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It is SEUM pre-release week here at SolarWinds and my inbox is aflutter with questions from customers asking some great questions about our new product.

For those not already “Synthetic Transaction Monitoring”, Synthetic End User Monitor (SEUM) is SolarWinds new product for providing end-user perspective visibility into the performance and availability of your websites and web based applications. SEUM offers customers an inexpensive alternative to traditional hosted and appliance based solutions for monitoring both publicly accessible and internally hosted websites and web based applications like Outlook Web Access, SharePoint Portals, Altiris and Remedy helpdesks, intranets and extranets.

What SEUM is not

We conducted several webcasts last week and the turnout was incredible. We received a ton of questions from the webcast participants, far more than we could answer during the webcast itself. I posted the Q&A SEUM Webcast FAQ on Thwack for the questions we didn’t get to and for those who were unable to attend. One question that came up during every webcast, as well as popping up in my inbox on a recurring basis is whether SEUM is a load test tool.

SEUM is not a load generator, stress testing, or load simulator tool. Load testing is specialized software usually reserved for developers to find inefficiencies in code under severe load. These tools are usually used once, maybe twice if problems are found and never used again. After all, who wants to bring their production webserver or web application to a screeching halt under the crushing weight of a load generator on a regular basis anyway?

So what is SEUM then?

SEUM allows you to monitor complex multi-step transactions on your critical web based applications and websites for performance and availability issues in a distributed architecture. Using the SEUM Recorder you simply walk through the steps in the web based application that you’d like monitored, no differently than you would any other web browser. This process is then saved as a “transaction” and assigned to a local or remote player where the recorded transaction is synthetically played back on a regular interval. If any step in the recorded transaction takes longer than expected or a page returns an unexpected result such as an error, you’re alerted to the problem long before your end users even know there is an issue. You can even visualize your users experience from multiple geographic locations to make troubleshooting easier.

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But I only have one location

Not a problem. There’s no requirement to monitor from multiple locations or even remotely. If your critical web based applications are exclusively accessible internally, then you can use the player built into the SEUM server. If your website, intranet, extranet, portal or other web based application is accessible globally and you need visibility into how it’s performing from different geographic locations, there are quite a few low cost cloud options like Amazon E2C and Microsoft’s Azure where you can host the player remotely.

When development did some testing of the SEUM Player a few weeks back they used a "Small Instance" on Amazon’s E2C. This cost approximately $0.12 an hour. That ends up being about $88.00 a month for a single instance. You can even get lower pricing if you pay an upfront price to "reserve" an instance for a year. This drops the monthly price to about $37.00 a month per instance. That’s less than what I pay for Internet access! Needless to say this is a very inexpensive way to provide regional or even global monitoring of your websites and web based applications.

Questions & Comments

Undoubtedly some of you reading this still have unanswered questions you’re dying to ask, so feel free to post them below or in the SEUM Forum and we’ll answer them as quickly as we can. If you’d like to see SEUM in action, check out Josh and Mike’s video on YouTube or contact sales to get your hands on an evaluation of the SEUM pre-release.

This 60 minute training session on Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) and SolarWinds Application Performance Monitor will cover optimizing hardware configurations for Orion, installation, discovery, and base configuration, configuring reports and alerts, and leveraging the information that Orion provides.

 

To register and view please visit the following -  http://www.solarwinds.com/resources/webcasts/npm-and-apm-level-1-customer-training.html

As many of you know, we have combined Storage Profiler with Virtual and Server Profiler to create a new product called Storage Manager, giving you the abilities and coverage of both products with simple "per disk" licensing. 

However, for current Storage Profiler customers, we also are releasing a new version of Storage Profiler (v5.0.1) that is based on the same platform as the Storage Manager product.  This new release continues its current licensing model (per disk), but now includes:

  • Monitoring Fibre Channel Switches
  • Integration with Orion platform
  • Support for the EMC VNX and IBM v7000 arrays

Also, since the products share a platform, future development to support new arrays (as well as improvements to currently supported arrays) will be available for both Storage Manager and Storage Profiler.

We will notify you once the release is available. Storage Profiler customers under current maintenance will be able to download Storage Profiler 5.0.1 in the customer portal. If you wish to move to Storage Manager, please contact your sales representative at virtualization@solarwinds.com for pricing.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Brian

There’s a lot of talk right now in the blogosphere about VMware’s recent announcement of vSphere 5 licensing, that pools of vRAM (allocated memory across VMs) will be used as a key basis for licensing in vSphere 5.  This is a great opportunity to explore the flexibility of the Virtualization Manager product (previously Hyper9) to produce some widgets and a dashboard that can help.  Thank you to Edward Haletky for reaching out on this.

First up – how do you calculate the total vRAM pool?  The details are spelled out in http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere_pricing.pdf but this is basically the total of the allocated memory across all of your Powered ON VMs.  That’s really easy to create as a “trend” in virtualization manager – a trend is simply the result of a search plotted over time.  Let’s start with finding all of the virtual machines in our environment that are Powered ON.  The built in query builder makes this really easy:

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Lets now create a “trend” out of this and add up the allocated memory of all those Powered ON VMs to give us our total vRAM pool.

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Now we can save it and add it to our “vSphere 5 Licensing” Dashboard.  We have our first widget.

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Let’s take this a step further.  Again according to http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere_pricing.pdf, the vRAM entitlement per CPU socket is

  • 24GB RAM for Essentials, Essentials Plus or Standard Editions
  • 32GB RAM for Enterprise Edition
  • 48GB RAM for Enterprise Plus Edition

We can now create trends that will calculate the number of licenses we would need of each edition, by dividing our total vRAM pool by the numbers above.  Lets’ do that for the essentials case:

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Memory is stored in MB in virtualization manager so we simply divide by 1024 to get it into GB and then by 24 (or just divide by 24*1024=24576) to get the the number of Essentials licenses that are needed to support the vRAM pool.  We can do the same thing for the enterprise and enterprise plus editions, and add the result to our dashboard.

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Finally, let’s go ahead and add the total number of CPU sockets to our vSphere 5 licensing dashboard which is a trend provided out of the box.  Since a vSphere 5 license is still required for each CPU socket, it is interesting to know if the licenses required for the vRAM pool exceed the number of CPU sockets.  In our case, that is clearly not the case (there happen to be a lot of Powered OFF VMs in this particular environment).

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That’s all there it to it!  Find the vSphere 5 Licensing Dashboard on the community exchange at vSphere 5 Licensing Dashboard UPDATED and import it into your Virtualization Manager.

 Managing Virtualized Environments End-to-End – From Virtual Servers to Physical Storage

Link: http://www.solarwinds.com/resources/webcasts/managing-virtualized-environments-end-to-end.html

Description:

Managing a virtualized infrastructure requires visibility across all layers of your environment – from VMs down to the physical systems and storage that supports them. Please join SolarWinds for an integrated product demonstration of the new Virtualization Manager and Storage Manager products and learn how to achieve success in these environments. Learn how to:

 

• Identify VMware performance bottlenecks and get recommendations to fix hot spots across shared memory, CPU and storage resources.
• Take capacity planning to the next level by factoring storage and network IO into your capacity plans
• Pinpoint and resolve physical storage performance and capacity bottlenecks
• Use Virtualization Manager’s new Time-Travel feature to troubleshoot historical problems
• Manage VM I/O contention on your storage and its impact on meeting SLAs
• Forecasting shared storage capacity issues proactively

Also during this webcast we’ll demonstrate best practices and technologies from SolarWinds that help to conquer these challenges and ensure success in these environments.

As we posted Orion NPM – So what’s up next? some time back, there are many great new features we are working on for the next version of NPM.  We are currently wrapping up a successful Beta1 with a set of customers and are just about to enter into Beta 2 in the coming weeks. 

First, I would like to invite and encourage any NPM customers with active maintenance to sign up to participate in Beta 2 and give us feedback.  The earlier we get feedback, the more tweaks and changes we can incorporate into the product, plus you get to play with the new stuff early :)  If you are interested in Beta 2, you can sign up here.

For those of you that don’t have the bandwidth to participate in the beta, I wanted to walk through one of the new features in this release and allow you to give us some feedback via the blog as well.

So first, what’s going to be available in Beta 2?

  • IPv6 Support – ability to poll and monitor IPv6 nodes just like you can today with IPv4
  • SNMPv3 Trap Support – ability for Orion to receive & send SNMPv3 traps
  • Multi-CPU Polling – the ability to poll and visualize multi-CPU machine in Orion (see below)
  • Windows Server Polling (non SNMP) – since SNMP is not on by default on Windows, this now gives users the option to discover and poll Windows machines using WMI
  • Improved Topology (more accurate ConnectNow) – we are removing the dependency that Network Sonar must be used to gather topology, it will now be a polling job.  Also we have greatly improved the accuracy of L2 topology and added in L3 support.
  • Network Atlas performance improvements – faster loading of maps in the web console
  • Procurve 420 support – more out of the box Wireless support

If you can’t participate in the Beta, no worries, we will have a Beta 3 as well, so maybe then.

I wanted to take the rest of this post to discuss and get feedback on one of the items listed above, multi-CPU polling.  This is one of the smaller features, but cool none the less. 

How it works today for multi-CPU machines is we gather all the values, but then average them and that is what you see displayed in reports, charts, gauges etc.

As of the next version, you will be able to report, alert and visualize these types of machines by CPU.  So we do not plan to take away any of the existing resources, reports etc.  You will still have the gauge that does the average and the Min, Max and Average CPU Utilization chart.  What we will be adding is two new resources, as illustrated below in the first image, that will break out each CPU’s usage over time in a chart, but also the current value in a table format. 

Also, on the node details resource, we will add a row, as highlighted in the second image, that lists out how many CPU’s that machine has.  This new feature will not only work for Windows, as shown in the screenshot, but also other server OS’s and network gear.

Comment/Thoughts/Feedback?

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GoToWebinar link:

NA - 7/21/2011 11AM CST 

EMEA - 7/21/2011 2PM BST 

APAC- 7/20/2011 11AM SGT 

SolarWinds Synthetic End User Monitor (SEUM) offers a powerful and affordable solution for monitoring business-critical web transactions from the end-user’s perspective. SEUM’s simple and flexible architecture allows you to automatically test internal and external applications from the locations that are important to you. If you have been interested in transaction monitoring, but stayed clear due to cost, complexity or lack of depth of some solutions--you don’t want to miss this! SEUM is transaction monitoring the SolarWinds way – affordable, feature rich, easy to install, easy to use, and easy to understand!

During this session we’ll discuss:

- SEUM architecture

- Internal and external application monitoring

- Deploying transaction players

- And much more!

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