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Using VirtualWisdom to Reclaim Unused Disk Space

Best Practices, LUN, SAN performance storage i/o bottleneck, VirtualWisdom No Comments »

I was talking with an independent contractor a few days ago and she mentioned that more than a few customers justify buying storage management tools by using them to find unused disk space. It’s pretty common to find allocated but unused space that often amounts to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of space. Though VirtualWisdom isn’t thought of as a storage capacity monitor, by watching for I/O activity, you can easily find opportunities to reclaim unused LUNs.

Below is a step-by-step process with screen grabs to illustrate exactly how this is done.

Start your VirtualWisdom Views client, which is the administration interface for VirtualWisdom. The Views client allows you to configure VirtualWisdom, create reports, set alarms and monitor the data collected by VirtualWisdom. Since we are looking for I/O traffic to a LUN, use the SAN Performance Probe to monitor the frames/sec metric in the SCSI metric set; the screen shot is below.

Then select the LUN and storage fields.

Sort the data first by Frames/Sec then Storage and LUN, via the Data Groupings tab.

Then, in the “data views” tab, select the Summary Table to list out each LUN, and a Trend chart to show the peak data for each period. The Trend chart is important because the Summary Table will show the average for a period. It’s important to note that such a small value over a long period could average out to zero. The Trend chart will let us spot these values.

Go to the reports tab in the views client. Set a period, say 30 days, and generate the report. For our small test lab, you can see that our tool found one LUN with zero activity in 30 days. With the SAN Performance Probe it’s easy to inspect the LUN and figure out why it hasn’t had any traffic.

You can use the same report with different selection criteria to look for underutilized LUNs. It’s easy, quick, and the ROI can be substantial. For a short video of this VirtualWisdom use case take a look below:

A Simple Strategy for Reducing Your Reactive Tickets

Best Practices, datacenter migration, VirtualWisdom No Comments »

One of Virtual Instruments’ missions is to reduce the big, messy outages that happen in our customers’ datacenters. For many sectors across the industry, we work to determine ways to catch problems early to avoid outages. Numerous competitors have analytics engines and all kinds of software to detect problems before they become outages, but they are not all equal.

A few weeks ago, I was reviewing a customer’s successful datacenter migration.  Their strategy for success when using VirtualWisdom is to tag all the tickets that result from our solution. The IT staff is told to do the VirtualWisdom tickets first, and the customer found that over time, the number of reactive tickets decreased. What was happening was that VirtualWisdom found all the small problems that might otherwise get overlooked, such as: increases in physical errors that precede the failure of a SFP fiber module, the increase of traffic on a link that creeps over the threshold where it won’t successfully fail over to its backup link, and the misconfiguration of a path. VirtualWisdom quietly and diligently finds these problems, and the customer found if they fixed them, bigger problems were avoided.

I wanted to share this policy with my blog readers because it makes a lot of sense and is simple to implement. If anyone else tries this strategy, let me know how well it works for you.

Using VirtualWisdom to De-risk a Migration / Consolidation Project

Best Practices, SAN performance storage i/o bottleneck, VirtualWisdom No Comments »

I wanted to share a real-life example of how VirtualWisdom can be used to de-risk your migration and consolidation projects:

Recently, one of our customers used VirtualWisdom to help successfully migrate a datacenter, and at the same time, consolidate two mission-critical, Oracle-based applications from two older-generation storage systems to one new storage system.

Pre-migration analysis for the new data center ensured that it was “production” ready.  VirtualWisdom was used to identify naming issues with the zone configuration, an incorrectly configured server from a multipathing perspective, queue depth configuration issues, physical layer problems, and miscellaneous performance concerns.  It’s worth noting that the physical layer issues concerned two links that were found to be borderline within specification at 4Gb, and several other ports that were found to be outside of specification at 8Gb, and were addressed before the migration occurred.  We highly recommend paying particular attention to physical layers issues when migrating to 8Gb SANs, as what worked fine at 4Gb may not work so well at 8Gb.

Before the move, the applications were benchmarked to help increase performance.  During the spin-up of the new site, which occurred on a weekend when traffic was low, VirtualWisdom reported an intermittent latency issue. The latency issue occurred for only a second or two every minute.  The  vendor performance tool that the customer was using could not detect the issue because it was averaging the latency metric and was not granular enough to pick up the anomaly.  The issue was serious enough that the team had to fix it by Monday or they forecasted an outage.  The fall-back plan was to re-deploy on the older storage arrays.  VirtualWisdom, which aggregates metrics to the one-second level, found a process that lasted one second, which was causing the problem.  Once the offending process was identified and remediated, the problem disappeared.  The new site went fully live; the Oracle-based applications functioned as predicted, and VirtualWisdom was able to confirm that the infrastructure performance of the new site, with the consolidated array, met its SLAs.

For more information on how VirtualWisdom can be used to de-risk your migration and consolidation projects, check out this tech brief on private cloud de-risking:  http://www.virtualinstruments.com/files/pdfs/tech-brief-private-cloud.pdf, or this blog on private cloud migration best practices:  http://www.virtualinstruments.com/sanbestpractices/best-practices/three-steps-to-de-risking-migration-to-the-private-cloud/ or this whitepaper on datacenter consolidation best practices at: http://www.virtualinstruments.com/files/pdfs/WP_Storage-Consolidation-Best-Practices.pdf.  If you would like to talk with the customer in this story to learn more, contact your Virtual Instruments account team and they can arrange it for you.

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