Now that I am six months removed from VMware, I will admit that we executed poorly in the space of performance management. I know that there is intense work going on right now in acquisitions, unification of performance management tools, and vCenter improvement through folding in vscsiStats and esxtop data. But in the area of performance reporting and visualization, VMware’s success has been minimal. VMware hopes its acquisition of AliveVM will plug part of this gap but today it is safe to say the field is wide open for VMware’s partners.
This morning one such partner, VMTurbo, gave me a demonstration of their offering in this field. Their product provides an obvious improvement on vSphere’s performance visualization capabilities. But given the state of VMware’s visualization capabilities virtually any graphical front-end provides an improvement. But what really set off my imagination were two features I had not seen before:
- A third-party alternative to DRS.
- Cross-cluster resource optimization.
VMTurbo provides a variety of monitoring and analysis capabilities but I want to focus most on optimization, in particular load balancing. But before describing what VMTurbo has done, I want to point out the economics of competing with VMware’s DRS.
VMware provides four vSphere editions for its customers. The cheapest edition that offers DRS is Enterprise at a list price of $2,875USD per socket. The cheapest edition with vMotion is Standard at $995USD per socket. There are plenty of cool features that come with upgrading from Standard to Enterprise: DRS, VAAI, Fault Tolerance, Storage vMotion, vShield Zones, and others. But certainly DRS is one of the most valuable of that list.
By leaving such a big price gap between the cheapest vMotion edition and the cheapest DRS edition, VMware has provided its partners an economic incentive to innovate and provide DRS value to customers at a discount. VMTurbo may capitalize on this incentive and it would not surprise me if numerous other ISVs are already doing so or soon will. Once a vendor has built a robust monitoring environment, it is only a clever algorithm away from implementing DRS. And then a trivial API call away from extending DRS to DPM.
The VMTurbo guys explained that their algorithm uses more resources than just CPU and memory and could therefore be better than DRS. But I know how much work has gone into VMware’s memory-and-CPU DRS that I will only believe VMTurbo’s claims when I see the data.
Another area in which VMTurbo is tinkering is with inter-cluster load balancing. The demo I received this morning showed a pre-cursor step to datacenter-wide load balancing by modeling the merge of two DRS clusters. As the discussion in my maximum cluster size entry showed, choosing and changing cluster sizes is not easy. And fluidly moving virtual machines between different clusters is not often possible for a variety of reasons. But modeling cluster merging is the first step in considering cross-cluster operations. And I think that there is a huge opportunity in the industry for someone to innovate in datacenter-wide optimization.
I would be curious to see what other vendors are doing with DRS, DPM, or datacenter-wide load balancing. Can anyone refer me to any ISVs that are trying to crack these difficult problems?