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Nimble InfoSight goes deeper into monitoring with VM support

Nimble Storage enhances InfoSight's service and analytics portal, concentrating on virtual machine monitoring that could tie into its VVOLs support.

Nimble Storage this week enhanced its InfoSight cloud-based array support and analytics portal, adding virtual machine-level monitoring capabilities.

The service can now provide a granular view of resources used by each VMware virtual machine (VM) connected to a Nimble array. Nimble is also adding a Concierge Manager, which is a paid version of InfoSight that assigns a dedicated account manager to a customer.

Nimble InfoSight performs data analytics on Nimble arrays in the field to help the vendor provide support. Sensors from the arrays send millions of data points each day to the InfoSight cloud, tracking metrics such as performance, capacity, data protection and system health information. Nimble launched InfoSight in 2013.

Nimble analyzes that data to look for signs of possible problems such as bad NICs and cables, and sends alerts if it detects potential problems. It also makes cache and CPU sizing recommendations to improve performance. Customers access information on their systems through an InfoSight cloud portal.

Nimble claims InfoSight automatically opens 90% of its customers' support claims, and generates resolutions for 80% of them.

While InfoSight supported VMware vCenter since the start, it did not provide granular visibility into specific VMs.

"Now we're offering in the virtual realm what we offered only in the physical realm," said Radhika Krishnan, Nimble's vice president of product marketing and alliances. "This allows customers to visualize all VM objects in their environment as well as the metrics tied to them."

She said the VM-level monitoring pinpoints problems with VMs tied to non-responsive applications for customers. It can help solve noisy neighbor issues caused when one VM hogs resources, negatively impacting performance of other VMs on the same volume.

InfoSight's VM-level monitoring is limited to VMware ESX, although Krishnan said the vendor is considering expanding that to Microsoft Hyper-V and other hypervisors.

Nimble customer Alex Lawrence, senior systems administrator at Pacific Lutheran University, said he uses Nimble's InfoSight to track performance stats for databases on his CS460 array.

"I can get granular stats on all of my databases and their usage based off performance policies I set up for each one," he said.

Lawrence was a beta tester for Nimble's new capabilities. He said the new VM-level monitoring may allow him to eventually replace Solarwinds Storage Resource Monitor.

"InfoSight can give me a lot of interesting stats that I pay for now in a separate product," he said. "There's not quite feature parity yet, but I think they're going down the path that will reach there. It gives me insight into my virtual environment, telling me if one data store is peaking versus another to cause a noisy neighbor problem."

To achieve feature parity with his Solarwinds application, Lawrence said he would like to see Nimble allow him to set alerts if VM performance hits a certain level as well as customizable dashboards.

"It's just basically a maturity thing," he said. "The other product has been around for a while."

Nimble InfoSight is a precursor to VVOLs

Krishnan said the VM-level monitoring will complement Nimble's support of VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLs). She said Nimble is close to completing work to support VVOLs in its arrays. VVOLs, which became available in vSphere 6, enable storage arrays to be VM-aware. Array vendors must add support to their hardware to take advantage.

"We believe this is a great segue into VVOLs," Krishnan said of the VM monitoring. "Customers will want visualization at the VM level for both traditional data stores and VVOLs."

While InfoSight is free for all Nimble customers, a paid concierge service for enterprise customers is in beta. That service will include monthly and quarterly performance reports, root case analysis, and real-time status updates for open cases.

No pricing has been set yet for the concierge service.

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