Performance monitoring Infrastructure settings // IT Management Solutions

Performance monitoring Infrastructure settings

Monitoring the performance of your VMware vSphere hosts and virtual machines (VMs) is critical for several reasons: many VMs compete for host resources, resource bottlenecks are not always obvious, and a single bottleneck can greatly affect performance in a negative way. Without the right monitoring, reporting and alerting tools in place, busy administrators can overlook these issues. In this tip, we outline the free performance monitoring tools available in vSphere to help monitor an environment and take appropriate action.

Traditional system performance monitoring tools cannot access the underlying virtualization layer and often provide unreliable results for a virtualized environment. Fortunately, VMware vSphere has several built-in tools to monitor and troubleshoot host and VM performance.

To effectively monitor your virtualized environment from every angle, you should monitor the VM itself, the host, the networking traffic and the storage traffic. This approach also provides true insight into the performance health of your virtual environment.

Using the Perfmon performance monitoring tool

Let's begin with how to monitor virtual machines. If your VMs run Windows, the built-in Perfmon utility can monitor performance. Prior to the release of vSphere, it was not recommended to use Perfmon on VMs. In prior versions of VMware, Perfmon was unaware of the activity at the virtualization layer, particularly concerning CPU and memory use. But now, vSphere has added counters specifically for Perfmon that track CPU and memory use and provide more accurate measurement. This change enables you to use traditional Windows Management Instrumentation monitoring tools to get more accurate information. These new counters are included in the VMware Tools package and are labeled "VM Memory" and "VM Processor."

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While the new VM counters provide more information about performance inside a VM, it is best to monitor performance outside a VM as well. To monitor performance outside a VM, use the vSphere Client, which has a Performance tab for every object that you can select in vCenter Server (see below). Objects may be data centers, clusters, hosts or VMs. Selecting a different object displays different types of data. Selecting hosts or VMs provides the most detailed performance data, such as information on CPU, memory, disk and network statistics.

When you select the Performance tab, you have two views available: Overview and Advanced. The Overview option presents a dashboard of key statistics, and the Advanced view provides more detailed information. Clicking on Chart Options offers additional counters that may not show by default.

The Statistics Level setting, which is configured in vCenter Server's settings, controls the number of counters for each category. In the vCenter Statistics setting, the default is level 1, which is the lowest level and provides only basic performance information on each resource. The setting can be increased up to level 4, which provides the maximum information possible.

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