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VMware sneaks out vCenter Chargeback 2.0

With little fanfare, VMware introduced version 2.0 of its chargeback tool last week, and the release notes include more “known issues” than new features.

vCenter Chargeback has been renamed Chargeback Manager and folded into the vCenter Operations suite. According to the release notes issued Nov. 30, version 2.0 contains more than a dozen new features, including support for vSphere 5.0 and vCloud Director 1.5.

The new version is also more flexible, industry observers say, in that it allows for thick- and thin-provisioned VMs to be charged differently, supports raw device mapping, and can be configured to apply costs to virtual machines only when they are powered on. The new version also allows users to define storage tiers, include VM storage profiles in a tier, and automatically group datastores according to their storage profiles.

The new version also resolves nine issues from earlier releases, such as reports displaying usage and cost for shared virtual machines multiple times, and both scheduled and archived reports failing when users were deleted.

But the “Known Issues” section, which contains about 40 items, includes some real UI bugs, observers say. “A lot of the UI bugs look like the kind that would be very distracting to a user, cause load on the IT guys when the product malfunctioned, and make the product look and feel poorly constructed,” said one VMware pro.

“The first known issue, ‘Connection times out when browsing hierarchy,’ is a perfect example of this. The connection might time out when browsing a large vCenter setup. Aren’t places with large setups the people you want to sell this to? Why would they buy something that won’t work right?”

“It looks like VMware has a big opportunity here to improve this product,.” the expert added.

It’s unclear, however, just how many users will be affected by these issues, given that interest in the product has been low from the beginning. In general, virtualization chargeback tools face an uphill battle against existing corporate accounting practices.

Though some users say vCenter Chargeback looks good in theory, and can envision use cases, little appears to have changed on the adoption front as of late.

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