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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

IBM and Brocade: Great examples of System Center integration

IBM and Brocade: Great examples of System Center integration

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This has been sat in my inbox, looking at me, for ages now, and I’ve been keen to get it on here, so people can start to see the ecosystem that’s really starting to build up around Microsoft Virtualisation and System Center.

As you know, IBM make, among other things, pretty darn good hardware.  Now, I know they make management solutions, and technologies that you would say would compete with a number of Microsoft technologies, but, that aside, IBM are still a big Partner, and recognise that customers are going to run a mix of Microsoft, and IBM technologies in some of their estates, hence, developing capabilities that helps the two work together more effectively, can only be a good thing.

So, what have they done exactly?

Well, first up, we have the IBM Hardware Management Pack for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, version 2.2, which integrates IBM hardware alerting and monitoring, from System-X to the BladeCenter Chassis, to the Blades themselves, into SCOM, and presents the alerts side by side with your other alerts from other technologies you’re monitoring.  What does it look like?  Well, thanks to Alexander over at the German Virtualisation Blog, who provided me with these screenshots:


(Click image to enlarge) – This shot, above, shows the IBM Hardware Pack that’s been imported, and shows we can drill down to see the health of the rack-mounts, the BladeCenters, Blades and so on.

We can also drill down a bit further, into Hardware Components:


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We can also start to display this information diagrammatically…


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Very pretty, right? ;-)

Is that all?  No chance!  All I’ve shown you so far, is the Hardware Management Pack, but does it go any further?  It absolutely does!

We’ve looked at a regular Management Pack, with a focus on IBM Hardware, but the next step up from a regular Management Pack, is a PRO enabled Management Pack.  PRO stands for Performance and Resource Optimisation, and is like a regular Management Pack, but brings about specific Virtual Machine related changes or actions, based on the alerts that are being surfaced via the pack.  Note, you’ll still need the IBM Director Agents on the H/W for any of this to work.

The IBM Hardware PRO Pack for Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Version 1.1, isn’t technically for SCVMM, as SCVMM doesn’t have a Management Pack concept as such, so you still import it into SCOM, but it’s to integrate into VMM indirectly.  Not only does it monitor the hardware hosting the virtual environment, but it also, more importantly, provides advisory PRO tips in the event of existing or predictive hardware problems that warrant VMM administrative operations.  What does this look like?

Well, first we see the issue…


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then we see the PRO Tip pop up in SCVMM…


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Where we can implement or dismiss the recommendation, that would be exposed by dropping down the ‘Cause and Resolution’ button on the left.  Example actions may be to Live Migrate the VM’s off this host and put the box in Maintenance Mode.

That’s IBM, but what about Brocade?  Well, Brocade have also seen the opportunity to provide extra capabilities to their customers, by integrating their solutions with System Center.  Similar kind of concept to that described above, but this time, going a little bit deeper, and a little bit more specific, into the HBA’s themselves…


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There’s the list of HBA’s (seems to have picked up Emulex HBA’s too!) and all is healthy there, but a nicer view is the diagrammatical view:


(Click image to enlarge)

But then the issues start…


Yet the PRO Tip has useful and relevant suggestions – not sure what ‘Implement’ would do in this instance – not sure it would ‘replace the cable between HBA and switch’ ;-)  The solution brief may offer some guidance on this one! In terms of what else it will do:

  • Enables the management of physical and virtual assets from Microsoft System Center
  • Supports the Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) feature in Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008
  • Provides Brocade HBA monitoring capabilities to System Center Operations Manager
  • Bridges the "virtualization management gap," helping server administrators make optimal placement decisions for workloads running on virtual machines

There’s also a demo document available if you’re interested.

Are these the only PRO-aware vendors?

Absolutely not, in fact, there’s a list here if you’re interested in PRO for your environment.  Vendors like NetApp, HP, VKernel, F5, Tripwire and Dell (to name but a few) are supporting the PRO push, and hopefully, it’s only set to get stronger as awareness grows, understanding grows, and the process gets easier.

If you’re interested in building your own PRO-enabled Management Packs, you can get all the info for that, here.

  • Can the IBM management packs be used in System Center Essentials 2010?

  • Nice post for all those IBM'ers out there Matt.. Nice Pro tip also

  • @Thom - thanks for the comment.  I'm 99% sure that both the Hardware, and PRO Hardware Packs integrate into SCE 2010 fine, with no special work required, but I'm just getting this confirmed internally then I'll let people know!

    @Lord Melch - thank you sir, very kind, although 'Nice PRO tip there' sounds like the start of a dodgy chat up line ;-)  It just needs 'luv' on the end :-)  The mind boggles with possibilities!

  • A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh?. :-)

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