One of my most popular posts to date had been IBM DS3300 Write Performance Problem Solved. I am pleased to have upgrade my internal environment to an EMC Clariion CX4 array, but still have customers using the DS3300 and the MD3000i from Dell. For that reason, I keep an eye out for news on these arrays. You’ll recall that these arrays are based on the same LSI kit. Truth be told, properly designed and configured, these arrays are a technically proficient and cost efficient solution for SMB’s looking to get their VMware environments going.
While reviewing my email today I found an email from SolarWinds about their new Free SAN Monitor. I have used several products from SolarWinds in the past, and so thought I would give this a quick try. This tool can monitor the LSI-based arrays from Dell (including the MD3000 series), IBM (DS3000, DS4000, and DS5000), and SunStorageTek 2000 and 60000. Installation and configuration were both fast and easy. A wizard asked me for the array’s IP address, monitoring interval, and some thresholds (which I left blank). Once I clicked Finish the app launched on my desktop and immediately began to display data.
This screen-shot is of the app running on my Windows 7 x64 workstation. You’ll notice that the array is reporting performance, in terms of IOPS, and response time for individual LUNS. The health of my array is also displayed. You’ll see that my ‘Controller 2’ shows a failure. I do not have a dual-controller configuration (hence my wildly popular post on performance being in the tank due to a disabled write cache). The SAN Monitor incorrectly reported that I had two controllers, and that the 2nd is failed.
This is not bad for a free tool, in my opinion. I would love to see SolarWinds add some info on write cache status for the array (cache hit %, cache enabled per LUN, etc.) as well as LUN utilization in terms of free space remaining. For a free desktop GUI, it’s worth the 5 minutes to download and setup.
Reporting on I/O Response time (in milliseconds) is helpful in determining if your array is stressed. If response times are consistently above 15ms, you ought to look at adding some spindles. If you are over 25ms on a regluar basis, you’re likely feeling some pain on the servers generating the workload against your array.
If you are into the whole free tool thing, SolarWinds also has a free VM Monitor that is capable of monitoring a single ESX server via SNMP and it’s associated VM’s. It too runs as a desktop application, requiring minimal setup and configuration. While it won’t monitoring your whole VMware Essentials (3 ESX servers + vCenter) environment, it’s a start.
You might also check out Nick Weaver’s vSphere Mini Monitor for basic real-time alerts and monitors, as well as NetWrix’s Change Reporter for VMware. A final free (and nothing short of awesome) tool is Alan Renouf’s vCheck Daily Report PowerShell Script.
Do you have free tools, scripts or utilities for your VMware environment? I’d love to hear more about them in the comments section!