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3/8/2011
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VMware Moves Into Hybrid Cloud Management

With vCenter Operations, internal and external virtual machines get system configuration, performance management, and capacity management under VMware's umbrella.

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VMware is taking its willingness to manage the virtual infrastructure a step further than it's gone before.

The company announced Tuesday that it was mapping the topology of physical and virtual systems so that virtual machines could be deployed either inside the data center or outside beyond the firewall in the cloud.

In the past, VMware product announcements have tended to do one or the other. Its vCloud and vShield announcements were about enabling the management of its ESX Server virtual machines by public cloud providers. Bluelock, Verizon, Terremark, and Colt were early implementers of the VMware-based cloud.

At the same time it rapidly expanded its ability to manage virtual machines inside the data center with its vCenter and vSphere 4 management announcements. As of Tuesday, it added another role: that of systems manager for the hybrid cloud.

With the announcement of vCenter Operations, VMware is combining three traditional data center disciplines under its own umbrella: system configuration, performance management, and capacity management. Such tasks currently tend to be in the hands of the traditional systems management vendors or platform providers, such as CA Technologies Unicenter or Microsoft's Systems Center for Windows. As a matter of fact, both of these vendors have been moving rapidly toward managing the virtualized infrastructure space.

But Ramin Sayar, VP of products at VMware, said older approaches are not working well in the virtualized environments of the cloud and data center. Yesterday's pattern of managing infrequently changing systems is the wrong lesson plan to use for virtualized environments, where running virtual machines may be shifted from server to server several times a day. Those shifts can impact physical server performance or virtual machine performance, and the virtual machine administrator needs tools that tell him when that's happening.

Asked about a change management database (CMDB), a typical component of say, BMC's Patrol operations, Sayar said in an interview that vCenter Operations doesn't have one. "VM configuration doesn't require a CMDB. CMDBs run discovery to determine what's new on a daily or weekly basis. The virtual environment is way too dynamic for that approach."

vCenter Operations will draw the mapping and discovery information it needs from vCenter, the physical device infrastructure itself and the traditional systems management products, then use it by applying analytics on performance and capacity management. Those patented analytics come from Integrien, acquired last September. Integrien specialized in self-learning systems management, where baseline application performance lines were established and analytics run against their ongoing performance.

"Integrien will leverage the output from third-party monitoring tools," including Microsoft's Systems Center, said Sayar. VMware has produced adapters that connect vCenter Operations to the tools.

Sayar also cited the acquisition of Ionix from VMware's parent company, EMC, last year as another contributor to its new systems management capabilities. Ionix provided a configuration manager (the former Configuresoft); a scaling manager in FastScale; an application discovery manager, nLayers; and a service manager (the former Infra).

By integrating the tools, along with information captured from its own vSphere 4, vCenter, and CapacityIQ tools, VMware says it can deploy a virtual machine and know whether its latest deployment will impact the application's performance or the host server's performance. It can project what capacity is being used and what will be needed. And it can tell from the provisioning of new virtual machines how they will fit into existing capacity.

The enterprise version of vCenter Operations goes a step further, Sayar said. It will not only configure, provision, deploy, and monitor running virtual machines, even if they are being live-migrated from one point to another, or one data center to another, but it will also spot developing bottlenecks and help administrators get to the root cause of the problem, Sayar claimed.

The product comes in standard, advanced, and enterprise editions. Each will become available at the end of March with pricing that starts at $50 per managed VM.

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