HP, VMware Partner to Provide Holistic Approach to Support for Virtualized IT Environments
HP, VMware Partner to Provide Holistic Approach to Supportfor Virtualized IT EnvironmentsTranscript of a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with an HP video series on the bestpractices for developing a common roadmap for DCT.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: HP. Redeﬁne the potential of your technology investment. Watch the Expert Chat presentation on VMware support best practices.Dana Gardner: Welcome to a special BrieﬁngsDirect presentation, a sponsored podcast createdfrom a recent HP Expert Chat discussion on best practices for VMware environment support. Advanced and pervasive virtualization and cloud computing trends are driving the need for a better holistic approach to IT support remediation. That’s why HP has made the service and support of global virtualization market leader VMware a top priority. And while the technology to support and ﬁx these virtualized environments is essential, it’s the people, skills, and knowledge to manage these systems thatprovide the most decisive determinants of ongoing performance success. [Disclosure: HP andVMware are both sponsors of BrieﬁngsDirect podcasts.]This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. To learn more, I recentlymoderated a discussion with Cindy Manderson, Technical Solutions Consultant for ComplexProblem Resolution and Quality for VMware Products at HP. Cindy has 27-plus years ofexperience with HP and 8-plus years supporting VMware speciﬁcally.In our discussion, you’ll hear the latest recommendations for how IT support should be done. Aspart of our chat, we’ll also be joined by two other HP experts: Pat Lampert, Critical ServiceSenior Technical Account Manager and Team Leader, as well as Sumithra Reddy, HPVirtualization Engineer. Our discussion begins with an overview from me of the virtualizationmarket and user adoption trends.Were going to be talking about how to make things better and appreciate the fact thatvirtualization isn’t just server-by-server, but really impacts the entire data center. You need tothink about it more holistically, particularly in regards with things like security, performance andhow your brands and businesses are perceived across the globe. Many of the companies that Ideal with day in and day out are up at 80 percent and 90 percent virtualization.
When they think about virtualization, they’ve gone beyond just server virtualization. It’s reallynow looking at storage, application, networks and even the end-user device experience, desktop as a service, the virtualization infrastructure for desktops. These are all reasons why it’s no longer just about servers, but has to be something that includes how youre looking at IT in general. It’s a cultural issue. It’s about managing complexity when you get to that 20 percent or 30 percent and not letting the value and beneﬁts for virtualization be eroded by a management requesting an issue or complexity around management.So we want to help you understand that you can take advantage of the best things aboutvirtualization and put in place the means by which your team have access to other teams aroundthe world, 24×7, with HP and VMware to help you keep those systems up and running and allowyou to progress, to learn as you go, and be able to take advantage of more virtualization beneﬁtsover time.Another thing to consider is that the way your organizations is perceived, not only your ITorganization, but your total company, is so dependent now on how your systems perform. It’sreally impossible to separate a business from its IT, and in many cases, your applications are thebusiness. How you present performance is in fact how you present your sense of competency,capability, and your overall brand as a sense of whether you want to do business with thisorganization.We encourage people, as they pursue more virtualization, to recognize that their webapplications, their mobile applications or e-commerce activities all are running on a combinationof virtual and a physical infrastructure, but these need to be tuned and performance needs to beconsidered and the fall back positions when things go wrong. They also need to be put in placeahead of time and a learning curve needs to be created.Expert panelSo how do you go about these suites of beneﬁts, how do you keep the positive side ofvirtualization on track, how do you put in place an insurance policy really without service andsupport? That’s what our experts here today are going to help us understand.At this point, I’d like to introduce one of our chief experts. Cindy Manderson is a consultant forcomplex problem resolution at HP with 27 years of experience. She’s been now supportingVMware products and the ecosystem of VMware for eight years. So that’s really about thebeginning, when VMware came on the scene in a big way.I’d like to hear more from Cindy herself about what shes doing in, day in and day out. Shes thengoing to provide for us through a discussion with me more insights into how support works invirtualization, how HP and VMware are working together, and what their products, the synergybetween their products, really amount to. So with that, I’d like to hand this over to Cindy. Tell usabout how you are doing, and welcome.
Cindy Manderson: Thanks, Dana. Ive been in the multi-vendor space for many, many years, from applications operating systems and all of this has been with HP. We have thousands of trained and certiﬁed Microsoft engineers and Linux professionals. In 2002, when VMware came on the scene, HP actually became alliance partners with them. In 2003, we became a reseller, and thus began our support partnership with them. It would only extend recent in 2005, we also became an OEM. But we have the largest number of VMware-certiﬁed professionals. Werealso the largest global VMware off-site training center. So HP also does education. We alsoeducate in the other technologies as well. We’ve trained over 20,000 students in the VMwarespace.And we have had this very strong collaboration with VMware for many years and have supportteams around the globe. In addition, we also offer the same level of training that VMwaresupport engineers do. We actually go to their facilities and train right alongside them to supportVM cases too.We also do this training virtually. The training is then recorded and made available on demandfor reference, for folks who are not able to attend a scheduled course. Theres deﬁnitely a verystrong partnership, and as you see from our history with the other vendors as well as VMware,we are no strangers to multi-vendor support.With all of the VMware products that HP sells, we do provide support. It runs the gamut from thevSphere operating system that will install on the x86 server through the enterprise managementto the center where we work with a proxy virtual desktop infrastructure product, VMwareThinApp. We also support the converter product getting into vCloud Director.In addition to that, we have the ability to access our peers on the other teams across the HPhardware that we support. This includes servers and storage, our networking chain, and wequickly are able to collaborate with them and pull together a virtual team in order to focus on thecustomers whole environment to provide a one-stop shop for our customers.Expertise across technologiesAdditionally, you saw that we’ve been in this multi-vendor support business for so many years.We’ve got many experts across the other technologies in Microsoft and Linux. Of course, thevirtual machines (VMs) are running these operating systems. So if the contract is also with them,we can easily pull them in to help us work a solution end-to-end.Gardner: Let’s think about what happens in this whole process, when there are different levelsof support or what the process at a high level is like when there is a problem, when the
performance issue, security issue. Where does this lead to in terms of how you handle thingstypically?Manderson: Were in a reactive support business in this model. The customer has a problem,they can either call in at their local region telephone number whether they are in America,Europe, or Asia Paciﬁc. There are different phone numbers for them to call.They can also log in via the web and theyll get to our next developer Level 1 engineer. Theyre agreat organization and have solved over 85 percent of their cases.If they have issues where they have to escalate, ﬁrst they will be collaborating with us. We alsohave an online chat tool, where we are all in a virtual room, the Level 1 engineers, Level 2engineers So we’ll be consulting and collaborating with them before they even get to a point ofescalation.If the case does end up needing escalation, chances are this person that theyre alreadycollaborating with will end up taking that case. That saves a lot of information transfer, as far aswhat type of server you have, what’s the ﬁrmware, what build level, and what’s the problemthere.Once it reaches Level 2 support, as far as we can continue to collaborate, we can reach ourteammates and the hardware teams, so we can look at the server and make sure that theenvironment is what we need it to be. If we cant resolve it, we can also go to Level 3 withVMware at an ofﬂine service partner level.We’ve got a great relationship with the folks that we work alongside and would escalate calls to.We’re obviously not going into Level 1 at VMware because we’ve already done all that workand we are a service partner. Theyll go right up to our peers over at VMware and then we worktogether while always owning the solution that we provide back to the customer.Gardner: And let’s look at this also from the perspective of globalization. So manyorganizations now just don’t stop in the afternoon and go home. The ongoing problems can’t justbe left till the next day. How does it work on a continuity basis, time zone to time zone, region toregion?Manderson: Another part of our infrastructure as a support organization is that we have a singlecustomer database. I can give an example here. A call came into our Level 1 French engineer.When this call came in, for the European folks, it was already the end of their day, and theFrench engineer could not speak English. It was a critical down, their VMs were ofﬂine.HP Virtual RoomSo we worked in a virtual world and they talked to us, and brought the case to us here inAmerica’s time zone. We worked with this case and another tool called HP Virtual Room, wherewe could actually all look at the customers desktop in real time. They happened to have EVA
storage, and we quickly got an EVA engineer engaged. Of course, we had to ﬁnd a resource inthe Americas because the European folks had already left. So were all looking in real time at thecustomer’s environment and found out that they had locked the storage.The EVA engineer helped to get back online, while we all watched and the French engineer wastranslating French for the customer in order to get them resolved. We got it back online, and thecustomers were ready to home.We gave instructions on getting log ﬁles and we placed a call for follow-up for the daytime hoursin Europe the next day. So our counterparts in European support teams picked that up andworked with the customers to resolution, to analyze exactly what happened and prevent it in thefuture.Gardner: You’ve got a lot of examples at your disposal, I can tell. Youve been through a lotwith different customers. What sticks out in your mind as a particularly complex engagementthat ended up turning out pretty well that might illustrate a bit more about what this takes andwhat’s involved?Manderson: A lot of examples Ive given have all been involved with the Level 2 supportorganizations, the HP server storage hardware, and also engaging VMware. There was anothercase.We have another process in HP that can actually go with top organizations outside of the center,our escalation manager process. I was lead source for a particular case where we had a ﬁeld teamassisting a customer deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) design. They had a third-party VDI vendor. They had HP hardware, servers, and virtual connects. They had our storageand we didn’t quite know where the bottleneck was. They were having performance issues tryingto have this VDI at two different locations with the hardware at one site.The escalation manager was able to get the local ofﬁce to borrow equipment to put it on, andthen try to get performance and network traces. They had the Engineering Problem ManagementResource (EPMR) lab in Houston trying to duplicate the problems.Our escalation manager was able to drive the issue to completion across not only the solutionstandards, but the local ofﬁce, to owning the actual escalation with all the action items to keepthis all on track. We knew where we were going to go. That was about a six-month case, but wedid ﬁnally ﬁnd that the customer was on the technological edge and the pipe to have thatperformance just did not exist.Many of the examples that Ive given so far are pretty much based on individual incidents. Youcall in and you get connected to the next available resource.We have another level, mission-critical support, and we have several offerings in this phase.Essentially, it’s more personalized. We know who you are. We already know your environment.You’re going to ﬁnd a technical account manager.
Site visitsFor example, Pat is a technical account manager and does site visits. The technical accountmanagers do go out on site. So we’re aware of the environment. We have the information of yourenvironment documented into the database. When you call, we’re not saying, "Now what kind ofserver is this? What’s the ﬁrmware?" We know this because we already have it documented. Wecould be calling them to say, "Server 3 is running a little off." We already which know VMwareversion this is on, because we have that information.And because we have that, we can also offer proactive advice. We can know that theres a newﬁrmware update or VMware just came out with a new build and we have a place where you cango ﬁnd the latest thats speciﬁc to your environment. So this helps to reduce further incidents,because we can be more proactive to help you maintain your business.Gardner: Okay, I suppose another important part of not just mission-critical and some things wealluded to earlier is the fact that none of these organizations are the same. They have differencelegacy, different installation, different rates of versions and physical virtualization. How do youmanage that sort of complex combination of mission-critical and in this case, the need forcustomization too? Redeﬁne the potential of your technology investment. Watch the Expert Chat presentation on VMware support best practices.Manderson: Actually, we have a team, our customer service. Anything thats been not already inour pre-packaged service offerings, we can add. For example, a customer may need their own800 number for when they log cases. And they may need just an email sent out.Pat Lampert is one of our our custom technical account managers. He does have additionalrequirements and possibilities for some of the customers that he is assigned. This way, we canpersonalize the businesses even more and focus on choosing that business modelGardner: For folks who get into some of the details on these services, how did they package theway in which these are organized? Tell me about the mission critical and then the wholeportfolio.Manderson: We have several different packages. Our highest level is the mission-critical actualpartners. In this particular process, youre assigned a team of folks that are across the technologythat you have in your environment, but you also get a set of folks who would actually look at notjust the reactive support and even some of the proactive, but how actually your entire business isrunning according to the ITIL standard.
That is coupled with keeping you running, and we also can work with you on a type that wouldbe best suited for your environment, in addition to keep your environment up and running.Our critical and independent support also includes onsite resources from HP that also include alot of proactive. In addition, theyre more focused on speciﬁc management, but that would bemore of an ITSM technology. We can look at that for you.One of our most creative services would be Proactive Select, a core product series of credits. Youcan use these credits for maybe planning on migration and upgrade. You can say you need someconsulting time. You can use these credits and work with upgrade and migration. You may needsome performance or you may need some type of environmental assessment, and these creditscan be used for that.Gardner: When people do employ these services, do they really look at what they get, what thepayoff is, and how important in terms of a value are these service?IDC studyManderson: In 2010, IDC did a study. They went out and looked at the methodology, and thisis out on our website. They saw that the customers who have the mission-critical services, reducetheir downtime by over 70 percent and increase their return on investment (ROI) quite high, over400 percent. The main beneﬁt was in problem management as well as help desk calls, becausethese were alleviated due to the proactive nature, a lot of looking at the entire environment, andlooking at the business processes.So take a look at the study. It talked about IDC, and they will show you their methodology fordoing that. So looking at things proactively and processes can certainly help you reduce thatdowntime.Gardner: This support extends across a variety of different areas. We looked at the missioncritical, we looked at those complex issues, the need for customization, and we can just give aquick overview of some of the additional support services of it.Manderson: Well, we have the hardware and software support. One of the cool things we havewith our hardware support is our support automation, our Insight, our remote support for that.That can notify HP that youre having a disk drive failure. We will call you and say that we knowthat disk drive is failing or something on a buffer server and storage is.You can even take that a step further to look at the Windows operating system. Were hardwareagnostic on that operating system. We dont care about the vendor and I believe we are looking atexpanding that automation to other operating systems. We have installation and startup servicesthat we can actually go out and set up and conﬁgure the hardware and software at a site.
So we deﬁnitely integrate across all the multi-vendor services. We run the gamut between all thex86 operating systems, as well as our proprietary operating systems, our servers and storage.Again, were no stranger to multi-vendor support and keeping the environment up and running.Gardner: Weve talked about the need for ecosystem-level view on virtualization. We looked athow HP and VMware have been working together very closely for a number of years, talkedabout some of the services available, why the experts’ personal experience and knowledge isessential, and the ability then for them to react towards something that’s unique that they haven’tseen before, bring in the expertise when they need it, act as a adjunct to the teams at the sites ofthese organizations.And we have heard a little bit about some of the payback, 400 percent ROI, according to IDC ina number of instances. Now lets take this back to the experts themselves. Weve heard fromCindy, but there are others involved. Hi, Sumithra.Sumithra Reddy: Dana, Ill address two questions that are frequently showing up. One is, whatis the difference between the VMware ESXi image and an HP ESXi image?Basically, HP takes the same ESXi image that VMware provides to the customers. It then addsHP thin components for hardware management, and it also adds any latest ﬁbre channel andnetwork drivers. Once its tested and certiﬁed, its available for download both from HP andVMware websites.Major differencesAnd one of the major difference between the two images is that VMware image is disk installable only, whereas HP image can be installed on a disk, USB key, or a SD card. The other question were getting nowadays is how to upgrade from VCA4 to VCA5. As with any major upgrades, planning helps. The ﬁrst thing I would do is understand the difference between ESX 4 and ESX 5, because starting with ESX 5, we have no service console. So we need to understand what the architectural differences are.Also learn about the new licensing policies. Then, use the System Analyzer that VMwareprovides to evaluate the current environments, and download, check, and complete the checklist.Once this is done, hopefully the upgrade will go smoothly.Gardner: Pat, tell us about some of the other questions and your answers please.Pat Lampert: Another question that has come up from customers has to do with the added valueof getting support directly from HP. It was partly addressed during the presentation we just gave.
First of all, VMware does have a ﬁne support organization. I have a couple of friends who work in VMware Support, and they do a good job of supporting their product. HP, in addition to a similar level of expertise in the product, also offers our expertise in HP hardware, especially if you have systems based on HP Blades. The infrastructure behind that often is tied very closely to the performance and availability of your ESX host. So when you call us, you will have not only someone who is very familiar with the VMware product, but also is familiar with the HP hardware and able to pull in the proper resourced results, problems you might encounter with running vSphere on HP hardware especially.In addition to that, we have a partnership agreement with VMware, and when you call in forsupport through HP, youre getting that same level of service when we have to go to VMware toget answers to questions or ﬁxes.One other question that has come up is about our lab ability to reproduce problems. We have twoglobal labs, one in India and one in the United States. We have several static vSphere clusterconﬁgurations with a number of different types of servers already in those conﬁgurations, and theability, when needed, to add speciﬁc models, if there is a problem that’s speciﬁc to a particularBlade or rack-mounted server model, or a particular card or something like that. So were quiteable to reproduce most problems that come in. We even have some Dell and IBM equipment inour lab also.Gardner: Back to you Sumithra. Do you have any thoughts on some of the questions that reallycaught your attention that you think are representative of what our audience is thinking andfeeling today?Reddy: One little question I can answer is how to troubleshoot server crashes. When somethinggoes wrong in ESX, we call it the "Purple Screen of Death." Often, these are results of hardwarefailure, but we still need to rule out the software. So we collect all the logs, and look at it to see ifits a software issue. If its not a software issue, then we engage the hardware team to see how wecan get to the root cause and ﬁx the issue.Lampert: To dovetail with Sumithra’s comment there, one of the questions I get frequently iswhat to do if you don’t have a dump. Say the host hangs, and that seems to be almost morecommon than the Purple Screen of Death. Some customers aret aware that through HP’sIntegrated Lights-Out Management, there is the ability to generate a non-maskable interrupt(NMI) just by pressing a button, and by saving a certain proc environment variable ahead of timein your ESX host.KB articleThere is a KB article on this, by the way, if you just search on NMI and core dumping inVMware. But with that setup, you can force a dump while a system is in a hung state, and that
will assist us usually in troubleshooting and isolating what caused the hang, whether it behardware or a problem with the ESX host software.Gardner: Pat, we have time for one more.Lampert: One question that came up ahead of time is what HP suggests as far as getting ahandle on our inventory of VMs? I happened to be involved in ﬁeld testing some new tools fromHP that will be available in January and February regarding vSphere.One of them is a Holistic Blade and Firmware Analysis that takes into account the VMwareenvironment on our Blade systems which we are working on having ready soon. We have justcompleted ﬁeld tests.And the second is a really nifty Inventory Report HP has just put together. Were just completingﬁeld tests on that now. It will be available soon. Basically, we install a small Perl script in thecustomer environment on any machine that has access to the vCenter host and has a vSphere CLIinstalled.This Perl Script crawls through the VMware environment and builds an XML ﬁle, which we thenfeed into a report generator here at HP. This can be used for us to gather information oncustomers, so we have ahead of time a clear picture of the environment. But also it will be soldas a service to customers.The report is really quite nice, with all sorts of charts and showing availability of machines andavailability of memory and also disk space. Its a very nice report. You should be able to get asample, if youre interested.Gardner: WWell, that about wraps up our hour. I really want to thank our audience for joiningus. I hope you found it valuable.This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Youve been listening to a specialBrieﬁngsDirect presentation. A sponsored podcast created from a recent HP expert chatdiscussion on best practices for VMware environment support.I would like to thank our guests. Cindy Manderson, Technical Solutions Consultant for ComplexProblem Resolution & Quality for VMware Products at HP, Pat Lampert, Critical Service SeniorTechnical Account Manager and Team Leader at HP, as well as Sumithra Reddy, HPVirtualization Engineer. And to our audience, thanks to you all for listening and come back nexttime.Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with an HP video series on the bestpractices for developing a common roadmap for DCT. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC,2005-2012. All rights reserved.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: HP. Redeﬁne the potential of your technology investment. Watch the Expert Chat presentation on VMware support best practices.You may also be interested in: • Continuous Improvement and Flexibility Are Keys to Successful Data Center Transformation, Say HP Experts • HPs Liz Roche on Why Enterprise Technology Strategy Must Move Beyond the Professional and Consumer Split • Well-Planned Data Center Transformation Effort Delivers IT Efﬁciency Paybacks, Green IT Boost for Valero Energy • Hastening Trends Around Cloud, Mobile Push Application Transformation as Priority, Says Research • Data Center Transformation Includes More Than New Systems, Theres Also Secure Data Removal, Recycling, Server Disposal