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Cloud management gets muddied with VMware vCloud Automation Center

IT pros are waiting for VMware’s vCloud management stack to fully solidify before making any purchasing decisions.

With yet another cloud management portal to consider, VMware shops say it will probably be next year before the vCloud stack is ready for prime time.

VMware will put its brand on IP from this summer’s DynamicOps acquisition amid a flurry of other cloud management updates. In addition to the re-introduction to the market of DynamicOps as vCloud Automation Center, VMware will roll out updates to its vCloud Connector, vCenter Operations Management Suite and vFabric Application Director under the mantle of the VMware vCloud Suite. The suite is sold as one SKU and is priced at $4995 per processor. Separately, version 7.5 of its IT Business Management Suite, based on last year’s Digital Fuel acquisition, is also being introduced.

“VMware now has three big layers,” said John Bythrow, systems and solutions engineer for Open Sky Corp., which consults with large firms in the Hartford, Conn. area. “It’s a lot to digest.”

VMware officials acknowledged that vCloud now has at least two separate points of IT self-service and management in vCloud Automation Center and vCloud Director, but said vCloud Automation Center will be the focus going forward. vCloud Automation Center supports management of servers through vCloud Director and vCenter Orchestrator as well as Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure and physical infrastructure.

“Cloud management platforms are very sticky, and [enterprises] don’t want to bet on the wrong product or vendor.”

Chris Wolf, research VP at Gartner, Inc.

Users wait out vCloud vision

VMware shops are waiting to see how the new elements of the vCloud stack shake out before they invest in anything.

With so much of the newly introduced IP based on acquisitions, Bythrow won’t recommend vCloud to his consulting clients for now.

“For me, there are so many new layers, added so quickly, I’d wait for at least a year to see what shakes loose,” he said. “I can’t go to [a client] and say, ‘here’s this whole stack they just put together’. I’m still waiting for it to solidify.”

With good reason – industry sources say there’s plenty more integration to come between vCenter, vCloud Director and vCenter Operations over the next year, and another incremental step toward melding these platforms has taken place today. vCenter Operations 5.6 is now bundled in with all license levels of vSphere. VMware vCenter Operations Suite Foundation edition will also be available for free download to all VMware vSphere customers with active support.

“People have complained that [vCenter Operations] should just be part of vCenter,” said Kirk Bellmore, VMware systems engineer for a higher education institution in San Diego, Calif. “They need to fold it all in, so you can unlock features based on what license you’ve purchased, in one [management] portal.”

Bellmore said he’s on the fence about vCloud Automation Center as he’s focused on the migration to version 5.1 of vCloud Director, where there are still features he’d like to see added, such as Onyx, currently a fling from VMware Labs. Onyx monitors network communications between the vSphere Client and the vCenter Server and translates it into an executable PowerShell code which can be modified and saved into a reusable function or script.

“I want to see that become a full-fledged piece of their cloud automation suite,” he said.

Analysts say enterprises are being cautious about which cloud management platform to adopt in general, as such products can amount to a seven-figure purchase for large companies.

“Cloud management platforms are very sticky, and [enterprises] don’t want to bet on the wrong product or vendor,” Chris Wolf, research VP at Gartner Inc., said.

In the meantime, Wolf said he’s seen IT shops use their request management systems with a homegrown self-service portal in front of them as a Band-Aid until they make up their minds.

vCloud Connector supports active-active clouds, and other release details

Version 2.0 of the vCloud Connector now comes with the Virtual Extensible LAN protocol baked in, which VMware says will allow the transfer and management of workloads across a hybrid cloud while retaining the same IP and MAC addresses. This type of scenario would be one of the underpinnings necessary for creating active-active data centers in which a Virtual Machine  can be vMotioned across geographical distances. In a separate announcement today, F5 Networks said its Big-IP switches will now support VXLAN as well.

Aside from the pricing and packaging updates, vCenter Operations has also been given a facelift with the addition of new compliance-based views of the infrastructure; application-level monitoring through vFabric Hyperic integration; new Intelligent Groups to align infrastructure with business teams and priorities; and recommendations which now include advice on what action to take for remediation of issues.

IT Business Management Suite 7.5 includes a new benchmarking module which allows IT users to compare their infrastructures and associated costs with industry peers, as well as a new centralized budgeting module.

VFabric Application Director 5.0 can now deploy to multiple clouds, including Amazon EC2 and support packaged apps, including .NET-based Microsoft apps, where it previously supported only Java.

VMware has also introduced a new Enterprise Purchasing Program for software licenses this week, which it says comes with higher discounts than the existing Volume Purchasing Program.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for SearchCloudComputing.com and SearchServerVirtualization.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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Essential Guide

A VMware cloud provider's options for cloud management, strategy
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