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Jan 16

Monitoring Your Storage: Which Software Do I Choose?

“Which NetApp management product do I use for performance, configuration and capacity management?”  This is a question I got from a customer last week.  The customer needed to monitor their current storage environment but were at a loss as to which management solution from NetApp to choose. They actually used the term “at a loss” several times during the discussion.  I realized while talking with them that NetApp does have a plethora (I love that word!) of options for monitoring, performance, and capacity planning and choosing the correct one can be difficult.  So, I’m going to go through the options that we have and hopefully clear up some confusion.

The three offerings in question are all in the NetApp OnCommand portfolio of storage management products.

  1. Report
  2. Balance
  3. Insight

For the most part, these products are complementary, so it really depends on the type of information you want to gather to meet your objectives.

NetApp OnCommand Report

This product is available upon request for NetApp customers and it lets you roll up data from multiple instances of OnCommand or DFM servers to provide an enterprise view of your NetApp storage assets.  Capacity utilization, inventory, and storage efficiency are some of the reports offered.  In total, NetApp OnCommand Report comes with 50 predefined reports, allows for the creation of custom reports (that can include various calculations and charts), and provides an automated report distribution process.  One interesting feature is the ability to share and download custom reports from the NetApp OnCommand Report user community Report Store area.  To me, the ability to inventory your environment and gain specific information about all of your storage including software and firmware levels is a nice touch in free software. This information can then be used to simplify routine maintenance by letting administrators know what systems need patches or upgrades. I love anything that can save me time!

Below is an example of a report that OnCommand Report can generate.

OnCommand Report

NetApp OnCommand Balance

Balance (formerly Insight Balance) provides performance and capacity analysis for the storage, physical server, and virtualization layers of an IT environment.  This product is typically used by customers implementing virtualization or cloud environments and are looking to be able to assure SLAs by having performance monitoring for the entire shared infrastructure.  It’s a great add on to NetApp’s FlexPod to assure performance of the entire stack.

It uses an agentless system (yep, no agent to install on the hosts or the VMs!) to dynamically model and analyze the infrastructure to determine the interaction between resources, application workloads, and utilization levels.   The product leverages analytics to provide storage and virtualization administrators with information than enables them to optimize performance of their virtualized data center.  The benefits include reducing the time for trouble-shooting performance issues, performing capital expenditure forecasts, right-sizing shared infrastructure, and optimizing the performance of their overall environment.  One of the coolest things about the software is that it is heterogeneous meaning that it will work on most of the major vendor’s storage, not just NetApp’s.

Below is an example of a screen from Balance, which now supports NetApp Data Clustered ONTAP so you can monitor cluster performance.

Insight Balance

 

NetApp OnCommand Insight

This product  is made up of three modules:  Assure, Perform, and Plan that sit on a single platform.  While the individual modules can be sold separately, the greatest value impact is when you use the total package.  This product is most effective for customers who have large complex, multi-vendor storage environments because it gives them a single pane of glass and end-to-end visibility from host to VM to their backend storage. Insight is adding support for Clustered ONTAP and is great for customers looking to assure storage service for mission-critical virtualized applications.  For simplicity sake I’ll go over each module individually.

Assure:  This module is for monitoring heterogeneous storage environments.  With the Assure module you can define policies, violation alerts and establish best practices with your monitoring.  It provides configuration and change management capabilities and an audit trail of changes that can be used for compliance and ITIL conformance. When it comes to major IT initiatives such as switch migrations and data center consolidations, Insight Assure lets you build a model of your planned changes, and then validate your plan and show you policy violations such as missing redundancy. It provides a step-by-step task list so that you can complete the initiative more quickly and with minimal disruption..

Perform:  This module allows an administrator to improve resource utilization, rebalance storage workloads, and identify optimal tiers for application performance.  This in turn helps to eliminate bottlenecks by reacting to problems before they occur.  The information provided about the global storage environment also allows an administrator to troubleshoot complicated or complex storage performance problems.

Plan:   All of the metrics from Assure and Perform are fed into the data warehouse, which resides in Insight Plan. Insight Plan has hierarchical, enterprise-level reporting, and can integrate with other strategic reporting systems. .  From this data warehouse, storage capacity planning and storage forecasting is made possible.  This module also allows for cost reporting by tenant, business unit, line of business, department, etc. for showback and chargeback functionality.

Below is an example of the chargeback data that can be found in Insight Plan.

Insight Plan

 

With the help of Rob Strechay (@smugetconsult) and  Kristina Brand (@kbrandmarketing) from NetApp, I put together the below chart that compares the three products and will hopefully shed some more light on what each product offers.

 

NetApp OnCommand Report

NetApp OnCommand Balance

NetApp OnCommand Insight Assure,
Plan, and Perform

How it’s sold

 

 

 

Cost

Included

Low

Medium

  Type of Environment
Deployed In

NetApp environments

virtualized medium size environments

Complex, large environments

Key Features & Capabilities
Agentless

X

X

X

Automated Reporting

X

X

X

Object Oriented

X

X

Heterogeneous
Across Storage Vendors

X

X

Microsoft Hyper-V
Support

X

X

VMware
Integration/vCenter Plug-in

X

X

Performance
Infrastructure
Response Time

X (calculated)

X (measured at device)

Performance Index

X (calculated)

Disk Utilization
Statistics

X (FAS disk only)

X (calculated)

X (measured at device)

Traffic Analysis

X (At logical level)

X (SAN & Array)

Monitor Server
Performance in Virtual Environments

X

X (vCenter data)

Monitor Server
Performance in Physical Environments

 X

X (from array or fabric)

Resource
Utilization Identification

X

X

Capacity
Inventory
Management Reports

X (FAS only)

X (measured at device)

  Capacity Analytics

X

X

X

Storage Trending

Limited

Limited

X

Capacity
Predictions & Trending

X (Server Volume)

X (Array Allocated vs provisioned)

Volumetric Capacity
Reporting

X (FAS Only)

X

Storage Teiring Validation

X

Capacity Reporting

X (Server Volume)

X

Configuration and Compliance
Detect Multipath
Configuration Errors

X

Tier Management

X

Showback or Chargeback Reporting

X(Server based)

X

Multi-tenant
Reporting

X

ITSM Integration

Limited

 

So, while NetApp has multiple products that can do monitoring, performance, and capacity planning, hopefully this post has helped you understand which one your organization might need.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions or feedback.  I’d love to hear from you!

For more information, please visit the following product pages on netapp.com

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