Beyond these features, what really makes this particular fling that much more interesting is its community aspect. Ever wondered how your environment stacks up to someone else's? It's pretty hard to imagine, but now you can find out. Because in addition to providing you with results about your own environment, vBenchmark also allows users to contribute their metrics to a community repository where they can then compare those metrics against other companies in their peer group, as defined by geographic region, industry, or company size.
VMware says the data you submit to this community site is anonymized and encrypted for secure transmission. However, secure or not, a couple of vBenchmark fling users have already expressed concerns over the tool transmitting "host keys" so that VMware can identify which version of vSphere is being reported on. These concerned users do not want to submit their keys into the public data exchange, but are willing to participate with uploading their aggregate data once the uploading of the keys are removed.
This security concern may hinder the fling's usefulness if VMware isn't careful. Right now, the community aspect is an interesting component of the tool. Without community involvement and data to share, it will never move the needle from "interesting" to "useful."
Keep in mind, this isn't the first time that a virtualization company tried to offer the benefits of community data aggregation in the hopes of showing administrators how their environment compares to that of their peers. VKernel was first on the scene in 2008 with the launch of CompareMyVM.com, a free community Website tool that allowed visitors to exchange and compare VMware ESX Server virtual machine resource allocations with that of the community at large. Visitors could compare by application categories and see how their peers were allocating resources to gain the most efficiency out of their environments. In spite of achieving what appears to be 665 records of information, the community website may have been abandoned by VKernel. After a quick search of the company's website for reference to this asset, no links could be found and there were no mentions of the site after 2009.
VMware is and has been very involved with building a solid community around its technology. I'd go so far as to say it has been the best at doing so within the technologies I've personally used. If it can either fix or remove the concerns around the security issue, vBenchmark may quickly become a VMware community fan favorite.
This article, "Free VMware fling provides capacity planning and community benchmarking," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.