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VKernel throws down automation gauntlet for VMware

With today’s release of version 4.5 of its vOps management software, Quest subsidiary VKernel is challenging VMware to an infrastructure automation duel.

“[Paul] Maritz from VMware has been discussing automation for the better part of a year,” said Alex Rosemblat, product marketing manager for VKernel. With vOps 4.5, Rosemblat claims, “we’re really starting to deliver on the future vision that VMware has laid out.”

An example of VKernel’s first foray into capacity management automation in vOps 4.5 is ‘Zombie VM’ deletion – the automatic removal of VMDK files deemed waste by the software. By default, vOps marks a VMDK as waste if it has no connection to anything in vCenter and has been sitting in storage for more than 90 days. Users can also customize these criteria.

“What users have had to do in the past, after they receive this list of waste files, is go through and manually find these waste files and delete them,” Rosemblat said. “If you have a couple hundred files, that can turn into several hours’ worth of work. We can do that basically with the click of a button.” In the next release, users will be able to schedule Zombie VM deletions.

Other new automation features introduced with 4.5 include snapshot auto-merge, and more “one-click issue remediation” similar to waste file deletion, but for memory limit sizing. Previously, vOps could address memory allocated to particular VMs, but not memory limits, another setting within vSphere which restricts the amount of allocated memory a VM actually uses. This release adds visibility and automated remediation for memory limits to existing support for memory allocations. vCPU sizing is also supported with this release, in addition to physical CPU resource sizing.

Also new with this release: a new way of doing reports designed to shave down the amount of time admins spend on this task. Now, an extended custom URL generation process allows admins to send management a link that shows a real-time view of the environment, rather than repeatedly generating and sending reports.
Finally, vOps 4.5 also includes the ability to forecast how much hardware will be needed to support an environment based on the current growth rate; common trend alarm warnings delivered by default; application type tags and resource sizing configuration groups; plus vSphere 5 and raw device mapping (RDM) support.

“VMware’s strategy for operations management is to combine performance management, capacity management, [and] configuration management…with the self-learning analytics that came with Integrien for the purpose of automating IT operations,” said Bernd Harzog, analyst with The Virtualization Practice. “Quest is coming out of the gate, in terms of a response [to VMware], better and faster than anybody else in the ecosystem.”

But it’s still too early to pick a winner in this race, Harzog said. “Right now we’re on chapter one of a twenty-chapter book.”

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