Every good engineer/administrator knows that data without context is useless data. Take income, for instance. Let’s say you are offered a position that pays $3,000 USD a month. Without context, you cannot discern whether this is a good salary for your industry, etc. Without knowing the location, the average income in your area and various tax rates that dollar amount doesn’t tell you much. Adding context to your original data set provides needed insights and perspective. This salary likely wouldn’t cover rent in San Francisco or London, but $3,000 USD would allow you to live quite comfortably in other parts of the world.


Can we extrapolate this example to IT systems? Imagine that a user complains that application X is performing slowly. You log into your systems and see that CPU usage on one of the servers is at 100%. If that is not the usual load on this server, you know that something is amiss. You can start looking at your virtualization environment and determine if something unusual is going on. But still, is that enough context?


SolarWinds Orion and PerfStack: Layering and Collating Monitoring Data in Real-time

With SolarWinds® Orion® Platform and the new PerfStack™ functionality, you can contextualize reported slow response issues with other events happening in real-time in your environment. You can, for example, look at concurrent network throughput, database transactions, and I/O load on the storage subsystem to help determine whether any I/O bottlenecks are contributing to the high load and low application performance. If you need to add or remove metrics, you can do so via drag-and-drop methods that provide instant visibility with real-time correlation.


The major advantage of SolarWinds Orion Platform is the wide spectrum of technology stacks that are covered when products are plugged into Orion. You are no longer limited to virtual infrastructure monitoring or storage vendor management tools. You can correlate data from various technology silos (database, storage, network, virtualization, etc.), select the relevant metrics from each of these stacks, and put them together in the PerfStack dashboard. You get a comprehensive overview and understanding of a given issue in your environment, while also having the ability to monitor the evolution of the situation in real-time.


Ready for Hybrid IT

PerfStack is also well-equipped to handle the modern challenges posed by hybrid IT. As enterprise, IT, and business entities embrace the cloud in its diversity, traditional operational challenges will have to change due to added complexities. Whether applications run fully in the cloud or are a mix of cloud and on-premises application components, additional stacks and network hops are added. If we look at Amazon Web Services™ (AWS®), we may have to handle not only our Amazon EC2® virtual machine instances but also, eventually, Simple Storage Service (S3™) buckets and all the network components in between. PerfStack is the perfect tool to help you discover which hybrid IT stack component is causing your performance issues.


An Ice-breaker for Infrastructure Silos

The fact that PerfStack leverages data from various sources helps contribute to the increase of enterprise cross-team collaboration. PerfStack becomes the central source of monitoring data, which helps bring teams together and helps break down the natural boundaries (technological, organizational, and social) between infrastructure silos. PerfStack assists service lines to help pin down the root cause of an abnormal event. Beyond that, the irrefutability and objectivity of multiple sources of data layered together stops the finger-pointing and bounce-back of support tickets between infrastructure teams. Finally, many IT professionals have had to deal with intermittent issues that nobody can resolve. PerfStack helps track these transient Probe Effect / Heisenbug issues, which affect application performance but are not easily traceable.


Today, the focus is more on applications. That means uptime is critical, so reducing downtime is essential to any IT department involved in supporting business functions. It adds value to organizations by dramatically reducing the time to resolution of operational incidents.


Whether your apps support critical lifesaving systems, financial functions, or manufacturing lines, PerfStack is a precious ally to IT professionals who are willing to make their IT department move from a cost center to a positive asset.


Author: Max Mortillaro, an independent data center consultant specializing in virtualization and storage technologies. Max is a four-time VMware vExpert and a Tech Field Day delegate.