Coralling VMware virtual machines

Coralling VMware virtual machines

V-Commander promises to bring order to the swarm of VMs crowding your datacenter

The proliferation of VMs in today's datacenter has many IT professionals scratching their heads as to the true extent of virtualization's hold on day-to-day operations. Unfortunately, the complexity of virtualized environments, if left unchecked, could very well overwhelm those operations, hindering the enterprise's ability to make good on the promise of virtualization.

Or at least that's the value proposition put forth by Embotics, a newcomer to the virtualization party by way of autonomic computing. Announced this week and slated for general availability by year's end, the company's V-Commander management solution for VMware environments aims to take the sting out of the swarms of VMs taking over today's datacenters by bringing order to the chaos, resulting in significant cost savings.

I can't disagree with Embotics' conjecture that the more VMs you have, the higher the complexity, and thus the higher the cost of managing that complexity. After all, we know how costly it is to manage discrete storage nodes manually. Extend that knowledge to a sizable VM environment and you are facing the same problem, unless you can automate some of the management processes.

However, are we really at the point where companies have deployed enough VMs to create a management nightmare? Is it possible that V-Commander is a bit ahead of its time, like proposing traffic lights way before Henry Ford got America hooked on cars?

According to a recent study from IDC, worldwide spending for VM software in 2006 was a little more than US$1 billion. That amount may not seem like much compared with segments such as storage, but it's still a remarkable increase of nearly 90 percent over the previous year.

It should come as no surprise to find that EMC -- read: VMware -- cashed in more than 65 percent of that 2006 VM revenue roll, and this was before VMware's IPO. IBM came in second with 12 percent of the market, and Microsoft in third with 7.4, which puts the Redmondians just a hair ahead of SWsoft, maker of Virtuozzo.

Dig a little deeper and it's easy to find that 2005 VM software revenue marked an increase of nearly 80 percent over the previous year -- further proof that the virtualization trend could continue for years.

To its credit, Embotics is well aware that virtualization touches only a modest percentage of the large base of installed servers. That said, it also knows that those numbers are changing quickly, potentially accelerating the need for automated VM management for early customers.

Some of the features V-Commander offers include the ability to assign a unique identifier to each machine and set distinct roles such as operator, auditor, and administrator. This may not necessarily reduce admin workloads but should at least empower companies to have more control over what's running on their systems.

As a new product in a relatively untapped area, V-Commander will likely take time to mature. Expect gradual improvements to be made to the product as Embotics fine-tunes the solution's ability to provide order to VMware environments.

The wait, however, may be worth it. After all, traffic lights weren't perfect from the get-go.

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