Here's a follow-up with VMware on the company's new Lifecycle Manager add-on for ESX.
I posted a blog last week covering the management add-on to Virtual Center; I caught up with Bogomil Balkansky from VMware's marketing org to fill in the blanks.
Users have been bemoaning the dearth of native management tools for all hypervisor platforms. Citrix bumped XenCenter to be more friendly in the latest rev of XenServer, and Virtual Center offers a number of bells and whistles for ESX 3.5 shops. All virt vendors have lacked vendor-supplied "cradle-to-grave" management. VMware listens to its customers and pays attention to the evolving ecosystem of third-party support tools for ESX; in best form, it bought a winner to address a gap in product offerings. When VMware acquired Dunes back in September, many analysts focused on Dunes' desktop virtualization solutions; Lifecycle Manager was developed from Dunes' tech.
Pricing for the new product is based on physical processors: $895 per socket. In VMware-speak, a processor can have up to 4 cores under current licensing. A two-socket, quad-core, "8-way" ESX host would add $1,790 to your LCM bill on top of the Virtual Center prereq.
Per Balkansky in Palo Alto, any VMware customer with "more than a few dozen virtual machines" is a target for Lifecycle Manager. VMware looks to that tally as the critical mass for automated provisioning, distribution, care, feeding, and sunsetting of virtual servers.
Balkansky spoke anecdotally about the pervasiveness of Virtual Center across existing ESX shops and sees LCM deployments as a natural progression as VMs take on larger production roles. According to an in-house poll of VMware customers, 54% are now running "enterprise" class apps on VMs, and Balkansky pointed out that VMware is the only virt platform formally supported by SAP. My guess: If you're running SAP, you probably have a server life-cycle automation requirement.