Inexpensive Solutions for Generating Monthly VM Network Reports…?

Blog reader Genadi submitted this question after this week’s Paessler PRTG podcast.  Maybe you can help!

He’s looking for a solution that will consolidate per-VM ESX network traffic statistics into a monthly report.  But he’s stuck in that classic situation where his budget is zero.  Here’s his question:

Hi Greg!  We are looking for a way, to generate monthly reports of traffic bandwidth used by our virtual machines.  Currently, we are generating monthly traffic reports (in MBs) for all our dedicated servers via Paessler PRTG, as it monitors SNMP sensors on switch. 

We cant utilize this method, as it gives us physical ports and we are dealing with VMs.  Also we cant install SNMP tools on client VMs, as this solution is considered unacceptable.  Do you know of any other ways, or tools to allow us this monitoring on virtual machines?

As I see it, Genadi’s in a tough position.  SNMP might give him some of the statistics he wants, but its not a best fit and he’s limited down that road.  I suggested two options:

First, check out the stats you get with esxtop, which is built right into ESX.  It will provide per-VM network statistics.  However, you'll need to find a tool that aggregates them, or build one yourself. vCenter Server can do (some) of this.  Or, get yourself a Cisco virtual switch like the Nexus 1000v.  That virtual switch should be able to peer much more deeply into the per-VM stats you need.

He responded this morning to say that neither solution works for him.  Esxtop requires too much polling, as well as (for Genadi) a bit of custom development that he’s not prepared to do.  The virtual switch route costs money that he doesn’t have.

Two other solutions come to mind.  Both involve no cost, but extra effort.  The first involves importing batch mode esxtop data into Perfmon.  I write about this process in this article.  Not a big fan of Perfmon myself, the second involves using some other solution for visualizing batch mode esxtop data.  A quick web search turned up this tool:  Durga Networks esxplot.

I haven’t used esxplot before, but it appears the nifty no-cost tool.  It appears to be size-limited on the esxtop data files, though.

Do you have no-cost solutions for solving Genadi’s problem?  If you’ve got one that works well, let us know about it in the comments below!

Catch up with @ConcentratdGreg on Twitter!

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