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Meet the SLA of your Electric Grid applications by using VirtualWisdom

By Ravi Prakash, Product Manager

power lines purple sky sunset

As an IT executive in an electric utility, you live in an ever-changing world.  Electricity storage via Li-Ion batteries made available to corporations on a storage-as-a-service model means that companies like Whole Foods in California may opt to use energy storage and avoid paying a premium for energy usage at peak times.  Energy storage is just one of the game changers, solar rooftops and net metering where consumers sell power back to the grid, smart-meters and charging stations for Electric vehicles place unusual demands on your utility’s business model and infrastructure expansion.

white electric car plugged in charging

Like IT executives in other industries you may be responsible for servers, applications, desktops, networking, radio & phone systems but also for applications that handle time-of-day pricing to consumers, applications that handle leasing of real-estate on your towers to cellular providers, applications that forecast useful shelf life of transformers all within an IT budget that may be 2% to 4% of annual corporate revenues.  In this dynamic world, you may be interested to know that many energy utilities rely on VirtualWisdom, an application-centric infrastructure performance monitoring platform, to ensure that applications meet their established SLAs.

If you have an Energy Mgmt. System (EMS) whose database component runs in a Virtual Machine (VM) over vSphere communicating through a Cisco/Brocade SAN fabric to shared block storage like EMC VMAX, you need to know which noisy neighbor is impacting the service level agreement (SLA) for your energy mgmt. system.  VirtualWisdom is a vendor-agnostic monitoring platform that looks at every application conversation (we refer to them as Initiator Target LUN or ITL) from the VM on the host to the LUN on the storage array and gives you insights into how the shared infrastructure is impacting performance of mission critical applications.

virtual wisdom dashboard on laptop computer

Perhaps you replaced your legacy ticketing system with ServiceNow and you may be using ServiceNow ServiceWatch to map and monitor key business services to get visibility into how these services are performing? VirtualWisdom can communicate with the CMDB in ServiceNow to retrieve a list of known applications so your infrastructure team doesn’t have to manually track and specify what constitutes an application.

If you are not using ServiceNow, you might have your EMS applications running over vSphere over VMware vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS). You can configure VDS to generate NetFlow to VirtualWisdom which in turn studies the flows, observes that VM1, VM5, and VM7 communicate more frequently among themselves, and concludes that they may all be components of the same EMS application.

What if you have an in-house customer application that tracks meter installations, cash collections, customer self-service via online channels?  If this custom application has a business logic layer based on Oracle and .NET you may feel that this application is critical to your business and you can’t afford high Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR).  To get code-level visibility into your application you may have instrumented an Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tool like AppDynamics. If your customer application experiences latency due to the underlying shared infrastructure, AppDynamics may be hard pressed to identify which non-mission-critical application’s use of the underlying infrastructure caused your customer application to slow down.

VirtualWisdom, in addition to monitoring your shared network infrastructure, can connect to the AppDynamics controller and import a list of known applications.  VirtualWisdom can help identify that noisy neighbor (not instrumented with AppDynamics) whose use of the shared network infrastructure was slowing down your mission critical application.  VirtualWisdom monitors the wire and looks at every conversation with no sampling, so it gives your infrastructure monitoring team visibility into when VMs are hitting 100% CPU utilization or when the top 200 HBAs are at 97% utilization on a 16G Fibre channel network.

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At the end of the day, you the IT executive want to know how the applications are doing.  You like to know that the details are available to your team, but you personally don’t need to see the details.   To address this, VirtualWisdom gives your infrastructure team a way to share dashboards with the business unit managers and application owners.  If something catches your eye and requires further scrutiny VirtualWisdom helps your teams drill down all the way to the Fibre Channel or NFS or SMB read/write operation.

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We support a runbook style methodology where we don’t just stop at problem identification, we proceed with root cause analysis using a variety of built-in analytics and help your team get to remediation and verification. We recognize that with 2% of revenues allocated to your IT budget you have no room for large infrastructure management teams, hence the more automation and remediation we can deliver out of the box, the lower your TCO.  Like what you hear and wish to learn more?  Give us a call!