I spent the day at NetApp in RTP today learning about various products including SANscreen among others. Very basically, SANscreen is a SAN Management tool designed to help SAN administrators more easily manage a multi-vendor SAN environment. SANscreen can be purchased with up to 5 options:

1. Service Insight
2. Capacity Manager
3. Service Assurance
4. Application Insight
5. VM Insight

I heard, several times, that JP Morgan and AOL love it! In fact, “they pay an intern to sit at a desk and monitor the SANscreen interface” for weeks on end. Thus, it’s pretty expensive.

However, the VM Insight option, which provides a plug-in to Virtual Center, is pretty intriguing and would be very useful. I wonder if NetApp would consider selling it alone as “SANscreen – Virtual Center Edition” if enough customers express interest in it….

The VM Insight plug-in can pull information out of Virtual Center and display it within SANscreen, or a VM Insight plug-in can be installed on the Virtual Center server adding a “SANscreen Reports” tab.

SANscreen isn’t necessarily adding additional information, but it is taking the information out of Virtual Center and combining it with the SANscreen Service Insight data to show you:

– Memory and CPU load
– I/O Utilization and Distribution
– VM to ESX Host to Storage Paths providing end-to-end VM Storage Utilization and Performance
– RAID Levels / Storage LUN / Show real usage / Zoning
– VM Storage Service Path and DataStore capacity (free space and utilization)
– If you are using Fibre Channel, SANscreen will determine if the ESX server properly zoned and masked. On the display, zones are represented by blue lines and masks are yellow lines. Thus when an ESX server is properly zoned and masked, the path shows up as green. A nice take on “yellow and blue makes green”
– SANscreen can recommend the preferred ESX host for a new VM. It will use the existing utilization for an ESX environment, along with a performance estimate for a new VM, and propose the ESX server onto which to install the new VM.
– SANscreen can help determine VM P2V candidates based on real-time, historical usage

Those are the highlights I can remember concerning the SANscreen VM Insight plug-in. Though we didn’t discuss VMware functionality, I imagine these tools could be used to determine which VMs may not run optimally when hosted on the same ESX server, allowing you to easily create DRS rules.