VMware vBenchmark goes beyond capacity planning

VMware’s new free capacity analysis tool shows you how you stack up, but vBenchmark’s real value is reporting on infrastructure utilization.

Ever wish you could compare your VMware farm to your peers’? Now you can, with VMware’s free new vBenchmark capacity planning tool.

The new vBenchmark ‘fling’-- VMware speak for unreleased, unsupported project – measures an environment according to three broad categories: efficiency, agility and quality of service. For instance, it measures resource consumption such as physical RAM provisioned to a virtual machine (VM); the time it takes to provision a VM; and unplanned downtime.

Delivered as an Open Virtualization Format (OVF) virtual appliance, vBenchmark works across one or multiple vCenter servers, and can be configured to include or exclude specific hosts. The vBenchmark queries can also be saved to evaluate how an environment changes over time.

So far, vBenchmark sounds like other virtual capacity planning tools, for example the free VKernel Corp.’s CapacityVIEW. Here’s where things could get interesting: vBenchmark lets users upload their results and compare them against comparable companies in their peer group, as defined by geography, industry or company size.

But at least one early user of the vBenchmark fling is underwhelmed by this capability.

“It’s always interesting to see how you compare, but is it really useful?” said Hersey Cartwright, network operations manager at ABNB Federal Credit Union in Chesapeake, Va. “I guess I don’t see a definite business need for that.”

Cartwright’s lack of enthusiasm could be a result of how little data has been uploaded so far. (the fling was made available on Feb. 23.) “I have to go to all businesses worldwide before I get any results on my peer group,” he said.

Even though vBenchmark anonymizes and encrypts the data it uploads, some IT pros voiced privacy concerns on the blogosphere. One vBenchmark user didn’t like that it transmits “host keys” that describe which version of vSphere is being reported on.

“I am [definitely] not comfortable uploading those, not even to the mothership,” commented one user on Duncan Epping’s Yellow-Bricks.com blog.

But regardless of whether VMware customers decide to upload their results, Cartwright said vBenchmark still provides some useful information for smaller shops that don’t have other capacity planning tools.

“Where it’s most useful is around the infrastructure piece,” he said. “It provides a decent snapshot of things like how much RAM you have allocated per VM, and how many VMs you’re running per physical socket. If you don’t have any other tools, this is stuff you would have to calculate manually.”

Let us know what you think about the story; email Alex Barrett, Senior Executive Editor at [email protected], or follow @aebarrett on twitter.

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