VMware ramps crusade to make sysadmins redundant

Control freakery stretched to vFabric Java frameworks and more

VMworld Europe Having already made major revisions to its ESXi hypervisor, vSphere add-ons, and vCloud extensions in the 5.0 releases that came out over the summer, VMware isn't making any blockbuster announcements at VMworld Europe in Copenhagen this week – unless you count some management tools for infrastructure and platform clouds that will mesh with the other 5.0 software and make the VMware stack more complete and self-serving.

Back in March, VMware rolled up the CapacityIQ and ConfigControl add-ons for its vCenter Server management console for its ESX Server and ESXi hypervisor into a new product called vCenter Operations Manager, which had a bunch of other goodies tossed in, too.

CapacityIQ, which was first previewed back in August 2009, is an automatic rightsizing tool for VMs that helps system administrators avoid overprovisioning virtual server capacity. It watches the VMs that administrators set up and sees how they use processor, memory, storage, and I/O capacity as their workloads are running, and once it watches the workload run on these VMs, it recommends skinnier VM configurations where appropriate.

It also can do performance trending and "what if" analysis as physical servers are added to a cluster of ESX-capable servers. ConfigControl, which was renamed vCenter Configuration Manager after its preview run ended and it started shipping in early 2010, keeps track of all the ESX hypervisors and the dependencies they have on other software and underlying hardware. This is based in part on an OEMed dynamic discovery tool cooked up by HP for its own customers.

Other elements of vCenter Operations Manager came from assets transferred from EMC's Ionix system-management software unit to VMware in February 2010 for $200m and also through its acquisition of Integrien back in August 2010.

With vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.0, says Ramin Sayar, vice president of marketing at VMware, the add-ons are getting more analytics to help manage clouds at a "big and broad scale," to help approach the OpEx nirvana of having one system administrator be able to manage 1,000 virtual nodes in a cluster all by his or her lonesome – that's where the real-time analytics from the Integrien acquisition come in.

With this analytics and the existing capacity and performance planning code woven together, you can measure all aspects of the physical and virtual iron and figure out the effects of issue contention and any changes to the system – a failover after a server crashes, for example – on response time for the VMs.

Some of the discovery and mapping functions from Ionix are also woven into the 5.0 release of vCenter Ops as a graphical tool that shows the virtual topology of the data center so admins can see what VMs are backed up where, how they are cross-connected, and how they are affecting each other's performance.

The name of the product is slightly changed to add "Management Suite" to be consistent with two new tools, and the release level is being brought up to the 5.0 level even though this is technically only a 2.0 release for vCenter Ops.

vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.0 will work with ESXi 4.1 and 5.0 hypervisors. It is delivered as a virtual machine appliance, but you can also run it on a bare-metal Windows server. It will be available in four different editions, with functionality scaling up with the price. The base edition of vCenter Ops 5.0 will cost $50 per VM under management and will be available in early 2012.

What a tangled fabric we weave

New with this Copenhagen round of announcements is a management tool for the Spring-based vFabric platform cloud that VMware got through its $362m acquisition of SpringSource in August 2009.

Spring is an open source framework for running Java applications, and is distinct from Cloud Foundry, an open source platform cloud that mixes up the RabbitMQ messaging service with MySQL, Redis, and MongoDB data services with frameworks for Java and Ruby applications.

This new tool is called vFabric Application Management Suite 5.0, and it aims to streamline application provisioning and allow for the management of applications deployed on a Spring framework, whether they are on a cloud or in your own data center – or a little of both.

The tool can also be extended to manage apps on other frameworks, but as Sayar points out, "it is optimized for but not limited to vFabric" – so you can guess which one will work better.

vFabric Management Suite has two parts. vFabric AppDirector creates application blueprints for multi-tiered apps and automates the deployment of said apps to a cloud. The other half of this tool is called vFabric Application Performance Manager, and as its name suggests, has a bunch of dashboards that help admins proactively manage the performance of applications running on vFabric and other frameworks.

While this tool has "manager" in its name, it is really a performance monitor that lets admins do the managing and therefore keep their jobs – for a while yet anyway. Wait until VMware cooks up something called Distributed Application Manager...

Anyway, vFabric Application Performance Manager 5.0 will be available during the fourth quarter of this year at a cost of $360 per VM under management. vFabric App Director will be available in early 2012; pricing is not yet set.

Finally, VMware is previewing what it calls the IT Business Management Suite 5.0, which is the VMware-ized version of the tools it got back in June through its acquisition of Digital Fuel Technologies.

VMware has had chargeback features for its vSphere virtualization stack for some years now, but Digital Fuel had created its own SaaS application for doing IT costing, budgeting, planning, showback, and chargeback for applications, not just a hypervisor.

Digital Fuel had also built systems for implementing service level agreements for IT infrastructure and tracking key metrics to give IT managers performance anxiety. These are all now gussied up with the VMware brands and delivered as three modules: IT Finance Manager, IT Service Level Manager, and IT Vendor and Contract Manager. The software will be available before the end of the year and will be sold on a per-user basis. Pricing has not yet been determined. ®

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