Last week I had the pleasure of talking to a large group of I&O pros about monitoring their growing virtual environments. It was a lively webinar conversation sponsored by Splunk and you can check it out here. We talked about how traditional monitoring approaches can fail in large-scale virtual environments because of the number of metrics to monitor, uncertainty about what metrics matter the most, and lack of expertise in setting reasonable thresholds for alerts and alarms. I discussed how this can lead to a “virtualization big data” problem and gave pointers on leveraging analytics to help tackle it.

My approach was inspired by a recent report published by my colleagues Glenn O’Donnell and JP Garbani, “Turn Big Data Inward With IT Analytics.” Their insightful overview of the IT analytics market shows how you should be putting the intelligence of analytics to work for you. If you’re struggling to monitor and manage your IT infrastructure complexity today, how will you handle tomorrow’s additional complexity? This report clearly makes the case for IT analytics as the way forward.

We ran a poll in the webinar and asked attendees (over 400) to rank their primary challenge when it comes to managing virtualized environments. The top answer (see below) says it all: virtualization admins need to know as soon as possible when a problem occurs. They feel confident about resource allocation and security monitoring, but need proactive visibility into the performance of their virtual workloads. I’m interested to hear from you: what’s your top monitoring or management challenge in your virtual environment? How do you spot problems before they get out of hand?