If there is one part of Enterprise Storage where product delivery sometimes falls down, it is performance monitoring. It appears to be standard practice across most of the major vendors to offer separate highly priced Storage Resource Management products if you want to get quality performance data from your Enterprise Storage kit. When I was at IBM we struggled when we struck SAN performance issues that needed quality data if the client did not have IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Manager (TPC). Even worse was that we also struggled to sell TPC it if the client had not purchased it with the kit itself. Many clients felt the list price didn’t match the perceived benefit. And to be frank this is not just an IBM problem. I routinely meet clients and read tender requests (including those with EMC kit and HP kit), who lament their current lack of storage performance monitoring tools.
One solution for a vendor is to add a Performance monitoring tool in their products management GUI. An example that I really liked was the Performance monitor added to the IBM SVC and Storwize V7000. However while this was a huge step forward, these sort of tools suffer from what I call the Dory effect (named after the fish in Finding Nemo who had short-term memory issues) since you cannot see anything older than the most recent five minutes. One simple reason for this short-term memory is that to retain long-term data you need an easily searchable database with plenty of storage.
The IBM XIV on the other hand has set a far better precedent in this regards. It retains 30 days of detailed stats and one year of averaged stats internally with multiple ways of accessing that data via both GUI and CLI.
One further innovation that the XIV has brought to the table is an iPhone and iPad Mobile Dashboard. Version 1.2 has recently been released and is another major step forward. It is a universal App meaning the same app now installs on both iPhone and iPad, but the real improvement is that you can now monitor up to 20 XIVs from one dashboard with a very data rich GUI. Plus you can now drill down to check system events as well.
In this screen capture you can see stats for one demo XIV, with volumes in the center and hosts to the right. You can drill down and change the focus between bandwidth, IOPS and latency.
In this screen capture you can see hardware events for a demo system. Amusingly while demo mode does not show some of the crazy errors you get from development lab machines (which demo mode in the XIV GUI sometimes showed in earlier versions), they have been sanitised to the point that the simulated errors are all just mock ups of what real errors would be (I feel sorry for the developers, they cannot win either way).
You can get the free app from the Apple app store here and as usual you can run the app in demo mode, meaning you can check out this tool without owning an XIV. It really is a great app. Why not install it and show it to your EMC or HP (or IBM) rep and say… this is what I want for every product.
Frankly I think this open attitude to performance and system monitoring is the least you should expect.