EMC Automates Root-Cause Analysis for Virtual Systems

The addition to the Smarts platform works with VMware management tools to quickly solve problems, the company says

March 11, 2009

3 Min Read
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EMC expanded its Smarts line of IT management software with a root-cause analysis product that's designed to help IT managers quickly find and resolve problems in virtualized data centers. The EMC Smarts Server Manager works with VMware management tools to monitor the health of virtual servers as well as Microsoft and Veritas clusters.

The software extends EMC Smarts Root Cause Analysis and Codebook Correlation technology to cover virtual servers and uses a model to understand the connections among virtual servers, physical servers, storage, and the network. When problems occur, it can pinpoint what changes were made that might have caused the problem and help IT managers implement a fix, the company says. It works with systems management and hardware monitoring software from major server vendors to know when there are problems in their systems.

EMC customer surveys show that management and problem-resolution issues are a major concern for IT managers implementing virtual servers. "When something goes wrong with an application on a virtual server, it is hard to know whether it is an infrastructure issue, a host issue, a router issue, a storage issue, an application issue, or some other problem," says Brian Lett, senior product marketing manager for EMC's resource management software group. "The Smarts software can help find a problem down to the process level."

Smarts can work with other major systems management suites as a manager of managers and take information from OpenView, Tivolior, and other management products, and present it in conjunction with information from VMware's vCenter, says Bob Quillin, senior director product marketing for EMC's resource management software group. Smarts builds a model that understands expected behavior. "IT manages to spend 80 percent of their time trying to find the cause of a problem. Smarts will let them spend their time fixing problems," he says.

The software will start around $30,000 for existing Smarts customers, based on the number of managed domains and devices. It works in conjunction with the Smarts Service Assurance Manager and the Smarts IP Availability Manager.Systems management tools that can handle virtualized IT infrastructure are becoming more important as enterprises increasingly put mission-critical applications on virtual servers, says Bob Laliberte, an analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. An ESG survey of VMware customers indicates that 79 percent are running VMware on production systems and 39 percent are running Tier 1 applications on virtual servers.

"It is difficult to manage an environment when your applications are playing hide and seek as they are moved from one server to another," Laliberte says. "Keeping track of them is becoming a lot more difficult. There are a lot of new tools that try and solve that problem and it is a pretty cool thing to be able to isolate a fault."

IT managers can no longer manually try to identify and isolate problems in virtual machines, so automated management systems are necessary. Adding automated root cause analysis to the Smarts portfolio gives IT managers a more holistic view of the data center infrastructure and helps them isolate faults, he says. EMC's decision to work closely with VMware, which currently dominates the virtual server market, will continue to give an edge to VMware when it comes to running and managing virtual servers in the enterprise.Find out more about innovative storage. InformationWeek and ByteAndSwitch.com are hosting a virtual event on this topic on March 25. Sign up now (registration required).

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