Article

VMware admins use Hyper9 to bolster vCenter Server

Alex Barrett

VMware administrators say that the latest version of Hyper9's virtualization management software gives them quicker, easier access to information that would otherwise take hours to find using VMware's vCenter Server.

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"[VCenter] is pretty great, but it has some gaping holes for doing maintenance and monitoring," said Robert Murphy, a senior systems engineer at a large U.S. retailer who oversees more than 100 ESX hosts and 1,500 virtual machines (VMs). VCenter and its associated application programming interfaces (APIs) are "so big and so much, and I just don't have time to write beautiful PowerShell scripts," he said.

Murphy said that other third-party management tools are also too complicated. "There are a lot of tools out there. Everybody's got tools. But they're all really cumbersome." Hyper9's Virtualization Optimization Suite, in contrast, "is just a really cool, simple interface," Murphy said.

I just don't have time to write beautiful PowerShell scripts.
Robert Murphy,
senior systems administrator

Murphy has used Hyper9 for six months and said that the canned queries in the latest release provide quick access to critical information such as the location of orphaned snapshot files, a list of virtual machines with mounted floppy drives, or information on how a VM has changed over time.

In particular, queries for finding and deleting orphaned snapshots help Murphy avoid costly storage area network storage purchases for a virtual environment, which the company's storage group sells at $30 to $40 per gigabyte. "It really adds up," he said.

The thrust of the latest release, which became available last week, was to place 90% of the key content that people need right on their Hyper9 dashboard, said Bill Kennedy, the vice president of R&D at Hyper9 in Austin, Texas. Administrators can also easily edit existing queries, or create new queries with a graphical query builder they can learn in 30 minutes, he said.

But as the Hyper9 product matures, learning the query language becomes less important, said Ryan Makamson, a systems engineer at Washington State University's School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a Hyper9 beta tester.

"I'd been playing around with building my own searches," Makamson said, "but the latest release has tons of pre-canned searches that are, frankly, better than the ones I wrote." Administrators, however, can easily modify searches from the graphical query builder or filter out results based on, say, operating system or VM size.

Cordoning off vCenter access

Web-based tools like Hyper-9 can also reduce the number of people that need access to VMware vCenter, users said, which can improve security and reduce risk.

"There are people like us that are VM mechanics, and then there are users of the VMs," said Makamson. Hyper9 lets users go to a Web page and look at their VM without getting on vCenter at all.

Murphy concurred: "One of my biggest pet peeves is that everyone wants access to VirtualCenter," he said. "With this, you set them up with an account that's linked to Active Directory, and they log in and look at their VM, but they can't break anything."

But Makamson said that Hyper-9 is no replacement for vCenter. "VirtualCenter is the proactive tool that you need to create or modify virtual machines," he said. "Hyper9 is more about, 'How are things going?'"

Pricing for Hyper9 VOS is based on a yearly subscription of $300 per host.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director.


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