Manage the Performance of Virtual Environments Using Dynamic Alerts
June 16, 2014

Karthik Ramachandran
SolarWinds

Share this

As we know, virtual environments consist of many moving pieces and are generally complex to setup. Typically, IT environments, depending on the size of the organization, can have several hundred VMs down to a handful of VMs. For such virtual infrastructure deployments, it helps to monitor the performance of VM and VM usage. It's also equally important to ensure the health of your virtual appliances are always in check and to immediately know when something goes wrong.

What you really don't want is to have alerts paging you 24/7, especially when they're not critical situations. Alert management can be a subtle, but dangerous activity. Additionally, manually setting alert thresholds can be an extremely time consuming task. Alternatively, using static thresholds that don't reflect real performance problems often result in alert storms, where administrators stop watching alerts carefully. This is where the "dangerous" part comes in and often true critical alerts can be lost in the noise and missed. As a result, intelligent, dynamic alerting can be critical for both staff efficiency and system reliability.

False Alerts: Reasons Why You Get Them and How to Avoid Them

Here are a few examples why your virtual environment may trigger alerts more frequently than normal:

■ Events that frequently occur, such as resource consumption can trigger alerts more often than most other virtual components.

■ You can get "spam" alerts from VMs or hosts that are no longer in use or that have been discharged.

■ Not properly tuning threshold levels can lead to a sudden spike in alerts.

Having intelligent alerting processes help ensure irrelevant alerts are not generated. This gives virtual admins time to look at "real" alerts and fix them. Here's what you can do to avoid alerting errors:

■ Set up alerts for specific VMs that you think are really going to impact your users or your business.

■ Leverage dynamic thresholds based on historical baseline trends whenever possible to set more realistic thresholds for your clusters, hosts, VMs, and datastore.

■ Establish well-defined threshold settings—this way you can optimize the kind of alerts you receive during the day and ensure that you're not bothered after work hours.

■ Set the right dependencies to significantly lower the amount of alerts you receive.

■ Forward specific alerts to the defined teams, since they understand the severity of the alert and can fix it right away.

Determine What to Monitor and Why

Most admins have to monitor hundreds of virtual appliances, which means you're probably dealing with plenty of alerts. Under these circumstances you'll have to determine a few things:

■ Go over each host to see if all VMs under the host must be monitored or if only a few critical VMs need to be monitored for alerts.

■ Talk to your business groups or users and understand what the impact will be. This will give you a sense of how many VMs and datastores have to be setup for alerts. They may have mission critical applications running inside them, which may affect business performance.

Statistical Thresholds: A Better Way to Set Baseline Values for your Virtual Environment

Normally, you would have to monitor the performance of hosts, VMs, and datastores for several weeks in order to know what the ideal or optimum baseline is to set warning and critical thresholds. However, integrated virtualization management tools can automatically calculate performance of clusters, hosts, VMs, and datastores and determine the baseline values.

IStatistical thresholds allow you to look at the following processes:

■ Applying thresholds to clusters, hosts, VMs, and datastores.

■ Understanding baseline statistics using standard deviation calculation for day and night system performance.

■ Gaining statistical insights into performance metrics and how they vary over time. Look at how stats are collected for higher and lower threshold values for individual VMs and hosts.

■ Calculating thresholds from historical performance data saves time in adjusting thresholds and provides more intelligent alerts.

■ Setting the right threshold values using the built-in baseline calculator. This calculates and applies the recommended threshold values for warning and critical stages for clusters, hosts, VMs, and datastores.

While this won't completely eliminate "spam" alerts, it will quickly let you get to a much smaller set for the administrator to deal with. In turn, it will let them spend more time and attention on striking that balance between monitoring your VM usage and hypervisor performance, and setting the right threshold values.

Karthik Ramachandran is Product Marketing Specialist at SolarWinds.

Share this

The Latest

November 22, 2017

As the 2017 holiday shopping season gets under way, with sales expected to hit $682 billion, this year could be the first that consumers spend more online than in stores. As more people flock to e-commerce sites than ever before, the potential threat to retailers from hackers increases exponentially ...

November 20, 2017

When you say "DevOps" one of the first words that comes to mind is "collaboration." But exactly how do we make this collaboration happen? This epic DEVOPSdigest list – posted in 7 parts – intends to find the answer. DEVOPSdigest asked experts from across the industry for their opinions on the best way to foster collaboration between Dev and Ops ...

November 17, 2017

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, APMdigest asked experts from across the industry for their opinions on the best way to measure eCommerce performance, in terms of applications, networks and infrastructure. Part 3, the final installment, covers the customer journey ...

November 16, 2017

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, APMdigest asked experts from across the industry for their opinions on the best way to measure eCommerce performance, in terms of applications, networks and infrastructure. Part 2 covers APM and monitoring ...

November 15, 2017

As the holiday shopping season looms ahead, and online sales are positioned to challenge or even beat in-store purchases, eCommerce is on the minds of many decision makers. To help organizations decide how to gauge their eCommerce success, APMdigest compiled a list of expert opinions on the best way to measure eCommerce performance ...

November 14, 2017

More than 90 percent of respondents are concerned about data and application security in public clouds while nearly 60 percent of respondents reported that public cloud environments make it more difficult to obtain visibility into data traffic, according to a new Cloud Security survey ...

November 13, 2017

Today's technology advances have enabled end-users to operate more efficiently, and for businesses to more easily interact with customers and gather and store huge amounts of data that previously would be impossible to collect. In kind, IT departments can also collect valuable telemetry from their distributed enterprise devices to allow for many of the same benefits. But now that all this data is within reach, how can organizations make sense of it all? ...

November 09, 2017

CIOs trying to lead digital transformation at the speed needed to succeed need a mix of three scale accelerators, according to Gartner, Inc. The three scale accelerators include: digital dexterity, network effect technologies, and an industrialized digital platform ...

November 08, 2017

While the majority of IT practitioners in the UK believe their organization is equipped to support digital services, over half of them also say they face consumer-impacting incidents at least one or more times a week, sometimes costing their organizations millions in lost revenue for every hour that an application is down, according to PagerDuty's State of Digital Operations Report: United Kingdom ...

November 07, 2017

Today's IT is under considerable pressure to remain agile, responsive and scalable to meet the changing needs of business. IT infrastructure can't become a bottleneck, it must be the enabler. But as new paradigms, such as DevOps, are adopted, data center complexity increases and infrastructure constraints can block the ability to achieve these goals ...