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Analyzing Application Performance in the Virtual Environment with NetFlow


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April 10, 2012

Analyzing Application Performance in the Virtual Environment with NetFlow

By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer

A tool like vSphere 5 delivers NetFlow as part of its network monitoring and troubleshooting features, allowing for application performance analysis in the virtual environment to be a lot less tricky.

Administrators probably already have the ability to export NetFlow from their virtual switches. In fact, VMware supports NetFlow V5 for network monitoring. Additionally, Open VSwitch NetFlow is now available and the Nexus 1000v will export to the NetFlow collector.

IT administrators looking to monitor application flow performance can enable flow monitoring on a distributed switch. According to the VMware Networking Blog, NetFlow on distributed switches can be enabled at the port level, at the port group level or at the uplink level. Additionally, administrators can control the timeout and sampling rate for flows in the advanced settings menu. By checking the option “process internal flows only,” administrators can ensure that they monitor only the internal flows of the virtual infrastructure.

Plixer’s blog stated that they were unsure whether information on performance metrics like jitter, packet loss or latency could be exported out of the virtual environment. However, the company representative suggests “spanning a virtual port on a virtual switch to an nBox which exports IPFIX (NetFlow) with this next generation performance information.”

The mistake that administrators often make is trying to monitor connections to a server, the number of bytes to and from the server, and the number of ports involved in communication. In other words, they monitor network performance instead of application performance. This allows them to deduce the source of a problem but slows down mean time to repair. Instead, administrators should take advantage of technology like the nProbe, which delivers information on latency specific to applications.

NetFlow solutions like Scrutinizer from Plixer International (News - Alert) generate graphs and reports that offers important information in regards to both traffic patterns and bandwidth utilization. Now, with tools already at the disposal of many administrators, applications are easier to monitor in the virtual environment using NetFlow.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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