By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2005-09-19 Print this article Print

When we installed BMC performance Manager for Virtual Servers on a Windows 2003 Server system, we used the BMC Patrol Central console for access and control. IT managers should have a well-documented list of all ESX and GSX Servers before implementing BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers.

We added our ESX Server system manually by opening the KM and then entering the ESX Server name and user credentials. Once configuration was completed, most other operations were performed automatically.

BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers comes with a good number of useful reports and monitoring capabilities. This is hardly surprising, given BMCs long tenure in the infrastructure management field.

After installing and configuring the virtual server KM, we started getting accurate data about the performance of our VMs, although it took some old-fashioned training to access some of the important features of the product, such as switching between screens for monitoring physical and virtual machines.

BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers did a good job of showing us the real-time performance metrics of both VMs and physical systems. In tests, we created three VMs: a Windows 2000 server, a Novell Inc. NetWare 6.5 server and a Red Hat Inc. Fedora Core 2 server.

While in the BMC Patrol Central console, we created a real-time reporting graph that showed the physical CPU utilization along with CPU utilization of each of our VMs.

BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers does a commendable job of showing the relative consumption of resources. For example, VirtualCenter could report that the NetWare 6.5 test VM was running at 40 percent of the VMs virtual CPU capacity, but it was difficult to see how this performance compared with the physical CPUs in the ESX Server host system, which could easily be running at only 5 percent of CPU capacity.

The weakness of BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers is that CPU utilization is one of the only specific metrics that can be correlated in this manner. BMC officials indicated that a raft of performance measures would be added in subsequent releases of the KM for virtual servers.

In this first version of BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers, we obtained a wide variety of measures for both the physical and virtual machines in our test network. On the ESX Server, it was simple to pull over information via VirtualCenter for all the virtual machines. The detailed reports showed the operating system version and disk, memory and network status, among other things.

BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers neatly organized information about the physical memory, disk, network and processor utilization on the physical machine running ESX Server. As usual with BMC products, we were able to set a variety of thresholds to trigger console alerts. For example, we received visible alerts on our BMC Patrol Central console when a virtual machine went down or exceeded disk-usage constraints.

BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers also reports on VMware-specific CPU parameters, including settings that govern the amount of processor resources that are waiting, used or guaranteed to a specific virtual machine.

BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers includes several rudimentary reports that show ESX Servers and the virtual machines on them. It was simple to access the reports, and we hope that BMC bolsters the number of these reports in future versions.

BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers supports only VMware products in this release. However, the product name hints that other virtual infrastructure platforms may be supported in the future, although no official word was given about this possibility. Among the candidates for potential support is the open-source Xen Hypervisor from XenSource Inc. It makes sense that BMC—and likely other management vendors—will support the variety of virtual infrastructure tools that may end up in enterprise computing environments.

Click here to read more about VMwares plans to open its virtualization technology. For today, however, VMware support is enough, and BMC has done an admirable job creating a useful tool for virtual infrastructure users.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at csturdevant@eweek.com.

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