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Ben Yemini

What’s New – VMTurbo October 2011

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With each release of VMTurbo, our Engineering team works hard to advance the product on several dimensions, including new capabilities, ease of use, and the core of the product “under the hood.” And true to this mantra, we are very excited to release our October appliance! As you read this ‘What’s New’ post, you will notice a couple of key themes expressed throughout the new functionality;

  1. End-to-end workload management. Building on the announcement made recently at VMWorld, of our new Application Performance Management capability, you will see functionality designed to ensure resource availability based on individual Application demand, including;
    1. The ability to group and prioritize Applications. These rankings help guarantee Quality of Service (QoS) metrics for those mission critical services.
    2. New business dashboards that provide high level visibility through all levels of the IT stack and across the largest of infrastructures. These give immediate awareness into the criticality of the issues affecting Application performance AND the appropriate resolutions.
  2. Large Scale Infrastructure Administration. We are working hard to accommodate the specific needs of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and other Hosting and Cloud providers to help them better manage and support customers in multi-tenant environments.
    1. Enhanced workload placement policies enabling more flexible load control in shared environments to accommodate the needs of security and compliance requirements.
    2. Extended role based definitions to provide exceptionally granular control over scope and permissions in multi-tenant provider environments.
    3. Improved re-branding support for managed and cloud providers.

Let’s take a walk together through the new functionality and see how, area by area VMTurbo is strengthening and expanding its ability to help you better assure Application QoS and maximize your environmental efficiency.

  1. Application Performance Management In many respects, this capability is the “holy grail” – giving infrastructure operations teams the ability to manage application quality of service (QoS) by tying enterprise applications with the underlying virtual infrastructure. By adding visibility into which enterprise applications are consuming virtualized infrastructure resources, VMTurbo can derive resource allocation and workload placement decisions from application QoS and business requirements.
    (If you’d like to evaluate the Application Performance Management capability, please let us know here, and we’ll get you a special license key.)VMTurbo today provides support for popular Windows applications (Active Directory, MS SQL and IIS Web Server). This list will grow to include many more Windows (and non-Windows) applications (where an application is not specifically recognized, it is still monitored as a generic ‘GuestLoad’).

    This extends the IT stack that VMTurbo is managing and gives the Sys Admin and Virtualization Architects direct access to application performance data.   Specifically, VMTurbo now provides insight into the resources consumed (memory and cpu) in-exchange-for ‘Transactions’ generated.VMTurbo gives direct access to application performance data

    With this visibility, we now have one part of the puzzle, the next part is to prioritize the Applications (either individually or by group) to establish a hierarchy. By identifying those Mission Critical Applications, VMTurbo is in a position to not only maintain the QoS of the entire virtualized environment, but also ensure specifically the performance of those Mission Critical Applications be allocating the necessary resources to meet the those applications’ demands.

    VMTurbo ensures performance of Mission Critical Applications

    VMTurbo is now in a position to be able to identify those problems in the infrastructure that are degrading Application QoS and apply the appropriate corrective actions in a way that prioritizes resources allocation to Mission Critical services.

    VMTurbo identifies problems in infrastructure and prioritizes resources allocation to Mission Critical services

  2. Extended and Enhanced Planning CapabilityThe entire planning capability has undergone an extensive overhaul. The underpinnings remain the same – that is, using the Economic Scheduling Engine in an offline mode to simulate the allocation of resources to meet application demand.

    It still shows the performance metrics for a specific future workload and it still shows the capacity needed to accommodate a future workload at a QoS level, that cannot be accommodated with the existing infrastructure – but has been significant enhanced to make the projections easier to make and more accurate. Specifically;A much easier work flow that makes it clearer what type of simulation is being run (added load, vendor specific hardware substitution, trending analysis etc).

    As well as consolidating and rationalizing the number of clicks needed to set it up.

    Here we can see in a single dialog the comprehensive top level menu of capacity and workload variables that we may wish to include in the planning scenario.

    VMTurbo Planning Scenario screenshot

    Collectively, these options give you a great deal of control over the type and nature of these simulations.

    For just one, of a multitude of examples we could cite, you can see in the graphic above, an added load being included in the simulation that was derived from a profile template (shown below) included with the planner.

    We have been continually expanding the hardware and application templates that are included with the appliance so that you can, with very little effort, look for instance at the cost/performance benefit of one vendor specific hardware solution vs. another – or add a VM exhibiting a load not currently in your inventory.

    VMTurbo Hardware and Application Templates screenshot

    One final consideration; is this plan to use the Application resource demands as experienced on a specific date, or should VMTurbo look over a date range and use this historical data to gauge a future work-loading level?

    The difference may at first appear to be trivial, but it is exactly this flexibility and forward looking capability that users have been asking for and that set apart VMTurbo from other ‘Capacity Planning’ offerings that simply look at ‘capacity’ and divide that by an allocation to each VM without consideration to Application QoS.

    VMTurbo planner screenshot
    And finally for the planner, what good is running these simulations if you cannot save them to pull up later to compare or show your results to someone?

  3. Enhanced Workload PlacementThe primary strength of the Economic Scheduling Engine is that without any other input, it is able to make the determinations necessary to; balance the environment, prevent performance bottlenecks and assign the resources needed by Applications to meet their QoS obligations.That all said, there are times when for reasons of; company policy, compliance or security that we want to ensure that workloads are only placed on certain clusters, or only on specific networks or must be on the same machine as another software component. Another example is the opposite, whereby we want to limit the population of VMs on certain resources – perhaps limiting the number of VMs that may use certain resources, to build resiliency into the environment.In these cases, the Systems Admin or Virtualization Architect needs to be able to either read in existing rules (commonly referred to as ‘Affinity’ or ‘Anti Affinity’ from an external source) so as not to contradict the other management tool, or, be able to create them from scratch from within VMTurbo.
  4. Service Entities – StatusAs VMTurbo is used in larger and larger environments, it is no longer reasonable to believe that the person sitting at the console is the same staff member that is responsible for the regular maintenance of the Physical Machines (PM) or VMs. For that reason, we have added additional symbology that is easily interpreted to convey whether a PM is in maintenance mode or a VM is currently powered off.
  5. Extended Support for User RolesWith VMTurbo being used in larger Enterprise and in multi-tenant environments, there is a distinct need to provide very granular definitions and support for different users and roles.This newly extended capability includes;
    • Active Directory Support
    • Custom Console and Dashboard layouts and views

    This ability ensures security of the environment whilst at the same time enabling the greatest visibility and access to the performance and health of the virtualized environment.

    It also makes it possible (especially when combined with an automation of this capability via the API), to very quickly create scoped access for new tenants.

  6. Re-Branding SupportContinuing the theme of bolstering support for multi-tenant environments (or simply neater, more personalized reports in a private cloud environment), VMTurbo now enables easy customization through simple configuration files to quickly and easily set up branded appliances and branded reports.

    Collectively, the new functionality for the support of these environments is a benefit both for the Managed Service Provider that can now offer a higher value-add service to his/her clients, as well as for the tenants by having access to the capabilities and benefits conferred by VMTurbo.
  7. Business Summary DashboardsWith this release of the VMTurbo appliance, you will see the first of what will become a large number of comprehensive and customizable Business Summary Dashboards.These graphical at-a-glance dashboards are designed to meet the needs of a growing spectrum of users within an organization. For MSP’s (and other Cloud providers), there are many levels of management, and many individuals, within the organization that have a need to access up-to-date information on the current health status of the Physical Infrastructure as well as the virtualized loads.By representing the various categories of information in easily recognized graphical formats (for instance; pie-charts), VMTurbo becomes a valuable tool, providing insight and the immediate identification of problems that may occur within the environment, along with the immediately actionable resolution.
  8. Odds & EndsWhenever we set about improving VMTurbo from the previous release, we always try to incorporate feedback from our users as they are the ones using this tool in a production environment – and even if they are small suggestions, we do our best to use them to better the product.Sometimes those improvements cannot be shown easily in a document such as this, but it is worth nothing that we are constantly working to;
    • Improve the intuitive nature of the application
    • Develop workflows that mimic the logical steps that a user would expect
    • Provide ever increasing levels of performance
    • Include new productivity capabilities with each release (eg Application grouping)
    • Combining the problem and action logs into one easy to use dialog;
    • …and many others.


    So until next time!         Click to download