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Virtualization management software

A reader is searching for the best virtualization management software solution. He's even found a software company that our expert hasn't tried yet. Even so, expert Andrew Kutz advises him to save his money. Read this answer and find out why.

I have been doing some research lately on the topic of how to manage applications in a VMware environment. It strikes me that most of the management tools from the large systems management companies (HP,IBM/Tivoli, BMC, CA, NetIQ, etc.) do about as bad a job with managing applications in a VMware ESX environment as they do with Citrix.

Specifically, what seems to be lacking are tools that understand all five layers that are typically present in an ESX environment (the Linux Host OS, the VMware ESX host, the VMware ESX Guest, the Guest operating system, and the key applications in the Guest), and an understanding that when the guest operating system (like Windows Server) reports that CPU utilization of a process is 40%, that it is not 40% of the total CPU on the hardware, but 40% of the CPU that ESX has allocated to that virtual machine.

I have found one vendor that has a management solution that is broad enough to cover the waterfront of all of the components involved, and which understands specifically that a Windows Server operating system needs to be thought of as an 'application' in the context of the ESX host. That vendor is Hyperic and their VMware product is Hyperic HQ. I have also blogged on this topic on the home page of my Web site, Application Performance Management Experts .

So, I have two questions:

  1. Is management of applications in the VMware ESX environment as difficult and different for you as I have been told by some of my friends who have large implementations?
  2. Have you found any products to help with this?"

I am right there with you. Monitoring and management of a virtual infrastructure is a hot topic and one that I have written much about.

In the end you can spend oodles of money on all those products you mentioned (and they are very good products) or you can save your money and shock the heck out of your wife by welcoming her home from work to the new 32" LCD TV you just purchased (sorry honey, I swore you said I could get one).

The truth is that you just don't need to spend any money right now on monitoring and management products because there is a short answer to both your questions: VirtualCenter2. VirtualCenter2 can manage VMs, monitor their true usage, and it ships with VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3).

I have not looked at Hyperic, but I certainly will now; thank you for the recommendation. Overall, it has been my experience that software products like those VMware produce, Xen, and Microsoft's virtual products all tend to stay one step ahead of the products designed to manage and monitor them. Until the latter industry catches up, you're probably safe using VMware VirtualCenter 2. I use it for my management and monitoring needs and I have not found it lacking (except for a few bugs) yet.

This was last published in October 2006

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