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VMworld Buzz: VMware announces vCenter Operations Management Suite

VMware’s major announcement at VMworld is billed as “The Biggest VMware Management Launch Ever”. What that means is VMware has announced its new version of vCenter Operations which it is now calling vCenter Operations Management Suite and will be released later this year or early 2012. vCOPS as it’s called is the technology VMware bought from Integrien in August 2010. vCOPS-Std vCOPS is used as a performance management application which gathers all the stats from your vCenter infrastructure and uses clever analytics to create powerful visualisations (pretty pictures) so you can more easily troubleshoot performance issues in your virtual environment.

Performance Management is extremely important in your virtual environment. Your infrastructure is only getting bigger as you keep adding more and bigger VMs and understanding and managing your performance capability becomes so important the bigger you get.

Ed Grigson has a great overview on his blog about the current vCOPS 1.0.

The new vCenter Operations Management Suite is made up of two components:

  • vCenter Operations Manager 5.0
  • vCenter Infrastructure Navigator 1.0 which is a new product

The suite aspect means there is tight integration between the two components. There are workflows to analyse performance which span both components. The suite now also allows seamless upgrades between different suite editions which are Standard, Advanced and Enterprise.

So, what does vCenter Ops Suite deliver?

  • Integrated and highly automated performance, capacity and configuration management
  • Operations management console that integrates with 3rd party solutions
  • Continuous compliance analysis and remediation
  • Patented analytics that self learn “normal” in a dynamic environment
    So, what’s actually new?

vCenter Operations Manager 5.0

  • You can now manage performance and capacity across multiple vCenter servers – Nice!
  • The Operations Dashboard has been extended to include far more relevant information with enhanced health, risk and efficiency scores which are calculated scores to show you your performance using the clever analytics.

vCOPS5-Dashboard

  • Smart Alerts are proactive alerts that provide early warning on building issues so you can identify upcoming health, performance and capacity issues. There is automatic root cause analysis of offending alerts so you can focus on the root cause rather than chasing false alerts.

vCOPS5-SmartAlert

  • CapacityIQ is now integrated with vCOPS so you can correlate capacity, utilisation, efficiency and risk, work out your optimal utilisation, identify waste and alert on changing capacity conditions.

vCOPS5-CapIQ

  • vCenter Chargeback Manager 2.0 is now included in some vCOPS editions (I’m not sure which ones) so you can integrate cost metering and capacity analysis and report on the financial value of committed and reclaimable capacity so you can make optimisation decisions based on cost.

vCOPS5-ChargebackManager

  • vCenter Configuration Manager is now integrated with vCOPS so you can correlate in-guest change events with performance and health. You can launch vCM in-context to remediate configuration changes. This means you can easily see when a performance issue arises whether it is related on something that has changed in the guest.

vCOPS5-VCM

  • Application Dependency Mapping allows you to automatically work out which applications depend on each other and work out the infrastructure dependencies. There’s a pre-built knowledge base which helps with easy and accurate labelling of application names and version numbers. This has been integrated with Site Recovery Manager so you can have complete DR protection and have this understood by your application dependencies.

vCOPS5-ADM

  • Compliance checking of vSphere hosts is an Enterprise Edition component to assess vSphere compliance from within vCenter leveraging hardening guides from CP&C. You can then push compliance to the hosts through Host Profiles.

vCOPS5-Compliance

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator

This is a new component which is a vCenter appliance that creates a dependency mapping of application services across your virtual infrastructure. It will automatically map application services on VMs, hosts, clusters, datastores, vNetworks etc. as well as inter-dependency between VMs and also SRM protection. You can search and visualise these dependencies all within vCenter. I understand you may need to install an agent into VMs so it can work out all the dependencies. (I think without an agent it can get some of the information from WMI but with the agent you get access to cleverer mapping). It would be great if in the future this could be an optional addition to VMTools as no-one likes having to deploy another agent.

vCOPS5-InfraMgr

You can then use these application mappings to ensure you performance and capacity are maintained for your application mappings which makes it easier to ensure your Tier 1 apps are getting the resources they need.

You can use this information to work out how performance issues will affect your whole application including its dependencies so you know a database server not performing properly will affect a particular web server.

This then ties in with CapacityIQ and so you can check your usage and wastage across a whole app tier and see future capacity shortfalls and also Configuration Manager so you can correlate any performance issues with any changes within the guest OS.

You can also manage and create SRM protection groups and recovery plans with accurate app visibility. This means within vCenter Infrastructure Manager you can easily see which components of your whole app tier are protected with SRM and which aren’t.

vCOPS5-AppSRM

You can then also set accurate priorities & dependencies for the DR start up sequence so everything comes up in the right order.

vCOPS5-SRMStartup

Pricing.

vCOPS is being sold on a per-VM pricing for the three different versions and will be available late Q1 2012.

This is how VMware says it is differentiating the versions:

  • vCenter Operations Standard: Performance management with capacity and change awareness for VMware vSphere-virtualized and cloud environments.
  • vCenter Operations Advanced: Adds more advanced capacity analytics and planning to vCenter Operations Standard’s performance management for VMware vSphere-virtualized and cloud environments.
  • vCenter Operations Enterprise: Performance, capacity and configuration management capabilities for both virtual and physical environments and includes customizable dashboards, smart alerting and application awareness.

At this stage, the only information VMware has released about pricing is that is starts at $50 per VM. Unfortunately the price was a criticism levelled at the previous version of vCOPS which is very expensive compared to other products and this is the starting price for only the Standard version. Hopefully VMware is listening to customer feedback and may have a serious think about positioning vCOPS at the right price point to make it a possibility.

VMworld TV has also done an overview.

A Tech Preview of vCenter Operations for View and an overview of vCenter Operations.

 

My thoughts:

It looks like VMware is certainly taking performance management to the next level and has worked a lot to advance what Integrien had done and now integrating it with CapacityIQ, Configuration Manager and SRM so all the components work together.

I like the new dashboard enhancements which bring together all the components. Having a single place to look obviously makes things far easier.

The Infrastructure Navigator seems a very well integrated app dependency system. I don’t like the fact that to get the full functionality it requires an agent installed but then maybe this means you can potentially install the agent on physical hosts which would make it really useful, let’s hope so.

One of the problems with any performance management system is that by definition it needs to be able to look at every aspect of your infrastructure to work properly and analyse cause and effect. VMware would love you to have a totally virtual environment on vSphere but in reality this isn’t the case. There will be physical machines as well as VMs and maybe “gasp” on other hypervisors. There are storage, network and security components which aren’t within vSphere and you really want these to be taken into account if you want to do true performance management. With the Enterprise edition you can have plug-ins which connect to all sorts of other things so you can have that full picture which I like but this is going to cost you.

For me, I think vCOPS Standard is a great tool which should be targeted at SMBs. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used in bigger companies too but it could be an easy sell to the SMB company which doesn’t have a performance management tool currently in place. It’s an easy appliance to install and within minutes will start gathering and analysing the stats. The problem though is the cost. $50 per VM and in my opinion is just a little steep for the SMB market when there are other tools available which are significantly cheaper. Perhaps vCOPS Standard should be bundled into the Enterprise Plus license?

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