When VMware recently introduced its vCenter operations extension for vCenter (VMWare’s server virtualization management offering), much confusion surrounded its exact utility for users. So the first part of our evaluation overview will determine what this product adds to vCenter.
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According to VMware, the new add-on allows control of VMware environments in a more cloud like manner, with features like automated provisioning and management of virtual and physical infrastructure. Typical IT infrastructure consists of desktop virtual machines (VM), server VMs, VMs that host application servers, or infrastructure VMs for support services (such as a firewall or network alerts). Such VMs differ in terms of service levels, response times, resource requirements, and performance metrics. These factors can be monitored and managed using vCenter Operations.
“vCenter collects in-depth information on clusters, hosts and guests, but it’s spread across different tabs and panes. vCenter Operations on the other hand, provides the organization with a single pane view of its entire environment (datacenter, cluster, hosts and VMs),” says Seema Ambastha, the director for systems engineering and technology at VMware Software India.
Cut to the versions
vCenter Operations is available in three variants—Standard, Advanced and Enterprise editions. Among these, vCenter Operations Standard is a basic product, whereas the Advanced and Enterprise editions are solution bundles which include multiple products.
The vCenter Operations: Standard edition claims to have built-in intelligence for automated performance analytics. It targets system administrators who want to manage their internal virtualized/private cloud infrastructures. This vCenter Operations edition has the following features:
- Self learning capabilities for normal performance conditions. It can display the result on a dashboard based on the analysis
- Monitor ‘health’ for every resource and deduce trends based on the results
- Identify VMware performance problems and issue alerts on impending performance degradation
- Co-relate a problem’s cause and effect, as well as anticipate capacity issues in advance.
The vCenter Operations: Advanced edition offers the Standard edition’s capabilities and throws in CapacityIQ (another component of the vCenter family of management tools) as well. This tool can integrate with vCenter server to provide capacity analysis, forecast and planning capabilities. According to VMware, the tool can:
- Analyze past, present and future capacity states, as well as what-if analysis (based on business trends). It can generate charts and graphs for capacity usage analysis and planning
- Automatically reclaim excess capacity from idle, oversized or powered-off virtual machines. It also provides reports to help right-size physical infrastructure
vCenter Operations: Enterprise edition incorporates the Advanced edition’s features, along with VMware Configuration Manager to automate IT configuration management and compliance processes. It can integrate with third party infrastructure management products (such as solutions from BMC and CA). VMWare also slots the vCenter Operations: Enterprise edition for organizations with a large number of VMs, such as cloud service providers. The Configuration Manager can:
- Collect asset, security and configuration settings from vSphere, ESX, Windows, UNIX, and Linux server and workstation systems in the infrastructure on to a central repository.
- Provide automated compliance assessment against VMware and Microsoft security best practice guides, industry best practices, as well as the organization’s own policies.
- Feature built-in, out-of-the-box compliance templates and toolkits, which contain policy-driven rules, reports and dashboards.
- Detect violations and offer solutions which can be applied to one system, a group of systems, or all managed systems.
vCenter Operations Pricing in a nutshell
|vCenter Operations Edition||Licensing cost||Additional costs|
|Standard edition (supports up to 500 VMs)||USD 50 per VM for a pack of minimum 25 licenses||Support and Subscription (SnS) services charge. This is a variable percentage of the list price (not available at time of writing).|
|Advanced edition (supports unlimited number of VMs)||USD 130 per VM for a pack of minimum 25 licenses||Same as for Standard edition.|
|Enterprise edition (supports unlimited number of VMs)||Minimum of 25 licenses. Starts at USD 500 per VM and can go up to USD 1300 per VM||Same as for Standard edition.|
Note: A vCenter Operations evaluation version that includes 500 licenses for 60 days is available for download at the VMware website.