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CloudPhysics' IT infrastructure monitoring tool brings big data to vSphere

IT infrastructure monitoring startup CloudPhysics, backed by VMware's co-founders, uses big data to provide new insights into vSphere environments.

A new virtualization monitoring tool with some big-name backers is now available for VMware shops.

CloudPhysics Inc. uses big data analytics techniques to identify potential problems and share customized best practices in virtual infrastructures.

"It really is a fascinating approach to the boring topic of IT infrastructure monitoring," said Torsten Volk, research director at Enterprise Management Associates, an analyst firm in Boulder, Colo.

We're getting a lot more information about our environment.

Ryan Burgess,
CloudPhysics beta customer

CloudPhysics, whose financial supporters include VMware Inc.'s co-founders Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum, came out of its 500-customer beta program yesterday. Its platform collects anonymized data and analyzes it to determine what makes a healthy infrastructure and identifies warning signs of potential problems. It uses this continuously updated analysis to provide insight to administrators as they monitor and troubleshoot their vSphere environments.

"We're getting a lot more information about our environment, but also [about] what other people are seeing as well," said Ryan Burgess, infrastructure architect at Vancouver-based North Shore Credit Union, a CloudPhysics beta customer. "It's always up to date."

An app store for IT infrastructure monitoring

Customers can access specific analysis and reports through what is called the Card Store, which takes an app store approach and applies it to virtualization monitoring and reporting software.

There are 20 proprietary cards available in the store, as well as another 20 developed by community members, including Alan Renouf's daily vCheck report and William Lam's vSphere Security Hardening Report Script, CloudPhysics CEO John Blumenthal said.

There's also a card called Snapshots Gone Wild, which addresses the problem of unwanted virtual machine snapshots taking up space.

"It's easy to create snapshots but hard to reclaim them, delete them or remember that you created them," Burgess said.

Snapshots Gone Wild inventories all the snapshots in an environment and sorts them by virtual machine and age, making it simpler to identify those for reclamation or deletion.

Other than the data collection appliance, called Observer, all of CloudPhysics' analysis takes place in the cloud. Admins access the Card Store through a Web-based interface.

An additional layer of IT infrastructure monitoring

The true promise of CloudPhysics is that it can compare a specific virtual infrastructure to others like it for more customized -- and, theoretically, more helpful -- analysis. It does not compete with existing IT infrastructure monitoring tools, and there are no other tools like it, Volk said.

"CloudPhysics is much more of an additional abstraction layer that lets you learn from other people's infrastructure," he said.

The platform is available in three editions. The Enterprise edition costs $189 per physical server per month. The Standard edition, which lacks some advanced features having to do with high availability, thin provisioning, latency and caching, costs $89. For these two editions, CloudPhysics offers a $40 discount per license to customers that agree to annual commitments. There is also a free Community edition that limits access to five cards.

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