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In my briefing with Virtual Instruments, during the last Powering the cloud event, was with Skip Bacon Chief Technology Officer and Chris James Director EMEA Marketing. I’ve met both also last year during the past event so was the opportunity know what has changed in the last months.

Virtual Instruments is a company focused in Infrastructure Performance Management (IPM) for physical, virtual, and cloud computing environments. The VirtualWisdom platform provides end-to-end visibility into real-time performance, health and utilization metrics from the entire systems stack. Virtual Instruments drives improved performance and availability while lowering the total cost of the infrastructure supporting mission-critical applications.

The company was a start-up (founded in 2008) focused on a complete set of products to monitor, analyze and report the status of your storage infrastructure, with the idea to monitor not only the health of the physical environment, but also the performance according with the required SLA.

Compared to the past year they have grown faster and build several OEM partnership (also with EMC), but also with some certified partners.

The product is pretty unique in the market and still the market target is the large enterprise and where is needed a real-time performance monitoring, from virtual server to the storage (all customers are in the Global2000 chart). Typical segment if the financial one.

Their product VirtualWisdom is designed for customers with business and/or mission critical applications, based on a FC storage, that must be monitored both for the performance and the availability point of view.

With several probes it can real-time collect (in an agent-less way) several information (with a great detail and a huge frequency) and can correlate all together. The different probes are:

  • Virtual Server Probe: the one that talk with the vCenter Server and can monitor the virtual part. It collects data on and calculates 100+ different metrics including CPU, utilization and status, memory utilization, disk I/O requests and capacity, network requests, and overall utilization, allowing for end-to-end performance analysis from virtual machines to the LUNs.
  • SAN Availability Probe: is a software probe that collects status from SAN switches via SNMP. The software probes collect metrics for each port, and these metrics are generated and reported to the VirtualWisdom Server by each SAN Availability Probe.
  • SAN Performance Probe: analyzes every frame header on a fibre channel SAN at line rates of up to 8 Gbits per second. The SAN Performance Probe detects application performance slowdowns and transmission errors by measuring every SCSI I/O transaction from start to finish, for every server/volume combination (initiator/ target/ LUN). It is the only true real-time SAN performance monitoring device in the industry and is essential for proactive SAN monitoring so that IT managers can avoid unplanned downtime.

The new version of the SAN Performance Probe (ProbeFC8-HD48) delivers six times the density of the original ProbeFC8 and lowers the cost per monitored link by 50 percent. It also uses 75 percent less rackspace and consumes 75 percent less power for the same monitoring footprint.

Virtual InstrumentsBut the most interesting and innovative (and probably unique) part is the The TAP Patch Panel System (TPPS) that provide a passive, fail-safe access point to Fibre-Channel network traffic on a SAN for failure analysis, problem diagnosis, and performance monitoring. TAPs operate “out-of-band” by transparently diverting some of the signal through the TAP to another port, which provides a copy of the Fibre Channel frame headers. The agent-less TAP has no impact on application or SAN performance and is integrated with a Fibre Channel Patch Panel for simple deployment. Note that you can “split” only the storage FC ports for the storage side, because in this way you can capture all traffic for physical and virtual servers. Note that they are working to extend the monitoring also for Ethernet frames (for iSCSI and FCoE). Hardware is already designed for this, but the software must be adapted.

Also they are working also on the NFS part, with probe for each specific vendor: first will be released a NetApp one, and then others for VNX and Isilon.

See also: full report list of Powering The Cloud 2013 event.


Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-24. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-23. Nutanix NTC 2014-20. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.