Data Center

Analyzing Your VMware Data Center with the Power of SaaS-based Analytics

Last week I was able to schedule a briefing with my friend Irfan Ahmad. Irfan is co-founder and CTO of CloudPhysics, which is what we discussed during my briefing. If you haven’t heard of CloudPhysics, perhaps you’re familiar with some other major projects that Irfan has led like development of VMware’s DRS. He’s also got an all-star team of people who know their way around virtualization supporting him, like Krishna Raj Raja, who’s known for his work with the command line tool ‘esxtop.’

CloudPhysics is a company created out of the love for data regarding intersections in the data center. I haven’t been told this directly, but I suspect that Irfan and his co-founders had the idea for CloudPhysics while knee-deep in working with performance data at VMware. The basic premise of the CloudPhysics tool is this: capture data about your VMware infrastructure, anonymize and share it with CloudPhysics, and their back-end special sauce will use advanced, always-on analytics leveraging Hadoop to provide insight about the past, present, and future trends of your data center.

Where CloudPhysics does something really unique to most analystics tools is that because it’s a SaaS based platform and all customer data is being securely uploaded, they have the ability to process this massive, global dataset to find correlations and anomalies across their entire customer base. One of the major value propositions of the CloudPhysics product is that it can give very accurate insight into how your data center stacks up to data centers of your industry peers.

The purpose of our briefing was to discuss the newest features and additions to the product, and talk a bit about what CloudPhysics is seeing and hearing from their customers about staying in control of the ever-growing enterprise data centers that IT organizations are responsible for. There are many exciting things going on at CloudPhysics, and you can always get the latest over at their blog. I’m going to cover a few of my favorite exciting features that I think are valuable to most organizations.

Public Cloud Migration Analyzer

Moving workloads from on-premises data centers to public cloud providers like AWS or Azure is on the radar for many an IT organization. The problem has always been, and continues to be, accurately estimating exactly what it will cost to run the infrastructure components on the other side. Unfortunately, despite the fact that cloud providers offer cost calculators and guides, accurately estimating costs in an incredibly complex and error prone process.

AWS
The AWS version of the cloud migration calculator tool

Enter CloudPhysics. The product has a feature that uses their broad array of collected data to analyze with a high degree of accuracy the configurations that your workloads will need in the cloud. Armed with this information, a look at the potential for cost savings or increased availability/scalability by moving to cloud is straightforward and reliable. Currently, the calculator supports this type of analysis for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and VMware vCloud Air.

Check Components Against HCL

Another one of the features that I really like about CloudPhysics is one that might not be considered substantial from their point of view. But with my experience as an architect and consultant, I feel that this tool is incredibly useful. This view takes all of the hardware inventory into account and checks it against the HCL for the hypervisor version that it’s running.

It also shows precisely when support from the vendor will end on a particular hypervisor release so that upgrades can be planned more proactively. In the past, I worked with plenty of clients who were trying to push through an upgrade at the last minute because support for the product was ending. This tool that’s a part of the CloudPhysics platform can help elimate that headache.

HCL
Dashboard comparing hardware to the Hardware Compatibility List and showing end-of-support data

Dashboard and Exploration Mode

Finally, one of the largest additions to the product recently has been the user-customizable dashboard and another view called Exploration Mode. The dashboard is exactly what you would expect, but with a strong emphasis on providing immediate value from looking at the dashboard. Irfan posited at VMworld that dashboards in IT have become rather unhelpful. The CloudPhysics dashboard is designed to use context, trending, and helpful filters to allow the administrator to get the information he or she is really looking for as fast as possible.

Dashboard
The Cloudphysics dashboard

Exploration Mode is a view that allows detailed analysis of changes over time to a particular inventory object. The views are super helpful in establishing correlations that may help get to the root cause of an issue. The rich controls make sorting through the haystack of information for the needle you’re searching for a bearable task.

Exploration
The ever helpful “Exploration Mode”

Check It Out – For Free!

Because the good people at CloudPhysics believe in their product, they’re conviced that if you get it in your hands and spend some time seeing how powerful it is, you’ll want to get access to everything they have to offer. To that end, they off the Free Edition which even includes selected Premium Edition features for a limited time to showcase their power. It’s super easy to get up and running, and having seen what the tool can do, I’d highly recommend giving it a look!