Review: PHD Virtual Monitor


One of my blog sponsors PHD Virtual  asked me to do a short review of a new product called:

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So what is PHD Virtual Monitor. Well, let’s start with  a quote from the PHD Virtual website:

Complete End-to-End Virtual & Physical Infrastructure Monitoring

Today, IT administrators are faced with a challenge when it comes to monitoring their virtual servers. Legacy technologies, architected decades ago, are difficult to deploy and expensive to maintain. Inexpensive or free technologies, though easier to deploy and use, lack enterprise functionality and scalability. Virtualization specific products only monitor the hypervisor, limiting their overall effectiveness. Effective virtual infrastructure monitoring requires a complete view across your entire infrastructure so you can not only monitor the virtualization hypervisor and host but also the VM’s, applications, physical servers and network devices that are critical components to ensuring application availability. A better solution is now here.

PHD Virtual Monitor is a comprehensive virtualization monitoring solution that gives you complete visibility across your entire virtual IT infrastructure at all levels including virtual, physical and application. Only with a complete view can you effectively ensure application availability.

PHD Virtual Monitor Delivers Unique Value

Comprehensive Virtual Monitoring

  • Hypervisor, VM’s, Apps & Physical Infrastructure
    Robust Yet Easy To Deploy and Use
  • Pre-configured monitoring watches and auto-discovery
  • Simple customization; no coding or scripting
    Intelligent Agent Technology
  • Agent and Agent-less monitoring
  • Extremely lightweight, small footprint
    XenCenter and vCenter Integration
  • Monitor directly from Citrix XenCenter and VMware vCenter consoles
    Cost Effective
  • Enterprise-class monitoring and scalability at a fraction of the cost

From the user guide I copied the key features list:

  • Complete & Robust Agent Based Physical & Virtual Server & Network Monitoring: PHDVM is a complete, comprehensive and extensible real-time monitoring tool for physical & virtual Windows servers and workstations, Linux/Unix servers and network devices providing detailed server/workstation monitoring including Services, Processes, Performance Counters, Event Logs, Files, Registry, CPU, Disks, Memory, and other resources; and detailed network device monitoring with SNMP & Syslog. Easy to use ‘Watch’ templates for creating monitoring rules by simply specifying the key criteria to be monitored and the alert actions to be taken.
  • “Agentless” Virtual Environment Monitoring: Monitor VMware and Citrix virtual environments via the individual virtual hosts or through vCenter and the XenServer Pool Master, respectively. Install a PHDVM Virtual Monitoring Collector on a Windows physical or virtual machine and collect and monitor the virtual inventory, basic Host and VM performance metrics.
  • “Agentless” Server/Workstation Monitoring: Monitor thousands of servers and workstations from one or more distributed Agents via “agentless” monitoring for interactive User Logon/Logoff status. Run a simple and complete User Logon/Logoff status report. Frustrated with trying to determine User Logon/Logoff activity from the Event Logs? Try PHDVM’s direct “agentless” server/workstation approach.
  • Consolidated Dashboard Status Display and Reporting: From a single central monitoring server, PHDVM scales to monitor over 2,000 local and remote physical and virtual servers/devices offering network managers a consolidated, dynamic status view on a single dashboard display. Users can access PHDVM anytime, from anywhere, using an Internet Explorer Web browser to view real-time monitoring data and dynamic dashboard displays, generate reports and perform administration tasks.
  • Extensible Monitoring Programming Platform: With the CustomWatch monitoring option, PHDVM provides a user the ability to extend and enhance monitoring with Windows scripting, and scheduled execution of any Windows executable including in-house developed or third party programs. Script very detailed monitors for Exchange Server, Active Directory, SQL Server, IIS, and other Windows server based systems. Various sample scripts are included with PHDVM.
  • Automated Remediation and Recovery Actions: PHDVM provides alert action options to have a designated Program run under a specified security context based on Username/Password credentials, with an optional Working Start Directory for the Program, and an option to Show Window for the Program’s Window GUI. The Program can be any Windows Batch, Script such as VBS & WMI, COM, and EXE.
  • Comprehensive LOG Monitoring and Management: PHDVM’s real-time EventLog and Syslog alert Monitoring and long term Archiving enable organizations to react quickly to issues and meet requirements for Sarbanes-Oxley issues, HIPAA and other IT compliance requirements for managing Event Logs and Syslogs.
  • Multi-Tenant Platform: PHDVM supports managing multiple-tenants. With optional security settings, view all tenants, or view a partitioned set of one or more tenants.
    — For MSPs, support multiple clients in a single, scalable central PHDVM Server, with optional separate security settings based on client login and limited to viewing only the clients’ servers, workstations, and devices and associated Watches on the various console displays.
    — For Medium-Enterprise Businesses, support multiple administrators and analysts, with optional security settings based on their Windows login and limited to viewing only their responsible servers, workstations, devices and associated Watches on the various console displays.

So what does PHD Virtual Monitor can monitor for you:

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Okay enough of the marketing bla bla Knipogende emoticon Let’s start with the installation.

After you downloaded the zip file and extract it, you will find the following files:

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Let’s start the setup wizard. In my lab I used the default settings and I used the default SQL Express database.

Setup:

Setup wizard:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_17_47_reg001Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_20_10_reg001

Database (SQL Express):

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_23_30_reg001Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_24_05_reg001

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_25_40_reg001

When the setup wizard is finished it’s time to start PHD Virtual Monitor for the first time.

PHD Virtual Monitor first startup:

When you start PHD Virtual Monitor for the first time you will see the following screen:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_28_06_reg001

You also need to enable the MonitorITLive ActiveX Controle Module in IE:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_28_06_reg002

Unfortunately Google Chrome isn’t supported at this time. You will see a message like in the screenshot below:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_43_55_reg001

Now everything is ready to get started.

Getting Started:

After you installed the ActiveX components the following screen will popup:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_28_56_reg001

So let’s start to configure PHD Virtual Monitor.

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_29_45_reg001

In my case I was only able to test vCenter in my home lab. So I don’t know how to setup a connection to XenServer etc. The vCenter connection information contains the vCenter server, a user account with read-only permission or just like me (only in my lab) just add the Administrator account:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_30_53_reg001

My two HP ML 110 boxes with vSphere 5 are discovered:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_39_16_reg001

Add the hosts  you want to monitor, to the Licensed hosts section and we’re ready to continue:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_40_15_reg001

So now we have added our virtual environment the next step is to add our physical servers or if you want to monitor the OS of your vCenter server, SQL Server and the Domain Controllers. So let’s get back to the Configuration Wizard:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 15_28_56_reg001

Start a scan for Server. Here you can choose to discover the new objects. You can choose to discover Virtual Machines, Systems in a Domain or Workgroup or by IP Address or Subnet:

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In the next screen you can select the servers you want to monitor and enter the right credentials to push the agent to the other Windows servers:

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When you finished the installation of the agents and configuring the virtual environment you are ready to monitor the objects you added to PHD Virtual Monitor.

Monitor Interface:

In the Monitor Dashboard you’ll see an overview of the objects within your PHD Monitor environment. You can use the different tabs to navigate through the system specific items like CPU and Memory. It’s also possible to create Performance Graphs. I think screenshots say more than words so let’s continue with some screenshots from the Monitor tab.

Let’s start with the Systems overview:

Screenshot - 21-4-2012 , 17_43_22_reg001

Storage usage (Servers):

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Storage usage (Virtual Storage):

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VMware Datastore Metrics:

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Service/Device Alerts:

When you click on the graph icon, you’ll find the Service / Device alerts,

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In this case my PHD Virtual Monitor VM is eating 100% CPU. No worry’s I set a CPU limit to test the alarms.

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Conclusion:

PHD Virtual Monitor offers you a great insight in your virtual and physical environment and not just VMware but also XenServer and XenDesktop. I don’t have a XenServer or XenDesktop environment so I couldn’t test this configuration.

pro’s:

  • Can monitor both the virtual and the physical environment,
  • Easy to setup.
  • Web-based

con’s:

  • Look and feel is not well how do you say that “from this time”.
  • Internet Explorer only (so far as I know)

Unfortunately I hadn’t more time test the product any longer but maybe I will post a short video later this week, if I can find the time.

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