In The ROI for Server Virtualization with Business Critical Applications, discussed how the ROI from virtualization of business critical applications will likely not be driven by server and core consolidation, but most likely rather from the benefits of more agile and cost effective management processes enabled by virtualization.
In Virtualizing Business Critical Applications – A Reference Architecture, we identified the main categories of virtualization management solutions that should be deployed in addition to a virtualization platform like VMware vSphere, specifically Security Management, Configuration Management, Service and Capacity Management, Provisioning and Lifecycle Management, and Backup and Recovery.
This post is about the vendors that provide the solutions the fulfill the requirements articulated in the Reference Architecture post. Since this post focuses upon the management solutions required for virtualizing the servers that host these applications, the vendors involved primarily in desktop virtualization and management are not included in this comparison.
Since VMware is the vendor of the market leading virtualization platform, and is also included in this list of Virtualization Management vendors, it is important to point out which VMware products were the basis of VMware’s listing in the table above:
- On the Configuration Management front, VMware had previously announced an internally developed product ConfigControl. However earlier this year, VMware acquired several management products from EMC’s Ionix division including a configuration management product that EMC acquired when EMC acquired Configuresoft. That product is now called VMware vCenter Configuration Manager.
- On the Service and Capacity Management front offers three products, SpringSource Hyperic, a monitoring solution focused upon the network and server infrastructure layer with response time hooks into web servers, VMware vCenter AppSpeed which is based upon a virtual appliance and which can discover and monitor the performance of web/J2EE/.Net/Database applications, and VMware vCenter Application Discovery Manager another product acquired from Ionix that is an application system topology discovery solution. There are a large number of excellent solutions in this space from third parties all of which are covered in our Performance Management topic.
- On the IT as a Service front VMware has just introduced vCloud Director. VMware also now offers another product in this category that was acquired from Ionix, VMware Service Manager. How these two products are to work together (if at all) is unknown at this time. However excellent third party alternatives that support IT as a Service on multiple virtual and physical platforms are available from Quest Software, Embotics, ManageIQ, and DynamicOps.
Enterprises who have standardized upon VMware vSphere as the virtualization platform should be careful to evaluate VMware’s management offerings individually against the third party solutions listed in the table above. As of the current time, while VMware’s offerings all appear on one web site and are available from one vendor, they are far from integrated, nor are they consistent in terms of their user interfaces and the environments that they support. For example, the products acquired from Ionix and SpringSource support physical as well as VMware virtual environments. VMware AppSpeed and Lifecycle Manager are vSphere only solutions. Therefore since VMware is currently offering a set of disjointed point products as its set of management offerings, each one of these offerings should be evaluated individually against the relevant third party competition.
At some point in time in the future, VMware will succeed in coming up with an architecture for its management stack, and will slowly integrate these various products into that architecture. However it will take years before any kind of a cohesive suite emerges from these efforts out of VMware. In the meantime picking best of breed solutions be they from VMware or from a third party vendor is the way to go.