Last week's column
explored how Onaro SANScreen Foundation can bring more control to your
datacenter by creating a comprehensive view of servers, storage, and
applications. That single overview helps monitor vital signs and enforce SLAs.
This week, I'm turning the spotlight on
another management application: Akorri and its BalancePoint Suite 1.3. Akorri
promises end-to-end performance monitoring and analysis with the additional
twist of a built-in analytics engine that helps drafting an accurate profile
of your datacenter resources.
Akorri began pitching its applications just
last week, but the company already has a group of customers -- some of which
have been using the suite since October.
You can read more about Akorri's raison
d'etre on founder
blog. He's written some interesting flashbacks on Pirus Networks, a
storage networking company that Corley founded which Sun Microsystems later
Akorri delivers the BalancePoint Suite
preinstalled on a 2U appliance running Suse Linux. In a typical deployment,
you connect the appliance to your Ethernet network and let the data collection
Thanks to a variety of standard interfaces
such as WMI, SSH, ODBC, and SMI-S, BalancePoint will collect performance data
about just any server storage device and application in your network. Akorri
says customers should get some significant information on their systems'
status after only a few hours or, depending on the business, after running the
discovery process long enough to include activity during peak hours or a
BalancePoint discovers most of the objects
(servers, application, and storage devices) and their connections
automatically, but offers the possibility of adding objects manually if
necessary. What has to be entered manually are the performance requirements of
each application, data that BalancePoint compares with the data it collects to
identify bottlenecks and problem areas.
All that information lives in an embedded
database, which BalancePoint's analytics engine examines to create application
profiles inclusive of critical performance elements, such as usage of CPU,
memory, and storage.
The built-in analytics are probably the most
interesting aspect of BalancePoint. These tools identify problem areas that
are otherwise not immediately apparent, such as a contention on shared
resources such as storage array or a network path.
The first screen I saw during a live demo of
Balance Point was a
dashboard presenting an overview of the datacenter status and listing
applications with a history of poor performance. A chart on the same window
pinpoints the general area to investigate, absolving storage arrays and
singling out the applications and servers as possible culprits.
Clicking on an application brings up more
performance-lag details. For example, choosing Exchange revealed a
memory constraint on its machine, a problem that's usually much easier and
less expensive to fix than, say, adding another storage array and spreading
the mail volumes across more spindles.
In addition to quickly identifying a
performance weakness from historical data, BalancePoint can predict the impact
of changes and suggest where adding new resources (say, more storage) would be
BalancePoint doesn't come cheap, however;
Akorri suggests a price between $250,000 and $350,000 for deployment to a
large datacenter. Nevertheless, for companies facing serious bottlenecks and
resource management issues, its potential benefits could be too good to pass
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