Virtual machines (VMs) are utilized by 92% of businesses. If you’re reading this, you’re probably more than familiar with these ubiquitous tools — and their limitations.
While virtual machines are useful, if not necessary for many enterprises, it’s easy to run into issues like performance bottlenecking and resource overconsumption. This is especially true if you’ve deployed a lot of VMs on one server.
Here at Liquid Web, we work with VMware — and since 79% of enterprises using or considering using a virtual environment choose VMware, you most likely do, too. As powerful as VMware is, though, it’s not immune to these problems.
But there is a solution: performance monitoring.
This advanced feature will help you track down problematic VMs in real time and troubleshoot why they’re struggling. Freeing up resources and bottlenecks means better performance, reduced latency, room for more VMs, and less money spent on server maintenance.
Understanding VMware performance monitoring
If you haven’t worked with VMware before, here’s what you need to know: VMware offers virtualization software, including VMware ESXi, an enterprise-level hypervisor used for deploying virtual machines at scale.
Unlike your typical software, ESXi is a type 1 hypervisor. It integrates directly into the bare metal server and does not require an operating system.
Virtualization allows multiple VMs to run on a single server, all sharing resources. And since ESXi doesn’t need an operating system, you can limit the resources a server uses and deploy more VMs.
As for VMware performance monitoring, it’s simple. Much like how you can monitor a computer’s resource usage and running applications with Task Manager, performance monitoring keeps an eye on all deployed VMs.
That means it keeps track of a virtual machine’s current and historical memory, processor, availability, and other vital performance metrics within the virtual infrastructure. You can also monitor the applications running on each one.
Good performance monitoring can efficiently track hundreds or thousands of VMs and identify ones taking more than their share of the resource pool.
How VMware performance monitoring helps your business
Tracking VMWare performance isn’t just practical — it can save your business. Cutting down on resource usage and efficiently using your server power can save a lot of money. It also:
When you have more VMs than you can handle, you run into an issue known as VM sprawl. This is when you can no longer keep track of them all. Performance monitoring can help keep this issue in check.
When you offer large applications, Software-as-a-Service, reseller hosting, and other massive projects that rely on VM tech, it’s impossible to monitor it manually. Performance monitoring software saves money by identifying software issues impacting your resource usage.
The more your business relies on virtualization, the more important it is to implement robust performance monitoring.
How to monitor VMware performance
Monitoring VMware performance is crucial for maintaining the efficiency and stability of your VM environments.
Comprehensive monitoring tools such as vRealize Operations Manager can help you quickly identify problem areas, track key metrics, and alert you when things get out of hand. Combine that with best practices for VMware performance monitoring and historical performance data analysis for informed capacity planning, and you have a solid plan to keep your VMs running smoothly.
Built-in VMware performance monitoring tools
Managing a virtualized data center is challenging, so having robust performance monitoring tools at your disposal is essential. Liquid Web offers VMware Private Cloud, which has many features designed to simplify VM management, including:
VMware has a steep learning curve, and managed cloud hosting can handle the setup of VMs and performance monitoring for you.
The performance monitoring tools offered by Liquid Web and VMware collect data from the key metrics listed below, analyze them for anomalies and trends, and send them back to you. You can also be alerted if anything goes wrong.
Key VMware metrics to monitor
When opening up VMware monitoring tools, there’s quite a lot of information to take in. Keep an eye on these key metrics for a good idea of your VM environment’s health.
A constantly capped-out CPU or an unusually high trend can lead you toward identifying a problem with your hardware or software. Keep an eye on these metrics:
Let’s look at why a VM may run at a high CPU:
If you’ve ever maxed out the memory on your personal computer, you know what happens. Everything grinds to a halt, programs crash, and the entire OS can freeze. Now imagine that happening to your customers.
It’s essential to track memory usage to avoid memory overcommitment and crashing. Here are the metrics worth tracking:
And the reasons you might encounter high memory include:
Keeping an eye on your IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) accurately indicates disk health.
A failing disk means lost data. Besides the server slowdowns an overused disk causes, you’ll want to monitor these metrics closely:
The causes of high disk usage and IOPS include:
Lastly, network monitoring for each VM’s usage is good since unusually high network throughput can indicate a problem. Keep these metrics in mind:
Some reasons you might see high network usage include:
Best practices for VMware performance monitoring
Knowing which metrics to keep an eye on can help, but you should know how to monitor them effectively. Let’s look at a few ways to enhance how you monitor VMware performance to stop VMs from getting out of control.
Set performance thresholds and alerts
Imagine coming into the office only to learn that disaster hit while you were away:
Alerts can quickly solve this issue, ping administrators when something goes wrong, and give you or your developers time to check it out.
You can set up alerts for any parameters you can think of, like when any VM crosses a predefined threshold or goes offline suddenly. For this, you’ll need to consider the baseline performance of your VMs. This will set the standard for what is regarded as strange behavior. You can then decide what resource usage thresholds are considered critical.
Define clear objectives that your organization wants to improve on, such as reducing memory usage or improving overall performance. You can set your thresholds differently in certain areas and monitor VMs overusing specific resources.
These policies should be reviewed and updated regularly, not just once.
Analyze performance regularly
VMware performance monitoring will generate a lot of historical data. Ignoring it is a big mistake.
CPU usage, memory, storage capacity — none may seem very important as long as all VMs operate within parameters, but it’s extremely valuable information. That info tells you how many resources your business uses and if you’re wasting unused resources or constantly hitting thresholds and struggling.
Capacity planning will ensure you only have what you need to run your business efficiently and save money on unneeded resources (or not allocating enough).
These subtle historical trends can also point out a VM that may not be grossly misusing resources enough to hit a threshold but is still underperforming and costing you money.
Make sure you regularly back up and store this historical data, as it could be helpful in the future.
Train your team
Even skilled developers may need to become more familiar with the intricacies of running a large VM ecosystem.
Ensuring your IT team has the necessary knowledge to work with VMware is a valuable investment — and prevents your VM environment from crashing and burning if something goes wrong.
VMware offers courses to help developers learn how to work with it.
While this step is a little less necessary if you use managed private cloud hosting, it’s still important to have developers who understand VMware as you deploy applications and servers on the private cloud.
VMware is omnipresent, and it’s an excellent tool for deploying VMs. But when your virtual machines start competing for resources, knowing what to do is hard.
Thanks to VMware performance monitoring, you can identify and eliminate whatever problem is slowing your server down. By tracking CPU memory, storage, and network usage for each VM, you can quickly find problem areas and plan how to use your server space more efficiently.
With a managed cloud solution, it becomes even easier to set up VMs and monitor their performance. Liquid Web offers VMware private cloud, which comes with robust VM monitoring. Look at what we have to offer; it won’t disappoint.