Quest takes aim at VMware with VKernel acquisition

VKernel’s prowess in the capacity planning department will help Quest take on VMware’s vCenter Operations in the virtualization management market, experts say.

Quest Software’s VKernel acquisition positions the company as a one-stop shopping destination for virtualization management tools, experts said.

Quest acquired VKernel, a virtualization management vendor best known for its Capacity Manager product, on Wednesday. The deal gives Quest a capacity planning tool to complement its vFoglight performance management software. That will help the company compete against VMware, which has combined capacity management and performance management in its vCenter Operations product, said Alessandro Perilli, a Gartner research director.

“Capacity management alone is not enough,” Perilli said in an email. “It must be tightly coupled with performance management to efficiently manage resources in a cloud infrastructure and enforce service levels.”

VMware’s recent focus on application performance management (APM) -- the company just released its vFabric Application Performance Manager -- also likely played a role in Quest’s decision to acquire VKernel, said Bernd Harzog, an analyst with the Virtualization Practice.

“Quest owns substantial APM assets in the form of Foglight,” Harzog wrote in a blog post. “Having an application performance context for the performance and capacity management and planning that VKernel does is just [too] obvious a requirement to ignore.”

VKernel’s future under Quest

VKernel customer Maish Saidel-Keesing, a virtualization architect at the NDS Group in Jerusalem, Israel, said the acquisition by Quest came as a surprise. Both vendors provide dashboards for admins to view the overall health of their virtual infrastructures, and "there are a lot of overlapping areas between the two," he said.

"Maybe one of the two will start on a different focus point," he added.

Quest said it will run VKernel as an independent subsidiary. And Bryan Semple, VKernel’s chief marketing officer, wrote in a blog post that “for our current customers, nothing changes.” This approach makes sense given VKernel’s name recognition, Perilli said.

“VKernel did a good job so far in terms of brand awareness, and there’s no reason to disrupt that,” he said.

But others wonder how long VKernel’s independence will last, pointing out that Quest has fully absorbed Vizioncore, another virtualization management vendor it acquired in 2008. It doesn’t make sense to have two separate groups doing some of the same things, Saidel-Keesing said.

"They say everything is going to be business as usual, but the question is for how long?" he asked.

Harzog agreed.

“While at a purely technical, product-functionality level, vFoglight and VKernel do not compete, few organizations are likely to buy both products,” he wrote. “Most customers would budget for one additional performance and capacity management tool, but few would be willing to pay for two at the same time.”

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