Best VM Monitoring Tools

A virtual environment offers a way to extend the utilization of onsite resources. It’s a common solution on most business networks thanks to the ease of using VMWare and Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtual machine (VM) software. However, when it comes to resource monitoring, the extra layer of traffic that is inevitable with VM setups can make resource mapping complicated. Once your business grows, keeping track of that VM solution can quickly get out of hand.

Virtual machine monitoring helps you stay on top of resource issues when allocating resources from one virtual machine to another. Network traffic issues are inevitable when making remote resources available instantly and locally. You need to track demand and adapt resources to keep network users happy. Capacity planning is a key part of VM management, and monitoring utilization helps you stay ahead of demand and keeps response times low.

Here is our list of the best VM monitoring tools:

  1. SolarWinds VM Monitor EDITOR’S CHOICE Free tool that monitors VMWare and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualizations on Windows Server. Prioritizes for CPU utilization and memory usage. Free Download.
  2. SolarWinds Virtualization Manager (FREE TRIAL) A paid tool that runs on Windows Server and monitors VMWare and Hyper-V, Amazon EC2 and Azure.
  3. AppOptics APM (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based application performance monitor with added infrastructure monitoring that makes a great virtualization monitor.
  4. Site24x7 Virtualization Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) Cloud-based service that enables you to monitor Hyper-V and VMWare virtualization performance plus AWS and Azure Cloud VM implementations.
  5. Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) This cloud platform is able to track the performance of JVM, containers, and other services as well as physical servers.
  6. ManageEngine OpManager (FREE TRIAL) A package of monitoring tools for networks and servers that includes tracking services for VMWare, Hyper-V, Nutanix, and Citrix hypervisors. Available for Windows Server and Linux.
  7. SentryOne SQL Sentry (FREE TRIAL) This SQL Server monitor also tracks the performance of your VMs if the database runs on top of the hypervisor. Available for Windows Server or as an Azure service.
  8. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL) A wider network, server, and application monitoring suite that includes specialized monitoring functions for Citrix Xen, Microsoft Hyper-V, VMWare, Parallels Virtuozzo Containers, and Amazon EC2.
  9. LogicMonitor Cloud-based network monitoring service that includes coverage for VMware vCenter, ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix XenServer.
  10. Veeam One Resource monitoring tool that monitors all of the hardware, software, and services that contribute to VMWare vSphere and Hyper-V virtualization.
  11. Quest Foglight Virtualization monitor for Citrix Xen, VMWare, and Hyper-V that runs on Windows, Linux, and Solaris.
  12. eG Enterprise Monitoring system for VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle VM Server, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, AIX LPARs, Solaris Container virtualizations.
  13. Aptare Virtualization Manager This tool monitors VMWare, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and OpenStack.
  14. Progress WhatsUp Gold Virtualization Monitoring Add-on Addition to the core WhatsUp Gold network monitoring system.
  15. ESXi Embedded Host Client Free ESXi client monitor provided by VMWare.
  16. Turbonomic This tool monitors onsite VMware, Hyper-V, and XenServer implementation and offsite Cloud resources.
  17. 5Nine Manager This tool focuses on monitoring Microsoft VMs built with Azure and Hyper-V.

The integration of cloud-based resources is a standard feature of business systems nowadays. Traditional virtualization methods formed the foundation of communication between onsite terminals and offsite applications and file servers. So, getting a VM monitoring tool that recognizes your servers, whether they be onsite or in the cloud is an essential requirement for any system tool.

The best VM monitoring tools and software

We have put together an analysis of the best VM monitoring solutions and produced a list of utilities that you should consider when shopping for software.

What should you look for in VM monitoring software? 

We reviewed the market for VM monitoring software and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • A system that can analyze physical server resource usage as well as the activities of the virtual environment
  • A live monitor with graphical data interpretations for instant performance comprehension
  • Analysis tools for performance assessments based on saved statistics
  • Performance thresholds that raise alerts when performance drops or resources run low
  • Support for remapping VMs to servers and adjusting resource allocations
  • A free trial period for a no-cost assessment or a free tool
  • A system that saves time and money in VM monitoring, repaying its purchase price

These VM monitoring tools are industry leaders and will save you time when tracking your virtual device environment. The following section gives you information on each of these VM monitoring tools.

1. SolarWinds VM Monitor (FREE DOWNLOAD)

Solarwinds VM Monitor

This free tool from SolarWinds is everyone’s starting point for quality VM monitoring. This is not a comprehensive system; its functionality is limited to monitoring only one server. However, that configuration describes many small business networks, so this tool might still fit your needs.

The VM Monitor prioritizes two key factors of server performance: CPU utilization and memory usage. You get a quick summary of these two statuses on demand. The screen uses color coded status levels, showing yellow for warnings and red for critical conditions, making performance metrics easy to understand. You get a count of each of these status levels for CPU and memory usage in the summary screen. Other performance factors that this handy tool will cover include network usage, the number of configured VMs, and the number of VMs running.

Apart from the on-demand updates, the VM Monitor runs continuously once you start it up. You can minimize it to the system tray to devote screen space to other monitoring dashboards. The review of resources can be filtered only to include active VMs.

The Warnings and Critical conditions counted in the summary screen refer to performance thresholds specified in the monitor’s rule base. The VM Monitor runs on Windows Server and monitors VMWare and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization software performance.

Pros:

  • 100% free tool, great for smaller businesses and home labs
  • Features a barebones straightforward layout
  • Uses color-coding to provide health metrics at a glance
  • Tracks and monitors CPU, memory, network usage, and number of VMs

Cons:

  • Users wanting to monitor more than one server will need to use their flagship product, SolarWinds Virtualization Manager

EDITOR'S CHOICE

The SolarWinds VM Monitor is an uncomplicated tool that gives you headline news about your virtual server environment, freeing up time for you to focus on other infrastructure.

Start 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/free-tools/vm-monitor

OS: Windows, Windows Server

2. SolarWinds Virtualization Manager (FREE TRIAL)

SolaWinds Virtualization Manager

If your VM system is a little more complicated than one server, you will probably need to step up to the SolarWinds Virtualization Manager. Not only does this tool cover more than one server, it offers much deeper monitoring of conditions in the virtual device environment. You are not limited to onsite VM servers with this package because it can also integrate Amazon EC2 and Azure virtual servers into the monitoring environment.

The dashboard of the Virtualization Manager software shows detailed performance metrics and includes data visualization elements, such as dials and live performance line graphs. The system will show both VMWare and Hyper-V environments, keeping separate lists of the metrics on each supporting OS type if you have a mix of both systems running on your network. Alerts are color coded: yellow indicates warnings and red highlights critical conditions. A list of potential alert situations stands ready in a separate panel of the dashboard. This utility watches out for service conditions that have reached a point of performance impairment and approach a Warning condition.

Key upgrades that this tool has over the VM Monitor include capacity planning assistance and “sprawl management.” A combination of these two tools gives you predictive recommendations. Thanks to this planning feature, you are better armed to head off overcapacity in one area of the environment and reallocate under-utilized resources in other areas of the system.

A simulation module lets you test the effects of adding more users or applications to the network. This models CPU usage, memory availability, storage capacity, and network demands for a given scenario. The sprawl feature shows you where VMs are idle and allows you to power them off and reallocate the resources assigned to them.

This is a handy feature that helps get the most out of your budget and stop you from mistaking dead processes for resource demand. At the other end of the spectrum, the sprawl monitor shows you which VMs are gobbling up all of your resources. This allows you to limit allocations to those nodes and also provides a starting point for investigations into inefficient software or system abuse.

The dashboard includes an Application Stack that simply shows layers of resources and the status conditions present on each. The stack is represented by lines of alert condition symbols for user groups, applications, databases, transactions, servers, and hosts. This enables you to quickly see where capacity issues impact application performance and quality of service.

The Perf Stack feature of the Virtualization Manager is a utility available in a number of SolarWinds infrastructure management tools. So, if you have already used a different SolarWinds product, you may be familiar with PerfStack. This is a graphical equivalent of the Application Stack. It shows live data in a line graph for each resource in the virtual environment. You select each of the graphs that interest you and drag and drop them onto a board. This enables you to create your own stack showing how peaks and troughs in demand for one resource, such as a database or the network, impact the performance of other resources, such as application response times or CPU usage.

The Virtualization Manager software contains a lot of information and the summary views come in handy to prevent you from being overwhelmed by data. You will soon become accustomed to the presentation format of the virtual machine monitoring dashboard and build your own working practices. These will see you switching between summaries and details and hopping over to planning tools to keep the virtual environment ticking over.

Pros:

  • Excellent dashboard that can scale to comfortably monitor multiple hosts and VMs in an enterprise environment
  • Supports monitoring individual VM resources
  • Can integrate with cloud products like Azure and Amazon EC2
  • Provides recommendations for improvements along with color-coded health metrics
  • Offers capacity planning and detailed reporting options

Cons:

  • Designed specifically for the enterprise, home users and small businesses will likely prefer SolarWinds VM Monitor

SolarWinds Virtualization Manager doesn’t come cheap — prices start at $2,995. However, you can try the system out for 30 days free of charge.

SolarWinds Virtualization Manager Download 30 day FREE TRIAL at SolarWinds.com

3. AppOptics APM (FREE TRIAL)

AppOptics distributed tracing APM

AppOptics APM is an application performance monitor. As such, it is capable of monitoring virtualizations, which are formed by applications. The APM service also includes infrastructure monitoring because, in many instances, application performance impairment is due to some underlying supporting service and not the application itself.

AppOptics APM specifically has capabilities to monitor the operations of Hyper-V, Azure, and Docker virtualizations. In each case, the service tracks the performance of the server that hosts the virtualization implementation, checking on CPU and memory availability and ensuring that there is sufficient disk space available for the operations of the VM.

The AppOptics system is based in the cloud and it requires that agent software is installed on the system that is to be monitored. The dashboard and all the processing power for the system is hosted in the cloud and included in the price of the software. Users access the AppOptics console through any standard web browser.

Pros:

  • Offers great visualizations reflecting live and historical health metrics and resource consumption
  • Is easily scalable, built as a cloud service
  • Tracks all major resources such as CPU, memory, and network usage
  • Can monitor Docker, Azure, and Hyper-V platforms, offering more flexibility than competing options

Cons:

  • Would like to see a longer trial period

AppOptics is charged for by subscription with a fee being levied per year in advance. There is no limit to the number of technicians that the customer company can give access to the AppOptics system and there is no monitoring or processing limit on the service. You can get a 14-day free trial of AppOptics to put the system through its paces.

AppOptics Start 14-day FREE Trial

4. Site24x7 Virtualization Monitoring (FREE TRIAL)

Site24x7 server dash

Site24x7 Virtualization Monitoring is offered online on a Software-as-a-Service model. There is no on-premises version. The tool is a product of Zoho Group, which also owns ManageEngine.

This monitoring system is offered in several specialist Editions, which cater to regular businesses, MSPs, and web-based enterprises. Its competence covers servers, networks, and applications – a combination that is ideal for the monitoring of virtualizations. The system is capable of monitoring Microsoft Hyper-V and VMWare virtualizations onsite and AWS and Microsoft Azure-based Cloud servers.

As well as covering virtualizations, Site24x7’s monitoring package covers supervision of containers run by Docker or Kubernetes. It is also able to monitor the Nutanix hyper-converged infrastructure system.

The console for the service is accessed through a browser and you can also install an app on mobile dives to get access. The fact that the system is based on remote servers liberates its abilities so that it can monitor networks anywhere in the world. Tools in the service include live status monitoring and analysis of performance based on historical data.

The system begins its service by discovering and logging all of your infrastructure. It will detect your virtualizations and map all contributing resources. Once that initial discovery phase is complete, the system continues to check on the topology of your network and virtualizations, automatically adjusting its records if you change any aspect of your implementation.

The visualization screens are very clearly set out. The simplicity of each monitor for VM is helpful because it gives you great visibility on what can sometimes seem to be an extremely complicated technology.

The system view is spread out over several screens and you can drill down to see the mappings of VMs to hosts, the performance of each server, and the activity on the network that delivers your virtualizations. Statuses are color-coded for instant problem identification and resource alerts give you a constant status update on each contributing element of your virtualization implementation.

You can customize alert levels and head off any potential threat to your VM environment before a resource shortage occurs. Reports in the package include SLA management reporting and resource utilization logs.

Analysis features help you remap VMs to hosts if any single server looks overloaded. You can use the reports in the pack to demonstrate resource requirements to stakeholders.

This is a great tool for team-driven VM monitoring. It is charged for on a subscription basis and you pay for the number of servers that you need to monitor, not the number of technicians that you want to have access to the monitor. Price plans for infrastructure monitoring are very scalable. You take out a Starter plan, which covers up to 10 servers and add-on capacity if you need to watch more servers.

Pros:

  • Highly scalable SaaS product
  • Platform makes it easy to transition into other areas of monitoring such as network, application, or real user monitoring
  • Simple and easy to use interface
  • Supports a free version, great for home labs and testing

Cons:

  • The Site24x7 is highly detailed and may take time to fully explore all options and features

Virtualization monitoring capabilities are offered as part of the Site24x7 Infrastructure package. This is a very comprehensive system that is suitable for large corporations. However, small enterprises can use it too. What’s more, Site24x7 is free to use if you only need to monitor up to five servers. So, Site24x7 is a good choice of all business sizes. You can get a 30-day free trial of the system. Your subscription will automatically switch over to the Free edition at the end of the trial period if you choose not to pay. That service can be upgraded to the wider paid service at any time.

Site24x7 Virtualization Monitoring Start 30-day FREE Trial

5. Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring (FREE TRIAL)

Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring

Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring is a cloud-based server and services monitor that scours log records for system performance information. This tool tracks the capacity and utilization of server resources plus Java Virtual Machine and container activities.

As it is based in the cloud, Sematext isn’t limited to monitoring servers on just one site. You can include any server anywhere in the monitoring program. That includes cloud services. In order to bring a server into the Sematext monitoring system, you need to install an agent program on it. Once the server is enrolled, all of the services operating on it are monitored. That includes JVM instances and containers.

The container monitoring part of Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring focuses on Docker and Kubernetes. It can track the activities of each container and log its resource usage. That performance can be related to the resource usage of the supporting server.

JVM monitoring watches over Java activities and monitors its resources. This includes garbage collection activities and memory usage. Memory metrics tracked in the Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring service include heap size and usage for each memory pool. You can also use the Sematext system to adjust memory allocations, so it isn’t just a monitoring service. The system counts JVM threads and records file interactions.

The Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring service provides overviews of server and service activities that consolidate performance data. So, you start off with a collective view of server or JVM performance and then drill down to individual instances. The system gives you live performance data and lets you filter and sort performance reports for analysis. You can also call in historical data for activity analysis.

Other features in the Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring platform include transaction tracing for APIs, which track over the internet to the hosts of the services that lie behind those API interfaces. It is also able to monitor databases.

Pros:

  • JVM memory usage and management activity monitoring
  • Aggregated views and individual instance focus
  • Correlation between JVM and physical server resource activities
  • Docker container activity monitoring
  • Docker resource adjustment mechanisms

Cons:

  • There is no Hyper-V or VMWare monitoring in this package

You can get Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring for free by accessing the Basic package, which is limited to monitoring three servers. There are two paid plans: Standard and Pro. Each paid plan is a metered service with a rate per host per hour. You can get a 14-day free trial of Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring.

Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring Start 14-day FREE Trial

6. ManageEngine OpManager (FREE TRIAL)

ManageEngine OpManager VMware Monitoring

ManageEngine OpManager monitors networks and servers, which is a great combination of services if you want to monitor virtualizations. The system is able to monitor virtualizations created with:

  • VMWare vSphere and ESXi
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Citrix XenServer
  • Nutanix HCI

The service includes monitoring systems to watch over the performance of operating systems, network interfaces, and server resources, such as CPU availability, memory, and disk space. So, it has all of the supporting infrastructure for hypervisors covered.

The OpManager system includes a system discovery service. This extends to the entire network, identifying all network devices and endpoints and logging them in an inventory. The service performs the same task for virtual infrastructure.

The VM tracking system in OpManager identifies all of your virtual servers and discovers all of the links through virtual switches to the dependent virtual machines. Both the physical and virtual network discovery services are constant, so if you make any changes to your infrastructure, OpManager will instantly spot them and adjust its system maps.

The ongoing VM monitoring of OpManager identifies the resource usage of each VM on a virtual server – particularly that vital metric of memory usage. You can see which VM is eating up the most available memory on a system and watch each VM’s performance with live usage statistics. This enables you to head off disaster by altering allocations or examining why a particular VM is using so much memory.

The tracking of physical server resources allocated to a hypervisor is also going on at the same time as the monitoring of virtual system activity. So, you can see whether one particular virtual server is consuming a lot of memory or CPU. The OpManager service tracks all activity on each server so you will be able to spot if a completely unrelated process could be about to endanger the successful performance of your virtualizations by consuming all available server resources.

The OpManager system will monitor every level of your virtualization – both within the hypervisor and beneath it and also watch all of the services that run on top of them. These tasks create a lot of live information, all displayed on different screens in the system dashboard, which would be impossible to watch manually.

Fortunately, OpManager includes a system of performance thresholds and each will trigger an alert if a resource runs short or an element’s performance drops. These alerts can be forwarded to technicians as emails or SMS messages. So, no one needs to sit and watch the screens because OpManager will take care of monitoring the regular performance of your physical and virtual infrastructure.

Pros:

  • Designed to work right away, features over 200 customizable widgets to build unique dashboards and reports
  • Leverages autodiscover to find, inventory, and map new devices
  • Uses intelligent alerting to reduce false positives and eliminate alert fatigue across larger networks
  • Supports email, SMS, and webhook for numerous alerting channels
  • Integrates well in the ManageEngine ecosystem with their other products

Cons:

  • Is a feature-rich tool that will require a time investment to properly learn

OpManager is delivered as on-premises software that is available for Windows Server and Linux. ManageEngine offers the system on a 30-day free trial.

ManageEngine OpManager Download 30-day FREE Trial

7. SentryOne SQL Sentry (FREE TRIAL)

SentryOne SQL Server Hyper-V Monitoring

SentryOne SQL Sentry is a monitoring tool that tracks the performance of SQL Server. If you run your SQL Server implementation over a hypervisor, you can use this one monitoring system to watch over both technologies. The SQL Sentry system is able to monitor Hyper-V and VMWare virtualizations plus Amazon and Azure virtual servers.

The VM monitoring part of the SQL Sentry service has its own screen in the system dashboard. The screen shows a series of graphs, each tracking a specific VM performance metric. These show live data and can be compared to produce activity correlation conclusions. The service particularly focuses on the performance of vCPU and virtual switches.

The monitor tracks a range of CPU usage statistics, plus memory and disk I/O activity per VM. It also records the wait time that each VM experiences for CPU access. The SQL Sentry service is able to follow the performance of SQL Server databases, underlying VMs, and the physical servers that support them.

All of the performance graphs for a VM are shown together in one screen. Hovering the cursor over a point on one of the graphs produces an overlay statistics panel that shows the statistics that generated that point on the chart.

The virtualization monitoring services in SQL Sentry also track the activities of virtual servers and the interactions between hosts and VMs. It looks at operating system activity as well to see whether the entire virtualization system is being supported without problems.

As well as showing live statuses, the SQL Sentry presents past data for analysis. This is available in two modes: Sample mode and History mode. The Sample mode lets you see information about VM performance at one point in time, while the History mode presents the same time series graphs seen in the live view but shifted back in time.

Pros:

  • Offers a single interface for monitoring SQL server databases, virtual machines, virtual servers, operating systems, and physical servers
  • Shows live performance statistics for each VM
  • Identifies the performance of mappings between VMs and hosts
  • Offers historical analysis features
  • Tracks memory, CPU, and disk I/PO performance

Cons:

  • Wouldn’t be of interest to businesses that don’t use SQL Server

The software package of SentryOne SQL Sentry installs on Windows Server. It is also available on the Azure platform. You can get a 14-day free trial of the on-premises version.

SentryOne SQL Sentry Start 14-day FREE Trial

8. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

Paessler Virtual Monitoring

Paessler produces a great network monitoring solution that covers both network device monitoring and traffic analysis. This service integrates functions to track VM performance. Although Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a full-service network monitor, it does come in a free version. Paessler sets its prices on the number of sensors that the system monitors. A “sensor” is a service aspect, such as network speed, or a monitoring point, such as a port. PRTG is aimed at large networks, but the free version would be suitable for small businesses.

The VM application monitoring capabilities of Paessler PRTG extend to the following platforms:

  • Citrix Xen
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • VMWare
  • Parallels Virtuozzo Containers
  • Amazon EC2

The capabilities of the monitor give you the ability to monitor your whole network with this tool, not just the virtual environment. The underlying network traffic analysis works on typical messaging systems that are part of the firmware of the major network equipment manufacturers. Physical network devices are monitored via the SNMP system. PRTG extends network monitoring across sites and into the cloud.

Server performance monitoring focuses on CPU load, disk usage, and network transmission speeds. Physical aspects of host machines that PRTG monitors include the server’s temperature, current power consumption, battery voltage, and fan speed.

Those server metrics lead to service highlighting that will warn you of overloaded servers. With this knowledge, you can redistribute VMs across servers to gain a fairer load and better performance. You can set your performance warning levels across server attributes. These custom alerts let you see which servers are overloaded. Warnings appear in the dashboard, but you can also have them sent by SMS, email, or through an API.

Both the dashboard and notifications can be filtered to create custom views with limited controls for different team members. You can send notifications to different recipients according to warning source or severity.

Pros:

  • Uses a combination of packet sniffing, WMI, and SNMP to report network performance data
  • Fully customizable dashboard is great for both lone administrators as well as NOC teams
  • Drag and drop editor makes it easy to build custom views and reports
  • Supports a wide range of alert mediums such as SMS, email, and third-party integrations into platforms like Slack
  • Each sensor is specifically designed to monitor each application, for example, there are prebuilt sensors whose specific purpose is to capture and monitor VoIP activity
  • Supports a freeware version

Cons:

  • Is a very comprehensive platform with many features and moving parts that require time to learn

The free PRTG is limited to 100 sensors. You can also get a 30-day free trial of the full system, which has no limit on the number of sensors that you can monitor.

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor Download 30-day FREE Trial

9. LogicMonitor

LogicMonitor

LogicMonitor is a network performance management system, but it integrates the monitoring of virtual server environments. So, you can use it as a system-wide monitor or just limit it to monitoring your virtual machine implementations. The LogicMonitor system offers VMware vCenter monitoring, ESXi hosts monitoring, and also covers individual VMs, including ESX and ESXi.

LogicMonitor performs Microsoft Hyper-V performance tracking at both the hypervisor and individual VM levels. This system can also interact with Citrix XenServer technology.

The software for this monitor is accessed in the cloud. It is platform-neutral and can monitor cloud-provided VM services as well as onsite systems. However, it’s not an utterly offsite implementation because you need to install collectors on your servers and network devices. These collectors route through your gateway up to the central LogicMonitor server. All communications over the internet are encrypted, as is stored data on the LogicMonitor server. Information is decrypted in real time when accessed through a valid user account, which requires access credentials.

The monitor starts with an autodiscovery process, which maps your entire network, including your XenServer, VMWare and Hyper-V implementations. The system extends to Amazon cloud servers and Microsoft Azure.

The underlying technology of VM systems engenders a wide range of monitoring topics. In fact, to keep a VM system running, you need to watch hardware, operating systems, network performance, application and service execution, and, above all, resource utilization. You’ve got virtual switches to contend with, and you need to make sure storage and application servers do not overload and are accessible at acceptable delivery speeds. The LogicMonitor dashboard covers all of these issues.

Hardware performance attributes that the VM monitor tracks include the overall health of your servers. They focus on memory usage, CPU load, disk latency, disk data rates, disk IO/ s, and VMkernel swap rates to keep the service level chugging along.

System alerts can be sent out by email, SMS, or Slack notifications. You can specify which team members receive alerts by classification and by source. If you outsource part of your virtual environment, the support team of the provider can be notified automatically. The dashboard can be tailored according to role as well, so you can safely share consoles with all team members, even junior staff. A data-only view can be created to let finance and c-Suite members view events in the VM system.

Pros:

  • Highly visual interface – great for NOCs and big screen monitoring
  • Supports multiple host environments such as ESX, ESXi, and vCenter
  • Pricing is flexible and available in three versions

Cons:

  • Would like to see a longer 30-day trial

LogicMonitor is not free, but you can get a 14-day free trial to give it a spin. The package is available in three editions: Starter, Pro, and Enterprise versions. This scalability means that LogicMonitor is suitable for all sizes of businesses.

10. Veeam One

Veeam One

Veeam One monitors network resources and examines the system utilization by VMWare vSphere and Hyper-V virtualization implementations. The monitoring power of the tool extends to cloud-based services. Veeam is particularly strong on system backup and recovery. The Veeam One service was designed to integrate with the company’s Backup and Replication Manager.

The Veeam One system uses real-time monitoring round the clock. Those monitors check on 200 preset sensors, and you can add your own customized monitoring conditions and alert rules. A capacity module gives you insights into ongoing resource utilization as well as trend analysis based on historical data. The data gathering components cover all of the physical infrastructure that supports the virtualization and checks for capacity limit warnings.

You don’t have to rely on the interpretations of the dashboard visualizations and reports provided by Veeam One because you also get access to raw data. This enables you to build your own customized reports, apps, and alert rules.

Veeam One is a paid product. However, there is a free version. Veeam One Free includes all of the virtual machine monitoring capabilities of the paid system. There is no capacity limit on the free version of the system, which is rare in the industry. Veeam One Free doesn’t have the capacity functions included in Veeam One, in any case. The free version also lacks charge tracking and billing features.

Both the free and paid versions display alert notifications on screen. These can also be sent by email, but only paid users can customize alert conditions.

Pros:

  • Offers over 200 preconfigured sensors in addition to custom options
  • Can build your own alerts and reports through a modular interface
  • Alerting is supported on the free version

Cons:

  • Interface feels outdated – can be clunky when managing a large number of VMs

Veeam One is particularly effective for customers of the company’s backup server software. Tenant tracking also makes this an excellent choice for service providers, both for cloud storage provision and for software-as-a-service. If you think you would be better served by the full, paid Veeam One service, you can test it on a 30-day free trial.

11. Quest Foglight

Quest Foglight

Foglight is a system monitoring system that has versions for cloud monitoring and VM environment management. The system works with VMWare and Hyper-V, focusing on the information gathered at the vSwitch, combined with physical performance data from the server.

The system sets itself up through an autodiscovery function. It identifies servers and their client virtual machines, and it examines the traffic that passes between them to highlight network performance. The traffic analysis data gathering section of this tool examines packet-level data to identify which VMs and applications generate the most traffic.

The Foglight system can also monitor Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop environments. The application monitoring dashboard gives you a display of all the elements in the Citrix VDI stack, highlighting strained infrastructure that could impact performance delivery. The system cleverly maps the topology of your virtual environment to help visualize the locations of each VM and monitor the physical traffic flows between servers and VMs.

The monitor extends into management functions as well. You can set it to dynamically adjust resources allocated to each application or VM to account for underutilization or over-capacity in different areas of the network. The monitor dashboard gives you a range of views on Citrix user session activity from overall VM count summaries through to application activity.

The Foglight monitoring system closely tracks NetScaler performance and network latency. The load on physical devices and virtual switches are other considerations. The Foglight monitor identifies inactive VMs and lets you remove zombie processes to free up resources. This is an excellent feature because, unfortunately, the VM environment is prone to hanging processes and abandoned sessions that leave locks on resource allocations behind.

The Foglight system explores and stores data to build up a testbed. The dashboard will show trend and variant performance and isolate data for each hardware element of your system. This helps discover bottlenecks and resource misallocation.

The data patterns and regular usage statistics give you a capacity planning function. With this tool, you can identify where to adjust the allocation of resources to improve performance and work out the effects of increased demand. The Foglight monitor includes predictive capabilities that suggest actions to resolve alert conditions. This will also work with live data to help adjust network utilization on the fly.

If you operate a multi-vendor environment with both VMWare and Hyper-V software operating onsite, you can unify your monitoring and management tasks in one place with the Foglight system. The monitor extends to cloud storage, so you can vary capacity by adjusting extra offsite provisions, such as additional storage.

Pros:

  • Can monitor cloud and physical host environments
  • Uses autodiscovery to find and monitor new VMs as they are created
  • Good option for those looking to specifically monitor multiple Citrix environments

Cons:

  • Interface feels outdated – can be clunky when managing a large number of VMs
  • Reporting is a bit canned, could benefit from more customization options

Quest Foglight is not free. However, you can access a free trial to get a feel for the system. Foglight runs on Windows, Linux, and Solaris operating systems.

12. eG Enterprise

eG Enterprise

The eG Enterprise monitoring system covers VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle VM Server, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, AIX LPARs, Solaris Container virtualizations and their supporting infrastructures. The big selling point behind eG Enterprise’s VM monitoring is that checking on server memory and CPU utilization doesn’t give you the whole picture of virtualization health. You also need to see issues that arise on the network, on the storage server, in the database, or within the virtualization platform software.

The interface for the system is browser-based. It includes graphical displays, lists of live data and alerts, and sections to assist with capacity planning. The links between resources are mapped in the dashboard when you install the system. eG Enterprise is particularly strong at identifying resource interdependence. Examples of these relationships include application and VM platform interaction and the underlying physical infrastructure needs of the VM software. That baseline informs the rule base of eG Enterprise on alert conditions that impair the performance of the environment.

Not only will you receive alerts that the response times of a particular VM is slow, for example; you will be notified if the database is overloaded and whether that is causing a particular VM to perform poorly.

The ability to identify the root cause of performance issues at the lowest levels gives eG Enterprise its power. This means you don’t have to waste time back-chaining through stack layers to work out what is going wrong. Multi-vendor environments are common and eG Enterprise unifies the monitoring of the provision stack for a wide range of possible combinations of virtualization systems. So, you will see each of the platforms individually, but the underlying resources that support several environments are monitored for total demand, not on a platform-by-platform basis.

The benefit of the unified stack approach is that it lets you see which VM hogs resources and makes the going tough for the rest of the network. The dashboard includes a great color-coded stack diagram that shows the coexistence of platforms at the supporting levels. EG calls this its in-n-out monitoring. The outside view shows all of the VMs in bands sized in proportion to each service’s resource usage. The inside view shows each layer of the stack with each VM’s usage at that level side by side, again, in proportion.

Another nice visualization feature of eG Enterprise is a workflow-style diagram that traces all of the resources needed by a virtual machine and, in turn, the resources that each supporting feature requires. Each element in the chain shows its status. So, if one of those nodes shows an alert, then you know exactly where to go to get that VM back in good health.

Pros:

  • Can monitor a wide range of virtual host environments, making this truly suited for larger enterprises or MSPs
  • Threshold-based altering can notify when VMs go offline or become slow due to resource-related issues
  • Offers root-cause analysis to help technicals solves issues faster, resulting in more uptime

Cons:

  • No freeware version
  • Interface could be updated to be more modern
  • Configuration can be confusing and difficult to learn

The VM monitoring market is crowded with some very powerful tools provided by some huge software houses. The eG Enterprise package has some handy features that the big guys lack. So, this little guy packs a punch and deserves its place among the top providers of VM monitoring systems. There isn’t a free version of eG Enterprise, but you can get a free trial.

13. Aptare Virtualization Manager

Aptare Virtualization Manager

Aptare Virtualization Manager focuses on the storage servers that operate in virtualized environments. This tool will monitor storage usage in your virtual network and report which VMs are using up capacity.

The interface for the Aptare Virtualization Manager includes a planning tool. This tool can predict storage capacity needs based on historical data. The monitor also keeps track of VM access to storage and identifies potential bottlenecks and access contention.

Management functions extend to the identification of rogue processes that lock up storage allocations. You can use this performance management tool to free up space allocated to hanging processes, making it available to the other VMs in the environment.

Pros:

  • Simple interface balances live summaries and visualizations well on the main dashboard
  • Includes a planning tool, great for MSPs or capacity planning preparation
  • Can automatically identify root cause of issues
  • Highlights problem processes that can consume endless resources (think Chrome)

Cons:

  • Has more limited functionality and reporting when compared to similar tools
  • Lacks capacity planning features

Aptare Virtualization Manager is available for use with VMWare products: ESX, ESXi, vSphere, and vCenter; Amazon Web Services: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Billing Records; Microsoft Azure: Virtual Machine, Disk, Table and Queue Storage, Blob Storage; and OpenStack-compliant servers. Although this tool has limited functionality, it will come in handy if you feel your current VM monitoring utility doesn’t give you enough detail on storage management.

14. WhatsUp Gold Virtualization Monitoring Add-on

WhatsUp Gold virtual monitor

Monitoring VM environments is complicated. You need to check on both infrastructure and software and monitor every element constantly in order to prevent performance impairment. Progress WhatsUp Gold covers all of the angles that you need to watch in order to successfully maintain virtualization.

The core WhatsUp Gold software implements network performance monitoring, keeping an eye on the devices that connect your network links together. However, there is a lot more that needs to be tracked to keep your VM system up and running. The Virtualization Monitoring add-on will cover those extra tasks.

A vital feature of the add-on is an extension of the network discovery function of WhatsUp Gold. This will apply to all VM components the processes of mapping connections and dependencies that the main package applies to network devices. The system check gives WhatsUp Gold a baseline and from that, the add-on builds a map that shows the application stack that supports each VM. You will be able to see which servers support which VMs and the status of server attributes and virtualization server software.

As your VM system proceeds into normal operations, the add-on will continue to monitor performance, looking out for potential failure in software, servers, and the network. Data collected by WhatsUp Gold is shown in real-time in the dashboard and it also gets saved as source information for analysis functions. With those planning tools you can work out whether any of your servers are overloaded and take appropriate action.

Pros:

  • User interface is easy to navigate as well as customizable
  • Can map and track dependencies among hosts and VMs
  • Can save metrics and resource information for long term analysis

Cons:

  • Reporting could be improved
  • Configuration can be overly complicated, especially in the beginning
  • Isn’t a standalone solution, requires WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp Gold and the Virtualization Monitoring Add-on can be bought together with the Progress Application Performance Monitoring Add-on in the Systems Admin’s Bundle. The WhatsUp Gold Total Plus package gives you the core application together with all of its add-ons. Whichever way you choose to acquire WhatsUp Gold and the Virtualization Monitoring add-on, you can get them on a 30-day free trial before you commit to buy.

15. ESXi Embedded Host Client

ESXi Embedded Host Client

VMWare produces a free environment to its ESXi systems, which is the ESXi Embedded Host Client. The client’s interface is browser-based, and so it is operating system-neutral. Also, you need to have the VMWare software installed and operating to use this monitoring tool. It won’t work with Citrix or Hyper-V systems. This utility is not feature-rich and it won’t give you the full system monitoring capabilities of the other options on this list. However, it would be suitable for small-business virtualization implementations and lab scenarios.

The tool offers an enhanced interface to your ESXi clients. You can set up new VMs through this utility and configure the hosting for each. The monitoring aspect of the tool gives you insight into host statuses. It will also list live data on events occurring in the VM environment.

Pros:

  • 100% free monitoring solution
  • Good fit for home labs and small virtualization environments
  • Simple layout, easy to get started

Cons:

  • Requires VMWare software to be installed
  • Is only for ESXi hosts
  • Lacks many features such as reporting and capacity planning found in other tools

This is a simple tool, but the fact that it is free and that it comes directly from VMWare will tempt you to install it.

16. Turbonomic

Turbonomic

The growth of the cloud in the provision of virtual environments can be seen by the product presentation of Turbonomic. Until recently, VM products prioritized on-site resources and then maybe dealt with Cloud-based services. In Tubonomic’s case, the tool is headlined as a utility to monitor Cloud resources. Oh, and by the way, it can also watch any onsite VM servers you might have.

Turbonomic doesn’t skimp on onsite VM monitoring, and the system can cope very well with hybrid implementations. This very comprehensive VM performance monitoring tool for virtual environments comes in three packages: Essentials, Advance, and Premier.

Although this monitoring software is not free, you can get a 30-day free trial of the Premier package. Pricing is based on the number of workloads that the monitor covers. The Essentials package has a limit of 750 workloads, but the other two editions have unlimited capacity. The monitor integrates controlling mechanisms and integrates AI into its action recommendation processes. You get more automation with the higher plans, but all editions include capacity planning capabilities.

Turbonomic’s straightforward monitoring module includes great visualization features like charts and graphs. The tool can interact with VMware, Hyper-V, and XenServer environments.  The setup process is automated and finishes with a system health check. This scan by the Turbonomic engine maps all of your virtual environment. It finishes its onboarding with a list of recommendations on where your system problems lie and how you should resolve them. Once that initial phase completes, Turbonomic continuously monitors the environment, producing alerts on the dashboard, backing them up with action recommendations.

You can set an action rule base in the higher editions of Turbonomic to automatically perform resolution when specific alerts arise. That automation is optional and you can launch recommended actions manually, or ignore them if you wish.

This is a good tool for departments or services that adhere to service level agreements. Those SLAs can be translated directly into the monitoring system as quality of service requirements. You can set alert levels for aspects of service including response times for delivery and transaction throughput for billing.

The monitor allows you to reallocate resources to different applications or user groups and highlights areas where an expansion of cloud resources is inevitable. On the flip side, the Turbonomic AI engine will show you where you have over-provisioned, allowing you to scale back online services and cut costs. That capacity visualization also extends to planning functions. The interface provides a capacity testing section where you can preview the effects of extensions to the user base or the inclusion of new applications and services. This is a great planning tool for bidding processing because it will enable you to plan out your extra services more effectively.

Pros:

  • Supports both cloud-based VMs as well as onsite hosts
  • User interface is slick and uses color well to accent important metrics/features
  • Visual mapping helps sysadmins see dependencies
  • Flexible pricing

Cons:

  • Could benefit from autodiscovery
  • Is more costly than similar tools

The dashboard for the monitor is customizable and you can allocate different views and controls to members of your team. The ability to create a user interface that does not include any controls at all gives you the option of letting clients or directors access the system without risking damage to your VM setup.

17. 5Nine Manager

5Nine interface

5Nine aims at data center implementations on the Microsoft Cloud Platform. So, if you want to use VMWare, then this product probably won’t be for you. If your virtual environment is all Hyper-V, then read on. 5Nine integrates cloud-based Azure servers into your VM infrastructure seamlessly. This is a good solution if you manage data for other companies because you can identify demand down to the tenant, examine the performance of each host, and track user activity.

The dashboard of this service is highly customizable, which allows you to create different user accounts with different access rights. This is another feature that appeals to businesses that host services. You can give a limited dashboard to customers and enable them to manage their own VM allocation. Other views can be given to team members at different levels of seniority in your own group, and it lets directors and other interested parties within your company see live views of performance data. Customizable reports enhance the data sharing features of this package.

5Nine has tailored its product so that it specifically checks all of the boxes needed by a service provider. However, if you run an in-house facility, the resource allocation monitoring features certainly won’t harm any SLA and cost-center policies that your company operates.

Pros:

  • Familiar interface, similar to many Office products
  • Supports team environments well, with permissions controls on the user account level
  • Can support multi-tenant environments, good picks for MSPs

Cons:

  • While the interface is familiar looking, it can get cluttered quickly when managing VMs at scale
  • Lacks detailed visualizations
  • No freeware version
  • Only supports Hyper-V

The 5Nine Manager is a paid service, but you can get a free trial.

VM performance monitoring tool selection

This review has given you a wide range of VM monitoring tools to choose from. Which is the best for you? Your circumstances will dictate that. Some VM monitoring tools are really system-wide infrastructure management systems that feature great virtualization functions. Other tools in the list are just small utilities that enhance your view of VM data or improve just one aspect of VM performance.

VM tools provisioning is a very broad field. SolarWinds covers both ends of the spectrum by supplying a small, free tool and a “bells and whistles” monitoring system. Paessler and ManageEngine also try to cater to all points in the market. Some of the small players offer fantastic products that are bound to appeal to the small- and middle-sized enterprises, but also offer capabilities that could help businesses with large and complicated virtualized networks.

As you will glean from the statements in this report, the network monitoring industry is in transition at the moment. Ten years ago, virtualization was in its infancy and cloud services were a new trend. Both concepts now dominate networked services. It is not impossible to predict that, very soon, cloud services and the virtualization technology that makes them possible will be the standard method of network provisioning. The complexities of on-site server and application management will be a thing of the past.

Do you have recommendations for VM monitoring tools? Do you use a virtualization monitoring system that we’ve overlooked? How do you think the job of a systems administrator will change as cloud services grow? Leave a message in the comments section below and share your thoughts with the community.

VM Monitoring FAQs

How do I monitor network traffic in VMWare environments?

In order to monitor network traffic in VMWare, you first need to enable promiscuous mode on a vSwitch that operates within the environment. The function to activate promiscuous mode on a vSwitch is found in the vCenter Server dashboard of vSphere.

  1. In vCenter Server, go to the Configuration tab.
  2. Look at the Hardware section and select Networking.
  3. Go to vSwitch properties. Assign a port group.
  4. Switch to the Security tab.
  5. Activate promiscuous mode for your chosen port group.

Once the vSwitch is able to listen to all network traffic you can install a free packet capturing system to channel through network traffic for analysis. Try Wireshark for this.

What is Type 1 and Type 2 virtualization?

Type 1 and Type 2 virtualizations rely on Type 1 and Type 2 hypervisors. A hypervisor is also known as a virtual machine monitor (VMM). The Type 1 virtualization uses a Type 1 hypervisor, which runs on a bare metal server. That is because the Type 1 includes its own operating system. The Type 2 virtualization with a Type 2 hypervisor should be installed on a server that already has an operating system.

How do I check disk space on Hyper-V host?

How do I check disk space on Hyper V host?

In order to check the disk space of a Hyper-V host, follow these steps.

  1. Connect to the host in PowerShell
  2. Find the drive that holds the Hyper-V instance with these two commands:
    $VMPath = Get-VM <virtual machine name> | Select-Object -ExpandProperty HardDrives
    $VMPath.Path
  3. Look at the results of the Path enquiry. The drive letter is at the front of the path.
  4. Set up the structure to hold disk information:
    $disk = Get-WmiObject Win32_LogicalDisk -Filter "DeviceID=‘F:’" | Select-Object *
  5. Output the total disk size in gigabytes:
    $disk.Size/1GB
  6. Output the free disk space in gigabytes:
    $disk.FreeSpace/1GB

Why is my VM running slow?

Page swapping is the main cause of a slowdown in VM response times. In this scenario, your VM is so slow because the hypervisor is occupied with moving data in and out of files on the disk because there is not enough room available in memory. Check on the memory utilization of the VM and see if it is hitting its limit. On the other hand, it is possible to allocate too much memory to the VM and leave the host’s operating system with insufficient space. So, check that as well.

Why do I monitor VM to VM traffic?

To monitor VM to VM traffic, you need to set up a connection monitor. The terminology and creation method for connection monitors is different from virtualization brand to virtualization brand. However, the connection monitor should be an option that you can set up under the services creation system of your VM manager. For example, in Azure, a connection monitor is a type of “network watcher.” The creation of a network monitor usually requires you to specify two VMs and all traffic between them will then be monitored.