VMware + Ionix Assets – Impact Upon the Configuration Management Ecosystem

In VMware and the Ionix Assets – A Deeper Look, we took a fairly in depth look at the four products that VMware bought from EMC, and posited that VMware was now well on its way to fulfilling its promised intentions of becoming a vendor of a management stack for virtualization.

This obviously brings to mind the impact that these new product assets has upon VMware’s existing ecosystem of virtualization management and performance management vendors. VMware has a very rich set of vendors that produce value added products for the VMware environment and it is a valid question as to how VMware’s forthcoming management stack will affect these vendors.

If we add the new acquired products to the VMware portfolio, we end up with the picture below. The newest products are in the box at the top of the diagram. We can see from this diagram that VMware has significantly bolstered their arsenal in the Configuration Management, Service and Capacity Management and the Provisioning and Lifecycle Management areas.

VMware Management Stack New

If we layer in the vendors in the ecosystem (we have not included all of the vendors due to the large number of vendors focused upon these markets), we get the picture below:

Virtualization Management Ecosystem6

For the remainder of this article we are going to focus on the Configuration Management segment of the diagram above. Subsequent posts will address the other Service and Capacity Management landscape and the Provisioning and Lifecycle Management landscape.

The Configuration Management Landscape

VMware has the existing Host Profiles feature of vSphere and the previously announced ConfigControl product to which now it can add Server Configuration Manager. VMware has some serious product strategy and integration issues to sort out. Prior to this acquisition, all of VMware Configuration Management offerings focused on the VMware platform. Server Configuration Manager supports VMware and a broad set of physical platforms.

Embotics offers a deep understanding of the configuration of the VMware environment along with strong management of the lifecycle of the virtual machines. Embotics also includes sprawl management and the ability to ensure that VM’s are running in environments that have the correct configuration settings.

Hyper9 offers an extremely unique search based tool, that covers both the configuration of the environment and the resource utilization profile of the hosts and guests in the environment. Hyper9 is unique in the ability to collect this broad set of information in one easy to use and learn tool and trend it over time. VMware has a way to go before it can offer this level of integration across disparate data sets in one easy to use console.

ManageIQ is a virtualization management vendor with serious enterprise virtualization management features (management of the VM lifecyle), strong role based controls,  deep configuration management and basic resource and availability management rolled into one solution. Again this is a case where a significant amount of functionality that VMware has across multiple products is integrated into one fully functional and easy to use solution.

Reflex Systems combines management of the security in the environment with a deep understanding of configuration events and a basic understanding of the resource utilization profile for hosts and guests. Reflex Systems was the first vendor to become certified to use the VMSafe API’s as a source of configuration change data directly from the VMware hypervisor.

Core Functionality Differentiation Supported Platforms
VMware Server Configuration Manager EMC Ionix Server Configuration Manager collects, stores, fixes, and manages configuration settings from servers and workstations, across physical and virtual environments. Template based configuration management system that tracks changes and ensures configuration compliance. VMware, HP-UX, Solaris, Apple, Windows, AIX, Linux, & Red Hat
Embotics V-Commander Embotics’ V-Commander™ uses automation and policy-based controls to create a management environment that reduces operational costs, increases operational efficiency and allows virtual environments to grow in a safe and sustainable manner. Strong tracking of inventory, configuration, and VM lifecycles, combined with policies to enforce operational integrity. VMware 3.x and VMware vSphere
Hyper9 Hyper9 helps IT discover virtual elements and relationships, optimize virtual resource performance, capacity and configuration, and ensure that critical business applications maintain the highest levels of reliability. Hyper9’s DNA allows companies to search, compare and alert on configurations across the virtual infrastructure and inside the guest – to ensure compliance with standardized configuration policies, and track configuration drift over time. VMware ESX 3.5/4.0, ESXi 3.5/4.0, vCenter 2.5/4.0, & Microsoft Windows VM’s
ManageIQ ManageIQ provides comprehensive real-time visibility, control and automation for large-scale virtualized IT infrastructures, virtual desktops and clouds, with compliance, security, role-based delegation, self-service, provisioning, capacity, performance, chargeback and a centralized VMDB. Virtual Control Surface™ enables real-time configuration tracking, auditing and policy-based enforcement integrated with performance, utilization and event monitoring. VMware ESX, ESXi, vCenter, vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Amazon EC2, Redhat KVM, Centos KVM, Citrix XenDesktop, Vmware View, Windows, RedHat, other Linux, & Virtual Appliances
Reflex Systems VMC Reflex’s (VMC) manages and protects virtual servers, desktops, and networks providing a management, security and compliance solution that correlates infrastructure configuration changes, network services and security events for performance impact. Detailed instrumentation of configuration events though the VMware VMSafe API. Strong correlation of performance changes and configuration changes. VMware 3.x and VMware vSphere.


It would be easy to conclude that given the product assets that VMware has just acquired in the Virtualization Management space that it is game over for the third party vendors. However, this is simply not the case. Each of the independent vendors in the third party ecosystem offers features and benefits that are not available yet from VMware, even if the products that came with the acquisition are considered part of the “VMware stack”.  The third party products in most cases have deeper support for the VMware platform than does Server Configuration Manager. VMware also has to resolve the issues of integration and overlapping functionality in between the previously announced ConfigControl product, and the new Server Configuration Manager. Finally, VMware has never before now professed any intention to be a broad spectrum systems management vendor and must now decide if it is going to narrow the focus of these recently acquired products, or expand the focus to compete with the likes of CA, IBM/Tivoli, HP, and BMC.

The one thing that VMware is least likely to do is to expand platform support in Configuration Manager to include Hyper-V. This is the one thing that many vendors in the third party ecosystem are working on adding to their products, which will allow them to offer a solution that spans virtualization management platforms. For this reason alone, enterprises looking for functionality in virtualization management and configuration management should consider this to be a decision to be made separately from that of the virtualization platform.  VMware is correct in that management in the physical world is too expensive and too complex due to hardware/OS/middle-ware/application specific silos. However, a single virtualization platform should not be allowed to become a silo of its own. Therefore Virtualization Management, and Configuration Management as its subset should be looked at as needing to address multiple virtualization platforms, as well as systems that span virtual and physical infrastructures.

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