The Business Challenge
Christie® Digital Systems USA, Inc. has four data centers (Canada, United States, England and China) and a growing virtual environment. Approximately 70% of the IT infrastructure is virtualized on VMware vSphere resulting in more than 500 virtual machines (VMs).
As the number of VMs increased in the company’s main datacenter in Canada, Christie’s Global Information Services (GIS) team began searching for a way to continuously monitor the virtual environment. Scott Elliott, Network and Systems Supervisor for Christie, said he and his colleagues had specific criteria in mind. “Obviously we wanted the solution to effectively monitor our VMs, but it also had to integrate fully with Microsoft System Center. We certainly didn’t want another monitoring framework. Whenever possible, monitoring apps have to plug into System Center Operations Manager.”
The Veeam Solution
Christie’s GIS team chose Veeam® Management Pack™ (MP) for VMware. It provides scalable, fault-tolerant and agentless VMware infrastructure monitoring and management directly in Microsoft System Center, eliminating the need for a separate monitoring framework.
Veeam MP fully integrates with System Center to provide a unified view of Christie’s physical servers, virtual servers and applications, enabling the GIS team to use System Center as its single management interface.
The Veeam MP integrates fully with VMware too. It enables System Center functionality such as alerts, topology diagrams, dashboards, reporting, auditing, notifications, responses and automation for all VMware components. The Veeam MP also provides a detailed VMware health model, including metrics such as memory pressure, disk pressure and disk IOPS that are only available from Veeam.
“This is where Veeam MP really comes through for us—with detailed performance reports,” Elliott said. “At one point, we had large numbers of VMs disconnecting at random times. We pulled a performance report history to look at throughput of individual VMs and noticed a pattern where they tended to spike in I/O at a particular time of day. We discovered that our VMs were doing virus scans or checking for updates at the same time. On an individual basis, that’s not a big deal, but hundreds of VMs doing this at one time was enough to cause many of them to disconnect. With Veeam, we discovered the problem and rearranged the antivirus schedule. The issue completely disappeared.”
Other aspects of Veeam MP that Elliott and his colleagues appreciate are cost and ease-of-use. The MP is licensed per total number of CPU sockets on hosts to be monitored. And, because Veeam MP is agentless, there are no agents to purchase or administrative overhead. “Ease-of-use is just as important as cost,” Elliott said. “No one wants to spend hours fine-tuning a new solution. Veeam’s connection wizard asks a few simple questions and provides deployment advice. The MP also has a clean user interface. There are several other management utilities available on the market, but the price of Veeam MP, combined with its solid integration with System Center and the detailed VM information it delivers, made it the clear choice for Christie.”
Centralized monitoring of virtual environment
With Veeam MP, Christie’s GIS team can manage everything from the Operations Manager console—virtual, physical and application data. Team members have a complete view of the entire IT infrastructure, enabling them to identify the source of any problem, resolve it and minimize impact on users.
Complete integration and detailed reports
Veeam MP is built on System Center, not simply connected to it, so Christie’s GIS team has complete visibility and seamless management of its VMware environment in Operations Manager. Veeam MP monitors 500+ events and 175+ metrics covering all aspects of even the most complex VMware deployments. It also includes dozens of out-of-the-box reports for workload analysis, performance trending and optimization. For example, one report lists VMs that have large amounts of allocated but unused CPU or memory, allowing right sizing of VM configuration. “This is especially important in vSphere version 5 where VM memory allocation is a factor in licensing charges,” Elliott said.
Cost-effective and easy to use
With the agentless Veeam MP, Christie avoided the expense of buying another monitoring framework and the endless hours required to deploy and fine tune it. The MP’s connection wizard provides built-in deployment advice, recommends the number of collectors required for the monitoring load, monitors license usage and provides full flexibility for job placement in failover groups.