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Bernd Harzog over at Doug Brown’s place (DABCC.com) has a great deep dive with B-hive’s CEO and CTO. Link: Virtualization Management: VMware B-hive Detailed Product Review.

Why the Old Way No Longer Works
Before
I get into how the product works, I want to spend a moment on why it is
important to do things in the way that B-hive does it. There is a right
way and a wrong way to do Applications Performance Management in
virtualized environments. The reason for this is that when you stick a
piece of software in a VM, the Windows OS (assume Windows for a moment)
no longer owns the clock (the hypervisor does). This means that
anything that counts time inside of a VM will do so incorrectly. This
includes management agents from systems management vendors and APM
vendors. This in turn means that you cannot collect resource usage
information or response times from within a guest and try to use that
information to infer anything about the performance of the application
running in the guest. Time based metrics include CPU utilization, Page
Faults per Second, Context Switches per Second, Disk I/O Reads/Writes
per Second, Network Bytes Send/Received per Second, and most
importantly any measure of the time elapsed between Event A (start of a
transaction) and Event B (end of transaction). So, neither resource
based metrics nor applications response time metrics collected from
inside of a guest VM are valid. All of this is described in a VMware Whitepaper
on the subject if you do not believe me. Bottom line – products that
install agents to measure resource utilization and/or response time in
virtualized guests do not work. So once you virtualize, a new way to do
APM is needed. …

Conclusion
By buying B-hive,
VMware did not just acquire yet another product that watched resource
utilization on servers. B-hive moved the ball forward in terms of how
to measure performance the right way (response time), with IT
Operations as the target audience. This will be a highly valuable tool
to VMware customers with virtualized servers, and will significantly
enhance the value of the VMware platform relative to competing
platforms from Microsoft and Citrix, neither of whom have anything like
this in their portfolios.

Grid Today also talks to VMware CTO Steve Herrod on the importance of this acquisition. Link: Does B-hive Acquisition Make VMware a Cloud Vendor?. [via]

To put it simply, Herrod says that Conductor is able to “think at
the level that applications that at,” as opposed to thinking at an
infrastructure level. Whereas most of VMware’s measurement tools focus
on machine metrics like CPU MHz or RAM usage, B-hive’s tool is able to,
for example, recognize what it looks like to report a Web page and what
it looks like when a Web page is returned to a user, and can then
report on the average time to provide a page. And it is just as
proficient looking into more complex, multi-tier applications, says
Herrod.

This application-level insight is increasingly vital to
VMware users, many of whom are implementing “VMware first” initiatives.
Large companies in particular, says Herrod, are putting all of their
apps in virtual environments, and they are not hesitant about
requesting more support in terms of performance tracking when they
migrate mission-critical applications to VMware. “From our standpoint,”
he says, “we saw a way to do performance better than it’s done on
physical systems, so we see it as another driver for people to bring
new applications into their systems.”

“We’re 100 percent serious
about making VMware the best place to run mission-critical
applications,” Staten stated. “And to the extent we make those easier
to manage and more available and more secure than when they’re running
natively, that’s absolutely our strategy — and this is one of the
pillars in doing that.”