least you didn’t have to wake up at 3:00 AM. Sure, some of your workload utilization changed overnight, but the control system understands all of the supply and demand within the datacenter and adjusted accordingly. You never had to wake up and make any adjustments, no troubleshooting took place. Once you get in at 9:00 AM you can start planning for your next gen cloud implementation because there are still no alarms going off. Just like cruise control you arrive at work the next morning ready to go and are able to focus on the tasks that are most important to you and your team without wasting time trying to figure out if the VM needs to be resized or if it just requires a storage vMotion. Or what impact those two actions had on the rest of the datacenter.

This is the impact that VMTurbo has on over 1000 customers who have enabled cruise control for the datacenter. VMTurbo automatically understands all of the objects in your environment and the interdependencies between them. Then the software controls the environment into a healthy state and makes all the corrections needed to keep you in a healthy and desired state 24x7x365. It is cruise control for your datacenter.