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Eric Senunas

VMware vCenter Operations Manager 5.6 Changes Underscore Value of VMTurbo

VMware took the opportunity at VMworld Barcelona to announce a few changes to its vCenter Operations Manager (vCOps), including packaging changes aligned with VMware vCloud Suite. vCOps 5.6 includes a few feature enhancements, such as the ability to customize group-based views and compliance views into the dashboard.  VMware’s announcement underscores the value VMTurbo Operations Manager delivers in its closed-loop operations management approach.

As previously announced at VMworld San Francisco, VMware bundled several components, including vCOps, into a single SKU called vCloud Suite 5.1, with per processor licensing.  This week, VMware rejiggered vCOps packaging to be more closely aligned with vCloud Suite’s Standard, Advanced and Enterprise offerings, and introduced a new Foundation edition that is included free with vSphere 5.1.

VMTurbo team at VMworld Barcelona

VMware Foundation offers basic monitoring and reporting of the health and performance of VMs. The level of visibility in Foundation is a commodity—something VMTurbo recognized some time ago when we introduced our own Community Edition as a free download. Unlike vCOps which is tied specifically to VMware, VMTurbo Operations Manager Community Edition provides visibility across all virtualized hosts and VMs, supporting VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, and Red Hat hypervisors from a single VMTurbo Operations Manager instance.

The vCOps Standard edition has cumulative features to Foundation, with the addition of operations and capacity management dashboard views, capacity modeling, and root cause analysis recommendations. VMware’s per-VM licensing starts at $125 per VM—up from Standard’s original $50 per VM pricing—and is sold in packs of 25 VMs. This licensing model introduces a “density tax,” since as VM densities increase, costs increase significantly (and is actually counter-intuitive to consolidation goals). The 25 VM-multiple limitation will also be problematic for organizations that must over-purchase to meet required minimums (a site with 80 VMs will have a surplus of 20 licenses when forced to purchase four 25-pack licenses). VMTurbo Operations Manager is licensed on a per (host) socket basis, providing more predictable budgeting, and lower ongoing costs for those with aggressive consolidation initiatives.

The vCOps Advanced edition builds on Standard, with the addition of change and configuration management, support for virtual and physical environments, customizable dashboards, application discovery and dependency mapping (vCenter Infrastructure Navigator), cost metering (vCenter Chargeback), and the ability to monitor via third-party monitoring tools, such as Microsoft SCOM and IBM Tivoli. Pricing for Advanced edition starts at $250 per VM, a $55 per VM price increase versus the equivalent pre-v5.6 Enterprise edition cost. As highlighted in this edition, vCOps is a “suite,” comprised of several semi-integrated products based on technology VMware acquired over the last few years. The result of cobbling together several technologies into a single SKU may result in more management/operational overhead versus VMTurbo’s purpose-built solution with seamless integration of functionality.

The vCOps Enterprise edition is comprised of Advanced edition functionality plus management of EMC Symmetrix and NetApp storage platforms (other storage adapters are sold a la carte); OS-level change, configuration and patch management; and compatibility with regulatory compliance content packs (sold separately). It appears that the v5.6 Enterprise edition replaces the former Enterprise Plus product (which goes away).   At $600 per VM, the major price drop can be attributed to the unbundling of custom adapters that are now sold separately.

The ability to add on modules to improve the feature set is a nice perk; however, VMware’s top-tier edition still lacks a major function—the ability to automate decision-making to prevent performance degradation and inefficiency in virtualized cloud environments. vCOps aggregates collected metrics into dashboard views, and uses “learning,” analytics, and thresholds to provide ratings regarding performance, health and capacity.  Thresholds and alerts for “badge” scores that have to be interpreted and acted upon cannot scale since they rely on an operator’s knowledge of the environment, ability to drill-down to meaningful metrics, ability to troubleshoot and resolve issues, and the time to get all that accomplished!  VMTurbo Operations Manager is differentiated in its ability to continuously analyze resource and workload conditions, and take actions proactively—before degradation and anomalies threaten service delivery. It drives the necessary actions to tune and maintain the environment in an optimal state—automatically, without operator intervention.

The bottom line is that name changes and bundling can’t make up for a lack of key functionality to control today’s dynamic virtualized cloud environments. Orchestrating resource allocation and workload placement decisions is complex. Add scale, ever-changing conditions, and service level priorities and it’s physically impossible for IT operational staff to undertake.  VMTurbo Operations Manager prescribes and automates operational decisions that ensure that virtualized cloud workloads run optimally.