Cloud Monitoring Using Zenoss – Interview with Josh Duncan

by David Davis on November 30, 2010

I was first introduced to Zenoss while serving as a judge of the best products at VMworld 2010 (see my post Cloud Computing Companies Earn Awards at VMworld 2010 for more info). At the time, I was highly impressed with Zenoss – especially the very “slick” look and feel. When compared to some of those clunkly old network/server management apps – Zenoss is “sexy”. Sure, that’s nice but what does it have to do with cloud computing?

To find out, I interviewed Josh Duncan, in charge of product marketing at Zenoss (who goes by @Zenoss on Twitter). According to Josh, the biggest differentiator between Zenoss and the “big four” management solutions (CA/IBM/HP/BMC) is that Zenoss was built from the ground up to manage and monitor your complete infrastructure (including physical) – not just your virtual infrastructure. All of this is done without agents so monitoring deployments can scale as you scale. Also, Zenoss can monitor your cloud infrastructure to give you a complete view of your hybrid cloud. Recently, Zenoss announced that they monitor the new VMware vCloud Director as well as the Cisco UCS platform. Zenoss is also hypervisor agnostic and, besides vSphere, they will also monitor Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer.

Personally, I have looked at over a hundred different monitoring & management applications – for virtualization alone. I can see where it would be easy to be overwhelmed at the number of infrastructure management & monitoring applications that various vendors tell you that you need. I must admit that I took some comfort in the message that, no matter your virtual or physical infrastructure(or even if you infrastructure moves to the public cloud)- Zenoss can monitor it.

To see if I understood correctly (and to try to shoot holes in this utopian-sounding monitoring solution) I asked Josh some questions:

1. What if you consolidate your physical servers into virtual (P2V), will Zenoss monitoring follow the server as it is virtualized and keep the historical data of its statistics?

Josh’s answer: Yes – Zenoss keeps a robust model of your device and of all the performance information associated with, whether it is
physical or virtual. The Zenoss model manages the relationships between VMs and virtual hosts, between hosts, between datastore LUNs and storage devices, and automatically updates when things change.

2. How does Zenoss provide management access to the vCloud for Cloud consumers?

Josh’s answer: Zenoss provides a service provider view and a consumer view. Cloud consumers can see inside only their Virtual Datacenters (vDCs) and can monitor the performance of their Virtual Applications (vApps). While the service view provides visibility into the entire system.

3. Do you monitor vSphere using the vCenter APIs (and not just SNMP or a proprietary method)?

Josh’s answer: Yes, Zenoss integrates directly with the vSphere APIs. This means that whenever a event occurs inside your sever (like a vMotion) you are immediately aware and can troubleshoot if there are resource conflicts. You can see it in action at the Zenoss online test drive.

4. Can I try out Zenoss on my own virtual infrastructure and vCloud Director at no cost?

Josh’s answer: Yes, you can either watch a video of Zenoss monitoring VMware vCloud or request an eval to deploy into your own virtual infrastructure.

5. Does the monitoring of VMware vCloud use the vCloud API and support the different provider tiers?

Josh’s answer: Yes, we monitor vCDs through the vCloud API, supporting things like the provider VDC, vApps, provider tiers (gold/silver/bronze), and we offer a unique “cloud view” that you see in the graphic below.

Additionally, Zenoss offers what we call a “dynamic view” that really maps out the cloud, showing the cloud cells, provider vDCs, ESX hosts, LUNs, and even the storage associated with it (you can modify this view to even show Cisco UCS blades, policies, and chassis). Plus it’s an easy way to see what’s currently deployed and what’s inactive.

This view dynamically updates when changes occur inside of your vCloud. This allows you to see who is using what and where there are any events that may be impacting service (for example, in the view below we can see that the NetApp storage needs to be looked at).

6. What about monitoring of the vApps and the vCloud, what does that look like?

Josh’s answer: Zenoss not only gives visibility into overall Cloud performance, it also let’s you see into the individual vApps, virtual machines, and into the individual operating systems and applications. This broad and deep view helps you meet your required performance SLAs.

Here are a couple of graphs that show how we can monitor the various components of the cloud. All of the performance thresholds can be alerted on so can you address an issue before it impacts users.

On the Zenoss website, I even found a nice quote about Zenoss from VCDX001, John Arrasjid (who I interviewed recently at VMworld). He said:

“Zenoss is a powerful solution for unifying the view of IT across users’ physical, virtual, and cloud environments and simplifying the management of applications and vCloud infrastructures.” – John Arrasjid, Principal Architect, VMware

In my opinion, enterprises need a monitoring application that will monitor “everything” – whether it is physical, virtual, private, or public. As companies converge into cloud computing, they need applications that will adapt to this change from the” virtual world” to the “public cloud world” (many monitoring applications still haven’t even made it to the virtual world yet). In my time spent with Zenoss, I feel that it is the strongest application of its kind that I have seen. Perhaps Zenoss can be the “utopian monitoring application” you are looking for.

And FINALLY, this wouldn’t be VMwareVIDEOS if I didn’t offer you a video, right? Here’s a video demo from Josh Duncan of Monitoring vCloud Director with Zenoss and Monitoring vSphere with Zenoss – Enjoy!

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