1 SERVICE LEVEL MONITORING WITH DORADO SOFTWARE S REDCELL SUITE Scaling IT for the Front Office Whitepaper November 2008
2 Introduction Adopting a Service Level Agreement (SLA) model for IT offers many benefits but can be difficult to manage. Monitoring SLA compliance is key challenge of SLA adoption but it pays big dividends for those who make the transition. One of the biggest challenges for today s IT professionals is regularly reinforcing the business value of IT activities to upper management. Translating technical details and obstacles into business speak requires a special acumen. Something that, for many, is only developed after years of doing it the wrong way before stumbling across a set of insights that help facilitate the transition. Routinely, it s not that the inherent need for IT services is in question that s usually clear and substantial. Instead, it s the inability to articulate the direct business impact of IT issues that create the perception of misalignment. In an effort to bridge this gap, many IT managers are adopting a Service Level Agreement (SLA) model. This approach helps communicate IT activities in terms of business functions that people outside IT understand. Service level reporting helps translate technical challenges and results into the language that business owners speak. It provides executives and business process owners with meaningful data they can use to drive more productive business decisions. And it also pays big dividends for IT organizations including the perception of being more vested in the business, access to bigger budgets, more funding for special IT projects, and added visibility across the company. But if it was that easy and rewarding, why aren t more IT organizations doing it? One of the key challenges is that the tools IT managers commonly rely on often scale well for the back office but not for the front office. The tools themselves encourage a break/fix approach to IT by their very design. They provide a bits and bytes view of IT issues but lack the flexibility or breadth to map IT concerns to the higher order business processes they serve. In a SLA model, IT has to be able to monitor the compliance of negotiated service levels. Administrators need a real time view into a wide variety of infrastructure data points and their interoperability. Additionally, numerous considerations
3 surround service availability (i.e., end to end service uptime) and overall quality (e.g., bandwidth, dropped connections, I/O, and so on). Finding the right set of integrated tools to deliver your SLA vision can be a daunting task. Including switches and routers as part of an end to end monitored service gives Dorado Software a key advantage for SLA scenarios. Figure 1 Redcell OpsCenter, from Dorado Software, provides numerous options for visualizing and monitoring the critical services that run your business. For IT managers who want to make the transition, Dorado Software recently introduced new end to end monitoring tools designed to facilitate the change. Dorado Software s new Redcell OpsCenter 6.1 platform and Redcell Advanced Monitors (Redcell) add extensive monitoring capabilities that let you visualize, clarify and monitor IT resources and the network fabrics that bind them. This paper explores these new capabilities and how they uniquely position Dorado Software customers for the benefits of an SLA oriented management approach.
4 What Makes Redcell Different? Given all the monitoring tools available today, what unique advantages can Redcell provide? There are several. Chief among them is Dorado Software s long history as a leading supplier of network management tools for Cisco, Juniper Networks and many others. This experience offers a network perspective that provides compelling strengths for managing IT at the service level. Figure 2: Configurable dashboards provide an easy to understand view of service health from granular monitored metrics all the way up to service level on/off status. Most monitoring tools today take a device centric ( is my server up? ) or application centric ( is the Exchange service running? ) view of the environment. Traditionally, this approach has been regarded as somewhat effective but recent trends are moving away from it. Today s distributed applications are rarely installed as monolithic configurations. N tier applications can often spread the presentation layer
5 (e.g., web app), business logic and data store across multiple servers. High availability implementations may introduce clustering or fail over functionality that can add even more physical or virtual systems into the mix. These systems may include either direct or network attached storage, depending on the needs of the application or the business requirements for archives. A fabric of switches and routers exists between all such devices Gigabit Ethernet for servers or iscsi traffic and/or Fibre Channel for high end storage. These systems can also include VOIP equipment and VPN interfaces that provide access for remote workers and regional offices. All these devices likely require specific configurations for optimal performance of the overall service provided. Figure 3: Customizable topology maps can display a service view with layer 2 connectivity AND device status simultaneously (via colored device icon backgrounds). All physical and virtual systems working together with network resources and fabrics constitute a service. When all the above functions together correctly, it culminates in the delivery of what a business defines as a process or service. To provide true end to end service level monitoring and reporting, a systems management offering must be capable of seeing all these components working individually and together.
6 Redcell s strengths across networked devices and infrastructures uniquely position it to provide executive level visibility into overall service availability and quality, while retaining a granular ability to monitor components for fast analysis and troubleshooting in the event of failures. Redcell can not only monitor the state of the application, processor utilization and disk I/O, but it can also actively scan for any drift away from optimal switch and router configurations, as well as packet loss, network congestion, and so forth. Redcell s Advantage Traditional application monitoring leaves gaps that SLA compliance can fill. Redcell has deep knowledge of device connectivity across switches, routers, physical systems, virtual systems, servers, clients, storage arrays, etc. And Redcell leverages this strength to move beyond individual device monitoring and provide comprehensive IT service compliance. Orchestrating infrastructure components into their corresponding services saves time and money. It provides the clarity to readily identify what business processes are affected and what specific IT problem is the culprit thereby improving availability by reducing manual troubleshooting and increasing automated remediation. Case in Point Recently, Dorado Software consulted with a large organization that had experienced a failure of their service. Remote workers from a large area of the United States were calling the helpdesk to report that their Exchange was inaccessible. Exchange monitoring tools indicated that the Exchange server was fully operational. It took some manual troubleshooting from the IT staff over a period of hours to trace the issue to a VPN problem. Users saw the issue as an Exchange problem, not a VPN connectivity problem. They did not understand that their connection had a VPN dependency.
7 In fact, only users connecting through a certain VPN connection profile (one primarily provided for remote workers in the Southwestern United States) were affected. All others could connect to the Exchange server without issue. Monitoring Exchange as a service for those remote users would have resulted in a much faster and more accurate diagnosis. Instead, Exchange was monitored as an application with no regard for the network components on which it depended for those remote users. Virtual Complexities In addition to the challenges of troubleshooting complex, distributed systems, the growing popularity of virtual environments adds complexity. Networked virtual machines (VMs) can be difficult to see let alone diagnose. A failed VM will often show its physical host s NIC as a problem when it s actually the virtual NIC s configuration that is the issue. These kinds of connectivity issues are at the very core of today s monitoring challenges, and Redcell s comprehensive approach to infrastructure management is the reason Dorado Software can solve such problems. VoIP, iscsi, Fibre Channel, and Gigabit Ethernet are critical fabrics for service level monitoring. Dorado Software understands the increasingly critical role that network fabrics play in today s business operations. As more and more applications are distributed and bandwidth demands continue to increase, the network becomes an increasingly critical part of the services that run modern organizations. VoIP, iscsi, Fibre Channel, Gigabit Ethernet are just a few examples of specialized networks that are fundamental to mission critical communications and data services. Tying the advantages of that perspective into its comprehensive monitoring solutions is what makes Dorado different especially for organizations seeking a service level view of their IT assets.
8 The Solution Dorado Software s Redcell Suite The Redcell Suite has an extensible architecture that lets supports multiple modular components for adding functionality while retaining a central CMDB. Dorado Software s Redcell Suite offers a variety of configuration options depending on the functionality required and the number of devices needing management. Redcell OpsCenter is the foundational architecture that is installed to provide basic services that other Dorado Software modules leverage and expand upon. Redcell OpsCenter functions include discovery, inventory, CMDB, fault/event management, reporting, basic enterprise monitoring, etc. Various Redcell Commander products (e.g., Network Commander, System Commander, Storage Commander and so on) are plug in modules that extend Redcell OpsCenter basic capabilities with more automation and advanced features. Redcell monitoring uses a driver concept to completely avoid the use of agents on monitored While Redcell OpsCenter can work on a single Windows computer, depending on your monitoring needs, this Javabased software can also run on Linux or Solaris servers, and it also provides options for distributed, multi tiered installations, clustering and other high availability configurations. Of further interest to most administrators is the fact that Redcell runs completely agentless for all remote monitoring and management functions. This reduces the impact of Redcell tools on device utilization while practically eliminating any concerns for security exposure that agent code can sometimes represent. Lastly, Redcell OpsCenter employs a simple right to use pricing model that charges customers based on the number of devices they are managing or monitoring. MSRP for 50 managed devices is $ ($58/device) with volume discounts beyond the 100 node level. Functional Overview Once you install Redcell OpsCenter, you can begin monitoring your network by discovering your networked environment. Redcell supports a variety of discovery methods including a
9 deep discovery option that goes beyond simple ICMP and SNMP detection methods to include device interrogation by remote Telnet/SSH CLI calls. This represents a much more detailed layer of inventory for the Redcell CMDB than most monitoring tools can collect. This information becomes increasingly valuable as higher levels of automated remediation are implemented. Redcell s list of supported devices and protocols is far more comprehensive than most monitoring solutions making it ideal for SLA monitoring applications. As previously mentioned, Redcell discovers far more than switches and routers. Typical discovered devices may also include ATM switches, PC/sever blades, Ethernet and Fibre Channel, modems (cable/dsl/dial POTS), firewalls, VPN appliances, virtual machines, desktops, servers and more. This is a far more extensive set of managed devices than most single vendor solutions can support, especially with a single console and database. Redcell s CMDB correlates all these devices and their associations allowing administrators to view services, devices and device subcomponents, both at a physical and logical level. Redcell can also perform a special link discovery that maps every resource to every other resource to which it connects on the network or even on the Internet. A variety of link types are supported including Ethernet, iscsi, Fibre Channel, ATM, and so on. Once an initial discovery is complete, Redcell can monitor devices with a variety of different protocols including SNMPv1/v2/v3, Proprietary Device CLI, CIM over HTTP (WBEM) and WMI, web services, RMI/IIOP, SYSLOG and internal system events. Redcell policies can trigger automation actions for unattended remediation. Redcell administrators define policies that map discovery results with a specific monitor type (e.g., SNMP Scalars, SNMP Interfaces, Key Metrics, ICMP, Virtual Routing Forwarding, CISCO IPSLA, Composite, Aggregate, etc.) and its associated processing rules and definitions. The various monitor types are optimized for data collection in specific categories. For example, a Performance monitor can measure round trip time and how much traffic is sent across links in the network. Administrators can track network latency with notifications
10 when links begin to run hot, or receive alerts for network congestion ahead of user complaints. Performance monitors can track: Bandwidth or port utilization Packet loss Number of packets Average/Minimum/Maximum Round Trip Time (RTT) Number of packets received Confirms destination is responding More Redcell Composite monitors provide for end to end service level monitoring. Composite and Aggregate monitors provide more advanced data collection options. A Composite monitor combines configurations from multiple monitors to create a custom, end to end service level perspective. For example, administrators can combine IPSLA from a shadow router with bandwidth utilization measurements from multiple devices to manage the customer experience while probing the rest of the network for total utilization. Composite monitors can synchronize data collection across domains and calculate metrics from multiple data sources. Example monitored services could include network services (e.g., comprehensive network health, service health, DNS, DHCP, AAA, FTP, etc.) or application services (e.g., MS Exchange, MS IIS, MS SQL, etc.) or any combination of the above. Aggregation monitors correlate data for the same metric, across multiple entities. For instance, administrators can compute total free space across multiple computers or apply a threshold for VPN utilization across management domains. A device specific example might be monitoring total free and available space across group of storage devices, rather than a single device. Together, these monitors and their policy settings determine how events are catalogued, displayed and escalated through the system. Policies can also define data retention rules which provide administrators granular options for retaining
11 either calculated or raw data values by date, duration, severity, and so on. Redcell policies go beyond simple alerting to include close loop functionality. Redcell gives IT administrators a comprehensive ability to visualize, monitor and remediate IT services. Furthermore, policies can include automation actions that trigger remediation functions. Actions can also include token replacement capabilities for customizing event notifications with event details (e.g., event name, severity, description, etc.). This feature lets administrators modify the level of detail conveyed in notification messages. For example, the system can be configured not just to an administrator that a device is not working but that it has a missing access control list (ACL) or closed port. The right amount of detail can make all the difference in delivering a speedy resolution. Processing rules can include advanced functions like pattern matching incoming message strings with regular expressions to automate routing and remediation functions. As a result, metrics can watch for configuration drift away from optimal, known good settings or detect incompatible configuration options. For example, Redcell can flag scenarios where one device is set for half duplex communication but it is talking with another device that is configured for full duplex. This insures that resources are not only available, but that they are configured for optimal bandwidth. Additionally, Redcell monitoring is active in the sense that events can trigger close loop automation actions like a full or partial device configuration restoration or even launching a custom configuration task. This is another key differentiator for Redcell technology as Gartner recently observed that: Most IT operations management products with event management capabilities provide at least a rudimentary level of notification services [but] few could be described as closeloop systems. Generally, they do not require acknowledgement, nor do they support automated escalation procedures thus the IT infrastructure problem will continue to affect the business until someone sees the alert on an event management console. (Using Alert Notification Tools to Enhance IT Operations Management, David Williams, Debra Curtis, ID Number: G , 5 February 2008)
12 Redcell policies can go beyond simple alerting to the point of restoring a device to a secure state (i.e., a last known good configuration) and then locking out the device from any further modification except from a qualified administrator. IT managers are free to choose the desired level of automated remediation since close loop response is not ideal for all applications. Regardless of the amount of automation you select, such an extensive level of remediation options is uncommon in most monitoring tools. Redcell delivers the value of an actionable CMDB combined with a broad, network based perspective of SLA compliance. It enables IT organizations to move beyond simple notifications and red/yellow/green dashboard alerts into the realm of IT service level views, service owners, device dependencies and resource associations. Conclusion Dorado Software s Redcell OpsCenter provides resilient health, availability and performance monitoring for today s complex networks. Dorado Software uniquely provides a leading single vendor solution for service level monitoring that leverages an actionable CMDB, comprehensive inventory and visibility into the supporting network infrastructure. Redcell drives added productivity for IT organizations by enabling them to align much more closely with the end toend business services they support. To do this Redcell effectively and uniquely combines an extremely broad portfolio of monitored devices and protocols that leverage Dorado s traditional networking strengths together with automated remediation. The result is a highly leveraged product set that helps IT administrators visualize, monitor and maintain mission critical IT resources and the network fabrics that bind them.
13 Contact Us For more information, go to Download a free trial today: Corporate Headquarters Dorado Software, Inc 110 Woodmere Road Folsom, CA URL: Copyright 2008 Dorado Software, Inc. All rights reserved. Dorado and Redcell are registered trademarks of Dorado Software, Inc. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
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