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CloudPhysics adds storage analytics to virtualization monitoring

CloudPhysics' storage suite troubleshoots storage contention on VMware VMs, predicting when disks will fail and how much caching will help.

Recognizing the problems storage contention can cause in a virtualized environment, startup CloudPhysics Inc. has added a storage suite to its virtualization monitoring tool.

CloudPhysics this week launched Storage Analytics to provide insight into the interaction between VMware virtual machines (VMs) and storage arrays. The Storage Analytics suite includes Smart Alerts that show how resources are being used, point out potential problems and suggest pre-emptive measures.

The storage suite is an addition to the CloudPhysics services that became generally available for VMware vSphere last August. The startup is heavy with VMware expertise. Two of its founders -- CEO John Blumenthal and CTO Irfan Ahmad -- are former VMware executives and VMware co-founders Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum are investors.

CloudPhysics' customers download a virtual application onto vCenter that collects operational data from the VMware hypervisor. The data is sent to the CloudPhysics software as a service application in the cloud. There, it is analyzed against the vendor's database of information collected from other systems and run through simulations to predict behavior.

CloudPhysics includes Cards (small applications) that analyze a specific issue. Storage Analytics Cards include data store contention (which applications are taking up too many resources and which aren't getting enough), data store space (how long until a disk fills up), guest space saver (probability of a guest disk partition running out of space over a specific timeframe), unused VMs (those powered off and suspended) and VM space saver (what happens if a VM is thin provisioned).

Another storage-related Card called Snapshots Gone Wild (tracks your snapshots and how much space they're using) was in the original release and has been added to the storage suite.

Storage Analytics does not see into the array, but Blumenthal said the vendor plans to extend the monitoring and analytics capabilities to storage arrays and other hypervisors besides VMware.

"Storage is an opportunity for us to put something highly valuable in the market," he said. "We can proactively look at where you're provisioning storage and determine if there is enough capacity to run this application on this data store. We created specific and complex storage analytics that users could not build themselves."

Storage Analytics also lets customers do filtered searches on each VM or data store to find root-cause analysis. It does cache benefit analysis that looks at workloads' I/O profiles and determines if and how caching will improve performance.

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi has used CloudPhysics since the startup began its beta program three years ago. Joachim Heppner, head of virtualization engineering services for Bridgewater, New Jersey-based Sanofi, said he uses CloudPhysics to run a health check on his VMware servers.

Although he does not manage Sanofi's storage systems, Heppner uses Storage Analytics to pinpoint performance issues on VMs connected to arrays from EMC, NetApp and Hewlett-Packard (HP). While CloudPhysics doesn't yet look into the arrays, it shows which VMs have problems with storage LUNs.

"They monitor everything vCenter sees," Heppner said. "I see the LUN names. They used to only show you 'This is a LUN with performance problems.' Now [with Storage Analytics] they can show you the VMs on the LUN causing performance problems and that's nice. You click on a Card and it pops up right away. You don't have to dig through it and figure out what's going on like with traditional management tools."

He called CloudPhysics "the complete opposite of traditional management software" because customers only install software and CloudPhysics maintains the data and reports problems. "The biggest advantage is the ease of deployment and there's very little learning curve," Heppner said. "You're not installing anything other than a virtual appliance. Once you have it connected, they do the heavy work on their side. You log into the website, see the Cards and they add things like color codes to see where an issue might be."

Heppner said he would like to see CloudPhysics take the next step: integrating with hardware vendors' management tools.

"For example, HP Insight Control/OneView and storage vendor tools," he said. "VMware vCenter only sees what it knows about and it would be good to see more detail from the hardware side.

"I would also like to see more on capacity planning and be able to manage other users' Cards from the same company," Heppner continued. "The Card management would be helpful when granting access to different levels of people. So for example, the CTO would like to see Cards relating to capacity, efficiency and availability, while the ESX operator wants to see Cards for troubleshooting."

A CloudPhysics subscription is $859 per-host per year. There is also a free edition with access to a handful of Cards.

CloudPhysics also closed a $15 million funding round this week, led by Jafco Ventures. That brings its total funding to $27.5 million.

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