VMware adds more controls for cloud computing

Real time analytics plus configuration equals virtual performance tuning

VMware is trying to give IT managers a way to avoid the main advantage/curse of virtual- and cloud computing: the ability to avoid seeing ugly details of the infrastructure under the pretty, pretty apps.

This morning VMware announced vCenter Operations, a set of new and repackaged tools designed to make it easier to monitor and manage performance of virtual servers, physical servers and large populations of both.

The new management application is designed to give IT access to real-time performance data and analytics for VMware-based infrastructures as well as capacity- and configuration-management tools.

That, theoretically, should make it easier to avoid spending all day tracking application performance problems back through networks, switches, storage and user error straight down to the misconfigured virtual server on which the app runs, or to a failing component in the physical server on which the VM runs.

Previously that performance data was spread across several consoles, or was much more difficult to assemble to create a single view of all the virtual servers, networks and clouds attached to a virtual infrastructure.

The key isn't just visibility into virtual infrastructures, according to VMware. It's the ability to keep track and manipulate the performance of apps, VMs and other virtualized resources that change location, identification and configuration far more quickly than traditional data-center servers, apps or other structures.

It also makes it much simpler to manage what is increasingly becoming a VMware-based virtual infrastructure in corporate computing, whether you consider big VMware installs to be large virtual infrastructures or private clouds.

Cloud computing as a concept, and virtual servers as a product category, have the potential to break the physical limitations that bind traditional IT to high-cost operational and service-delivery requirements, according to a quote from Gartner analyst Cameron Haight that VMware included in its release.

Perfectly true, as far as it goes, but the explanation as edited by VMware doesn't go far enough.

About 70 percent of servers virtualized in corporations run VMware hypervisors, giving VMware a far better chance than virtualization competitors Citrix or Microsoft to create de facto standard for internal cloud computing, according to IDC analyst Gary Chen.

Even that level of standardization doesn't overcome the basic reality that any kind of computing, no matter how abstracted, depends on the same nuts, bolts and structures of traditional IT.

"Cloud is still just a concept," Chen said. "At heart, clouds and IT are still physical servers, software, cables that hook things together, A/C that keeps it cool -- cloud doesn't really address any of those fundamental computing limitations.

"No matter what, you're still going to have to have someone able to see and manage all the pieces that go into the cloud," Chen said. "We're still kind of working on the tools to be able to do that."

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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