Running virtual machines (VMs) on today's high performance servers such as the Dell PowerEdge range makes monitoring all-important in gaining the most benefit from deployments.

VMs running on VMware's ESX and its upgrade the ESXi with vSphere or Microsoft's Hyper-V environments have built in user interfaces that give a basic overview of the current status, but third party monitoring and management tools can offer many more features.

There are a number of these available including: Foglight for Virtualization, Enterprise Edition; Veeam ONE; VMTurbo; Xangati for vSphere; and Citrix XenServer Essentials.

Key questions

  1. Is your business running multiple VMs from different vendors? Many of today's tools offer management and optimisation for multiple VM suppliers within one application.
  2. Can the application you are looking at handle advanced load balancing? One of the key management tools is the movement of any given load from one VM to another. Management tools should enable the use of vMotion, for instance, with minimum drops in the overall performance of the servers concerned. How often do you create and delete VMs?
  3. The ease of VM creation should be at the heart of your management application. Creating new VMs as they become needed should be fast and efficient.
  4. Does your company run Oracle databases? Running Oracle database loads across one or multiple servers requires that you can see see whether the correct licensing is in place. Oracle demands that all processor cores are licensed, and good management software should alert you to any potential licensing violations.
  5. How much insight is needed about the connection between the VMs that are running and the physical servers that support them? Management and monitoring tools should not just focus on the VMs themselves. The built-in server interfaces often give detail about the physical infrastructure, but also need to show you how these can be optimised along with the VMs themselves.
  6. What kind of reports do you expect your monitoring and management application to deliver? Many of the third-party applications now offer detailed reporting features. This can include standard metrics such as CPU load and disk storage latency. Also, historic data can often be included in these reports to give a clear indication of performance over time.

Whichever tool or tools you choose to deploy they should all enable you to clearly see the VM landscape you have created and how this changes over time based on your actions.