For years, VMblog has covered numerous technologies
coming out of the SolarWinds think tank.
Perhaps the best known or most covered technology thus far (for obvious
reasons) has been SolarWinds Virtualization Manager or VMAN -- the company's
popular VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V monitoring and management
[ Watch the SolarWinds VMAN video interview from
VMworld 2016 ]
Beyond Virtualization Manager, SolarWinds has been
working hard to up-level and incorporate each of the company's individual product lines
into a unified view and centralized management platform by leveraging its modular, extensible and unified Orion Platform. Bringing numerous monitoring
and management applications under a single umbrella was probably hard enough,
but SolarWinds is about to launch something that takes the Orion Platform to a whole... other...
level. And that, ladies and gentlemen,
is where things get REALLY interesting. This upcoming technology is known as "PerfStack."
SolarWinds PerfStack and Orion
If you're already a SolarWinds Orion Platform owner, congrats! You're in luck. All of the SolarWinds products that currently
operate within Orion will automatically be getting the upcoming PerfStack functionality face-lift. And those same individual products will
each contribute data back to PerfStack -- further adding to the power of what this
upcoming technology will ultimately bring to the table.
PerfStack is a new dashboard for SolarWinds Orion customers
that will usher in a new way for administrators to visualize and correlate IT
monitoring data. The idea here is pretty
straightforward - it's a design framework that takes something extremely
complicated and cumbersome, and turns it into something simple and actionable.
The new technology will combine user selected data metrics taken from
across a number of SolarWinds product lines (such as Virtualization Manager, Storage
Resource Manager, Network Performance Monitor, Web Performance Monitor and
Server & Applications Monitor), and bring them together into one easy-to-consume
data visualization, matching them up by time. Doing so provides a powerful way of improving troubleshooting techniques for countless performance issues across infrastructure and
applications alike. It also allows users to quickly
sift through the massive amount of data being collected by Orion, eliminating the
noise and allowing the user to focus on what's truly relevant to the issue at
What I initially liked about PerfStack was
its highly customizable and easy-to-use interface. Data correlation and troubleshooting can be
an extremely complicated undertaking, so it's important that the complexity of
the process be removed as much as possible without diluting the capabilities
themselves. So far, it looks like SolarWinds may have cracked
With PerfStack, IT administrators can selectively
drag-and-drop historical data from any of the SolarWinds Orion platform-based
products to visualize the relationship between
those suspect elements. With this new
visualization method, SolarWinds users can now identify, isolate and
troubleshoot performance problems in ways they couldn't before. Data comparisons and correlation can be made
across switches, routers, virtual machines, host servers, applications, storage
LUNs, arrays, and Web transactions. Comparisons can also be made across disparate data.
For the visualization, SolarWinds relies heavily on the UI framework, specifically two recent additions: Apollo, which is an Angular JS framework, and D3, a JS graphing library. The Apollo Angular framework renders the Metric Palette, enabling succinct navigation and coupling of statistics to graphs, while D3 provides the high resolution graphs and charts.
Another interesting (and perhaps the most powerful)
element of PerfStack is the ability to collaborate with others in the
organization. PerfStack can help users
and teams across silos break down barriers and get on the same page so they can
better work with one another while trying to troubleshoot and triage problems
across functional areas. And it can help to
eliminate the finger pointing battles that take place between groups with different roles and areas of responsibility -- "It's the network!" "No,
it's the storage!" "It's not me, it must be your virtualization layer!".
A tool like PerfStack can provide an organization with a
better holistic view of the business, but what it can't do on its own is alter
corporate IT culture. While the data can
now be correlated and compared across silos or across point solutions designed for a
particular group, it shouldn't just get tossed in like feed to chickens. This new capability might best be introduced slowly and
properly explained so that teams don't take it as an
infringement against their actual or perceived controls.
Sharing made easy
Sharing analysis from PerfStack is as simple as copying the URL from a
browser and pasting it elsewhere like in an email, an instant message or even a
helpdesk or QA ticket. Once copied and
submitted, that same URL will provide others with quick and easy access to exactly
what was found during the initial troubleshooting session, eliminating questions
of "how did you find this?" "what did you do?" or "what did you find?".
Even better, other users can take that same information
and continue to interrogate the system by adding their own metrics without
affecting the original project.
Don't worry, Orion account restrictions are still in full
effect. If a user tries to open a shared
or saved project and doesn't have authority or access rights to that data
information or those objects, any and all metrics related to those restricted
elements will be automatically hidden from the user.
Search, Drag and Drop - Let's Begin
When you first enter a new analysis project in PerfStack, you'll come
to an interactive Metric Palette that has all the data points available from
Orion and you'll need to start by adding at least one entity (more than likely
starting off with the entity exhibiting the symptom).
You search for an entity on the left panel, browse through
all of the data SolarWinds has about that entity, and then via drag-and-drop,
add it onto the visualization pane on the right.
always help me understand better. Let's
jump in and take a look at a couple of different scenarios.
first scenario involves an issue reported by users in the East Datacenter who
cannot access the asset collect website
running on a virtual server (WESTWEB01v).
network admin is trying to determine if this is a network related issue, so
they might start out by collecting the following metrics from the router
Average Percent Memory Used / Average CPU Load
Related Elements / Expand Interface
Percent Discard / Percent Errors
- Percent Transmit / Percent Receive
Network admin might then add the server hosting the Website for comparison; at
which point, it is evident that this is a server issue and the sysadmin can
add/remove metrics to "rule out" other issues.
following metrics are tracked.
Average Response Time
Average CPU Load (Should be spiked)
Average Percent Memory Used
this next example, you'll see that the Max IOPS and Max Latency of the Virtual Datastore
is being compared to the Average Latency that's reported by the VM
we're comparing the Events, Alerts for the VM (easthyv01A), Max Latency & IOPS
for the H: drive, and IO Latency Total for the Pure Storage array.
to get your own sneak peek? Register for
this upcoming PerfStack Livecast from SolarWinds and join Head Geek Patrick
Hubbard and VP Gerardo Dada on March 2, 2017 @ 11AM CST.
PerfStack is being made available to current SolarWinds
customers. They can start by downloading
the release candidates of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor 12.1,
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor 6.4, SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic
Analyzer 4.2.2, SolarWinds Virtualization Manager 7.1, SolarWinds Storage
Resource Monitor 6.4, and SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor 2.2.1.