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VMware Tackles Server Log Data Pain

VMware has integrated server log file management into its overall operations product, bringing real-time analytics to server info.
VMware Vs. Microsoft: 8 Cloud Battle Lines
VMware Vs. Microsoft: 8 Cloud Battle Lines
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VMware is applying big data analytics to server log files to get information useful in real-time operations, which is usually mined after the fact for historical purposes.

VCenter Log Insight is a stand-alone product being added to VMware's lineup. With a $200 license fee per monitored operating system , it's meant to work hand-in-glove with a preexisting VMware data center product, vCenter Operations. VCenter Operations is used to capture and help manage configuration settings, performance management and capacity management.

Log Insight will supply an analytics engine to the log file data, which captures a record of server events, such as when the application gets a new user or contacts a database server for records. A vSphere host system, generating a large virtualized environment in the data center, produces 250 MB of log file information a day, Martin Klaus, group product-line manager, said in an interview. A Microsoft Exchange email server will generate 1 GB of log file information a day.

The Log Insight analytics engine will do what the human eye cannot do as it confronts the thousands of streaming alerts and notices of software events in a running virtualized infrastructure. It will separate the reporting that reflects normal operations and not bother the system administrator with it. It will perform diagnostics on exceptions or information patterns that might indicate an operational issue is taking shape.

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There are lots of metrics being generated in the data center as servers, switches and storage systems file data on their states of operation. The Log Insight integration with the data collection by vCenter Operations is meant to make it easier to understand what those metrics mean, Klaus explained.

Log Insight can collect server data not only from virtualized workloads or host servers but also from firewalls, load balancers, Web servers, database servers -- or any server assigned to it. One installation of the product can collect log files from thousands of servers, according to Klaus.

A virtualization manager at the vCenter Operations management console can perform a deep dive into server operations information and receive automated feedback on developing problems. In many cases, the Log Insight analysis engine will come up with a recommended course of action, Klaus said.

Asked how close to real time the data collection and analysis occurs, Klaus explained that the product had been engineered to scale out to a large number of servers without losing its high-speed performance to specific inquiries. "The response time is really fast. Think of it as the Google Search engine for log data," he said.

The new product is being launched in a public beta test Tuesday and will become generally available in the third quarter. Klaus said vCenter Log Insight is a finished product, but VMware wants third parties that can supply extensions to have more time to bring forth "content packs." A content pack would tailor Log Insight to work with specific third-party products, such as recognizing what the key words captured in the log file of a particular database system mean and how they can be used to troubleshoot for root cause analysis of a performance issue.

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