EMC Extends Service Assurance With Watch4net

What if you could ensure the availability—and performance—of your virtual data center?

With the acquisition of Montreal-based Watch4net Solutions, EMC provides another compelling option for getting your data center under better control.

EMC IT Operations Intelligence ensures the availability of the virtual data center (VDC) with a root cause or fault analysis engine second to none. And, while availability is a basic requirement for the 24×7 VDC, you also need to ensure performance, as you scale your mission-critical applications.

Watch4net Solutions APG software suite provides the performance monitoring, analysis, and reporting from vApp to LUN. While availability may be cast as black or white (available or not), performance assurance is more akin to keeping an eye on the varying shades of gray to assess the impact or potential impact of the dynamic elements of the VDC on applications and infrastructure. It all comes down to service levels and being able to deliver the throughput and response times expected by the unruly mob—er, users.

Watch4net is the performance complement to IT Operations Intelligence’s deterministic availability solution. This combo is service assurance for the VDC and the cloud.

A House Divided

Legacy IT management tools are not designed to look across the entire infrastructure, and provide an integrated view—physical and virtual—of the data center environment. Servers, networks, and storage are managed separately. Trying to see across all of these domains, and identifying and resolving the root cause of any issue, is a challenge.

Add a virtualization layer and the problem is compounded. The VM administrator now his/her own tool to administer VMs. The management problem just got worse.

Now, try scaling out this mixed bag using different tool sets to manage service delivery and meet the expectations of your users and you’ll get—well, mixed results.

Can’t We All Just Get Along

Today’s advanced management tools, such as EMC IT Operations Intelligence and Watch4net APG, can see across domains—servers, network, and storage, physical and virtual—to provide an integrated view of the entire infrastructure. When something does go wrong (and you know it will), you can quickly identify the root cause of the problem, and the performance impacts.

To do this effectively, the tools need to be pre-integrated and work well together. Fortunately, EMC and Watch4net products have been integrated for a few years. So what has been a powerful solution to the VDC management challenges will only get better as these products come together within one company.

The Performance Benefit

Why is Watch4net performance information crucial?

As one bright IT operations manager once said, “things tend to degrade before they fail”. Something changes in the IT environment, and the next thing you know, utilization levels are up, response times are down, and the service levels have degraded. Tracking application and infrastructure performance is crucial to recognizing the degradation, and taking action before service is no longer available. EMC acquired Watch4net to complement its industry-leading IT Operations Intelligence fault solution for availability with an equally strong performance offering.

In today’s virtualized world, performance management must cover both the physical and virtual environment. Additionally, to meet the needs of the world’s largest enterprises, including many FORTUNE 500 companies such as Microsoft, and tier-1 carriers such as Orange, NTT, and Sprint, the solution must cover the full range of technologies in use and work at very large scale. Having worked with some of these organizations during the telecom boom (e.g. Orange, NTT, as well as BT), I can tell you they are a demanding lot and well-ahead of the technology curve.Watch4net is a proven performance management solution which meets the requirements of these industry-leading organizations.

What is Watch4net APG?

Watch4net APG is a carrier-class performance and service-level management software suite specifically designed for next-generation networks. It is a fast, scalable, and flexible solution for monitoring the real-time performance of IP networks, mobile networks, VDCs, and clouds (think, agile and efficient).

Watch4net APG employs a unified design to pull together the disparate elements of physical and virtual data centers. The concept is to control, view, predict, and analyze all the elements related to performance in real-time across all IT silos.

The APG software suite provides performance management, real-time dashboards, ad hoc and historical reports, capacity planning, service-level reporting, and intelligent alerting. It is composed of modules—collectors (for data retrieval from SNMP, SSH devices, other interfaces), databases (MySQL and Oracle), and Web portals—that  can be installed on a single server, or for larger networks, be distributed and scaled over multiple servers. APG is agent-less and can be installed standalone or integrated with other IT management frameworks and tools like EMC IT Operations Intelligence for a complete, best-practices solution.

The VMware Connection

Of course, integration with VMware is critical for VDC management. You need to know what VMs and vApps are running, see when VMs move, or see when VMs are turned off for power management.  EMC and Watch4net have both developed rich integrations with VMware vSphere, and other VMware products providing a complete, full picture of the integrated physical and virtual world in which you live.

Difficult to see information, such as the guts of the vSwitch (part of the ESXi server) are made visible. Additionally, this information is shown in context with the rest of the IT infrastructure, making it much easier to see what is happening, immediately determine the source of any issue, and put the right person on the case.

To Net it Out

Done well, VDC management can have a huge impact on service delivery, service uptime, and IT cost control. With the average cost of downtime at $300K per hour, organizations cannot afford to have business services unavailable or performing poorly. Less than optimal service delivery translates to lost revenue, reduced productivity, and can negatively impact an organization’s image. And, with the pressure to do more with less, arming the IT team with the best management answer possible for the more complex world of virtualization, is the key to gaining increased IT efficiency and productivity—and to helping to control IT costs.

EMC’s acquisition of Watch4net is a significant and important move, taking service assurance to the next level. The integration of availability and performance for the physical and virtual infrastructure, combined with the tight relationship with VMware, gives enterprises and service providers an integrated solution for addressing today’s IT management challenges.

About the Author: Mark Prahl