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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Viewpoints of Resource Management

You can measure and control a computer system in many ways. This section examines various approaches to solving resource management problems. The methodology used depends upon the starting point of the developers, for example a network-centric methodology can be extended for use in other areas, so can a storage-centric or server-centric viewpoint.

Diverse Methods

This diversity of approach occurs both because of the products that are available and because of the expectations of the end users who are purchasing solutions. In a large organization, several groups (such as system administrators, network managers, database administrators, and security managers) are responsible for different parts of operations management.

In some organizations, each group is free to use its own methods and obtain its own tools. This can cause demarcation problems because there is so much overlap in the scope of each method. Or a single methodology and tool could be imposed by the dominant group. The problem with such an aproach is that the methodology may be optimal for managing one aspect of the system only and could do a poor job in other areas.

In an ideal world, one all-encompassing mega-tool would implement an integrated methodology and solve all resource management problems. The closer you get to this ideal, the more expensive and complex the tool becomes. And you may not want all of its features. So it is harder to justify purchasing it.

A more pragmatic approach is to integrate simpler, more specialized tools that share information with each other, have a similar look and feel, and can be used as a standalone product as needed.

Today's diverse set of methodologies and tools have very little integration between them and several different user interfaces. The products produced at Sun Microsystems, Inc. are converging on a common user interface style and on common technologies for sharing information to provide better integrated resource management components. This book's primary role is to explain to data center operations managers how to use combinations of the current set of products and technologies. It also indicates the direction of the development and integration work that will produce the next generation of products.

The System-Centric Viewpoint

The system-centric viewpoint focuses on what can be done on a single server using a mixture of hardware and operating system features. The operating system provides basic management capabilities for many components such as attached network and storage devices. But it specializes in managing CPU and memory resources for a single desktop or server system. Dynamic Reconfiguration (DR), processor sets, Solaris Resource Manager_, and Sun Enterprise_ 10000 (also known as Starfire_) Dynamic System Domains (DSDs) are all system-centric resource management technologies. The Sun hardware system-centric resource management tool is the Sun Enterprise SyMON_ 2.0 software. It is based on the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), so it also has some network management capabilities. The Solaris Management Console_ software provides a more generic framework for gathering together operating system administration tools and interfacing to industry standard initiatives such as the web-based management initiative (WebM) and the Common Information Model (CIM). The Starfire system currently uses its own HostView interface running on a separate system service processor (SSP) to manage domains.

The system-centric viewpoint runs into problems when a lot of systems must be managed. Coordinating changes and allocating resources becomes complex quite rapidly. Tools like the Sun Enterprise SyMON 2.0 software can view many systems on one console, but cannot replicate and coordinate changes over multiple systems. One reason why the Sun Enterprise SyMON 2.0 software does not fully support management of the Starfire system is because each domain on the system runs a separate copy of the Solaris operating environment and sees a different subset of the hardware configuration. The next release of this software will be extended to view an SSP and all the domains in a Starfire system as a special kind of cluster so it can be used in place of the HostView interface.

The operating system and devices provide a large number of measurements of utilization, throughput, and component-level response times. There are several good ways to control CPU resources, but at present, there is no way to control the usage of real memory by a workload. The only way to constrain a workload that is using too much memory is to slow down or stop its CPU usage so that it stops referencing its memory, which will then be stolen by other, more active processes.

Manual resource management policies can be implemented using the Sun Enterprise SyMON Health Monitor, which generates alerts when a component of the system becomes overloaded. The system administrator can then tune or reconfigure the system to avoid the problem. Automatic resource management policies are implemented by Solaris Resource Manager, which dynamically adjusts the priorities of processes to ensure that their recent CPU usage tracks the share of the system that has been given as a goal for that user.

The Cluster-Centric Viewpoint

The cluster-centric viewpoint concentrates on coordinating resource management across the cluster. Systems are clustered together to provide higher availability and higher performance than that provided by a single system. A cluster is more complex to install and administer, so tools and methods attempt to automate cluster management to make it more like a single system. From a resource-management viewpoint, the primary issue is load balancing and the extra costs of accessing nonlocal information over the cluster interconnect. Sun has two kinds of clusters. The highly integrated SPARCcluster_ product range is focused on improved availability in commercial environments. Its management tools will eventually become an integrated extension to the SyMON software. For high performance computing, Sun HPC Servers use the platform computing load share facility (LSF) to perform load balancing on much larger and more loosely coupled clusters.

At a cluster level, multiple system level measurements are compared to measure load balance and look for spare resources. The cluster interconnect utilization and proportion of remote data access are important additional measures. The primary resource management control is the choice of where to run new work. It is not currently possible to migrate a running job from one node in a cluster to another, or to checkpoint a job to disk and restart it again later, either on the same node or on a different one.

When deciding on the resources that are available on a node, it is easy to decide if there is some spare CPU power, but very hard to decide if there is enough available real memory. The kernel maintains a free list of memory, but there is also some proportion of memory in use as a file system cache that could be reclaimed to run a new job if there was a way to measure it. This is a current issue for the LSF product.

The Network-Centric Viewpoint

From a network point of view, there are a large number of devices to manage. Many of them are network components with limited monitoring capabilities, such as bridges and routers. The primary resource that is managed is network capacity. At the intersection of servers and networks, there are products that perform protocol based bandwidth management on a per-server basis (such as Solaris_ Bandwidth Manager software) or act as secure firewalls. In the telecommunications industry, network management encompasses all the equipment required to run a global system where the end-points are mostly telephones or mobile cellphones, and the traffic is a mixture of speech and data. In this environment, SNMP is too simple, so the more scalable OSI-based CMIP management protocol is often used. The Solstice_ Enterprise Manager product is a Telco-oriented CMIP and SNMP management system that is used to manage cellular networks. In theory it could be used to manage computer systems and local area networks, but it was not developed to do this. Computer-oriented local and wide area networks are normally managed using SNMP protocols, with the Solstice SunNet Manager_ or HP OpenView products collecting and displaying the data. Both products provide some visibility into what is happening in the computer systems on the network, but they are much more focused on network topology. At this level, resource management is done on a per-network basis, often by controlling the priority of data flows through intelligent routers and switches. The Sun Enterprise SyMON 2.0 software can act as a network management platform as well as a system hardware management platform, which may help to integrate these two viewpoints.

Protocol information along with the information found in packet headers and network addresses form the basis for network measurements. There is no user or process identifier in a packet, so it is hard to directly map network activity to system level activity unless an identifiable server process is dedicated to each protocol. Some protocols measure round trip times for their acknowledgments. This can provide an estimate of network latency between two systems.

Network controls are based on delaying and prioritizing packets based on the protocol and destination data in the packet headers. This can occur at the servers that make up the end points or in the routers that connect them.

Storage-Centric Viewpoint

Storage has recently moved from being a simple attached computer system peripheral to a complex managed entity in its own right. Networked storage using fibre channel puts an interconnection layer in between multiple servers or clusters and multiple storage subsystems. This storage area network (SAN) can contain switches and routers just like local or wide area networks, but the protocol in common use is SCSI over fibre channel rather than IP over Ethernet. A SAN may also span multiple sites, for example, where remote mirroring is being used for disaster recovery. Storage is also now open for access in a heterogeneous multi-vendor environment, where multiple server and storage vendors can all be connected over the SAN. This is an emerging technology, and tools to manage a SAN are still being developed. Sun provides one approach with an industry-wide initiative called Jiro. It is based on a distributed pure Java_ technology platform that can run anywhere a JVM is available, scaling from embedded devices through open systems into mainframe and enterprise environments. Jiro enables management of any storage resource in a heterogeneous distributed environment, from storage hardware, like devices and switches, to storage software like backup solutions and volume managers. Jiro is being promoted as an open multi-vendor standard.

FIGURE 2-4 Storage Area Network

Storage management has two constraints that make it interesting: one is that it must be distributed over many server systems and storage devices to be useful. The other is that these servers and devices come from many vendors and run different operating software. So Jiro cannot include a core dependency on the Solaris operating environment or other Sun products. Jiro must solve some of the generic problems of clustered and networked resource management. In particular, it manages the state of distributed devices in a persistent manner. Jiro must be capable of stand-alone operation, with component management interfaces to other products.

Jiro enables resource management of capacity, performance, and availability of data storage. Backup and archival policies can be used to automate migration of data to a tape library. Measurements of capacity and performance characteristics can be combined with availability policies, so the operator will be alerted of any problems. Ultimately storage subsystems will be reconfigured automatically.

At present, Jiro does not include a general purpose rule script-based policy engine. It does provide the infrastructure necessary to create polices, allowing the view of storage to be elevated to the Storage Service level.

Integration between the system viewpoint and the storage viewpoint has some of the same problems as the integration of system and network viewpoints. The traffic on the SAN does not contain any indication of which user or process generated the request. Within the Solaris software, it is possible to trace storage accesses on a per-process, per device basis. But the overhead of collecting and analyzing this data is quite high. There may be a need for a Jiro Solaris Storage Bandwidth Manager to bridge the two management viewpoints in a way that accounts for, prioritizes, and controls SAN bandwidth on a per process or per user basis.

Database-Centric Viewpoint

A database management system has its own notion of users, manages its own memory and storage allocation, and can appear as a "black box" to the server system on which it runs. Some database vendors have implemented their own resource management capability on a per user or per transaction basis. This may take the form of priorities, shares, or limits on CPU usage per user or per transaction. The database also contains its own logic that implements policies and dynamically controls resources.

The database implementation can sometimes work well with server-based resource management. This is described in more detail in Chapter 4.

Integration is needed between the internal database resource management capabilities and the other resource management viewpoints.

Application-Centric Viewpoint

Large and complex applications such as SAP R/3, Baan, and Oracle Financials contain their own resource management concepts and controls. For example, Oracle Financials implements its own batch queue system to decouple the generation of large reports from the interactive response time of the users. A report is sent to a subsystem called the concurrent manager, which is configured to have a number of parallel streams of work of various types according to the local policy. Concurrent manager activity can be scheduled to occur outside normal working hours, or it can be used to soak up spare cycles during the day.

SAP R/3 measures the response time of important transactions and breaks these down into application server time and backend database server time. As many users connect to an application server and many database servers connect to a single backend database, there is no concept of which user is doing work on the backend system. The application itself must have the instrumentation to keep track of what is going on. The application directly implements the policies and controls.

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