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Virtual Instruments extends VirtualWisdom to NAS testing

Storage performance monitoring and analysis provider extends capability to NAS testing for the first time as customer use of file access for virtualisation brings storage issues

Storage performance testing supplier Virtual Instruments has added NAS traffic testing capability to its portfolio with the VirtualWisdom Network Attached Storage (NAS) Performance Probe.

This add-on to the VirtualWisdom 5 suite allows customers to monitor and interrogate hundreds of metrics in NFS traffic just as they can already in Fibre Channel fabrics.

The NAS Performance Probe provides line-rate NFS monitoring, analysis and correlation across compute, network and storage that combines agentless collection of physical and virtual machine data.

The 2U NAS Probe hardware can measure more than 400 metrics and operate at a 10Gbps line rate with 16 concurrent ports. It currently supports NFS version 3, but will support version 4 and the SMB protocol in 2017, plus Ethernet-based SAN protocol iSCSI.

The UI enables customers to visually depict metrics and see where different issues arise that may be connected.

Virtual Instruments EMEA marketing director Jim Bahn said the new functionality was in response to customer demand.

“Most mission-critical apps are on Fibre Channel, but there is always some NAS somewhere in the organisation,” he said. “So, we are expanding out monitoring footprint to meet that.”

Currently, users engaged in troubleshooting NAS storage have to capture Ethernet packets and send PCAP data to the array supplier for analysis. This uses up staff time and money and results in unpredictable resolution times.

Rather than going through this process, IT departments often simply bought more NAS capacity, said Bahn.

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Key reasons for NAS storage issues include failing and degrading NAS devices, upgrades that don’t go as planned, and issues – often related to I/O – that are caused by the demands of virtualisation.

“More workloads are being virtualised,” said Bahn. “And with that, things are becoming more transactional. Contrast old batch methods with the tendency to online processing we see now. There is just more volume of traffic and less predictability. Apps are more densely populated on servers and traffic is more bursty.”

Key issues that arise with NAS storage include noisy neighbour problems that occur when extremely busy VMs dominate I/O, rogue clients that arise when unauthorised VMs are created, NFS metadata bottlenecks, poor write performance and server and virtual machine latency.

Virtual Instruments made its name with its Fibre Channel SAN testing probes and previously only supported block traffic. The company’s products use hardware and software monitoring to build a picture of server and storage operational efficiency.

Earlier this year, Virtual Instruments merged with storage testing tool supplier Load Dynamix. ....................................................................

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