Quest Software began shipping version 6.5 of its vFoglight virtualization performance and capacity management software last week, adding new automated workflows and support for Hyper-V.
Quest's support for Hyper-V reflects a wider trend toward heterogeneity for virtualization management tools, industry experts say. While automation is a hot topic, particularly as IT pros move toward IT as a Service (ITaaS), few users are ready for full automation just yet.
Automated remediation suggestions
VFoglight, acquired by Quest with Vizioncore in 2008, can now not only alert administrators to performance and capacity management problems in a virtual infrastructure, but it can also suggest a remediation process through a new tab in its monitoring dashboard. Users can choose to launch an automated remediation workflow based on the software's suggestion.
If a SQL server required 4 GB of memory but only had access to 3 GB, for example, the previous versions of vFoglight sent an alert. With vFoglight 6.5, the Remediate tab includes suggestions for how to allocate more memory. Administrators can follow those steps manually or kick off a workflow that fixes the problem automatically.
If administrators decide to remediate manually, vFoglight 6.5 can link to an object and remediate problems from within the native management console, such as VMware's vCenter, without having to leave the vFoglight interface.
But not every user is ready to embrace automated remediation yet. Chadd Warwick, systems architect for Comprehensive Software Systems' hosted solutions division, said his team has been using vFoglight for three years to support the company's Software as a Service offerings for financial institutions.
Warwick credits vFoglight with helping his management team and customers trust virtualization, but says the conservative financial industry will be slow to implement automated problem remediation. "It makes a lot of sense to automate, but it's still early for us to know how we're going to leverage it," Warwick said.
Automated remediation in ITaaS environments has been widely discussed in recent months as users encounter hurdles to building private clouds, including the thorny question of how to manage virtual environments on a large scale while offering flexible resources on demand.
For organizations leery of automation, vFoglight 6.5 offers a "stepping stone" approach, according to Bernd Harzog, analyst with The Virtualization Practice, by suggesting remediation that the user can perform manually. "The workflows still rely on the administrator to launch them. This type of tool walks up to the line of full automation but doesn't cross it…and the process of knowing what to do and launch the fix can make an admin's life easier."
New views on virtual infrastructure
VFoglight 6.5 also offers new views into the virtual infrastructure, including trending analysis of capacity and performance within a VMware ESX or ESXi cluster. The new version can also create a user-perspective view and customizable dashboard, which Warwick said his team will use immediately. "Generating custom reports is the key piece of the software for us," he said, "especially at the senior management level, where they can just log in and see what they need to see."
Previous versions of vFoglight were able to generate custom reports, Warwick said, but ease of use has improved with this new release. "There are more hyperlinks back to the knowledgebase -- things like that -- that lower the learning curve about how to do a customization."
Warwick also said new, deeper storage metrics on the virtual machine datastore are a welcome feature of this release, but he'd like to see Quest merge vFoglight with vFoglight Storage, a separate tool that offers deeper metrics on the physical storage infrastructure. "It would just be nice not to have to log in twice," said Warwick, who currently runs both tools separately. He also said he'd like to see vFoglight add reporting on VMware's distributed virtual switch.
A Quest spokesperson said the company does plan to merge vFoglight with vFoglight Storage sometime in the second or third quarter of 2011, but currently has no plans to report on distributed virtual switches.
Harzog added that the new support for Hyper-V, part of a recent increase in previously vSphere-focused independent software vendors extending support to multiple hypervisors, is a significant step for Quest and for the virtualization management industry as VMware beefs up its own management tools. (For example, VMware's most recent vCenter updates also added workflows and new storage views.)
"It's one of the avenues through which the independent management ecosystem players will differentiate themselves from VMware," Harzog said.
Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for SearchServerVirtualization.com. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.