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Symantec Veritas Operations Manager 5.0 Completes the Private Cloud Picture

Most enterprises are confident that they are going to virtualize much of their infrastructure so as to create a private cloud. However they are probably just as confident that once they have this private cloud in place they will have little or no insight into how well the resources in their private cloud are being used, if the resources could be better utilized and where the bottlenecks reside. Giving companies increased visibility and better control over their private clouds is what Symantec Veritas Operations Manager 5.0 provides.

Today companies more than ever are looking to virtualize their infrastructure in anticipation of creating a private cloud so they may better optimize their available physical resources. The challenge they encounter is that once they virtualize their physical infrastructure, many of the utilities they have traditionally used to view, control and manage the devices within their infrastructure are, at best, hampered in their ability to perform these tasks and are, at worst, ineffective.

Aggravating the situation, as organizations virtualize their infrastructure and create private clouds, they simultaneously want to centrally manage all of their hardware devices (physical or vitual) using a common console. As the implementation of a fully virtualized environment is still on the distant horizon, using such a console they may centrally manage this mixed physical/virtual, multi-vendor environment in which there are forced to live now.

 This becomes difficult to achieve for a couple of reasons. First, virtualization breaks the 1:1 relationship that has historically existed between physical servers and back end storage. Second, VMDK files exacerbate the existing problem of explosive storage growth as virtualization facilitates the rapid and too often unplanned expansion of virtual machines (VMs).
It is as hardware becomes abstracted by virtualization, private clouds are created and virtual storage pools grow that management tools intended for use in these environments need to cut through these virtual layers. Further, this tool must account for the multi-vendor heterogeneity that exists in these IT shops so IT administrators can understand what specific physical resources are allocated to what applications and when they are being used.

It is this deeper view into this complex private cloud infrastructure that Symantec Veritas Operations Manager (VOM) 5.0 provides. This release provides the deeper views and better control of private clouds that enterprises want and need in the following five ways:

  • Better performance monitoring. One of the first keys to improving performance monitoring in private clouds is to first gather needed performance metrics from both the server and storage side of the infrastructure. To achieve this objective, VOM 5.0 integrates more tightly with VMware vSphere so it can pull performance metrics directly from it.

The vSphere metrics gathered from individual virtual machines (VMs) are then combined with performance metrics that VOM gathers from storage arrays that may extend all the way down to a spindle on the array. In this way enterprises may create a holistic picture of performance across their private cloud.

While creating this picture is interesting, the end game here is enabling enterprises to troubleshoot performance in their virtualized environment. Using this cross section of performance metrics, they can identify performance hot spots in their private clouds so they may troubleshoot and/or do root cause analysis to ensure the problem spots are identified and corrected so they do not re-appear in the future.

  • Centralized application availability dashboard. While it is great that a single physical machine server may host multiple VMs, it also becomes more difficult to identify when a specific VM fails or, worse yet, when an application on a VM fails.

The dashboard in VOM now adds the ability to aggregate and view what applications are running across all physical and virtual machines. VOM accomplishes this feat through its new integration with Symantec’s ApplicationHA software so organizations can use VOM to centrally monitor application availability and respond more quickly should one go offline for whatever reason.

  • Recovery management. Every enterprise has to deal with the reality of doing application recoveries. However when you start to talk about how to centrally manage the recovery of hundreds or thousands of physical and virtual servers, the conversation quickly gets complicated.

VOM helps to simplify this conversation. Using its new Recovery Plan feature, it leverages Symantec’s existing virtual business service and cluster solutions to automate some of the manual steps that organizations normally have to take when performing a recovery. For instance, rather than having to manually ascertain what storage capacity is available to do a recovery or repurposing spare capacity to do a recovery, VOM identifies what storage capacity is available and where so organizations may initiate a recovery more quickly.

  • Path management. A hidden but real problem in every private cloud is managing the multiple available paths that connect front end servers (physical and virtual) to backend storage, the saturation levels of these paths and what multipathing software resides on the physical and virtual servers. The intent of this multipath software is that if a path fails or is congested, the server may use an alternative path or rebalance the workload to alleviate the path congestion. The trick becomes effectively managing different multipathing software solutions in private clouds.

VOM 5.0 now addresses this concern as well. While it has always given organizations the ability to centrally manage Symantec’s Dynamic Multi-Pathing (DMP) software, it now has visibility into VMware’s Native Multipathing (NMP) software. Further, using VOM, organizations can better forecast the impact of scheduled outages or upgrades of storage systems in their private cloud. This is done by creating impact analysis reports that show what servers (physical and server), virtual machines, datastores and virtual business services would be impacted by such an event.

  • Storage utilization optimization. One technique that many organizations use to control and optimize storage capacity utilization in their private clouds is through the use of thin provisioning technologies on storage arrays. But even using this technique still requires organizations to periodically run clean-up operations to reclaim freed or stranded capacity on these storage arrays.

VOM could already run thin pool utilization reports to monitor thin pools. Using VOM 5.0, organizations can see exactly how much space can be reclaimed at enclosure, thin pool and host level. This enables administrators decide if they want to limit the scope of reclamation to a particular set of hosts or thin pools where they can reclaim the most space and thus perform a much more targeted reclamation operation.

Today’s private clouds are the natural outgrowth of yesterday’s virtualization initiatives that enterprise organizations have embarked upon over the last few years. But it is only now that many are coming to the realization that managing these private clouds requires management software with entirely new levels of integration with the infrastructure – physical and virtual – to keep it run smoothly.

VOM 5.0 introduces these additional capabilities that are required to manage today’s enterprise private clouds. By giving companies the ability to monitor performance across the environment, monitor application availability, shorten recovery times, monitor and manage differe
nt multipathing products and
optimize storage utilization, organizations can do more than build private clouds, they can effectively manage them as well. Further, as their private clouds grow, VOM can scale with them as enterprises may upgrade to Symantec Veritas Operations Manager 5.0 Advanced and take advantage of the data center features found in it, the features of which I will cover in a subsequent blog entry.


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