Enspire uses a fully virtualised environment to deliver virtualised desktops and other services to its SME customers, which are mostly in the professional services sector (eg, small accounting firms) and therefore do not tolerate performance issues.
The company uses a Vblock in conjunction with EMC Clariion CX4 storage arrays, and while it was lightly loaded all was well.
But as the number of virtual servers grew - there are now more than 250 of them - Enspire started running into latency issues caused by any one virtual server suddenly generating large amounts of disk I/O, which had a flow-on effect on the other servers accessing the same storage array.
"It's difficult to know where the problems are because it's all so abstract."
The company considered various tools including those offered by EMC (ruled out because of the cost), and eventually settled on SolarWinds Virtualization Manager.
Enspire had been using other SolarWinds tools for years, initially to monitor network links between its data centre and customers' premises.
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SolarWinds Virtualization Manager was the best for the job, Hodge said, as it can be used to see how much load a particular virtual server is generating, or to reveal which virtual servers are the heaviest users of a particular LUN (a logical storage unit).
These insights allow the virtual servers generating the heaviest I/O loads to be associated with the fastest storage.
So now it is unusual to see latency alerts, and the resulting performance is "a big achievement for us," Hodge said.
Virtualization Manager has replaced the manual analysis that would take an expert all day with "reports that anyone can access," he said.
Benefits include improved quality of service through being able to detect and rectify issues before they impact on customers, and more effective capacity planning - "we're ahead of the game now," said Hodge.
And all this was achieved with a product that "saved us tens of thousands of dollars" compared with the cost of alternative tools, he added.