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VKernel reports on VMware storage I/O stats

The first major update since VKernel integrated multiple software titles into one suite last summer, version 2.2 now includes storage I/O monitoring, Active Directory integration, and visibility into VMware RDMs.

VKernel Corp. rolled out version 2.2 of its Capacity Management Suite (CMS 2.2), adding new features that the company hopes will attract more large enterprise VMware accounts to its virtualization management tools.

Despite being a dot-release, CMS packs in a number of new features. Storage I/O reporting, which factors input/output per second (IOPS) operations into data storage capacity planning calculations, is the most significant for VKernel user Anthony Marando, the associate director of network services for inVentiv Health, a firm based in Somerset, NJ that provides marketing and sales services for the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.

“We’re planning a storage refresh, and our storage guys have been looking for a tool that shows which VMs have the highest I/O [requirements],” Marando said. “It’s important as we move from one vendor to another to build the LUNs in the proper way,” including evaluating storage I/O requirements for each virtual machine, and deciding how best to provision disk space.

“The best way to measure capacity is to measure the capability of the infrastructure to provide the required performance for all the workloads in the environment,” said Bernd Harzog, an analyst with The Virtualization Practice. “Using IOPS as part of capacity calculations is a very important step in this direction for VKernel.”

Storage I/O monitoring for virtual environments is hardly unique to VKernel. Performance and capacity management company Akorri Inc., recently acquired by NetApp Inc., also does this, but Harzog said VKernel is usually less expensive.

Another feature included in version 2.2 is Active Directory and vCenter plugin integration for role-based access management and single-sign on for end users. Version 2.2 also adds more forecasting and predictive analysis, not only reporting on whether there is enough capacity for a new virtual machine to be deployed, but also simulating whether its capacity demands can be met as it is put into production and starts passing data across the network.

Finally, as of version 2.2, VKernel can see into storage volumes provisioned with VMware’s Raw Device Mappings (RDMs) as well as with VMware’s VMFS clustered file system.

Users can also customize the “window” on which CMS reports, depending on the rate of change in their environment; previously the default was 30 days. In addition, new reports called Business Views rely on new synchronization between CMS and vCenter’s folders, which can then be “sliced and diced” by VKernel’s tool to generate more granular reports on the infrastructure relating to business units or other organizational entities.

Version 3.0 of VKernel’s Chargeback tool has now been integrated into the VKernel CMS virtual appliance, and also adds hardware-tiered pricing.

Tug-of-war brewing in virtualization management
VKernel’s CMS is among the more widely used third-party virtualization manangement tools, which until very recently have been users’ preferred choice for managing their virtual infrastructure beyond vCenter. 

As VMware moves to firm up its virtualization management offerings, the “coopetition,” including VKernel, isn’t holding still, Harzog observed. “VMware is having some success with CapacityIQ, but I would still say that VKernel is a better product right now -- this [update] keeps the lead in place.”

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for Write to her at

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