VMware releases vCenter Operations Management 5.0 for virtualization and cloud infrastructures

Comprehensive virtual environment management suite makes deploying a private cloud easier for IT managers, but will VMware's per-VM pricing become a barrier?

VMware's latest move to help accelerate private cloud adoption came last week with the official announcement of VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.0. This is only the second major release of the comprehensive virtual environment system's management solution, which VMware first introduced back in March 2011, but with this release VMware jumped its versioning from 1.0 to 5.0 in order to bring the product's numbering into line with the flagship product, vSphere 5.

The VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite is designed to help customers deliver IT as a service by simplifying and automating the operations of virtual and cloud environments. It release combines several systems management functions into one suite: capacity management, configuration management, and performance management.

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VMware is well aware that a system's management is a key element to effectively building and growing cloud-based services. "The highly dynamic nature of cloud infrastructure has outpaced traditional operations management disciplines, requiring customers to think differently about how to manage their virtual and cloud environments," said Rob Smoot, director, product marketing for enterprise management at VMware.

But VMware doesn't have a monopoly on that realization: Traditional management vendors are trying to come up with their own solutions for managing and deploying cloud technologies. VMware is also forced to go up against members of its own partner ecosystem. Companies like SolarWinds -- who acquired Hyper9 for Virtualization Manager -- and Quest Software -- who acquired VKernel for vOperations Suite, or vOPS -- have been providing similar solutions to VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite for quite some time.

Having the right tool is important to getting IT over the hump and moving them along from thinking to actually deploying cloud technologies. "The VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite provides customers with greater visibility 'under the hood' of their infrastructures, and it provides the actionable intelligence customers need to optimize efficiency, enable compliance and proactively manage service levels," said Smoot.

VMware vCenter Operations Management dashboard

The vCenter Operations Management Suite continues to build on many of the capabilities introduced last year with vCenter Operations 1.0. One key area is a new Operations Management dashboard that provides additional visibility into an organization's virtualized data center or private cloud environment. The dashboard gives a quick, at-a-glance view of the overall status of the environment with three "supermetrics" made up of health (current behavior and problems); risk (potential for future problems); and efficiency (how well your resources are being utilized).

If a problem is identified, VMware's new Smart Alerts can provide a proactive warning for an emerging health, performance, or capacity issue. And automated root cause analysis can help identify the offending metric across all layers of the infrastructure, allowing an administrator to resolve the problem before it impacts the end user.

The vCenter Operations Management Suite is ultimately about providing greater visibility to better manage the infrastructure and the applications that run on it. To help with that, VMware has created an even tighter integration between performance, capacity, and configuration management. And they've increased visibility all the way down to the underlying infrastructure and -- more importantly -- down into the individual virtual machine. This provides the ability to see change events that occur inside the VMs, not just at the host level. You can even model capacity to see its impact on future performance. This additional visibility can help maintain compliance, eliminate sprawl and configuration drift, and right-size infrastructure resources to reduce waste and maintain resource utilization efficiency.

The latest release also includes a new Application Awareness capability that can automatically discover and map the relationships and dependencies between applications and the infrastructure components that support them. Users of vCenter Operations Management Suite can get help with security management, impact analysis, disaster recovery planning, and datacenter and application migration projects.

The concepts behind vCenter Operations Management Suite are very much in line with what Microsoft has been promising to deliver with Microsoft System Center 2012. However, the Redmond giant is promising hypervisor-agnostic management and all-you-can-eat pricing for System Center while VMware is focused solely on VMware vSphere and has moved to a per-virtual-machine or "pay for consumption" based pricing model.

VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite starts off with a list price of $50 per VM for the Standard edition and goes up to $125 per VM for the Advanced edition and $195 per VM for the Enterprise edition. Unfortunately, where price is concerned, most customers in need of this type of product will probably be looking at the Advanced or Enterprise editions.

The per-VM pricing has been a point of contention with some existing VMware customers, but the company seems to have plans for moving more of its products over to this licensing model. Will this become a barrier to adoption for the virtualization giant? With competitive solutions like VKernel vOps charging $649 per socket, is VMware pushing companies into software bake-offs that might have otherwise not taken place?

This latest release of vCenter Operations Management Suite is available now. You can download a 60-day free trial to get started, and existing vCenter Operations 1.x customers can upgrade to the new version free of charge, according to VMware.

This article, "VMware releases vCenter Operations Management 5.0 for virtualization and cloud infrastructures," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.