Virtualization Technology News and Information
Q&A: Interview with Dell, Talking Multi-Vendor Virtualization Monitoring, Management and Foglight

In anticipation of visiting the Dell booth during Citrix Synergy, I was able to catch up with John Maxwell, VP, Product Management, Dell Software, to get the latest on Foglight and find out what Dell has been up to with monitoring and managing multiple virtualization vendor products.  I'm ready to see things live and in action now that Synergy is here, but ahead of that, Maxwell and I had the following conversation.

VMblog:  What are some of the "Big Bet" trends that you are seeing with regard to desktop and application virtualization?  

John Maxwell:  At the moment, there is a big shift within IT service delivery, specifically addressing the way IT departments are being asked to view and respond to the end user. Years ago, we existed in an entirely Client/server(mainframe/terminal) environment, where Information SERVICES (IS) departments were focused on providing platforms for productivity. Since about 2009 there has been a growing movement back to the future; the enterprise has been moving further away from the standalone workstation, and has begun to shift "back" to an IT-as-a-Service delivery model. Whether it's server hosted, private, public, or hybrid cloud, client virtualization products in the market today MUST to be agile, flexible, and provide productivity-on-demand.

VMblog:  Why is there a need for Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp monitoring on VMware vSphere? Aren't these companies competing?

Maxwell:  Actually, the answer is yes and no; and here is why. Both VMware and Citrix have solutions that deliver x86 server virtualization, as well as desktop and application virtualization technologies. While this fact would seem to imply that there wouldn't need to be heterogeneous monitoring, it's really the REASON for cross platform coverage. It is common knowledge that VMware is the leader in x86 virtualization, and what may or may not be as commonly known is that Citrix leads the market in virtual desktop and application technology. The combination of these market leaders is a powerful virtualization strategy that many large enterprise organizations are moving to adopt.

VMblog:  With server virtualization well beyond 50%, are there unique problems associated with virtualizing the application and desktop within an already virtual infrastructure? Is it Desktop performance bottlenecks, infrastructure performance or something else?

Maxwell:  Yes, absolutely. I've recently read that roughly 60% of IT organizations are using desktop virtualization to one degree or another, and of that 60% nearly three-quarters are leveraging Server Hosted Virtual Desktop (SHDC) solutions. When we view this information with the knowledge that x86 server virtualization is at an all-time high, it becomes more and more obvious that performance issues at the virtual server and storage level must be considered an integral part of the "end-to-end" IT as a service delivery model. Monitoring and management of the entire stack is critical to meeting the expectations of the business and end users.

VMblog:  Whom do you consider to be the key players in Citrix VDI monitoring as well as virtualization management marketplace?

Maxwell:  There are many players in the Performance Monitoring and Operations Management market. But there are only a handful of players with Dell's reach and capabilities. Obviously, there are virtualization and VDI platform players - VMware, Microsoft and Citrix - themselves. But when it comes to cross-platform, independent (from virtualization stand point) players there are none. VMware vCenter Operations Manager comes close to Foglight for Virtualization, but they don't support Citrix VDI monitoring. Citrix EdgeSight is a great product, but looks like right now, they are focused on Citrix platforms only. There are smaller players, but they are not as complete as Foglight, so not worth mentioning.

VMblog:  Could you elaborate on your vision for virtualization market in general? What do you think about SDCC?

Maxwell:  Virtualization is a well- accepted technology and now adopted in main stream. It's still showing healthy growth, but it's also becoming more diverse. VMware still leads in technology and marketshare, but other contenders like Microsoft Hyper-v and Red Hat KVM are gaining in popularity. The drivers of virtualization growth are also changing. Initially, virtualization was about getting better ROI and TCO on hardware. Cost efficiency is still important, but not just CapEx. Tools around virtualization - management, provisioning and monitoring - have been innovative and enabled the next logical phase - reducing Opex by allowing customers to automate many tasks. IT's productivity gains are unprecedented with SDDC. I see SDDC becoming more and more popular - customers deploying private clouds, looking to migrate and seamlessly move between public and private cloud, cost-effectively deploying new hardware and services, remediating performance problems etc.

VMblog:  How do monitoring solutions know which Desktop has a performance problem and how does it relate to the specific virtual infrastructure object?

Maxwell:  There are many ways to monitor desktop environments. One can monitor network, install agents on the desktops, monitor the infrastructure like servers, VMs and Storage. When you monitor it all, you get the best results. Performance problems can occur in one place in the infrastructure but manifest itself someplace else (Usually on user desktop)!

Foglight monitors VMware View or Citrix XenDesktop using native APIs. It also monitors VMware vSphere using its native APIs. When it has built the inventory, the core logic uses the database to build relationship diagrams (called dependencies). Once this is done, it's very easy to navigate between different related objects to get to the root cause of the performance problem. The key is collecting information at all levels and building logic to create relationships.

VMblog:  What value do IT administrators get when using Operations Management tools that they do not get from the vendor?

Maxwell:  One of the topics we touched on earlier in our conversation was the reliance of an enterprise deployment of desktop virtualization technology on the underlying infrastructure supporting the VDI platforms. In the vast majority of successful client virtualization projects, an operations management tool that can provide a heterogeneous end-to-end view of the entire infrastructure is critical to meeting SLA's. How many savvy IT executives feel comfortable relying on native vendor tools to treat all platforms as an equal citizen; this is where 3rd party Operations Management tools (like Foglight for Virtualization) really thrive.

VMblog:  Finally, what makes the Dell Foglight Citrix VDI solution unique?

Maxwell:  Foglight is one of the very few end-to-end performance management solutions in the market. Foglight may be the only solution of its kind that can monitor Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp on VMware vSphere and also provide Storage monitoring, Active Directory and Exchange monitoring as well as physical windows and Linux monitoring. Apart from the technology, Dell is second to none in terms of technology depth, market reach and comprehensive portfolio of solutions.


Once again, thanks to John Maxwell, VP, Product Management, Dell Software, for taking time out to speak with VMblog.

Published Tuesday, May 06, 2014 8:04 AM by David Marshall
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