VMware’s Project Magna applies machine learning to automate the data centre

VMware is developing a cloud service to monitor software in customer deployments and tune it automatically to improve performance. This is Project Magna and its first target is vSAN in hyperconverged infrastructure.

It will work like this: customers select their key performance indicator – read or write optimisation or both. Magna examines their vSAN environment and compares it to the KPI average for stored and monitored deployments. If the site is below average, Magna changes it to bring it closer to the average.

When switched on via vRealize Operations (vROps), Magna Cloud Services records data from the deployed vSAN system and uploads it to a VMware data store, where it is analysed. A machine learning engine inside Magna identifies and implements performance tweaks.

vROPs displays the before and after state graphically so customers can see if performance has improved. VMware’s Project Magna people have yet to decide the intervals for system monitoring.

Reinforcement learning

Magna incorporates a reinforcement learning system that seeks so-called rewards. Magna looks at its own performance actions and strengthens those that boost customer vSAN performance

A VMware blog says: “Reinforcement Learning combs through your data and runs thousands of scenarios that searches for the best reward output based on trial and error on the Magna SaaS analytics engine. And this is automatically and continuously done across your vSAN clusters to ensure it’s always using the best settings to maximize throughput and minimize latency of your … hyperconverged infrastructure.”

Magna is also designed so that it does no any harm to systems it monitors, the blog states: “There are guard rails within the ML algorithms that will not decrease performance by any means.”

Project Magna is intended for all VMware’s software-defined data centre components covering compute, storage, network and security. These are vCenter, ESXi/vSphere, vSAN, VVols, NSX and Velo Cloud.

Magna is in tech preview and VMware has not committed to introducing it to a specific version of vSphere.

Cormac Hogan, a senior engineer at VMware, provides a more detailed introduction to VMware’s Project Magna and gives pointers for further reading.