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Which VM lifecycle management tools should you use?

VM lifecycle management is key in keeping things running smoothly and there are tools that can help you manage your workloads.

With VM lifecycle management, it's important for administrators and IT pros to know which workloads are more critical than others. Consistently monitoring virtual machines will help keep your environment running smoothly. Without this insight, virtual machines can easily proliferate and remain in the environment long after their useful life resulting in wasted resources and unneeded expenditures. Administrators can rely on a wide variety of tools – ranging from free utilities to complex frameworks – to review VM characteristics, watch performance and manage lifecycles depending on the organization’s unique needs. 

What tools can I use to manage VM lifecycles? Can I manage VM lifecycles through my hypervisor?

Tools will be vital to adequately handle VM lifecycle management, but you usually don’t need to invest in complicated, high-cost tools for that specific purpose. For example, your current virtualization-aware performance and capacity planning tools should provide suitable insight into VM performance and render alarms as resource utilization reaches established limits.

If there is a clear need for a comprehensive VM lifecycle management tool, organizations can look to full-featured frameworks like Embotics’ vCommander, NetApp’s OnCommand Insight Balance (formerly Akorri BalancePoint), CA Server Automation and Red Hat CloudForms among others.

Smaller organizations without the need for sophisticated VM lifecycle management frameworks can often utilize VM status and reporting features available within the hypervisor or though inexpensive (even free) tools. For example, the vSphere Client VM Inventory tab reports details on all the VMs across an enterprise including each state, status, allocated resources and so on. Similarly, the VMware Guest Console is a free application with a VM Manager tab reporting VM power states, CPU, memory and other hardware attributes among other details. Other free applications like RVTools can report details and status on just about any hardware allocated to VMware hosts. Administrators can often use such inexpensive tools for convenient spot-checks of the virtual machine infrastructure.

Remember that tools may experience limitations imposed by hypervisor, operating system and hardware variations across the data center, so it’s important to test tools before acquisition and general deployment -- especially in larger heterogeneous environments.

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