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Tek-Tools broadens management tools to profile VMware

Tek-Tools tries to tame VMware's virtual servers along with storage.

Storage resource management and backup reporting startup Tek-Tools Inc. is adding support for VMware to its suite of management and reporting tools.

Tek-Tools this week launched its Profiler for VMware module, adding it to a suite that includes modules for storage, backup, applications and servers. While it's hardly unusual to support VMware and virtual servers these days, the key for Tek-Tools is tying the information together with its other tools.

"We pull in information from a lot of sources -- SRM, data and backup -- and bring it into one place," said Ken Barth, CEO of Tek-Tools. "There's infrastructure sprawl out there, and people have these stovepipes across the board. One guy uses NetApp tools, another guy in the same company uses ECC from EMC, and they don't have much visibility across the board. You need to bring this under centralized control to increase utility."

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Profiler for VMware offers capacity planning, and performance and availability monitoring for VMware virtual machines. It also provides metrics to help organizations determine which servers are good candidates for virtualization.

Ed Delgado, storage administrator for RiskMetrics Group, a New York-based international financial services firm, said that Profiler for VMware helped him reclaim 1 TB of storage by pointing out that his company allocated too much storage for virtual servers. RiskMetrics has around 160 TB of EMC SAN and NAS spread across six data centers plus 20 VMware ESX servers on Dell physical servers. "And that's growing quickly," he said of virtual servers. "We'll probably have 40 or 50 at the end of the year."

Delgado, who has been using Backup Profiler since last August, was a beta tester for the VMware module. He gave another example of how it has already helped RiskMetrics. "We had performance degradation in our Cambridge [Mass.] office," he said. "I went into Profiler, logged in, ran a report on virtual machines and determined two virtual machines were performing with extremely high CPU rates. One of our admins logged into our hosting provider, found a process running away, killed that, and things returned to normal. It took under 20 minutes."

Delgado expects Profiler to come in handy when RiskMetrics sets up VMware ESX servers in its Geneva, Switzerland office. "It will be a lot faster to look at Profiler's centralized view instead of having to log in through restricted views in our Swiss data center," he said.

Unlike other small storage resource management (SRM) vendors, Tek-Tools has survived on its own by branching out into monitoring and reporting.

"They didn't limit themselves to SRM," said Bob Laliberte, an Enterprise Strategy Group analyst. "They always had the view it's not just storage that needs to be managed. Once virtualization takes hold, you need to be able to support that too. It's tough to manage your environment when your applications are playing hide-and-seek, and your storage is lying to you. If you're going to manage storage, you need to have that link and see the virtual servers."

Virtual server support is rapidly becoming mandatory for SRM tools, Laliberte said. Market leaders EMC and Symantec Corp. support VMware, as does newcomer Akorri Inc. and Onaro Inc., which Network Appliance Inc. acquired last month. "I suspect we'll see everyone supporting it," he said.

Barth said that Tek-Tools is planning support for virtual storage, as well as other virtual servers.

Delgado said he likes the price of Profiler for VMware. At $995 per ESX host, he pays less than $50 per virtual machine. Now he would like to see tighter integration between Profiler Backup and his backup application, Symantec Net Backup. "We would like to see more information coming from [Tek-Tools]," he said. "I know they're working on it."

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