Scott Drummonds on Virtualization

Alternative to DRS


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.

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Performance Troubleshooting Made Simple


I have struggled for years to give VMware’s customers a framework for diagnosing performance problems. People want a simple system to troubleshoot the unknown sources of poorly performing applications. The best attempt at documenting such a flow is Hal Rosenberg’s document on vSphere performance troubleshooting. Elegant as it may be, Hal’s document remains complex for the novice VI administrator.  And it is because that document is so complex that performance people maintain their job security. 🙂 But in an effort to further obviate my own job, I will try and generalize the troubleshooting flow to add more clarity to the process.

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Windows Guest Defragmentation, Take Two


I have received questions about guest defragmentation tools for years.  Until today I could only pose theories as to the value of guest defragmentation.  But previous theories spawned new research and one of VMware’s partners is now putting data behind their argument that file systems in Windows virtual machines require defragmentation.  This partner, Raxco Software, shared early results of this investigation with me.  Raxco used their NTFS defragmentation tool PerfectDisk to evaluate the impact of guest defragmentation on a single virtual machine.

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vscsiStats for ESXi


You will occasionally need vscsiStats to deepen your understanding of an application’s storage profile.  This tool is provided with ESX classic but requires configuration and installation for ESXi environments.  VMware is planning to add vscsiStats counters to the vSphere Client UI in a future version but until then you will have to perform the following to enable vscsiStats on ESXi.

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Micro-bursting and Storage Performance


I have been reading Chad Sakac’s article on IO queues and micro-bursting for months now.  Chad is wicked technical for a manager type and after reading this post a dozen times I think I finally have it internalized.   Let me put my own spin on this tome, embedded in which are several jewels of wisdom.

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Performance Troubleshooting: No PhD Required!

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A couple of weeks ago at VMworld in San Francisco I squeezed a few press meetings in between the 19 sessions of the performance lab I led. In one of those meetings I talked with David Vellante and two of his colleagues to discuss vSphere performance and performance monitoring.  David and company asked some hard questions about our performance work but my knowledge of this area runs deep, so the conversation was fruitful and interesting.

A few days after the conference a coworker of mine shared the following quote with me, courtesy of an article by David on Internet Evolution:

The fact is, most data center managers wouldn’t trust VMware to manage their Tier 1 applications because if something goes wrong performance-wise, you still need to roll in the VMware PhDs to solve it.

Let me respond to a few of the suggestions from this quote.

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vSphere Is Not the Performance Problem, Your Storage Is


[This is an update to one of my favorite articles, which details my on-site investigation of SQL Server performance problems.]

Back in July I had the privilege of riding along with VMware’s Professional Services Organization as they piloted a possible performance offering. We are considering two possible services: one for performance troubleshooting and another for infrastructure optimization. During this trip we piloted the troubleshooting service, focusing on the customer’s disappointing experience with SQL Server’s performance on vSphere.

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