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The newest Management Pack  for vCenter Operations Manager is from X-IO technologies in support of their ISE storage systems.  The plugin, called “X-IO ISE Management Pack for VMware vCenter Operations” allows you to see ISE specific performance metrics via several included dashboards.  You can also see the relationships between individual ISE storage systems and Datastores and Virtual Machines.

The ISE (Intelligent Storage Element) is a 3U, self-contained, self-healing enterprise-class storage system.  Each system has two storage processors, two power supplies, two super-capacitors, and in normal configurations it has two disk array enclosures.  On this you create volumes and can then use these to house your datastores.

ISEMetricsDashboard

ISETroubleshootingDashboard

ISETopMetricsDashboard ISEHealthOverviewDashboard

The new management pack tracks a fairly complete set of performance metrics for several items within the ISE.  These metrics include:

  • Read I/O per second
  • Write I/O per second
  • Read Percentage
  • Read Latency and Read Latency Max
  • Write Latency and Write Latency Max
  • Total I/O per second
  • Total KB per second
  • Queue Depth and Queue Depth Max

You can examine these performance metrics for the ISE overall, for each of the disk array enclosures, as well as for each individual ISE volume.

How does it help?

Let’s say you’re the vAdmin for a View environment set up, with 500 desktops.  You’re phone rings, alerting you to sluggish response times for some of the users.  Since, historically, the lion’s share of blame for response-time issues has fallen on the backing storage, you immediately turn your suspicion in that direction.

In the past, it has been difficult to get a clear picture of exactly what is happening up and down the functional chain, from Datacenter to physical storage.  Typically you would use a combination of the vCenter client and proprietary storage vendor tools.

With the X-IO ISE Management Pack, you can use your familiar vCenter Operations interface to investigate the environment.  First, there is an overview ISE Health dashboard.  It shows a relationship widget that includes all the ISE storage systems.  As you’ve come to expect, when you select any item in the diagram, all related objects get highlighted.  So, if you know a virtual machine that is experiencing a problem, you can click on it, and immediately know which ISE houses the datastore on which it resides.

For further investigation, there is an ISE Metrics dashboard that allows you to view all collected metrics for any ISE.  This makes it easy to select the ISE in question and examine performance metrics like Queue Depth and Read/Write Latency.  Not only is this information available for the ISE as a whole, it is available on an ISE Volume basis.  Within seconds, you can tell if storage is your bottleneck, or if it’s time to look up the stack.

There is also a nice Top-N Analysis widget included, that shows the top 10 ISEs in your environment, sorted by important metrics, such as Total IOPS, Highest Read Latency, and so on.  There is even a graph showing the highest temperatures.

How does this benefit me?

It’s always nice to be able to use one tool to get your job done.  With the X-IO ISE Management Pack, you can stay within the familiar vCenter Operations interface and monitor / troubleshoot performance issues down to the physical storage layer.  In addition, you now have extensive, detailed information about how each ISE storage system is performing.  With the provided dashboards, and as always you’re free to create your own, you can easily identify if the workload on the physical storage layer suggests it’s time to redistribute the datastores to get better overall performance.

In addition, you now can take advantage of the powerful analytics features of vCenter Operations with respect to your ISE storage systems.  For every metric that is collected on each ISE, the analytics engine automatically calculates dynamic thresholds, and alerts you when anything deviates from the norm.

In a nutshell, your ISE are now seen as essentially a native vSphere ecosystem component within vCenter Operations Manager.

Learn more at the Cloud Management Marketplace here.