By Bhavin Shah, Technical Marketing Engineer, NetApp


For more than a few years now, organizations have been moving away from silo-based architectures toward a more converged or integrated infrastructure-based architecture. There are several benefits of doing this. To list a couple: Why spend time on IT management when you can focus more on innovation that can in turn lead to revenue generation for the organization? And why spend people resources trying to design the best data center when having a converged infrastructure can offload this to a specific vendor or a partner?


FlexPod® has been a leader in the converged infrastructure space for over half a decade now. For those of you who don’t already know what FlexPod is, it is a converged infrastructure offering developed by Cisco and NetApp. It is a prevalidated, flexible, and unified platform built on:

  • NetApp® All Flash FAS or fabric-attached storage
  • The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)
  • Cisco Nexus switches

Engineering teams at both NetApp and Cisco work together to publish Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) and NetApp Verified Architectures (NVAs) that help to reduce the risk to our customers. If you want to read more about what a FlexPod platform is, check out this excellent blog by Melissa Palmer.


Anyone who has ever managed an IT infrastructure will surely join me in saying that managing and monitoring a whole stack is difficult. You need to manage all the different components in the physical infrastructure, such as compute and storage, and also manage the virtual infrastructures and applications that run on top of them. Several tools from NetApp, such as NetApp OnCommand® Unified Manager and OnCommand Performance Manager, and several open-source tools help you to monitor your network. However, consolidating all the information that you get from these different tools for different layers in your stack can be difficult and, in the majority of cases, doesn’t help you to find the root cause or even help you prevent an outage. Application performance takes a hit while you fight fires in your physical or virtual infrastructure.


This is where deploying vRealize Operations (vROPs) Manager on FlexPod saves the day! vROPs seamlessly integrates with your FlexPod platform and gives YOU the capability to monitor and manage all the different components in your stack. vROPs has management packs that can help you to monitor your vSphere environment, your Cisco UCS domains, your NetApp storage, and so on. This capability means that you are completely covered in terms of managing and monitoring your FlexPod platform.


vROPs gives you a single management console to help you monitor the health of your environment. vROPs identifies the risks and gives you the capability to optimize your environment. All the management packs help you to get a complete overview of your environment and also provide custom dashboards for monitoring.


Let’s dive a little deeper now into how these different management packs help you and what exactly they monitor.


Blue Medora Management Pack for NetApp Storage

  • Environment Overview
    • Administrators get a holistic view of their NetApp storage, which includes:
      • Storage clusters and nodes
      • NetApp aggregates, volumes, and LUNs
      • NetApp storage virtual machines
  • Custom Dashboards
    • NetApp overview, storage topology
    • NetApp datastores and NetApp System Explorer
    • NetApp performance, NetApp QoS, and VM performance
    • VM troubleshooting
    • Key performance indicators (latency, throughput, and IOPS metrics)


Blue Medora Management Pack for NetApp Storage


Cisco UCS Management Pack

  • Environment Overview
    • Administrators get a complete overview of their UCS domains, which include:
      • Chassis, blades, ESXi hosts, VMs
      • Ability to manage their fabric interconnects
  • Custom Dashboards
    • Unified Computing System Manager (UCSM) overview and health tree
    • UCS fabric interconnect traffic statistics
    • UCS power and temperature summary
    • UCS server motherboard statistics

Cisco UCS Management Pack


VMware vSphere Management Pack

  • Environment Overview
    • Single-pane view into your entire vSphere environment:
      • vSphere data centers and clusters
      • vSphere hosts and datastores
      • VMs running on each host
  • Custom Dashboards
    • vSphere host overview
    • VM memory and VM CPU
    • VM disk and network, datastores, and clusters


VMware vSphere Management Pack


I have been in situations in which one of the virtual machines in my environment did not perform at the level I needed, and deploying vROPs made the entire troubleshooting process easy and convenient. vROPs recognized that the VM had a health issue, turning it red on the dashboard. By looking at the specific error messages, I figured out whether the VM was storage-bound or CPU-bound. And using the different environment overviews in vROPs, I found the NetApp FlexVol volume that the virtual machine was running on. After finding the bottleneck, I used vMotion to move the virtual machine to a different FlexVol volume that had enough storage available and, almost instantly, the VM performed as expected. Having just one single interface do root cause analysis really helps to resolve issues faster.


In addition to all the management packs described above, other packs can help you monitor applications such as VMware Horizon, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle Enterprise.


To find the CVDs and NVAs that detail how to deploy these applications on a FlexPod platform, check out these links:

We also recently published an NVA in which we give you the exact steps needed to deploy vROPs on your FlexPod platform.


To end this post, I would like to leave you with just four words: vRealize your FlexPod platform!


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