Review: VMware's vCenter Operations Manager lightens the load

Monitoring virtual servers for availability, performance, health, and workload capacity has never been easy, but Operations Manager goes a long way toward that goal

One of the downsides to virtualization is the relative complexity of system monitoring. Traditional monitoring systems are well tuned for physical servers, but they can run into issues in the virtual world. When servers move freely between physical hosts, it can be a challenge to keep track of them. Also, visibility at every layer of the stack is a tough nut to crack. Nevertheless, the ability to access trend and alert data from each layer is crucial to maintaining the overall health of the environment, and it's critical to future planning.

VMware's vCenter Operations Manager was designed to address these problems -- and it does so quite well. VMware didn't develop the Operations Manager tools internally, but acquired them with Integrien back in 2010. Now at release 5.7.0, vCenter Operations Manager is available in four different editions across the VMware line. I tested the Standard edition as part of the new VMware vSphere with Operations Management (VSOM) offering.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Take a visual tour of VMware vCenter Operations Manager. | Virtualization showdown: Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 vs. VMware vSphere 5.1 | Get the latest practical data center info and news with Paul Venezia's Deep End blog and InfoWorld's Data Center newsletter. ]

Smooth setup
The framework for vCenter Operations Manager is a vApp, downloaded and deployed on a VMware vSphere cluster. It consists of two Linux VMs, and the initial installation is as simple as browsing to the OVF file and deploying it through the vSphere management tools. Once deployed, Operations Manager requires very little initial configuration. It needs to hook into one or more vCenter servers and requires credentials to access every tracked object that's visible to the vCenter server. All told, getting the solution up and running took about 15 minutes.

The vApp is configured by default with two vCPUs on each of the two VMs, with 9GB of RAM presented to the Analytics VM and 7GB to the UI VM. These instances are self-tuning, so larger implementations will require more vCPUs and RAM, and the VMs will take advantage of those resources when detected.

There are further configuration steps to take once Operations Manager is running, such as defining SMTP and SNMP servers, along with uploading SSL certificates (if desired). However, when linked to one or more vCenter servers, Operations Manager begins its data collection tasks and can be left alone to digest the wealth of data it collects and analyzes.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Management (20.0%)
Ease of use (25.0%)
Value (10.0%)
Scalability (25.0%)
Setup (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
VMware vCenter Operations Manager 5.7 9.0 9.0 8.0 9.0 9.0 8.9
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