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Major Extension Of VMware's Management Vision

Apparently not wanting to be upstaged by its VCE partners Cisco and EMC, VMware is jumping on the announcement bandwagon with three major launches: a revamped VMware vCenter Operations and two new suites, the VMware vFabric Application Management and VMware IT Business Management. The company says that unlike traditional--and failing--approaches characterized by physical distributed systems and siloed management disciplines, VMware’s solutions take advantage of cloud infrastructure, are focused on eliminating IT complexity rather than orchestrating it, and will support IT’s ability to act as a broker of services to the businesses it serves.

Managing in a cloud environment has some unique attributes and challenges with the notion of constant change, says VMware. The future of IT will involve the brokering of applications and services running across clouds, which is driving demand for new management styles, it says.

Introduced in March 2011, VMware vCenter Operations integrates performance, capacity and configuration management, and applies analytics to simplify and automate operations. The update includes deeper integration of VMware vCenter Capacity IQ and VMware vCenter Configuration Manager, new dashboards and smart alerts, and new application-awareness capabilities that automatically discover and map the relationships and dependencies between applications and the infrastructure components that support them.

VMware vFabric Application Management will include two solutions: vFabric AppDirector will standardize and automate the release/deployment of applications to any cloud through easy-to-create blueprints with standardized templates, component libraries and deployment workflows; vFabric Application Performance Manager will help customers proactively manage application performance in virtual and cloud environments. The third announcement, the IT Business Management Suite, which is based on June's acquisition of Digital Fuel technologies, will include three modules: IT Finance Manager, IT Service Level Manager and IT Vendor Manager, providing a single pane of glass into IT capital, operating and service expenses.

Scheduled for release in early 2012, with prices starting at $50 per VM, the updated vCenter suite will be offered in four versions. vFabric Application Performance Manager is expected to be available this quarter with prices starting at $360 per VM, while vFabric AppDirector is expected to be available in early 2012. The business management suite is also expected to ship this quarter and will be licensed per user. VMware is also introducing a vCenter Operations Management Accelerator Service to help customers improve management of virtual and cloud environments.

The combination of the these extensions to vCenter Operations, along with the vFabric Applications Management and IT Business Management Suite announcements, extends VMware's management capabilities beyond infrastructure to more directly address application health, performance and business value in highly dynamic cloud environments, says Mary Johnston Turner, research VP, enterprise systems management, IDC. "VMware's view is that next-generation cloud infrastructure needs to be more reliable and self managing so that IT organizations can put more focus on business agility, application performance and business." Collectively, she sees this announcement as a major extension of VMware's management vision and thinks it puts the company on a course to become more of a direct competitor to some of the traditional systems and application management software vendors.

Turner thinks one of the most important new capabilities is the Infrastructure Navigator 1.0, which is a new element of the VCenter Operations Suite. "It provides improved visibility across infrastructure and application layers by automatically discovering and mapping relationships and dependencies between applications and the infrastructure components that support them. This allows for more automated and optimized decisions about workload placement, configuration and capacity planning. Up until this set of releases, VMware had limited visibility between those layers."

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