Data Centers

Take VM management to the next level with these solutions

Whether you're using an all VMware environment or an alternative hypervisor, there's now an even bigger selection of management tools for virtual machine (VM) workloads.

VMware's vRealize Suite
Image: VMware

VMware may be the gold standard for enterprise hypervisors, but competition from Hyper-V and open source alternatives KVM and Xen have been forcing VMware to look to higher management layers for growth. One specific area has been data center management.

The standard vSphere solution comes with powerful management features such as Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), which is commonly considered a differentiator. Third-party vendors are stepping in and filling in the gap for alternative hypervisors while also adding compelling features for existing vSphere customers. Here's a brief overview of a VMware add-on and a third-party solution.

VMware data center management

VMware has consolidated branding of its management platform under the umbrella of vRealize. The vRealize Suite expands across cloud, automation, mobile, and data center operations management (I focus on the data center operations solution).

While vSphere offers some basic operations capability, vRealize fills in many of the gaps for a maturing environment. From a high level, vRealize Operations is supposed to provide greater visibility into the infrastructure to support or automate capacity planning, utilization, and issue resolution. VMware markets vRealize as a cross-platform solution that supports Hyper-V, vSphere, and AWS.

It's unclear how many customers will find non-vSphere integration useful. Previous versions of vRealize Operations heavily leveraged the tight integration of vSphere and vCenter.

vRealize provides detailed key performance indicators (KPIs) on a long list of data center components. An operations team will use vRealize reporting to prevent bottlenecks in the overall infrastructure. One use case is to leverage report data to configure reservations in vCenter for critical applications. Reservations are one way to create a quality of service (QoS) mechanism to prevent resource constraints to mission-critical workloads during high utilization.

QoS is just one example of potential use cases for vRealize. vRealize gives operations teams the data needed to avoid performance issues within the virtualized infrastructure. Outside of the VMware-centric view of the infrastructure, vRealize relies on manual interpretation and management from the operations team.

VMTurbo

VMTurbo provides many of the capabilities of vRealize for VMware and non-VMware environments (VMTurbo advertises support for Hyper-V and VMware). In addition to the wide support for different hypervisors, VMTurbo automates recommendations from monitoring. In the QoS use case, VMTurbo would proactively move workloads based on established KPIs.

Here's an example scenario: An ERP batch process runs twice monthly, taking CPU utilization to 100% utilization each time. In a VMware and vRealize environment, the operations team could create a reservation that ensures the ERP server has the physical resources to prevent performance issues. Other workloads hosted on the same physical server would be migrated during resource contention; this method may cause performance issues for the non-ERP applications until migration.

In comparison to vRealize, VMTurbo will schedule the migration of applications during the twice a month cycle prior to any performance contention. VMTurbo leverages the metrics from its monitoring service to predict and control workloads across all supported hypervisors.

What does your organization use for VM management?

VMTurbo is just one solution that's helping to close the gap in VM management capability. What VMware management capability has kept your organization tied to vSphere? Have you found solutions such as VMTurbo that make you less dependent on VMware? Share your thoughts and experiences in the discussion.

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About Keith Townsend

Keith Townsend is a technology management consultant with more than 15 years of related experience designing, implementing, and managing data center technologies. His areas of expertise include virtualization, networking, and storage solutions for Fo...

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