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Network Management, VMware and Who's Coming to the Party?

In this post by David Davis, there are a number of good observations and a couple of issues worth pondering.   

First might be what it means to "manage and monitor" virtualized infrastructure.  If Packttrap or Solarwinds permits that part of the IT organization responsible for the network to manage virtual network componentry, at what point do they pull it all together into a unified view of "the network"?  How does this happen without the network guys encroaching on the territory usually reserved for the "server tribe"?

One might argue that Cisco's Nexus 1000V recreates for the network organization a distributed virtual switch that, for all intents and purposes, acts like and is acted upon in a manner with which the network guys are familiar.  The question will be whether this is ultimately a case of defining the use of new, disruptive technology (server virtualization) in terms of the old established technologies (physical switching a la IOS). (You can see one point of view here, in which Davis sets out his take on the 1000V.)

As for the challenges he lays out ... well, we think we know the answers to some of this, and intend to prove it.  Answering the question about whether to support VMware ESX only, or other platforms is an interesting commercial decision for most players and bespeaks an understanding of the customer base. (When does Hyper-V have enough of a market share to justify the attention? Do customers have a requirement to manage both ESX and Hyper-V in the SAME virtualized datacenter?)

Yeah ... by all means, stay tuned.

Does your network management utility manage VMware? - David’s Cisco Networking Blog

More and more of the typical “physical computer” management & monitoring tools are being retooled to manage the new virtual infrastructure. I have talked with both Packettrap and Solarwinds and both have rumored that they will soon offer versions of their well known network management tools that will now recognize, not only network devices and physical servers, but the virtual guest operating systems that are on those physical servers.

For example, your network management & monitoring tool could query either each individual ESX server using traditional SNMP calls or it could query the VMware Virtual Center server using VMware’s API to obtain an inventory of what virtual guest is on what physical server, performance statistics for both host and guest systems, and status of guest systems (ie: which are powered on or off).

There are a few challenges that these vendors face:

    * do you go directly to each virtual host or to a centralized management server?
    * do you support only VMware ESX Server or do you try to support other virtualization platforms such as Microsoft’s Hyper-V?
    * how do you learn about guest VMs that have been “VMotion’ed” (for lack of a better term) from one host system to another? And what about the performance statistics when the storage for a guest is “SVMotion’ed” from one datastore to another?

So, “stay tuned”, as they say, for physical tools to now recognize the virtual world. And, if your vendor isn’t already doing this or doesn’t have plans to do it, I recommend that you pressure that vendor to make their product “virutalization ready” (or else you may have to go find another vendor).

Reader Comments (2)


I think, from a practical perspective, it is important to extend existing management models. That doesn't mean they should be frozen in time, but for the sake of ease-of-adoption, we should start with what folks are already vested in and move from there.

One other area to look at, which was one of the objectives of VN-Link, is how effectively and transparently management tools can encompass both virtual and physical infrastructure.

Omar SultanCisco
Oct 1, 2008 at 4:56PM | Unregistered CommenterOmar Sultan
Omar, I agree that it's important to extend existing management models, and that, to the degree possible, the systems start with concepts with which the administrators are already familiar.

However, the reason why the virtual elements of the infrastructure are not / have not been instrumented from the outset to imitate or emulate their counterparts from the physical world is because ... they're different! So trying to manage and administer them with the same old principles and the same old tools can lead to inappropriate, inefficient operations at best, and failures of resilience, security or connectivity at worst.

I applaud the objectives and the execution of VN-Link. In fact, I would claim that the approach and objectives of VN-Link represent a great example of what I'm advocating. Thank you for bringing that up. That's NOT what I understood Davis' description of SolarWinds or Packettrap responses to be. I hope that we're all pleasantly surprised at what these vendors deliver.

- Rich
Oct 1, 2008 at 11:40PM | Unregistered CommenterRich Miller

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