Why virtualization breaks monitoring systems

Admins must monitor their infrastructure -- but virtualization has rendered old monitoring systems much less useful

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Unfortunately, vCenter isn't cut out to handle many monitoring and trending tasks; certainly, it's not as capable as tried-and-true network and system monitoring packages. VMware vCenter still has no "good" method of configuring global alert destinations. You can get funky with PowerCLI (as just about every veteran VMware admin has) to configure those destinations in an automated fashion, but it's decidedly opaque to many, and it's still clunky. The further down the tree you go with nested alerting and alarm definitions, the more needlessly complex it becomes.

And of course, vCenter has been known to generate spurious alarms for its own actions, such as DPM.

Bringing even more virtualized infrastructure components into the mix will only complicate these issues further. Instead of relying on an impartial, nonproduction third-party app running on dedicated servers to watch over your virtualized infrastructure, you may suddenly find you're using that service to monitor a single production server -- such as vCenter -- which then watches over itself and a wide variety of other components it alone is responsible for. Essentially, it's like asking your dog if he peed on the carpet rather than checking yourself. Later on you may be disappointed to discover that he lied.

Sure, you can monitor all kinds of details through vCenter, and the various APIs and CLI integrations give significant insight into the structure and operation of a virtualized infrastructure. Still, you're running all checks through a single point that may be leaving behind residue and failing to tell the truth about it.

The obvious answer to this problem is a concerted effort to adapt fixed monitoring systems to a virtualized world. It has to happen as more infrastructures move deeper into the virtualization game, and vendors and open source gurus alike rewrite their solutions to change with the times. Until then, check the carpet as much as you can and don't be surprised when you find yourself shampooing a rug or two.

This story, "Why virtualization breaks monitoring systems," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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