Challenges in managing virtualization

The growing need to improve agility, resiliency, efficiency, and resource availability has accelerated the adoption of virtualization in networks throughout the globe. Virtualization helps meet all these networking needs, while enabling network administrators to cut down on the capital expense and operating expense of running a network. This has made virtual network management an integral part of every network admin's network management tasks.

While implementing virtualization solutions, such as VMware's ESX and ESXi, provides plenty of benefits, network admins still face implementation and maintenance challenges. Without an competent VMware monitoring solution in place, averting these challenges is a tedius task.

Here are some of the common challenges network admins face on implementing VMware solutions, and monitoring VMWare ESX/ESXi in particular:

Performance issues in virtual machines

Virtualization enables network administrators to take advantage of a physical machine's hardware by running several independent virtual machines on top of it. This way, in a network with tens of physical machines, network administrators can easily run hundreds of independent virtual machines.

In large network environments, ineffective VMware implementation and poor virtualization management can strain network resources. This can lead to adverse consequences in the virtual machines' performance and usability, such as applications and services running slowly, or the virtual machine itself becoming unresponsive. These and other issues are inevitable without a proactive virtual machine perfoRmance monitoring solution to alleviate poor user experiences and network performance degradations.

Consequences of insufficient resource allocations

One of the best practices in virtual systems such as VMware ESX management is effectively planning and implementing resource sharing and management strategies in the virtual environment. This is crucial for ensuring that the virtual machines allocate enough resources to run without facing resource exhaustion issues.

For instance, issues in resource allocation such as CPU constraints, memory over commitment, and storage latency can easily impact virtual machines and the network performance in the virtual environment.

CPU constraints: Improper CPU limit configurations and unmonitored CPU loads can have adverse effects on the performance of virtual machines. When a CPU limit is set on a virtual machine, it has restricted access to the physical CPU's resources regardless of the CPU utilization. This causes unfavorable consequences such as the virtual machine having to wait for its next resource schedule, causing it to experience performance issues.

It's important to deploy an effective CPU monitoring solution that offers monitors for CPU usage, and CPU idle time trackers. This helps you carefully track and analyze CPU resources and so you can take action before an emerging issue causes performance degradation.

Memory utilization issues: Even when a virtual machine's memory consumption has reached the upper limit for its allocated memory, a virtual OS can request new memory pages. But, the VMKernel does not allow the virtual machine to directly access the physical memory and instead treats it as a resource under contention. In a worst case scenario, the VMKernal tries to allocate memory pages by swapping, which includes inflating the balloon driver. Scenarios like these can cause adverse consequences including ballooning and poor performance.

To avoid these issues, it is advisable to constantly monitor the memory utilization of the virtual host, and set appropriate memory upper limits for the virtual machines. You can accomplish this by deploying an effective virtual network monitoring solution such as ManageEngine OpManager, that enables comprehensive memory monitoring by offering monitors for Memory Usage, Memory Swap Rate, and Memory Consumption Rate.

Storage Issues: Storage latency, storage location navigation, and problems with the local storage are some of the common challenges in implementing virtual networks. Since these issues and their resolutions steps provided by VMWare differ from one storage vendor to another, it is advisable to deploy a storage monitoring solution that offers support for many storage device vendors. This helps you select and add vendor specific monitors to different storage devices, and troubleshoot storage related issues with ease.

It's important to monitor crucial network resources continually, so it is easy to analyze its utilization and implement virtualization strategies that prevent insufficient resource allocation scenarios.

Hardware issues interrupting virtualization performance

In any virtualization setup, the underlying hardware plays an crucial role in determining the availability and optimal performance of virtual machines running on top of it. It is important that the underlying hardware is easily accessible and continually available for any virtual host or machines to run uninterrupted. Any predicament encountered in the underlying hardware can interfere with the virtual ESX/ESXi host operations and cause issues such as host unavailability and errors. This makes proactively monitoring the hardware health and availability a critical aspect of setting up and running virtual environments.

Poor network performance

The network performance in a virtual environment needs to be optimal. However, there are several factors which, when left unmonitored, can easily cause poor network performance. Some of the challenges hindering good network performance in visualizations include,

  • Host overload: This can strain network resources such as CPU and memory.
  • Network latency: Slowing network performance to and from the hosts and its virtual machines is indicated by this crucial metric.
  • VMware tools: The installed VMware tools used in ESX and ESXi virtual machines need to be up to date.
  • Use of appropriate hardware: Virtualization compatible and use appropriate hardware components, such as multiple NICs on associated virtual switches and network adopters with duplex settings, are vital for improved performance.

These challenges can be easily avoided utilizing a reliable VMWare virtual machine monitoring solution that improves network performance, is hassle-free and time-efficient, and which provides hardware health monitors, network latency monitors, and more.

Monitoring the underlying network environment for virtualization

The effectiveness of virtualization depends on its underlying physical networks. Network administrators need to be fully aware of the health, performance, and other aspects of these devices through centralized visibility and complete control. This helps them easily identify, track, and pinpoint causes of networking issues in virtualization. However, this can be a tedious task with large networks that have complex IT infrastructures. Without an effective monitoring solution in place, network blind spots and cascading network issues become inevitable.

Avoid virtualization hurdles with OpManager, your seamless VMware ESX/ESXi monitoring solution

ManageEngine OpManager is an enterprise-grade network monitoring solution that enables in depth insights into your network devices and helps you effortlessly monitor crucial metrics. Its comprehensive Virtualization monitoring module provides a centralized console to track all your virtual network components including VMware, Hyper-V, Nutanix, and Xen servers. Monitor your virtual components' availability, Packet Loss, Response Time, along with its associated interfaces, active processes, installed software, hardware, and apps. Set up monitors to track crucial metrics including CPU Usage, Data Store Read Latency, and more.

Explore OpManager's simplified approach to monitoring your network's virtualization efforts hands-on. Schedule a personalized live demo with our product experts or download a 30 day free trial today!

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