Click here to close now.


Recurring Revenue Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, AppDynamics Blog, Pat Romanski, Teresa Schoch

Blog Feed Post

vCenter Operations Manager - Monitoring Messiah or VMware Monopolisation?

Are VMware slowly becoming the new Oracle? That was the question being asked after the backlash to their initial vRAM licensing model at the launch of vSphere 5. With VMware’s somewhat quick retraction, it was ensured that any unsavoury Larry Ellison comparisons were quickly put to bed. Despite this it was still a signal of intent and an indication of VMware’s recognition of its ever growing influence and clout. Now as VMware make serious manoeuvers into the PaaS space, a VMware based Cloud monitoring solution is a must. So with this in mind what is to be made of the huge marketing and push for their customers to adopt their VM monitoring tool vCenter Operations 5.0?

Back when VMware was only considered ideal for virtualizing test and development environments, the native alarms and performance graphs of the then termed Virtual Center were more than adequate for general monitoring purposes. As the vSphere revolution began with the average customer having VMs numbering in the hundreds, VMware generously allowed a plethora of third-party performance and capacity tools to plug into vCenter via their SDK. Suddenly every subsequent VMworld trade show would get bigger not just by the number of attendees but by the number of VM monitoring companies and tools such as vKernel vOPS, Veeam Monitor, VMTurbo Operations Manager, Quest vFoglight and Xanagti VI to name just a few. So when in February 2011 VMware eventually did enter the monitoring space with the purchase of Integrien’s Alive and its later relaunch and rebranding as vCenter Operations Manager, there wasn’t anything majorly distinctive between what were already mature and in most cases cheaper solutions. More than a year later, a huge marketing campaign and a revamped version, vCenter Operations 5.0 is slowly gaining traction amongst end users as the VM monitoring tool of choice but how much of this is related to its actual capabilities as opposed to VMware driving an agenda to monopolise a market segment that is clearly profitable?

To answer this, the first thing to do is to assess whether there is a need for such a tool, whether it’s any good and what distinction, if any does it bring from the competition? The truth is that anyone who has had to troubleshoot a VMware environment, or gauge the capacity or performance, regardless of the size of the infrastructure will testify that the default tools are simply not sufficient. Add the factor that more and more business critical applications are now virtualised with virtual environments growing at an immense rate, then an enterprise-grade performance, capacity and monitoring tool is a necessity.

So looking at the vCenter Operations Manager vApp (from now on to be referred as VCOPs) the first thing to note is that it collects data not only from VMware‘s vCenter Server but also from vCenter Configuration Manager as well as third-party data sources such as SNMP. This collected data is then processed by the vCenter Operations Manager Analytics VM which presents the results through the rather colourful looking GUI. Compared to its predecessor the most notable change with the VCOPs 5.0 GUI is its integration with vCenter’s navigation/inventory pane. This small yet effective change makes it look much more like a VMware product as opposed to the bolt-on appearance that both Integrien and previous VCOPs versions possessed.
vCenter Operations Manager now incorporates the vCenter navigation pane 

Using the themes / badges of Health, Risk and Efficiency, the GUI organises the view of an entire infrastructure onto a main dashboard that can be drilled down to root causes and further details. Utilising a green, yellow, red scheme where green means good and red is bad, the badges are a quick indication of areas of concern or that require investigating. By seeing something as red, a couple of clicks and simple drill down will show you the relevant VMs and their affected hosts as well as any shared or affected datastores. Furthermore each badge carries a score where a high number is good for the Health and Efficiency badges but potentially detrimental for the Risk badge as a low risk is optimum for your environment. All of this enables quicker troubleshooting in large VM environments as issues can be quickly pinpointed from a very high level view down to the granular detail in just seconds.
vCenter Operations enables easy drill downs to granular details from high level overviews

The Health badge identifies current problems in the system and highlights issues that require immediate resolution. Using a heatmap, the end user has a quick health overview of all parent and child objects such as virtual machines and hosts that can also be rewound by up to six hours to track back trends. The Risk badge identifies exactly that and uses data based on infrastructure stress, time and capacity remaining. It also identifies potential issues that could impact the infrastructure’s performance and can also be trended back to seven days worth of data. Finally the Efficiency Badge, which takes advantage of the now integrated CapacityIQ tool, is used for capacity planning where CPU, memory and disk space resource metrics are referred to for identifying overprovisioned, under-utilised or optimally resourced VMs.
A single dashboard can highlight issues from numerous objects such as datastores, clusters and VMs

As well as the Badges and their drill down details, VCOPs also has several menu tabs such as Operations, Planning, Alerts, Analysis, and Reports. Of most interest in the Operations tab is the Environmental section where a visual representation of objects such as the associated vCenter Server, datacenters, datastores, hosts, and virtual machines are presented alongside their scores and relationship. This is an excellent feature that enables the end user to quickly drill down, identify and investigate more granular objects of concern and their health status. The Planning section also contains a very useful summary section that provides a visual overview in graphs and tables of capacity for any selected object enabling you to easily switch between deployed and remaining capacity. Here VCOPs provides the ability to have extended forecasts of remaining capacity for up to several months, an essential value add especially as environments grow at such a radical pace.
The integration of CapacityIQ and VCOPs' predictive analytics enables forecasted capacity planning capabilities

In addition to the capacity planning and forecasting features, it’s also good to see VCOPs incorporate what-if scenarios. Now becoming common amongst several VM monitoring tools, what-if scenarios are a useful addition to any VM environment especially as they allow you to foresee the impact on capacity and workload on your virtual environment prior to making any actual changes.

Finally the area in which VCOPs really stands out from the competition, is its unique and new vCenter Infrastructure Navigator feature. With the understanding that paramount to any business, monitoring solutions that look at the performance of their applications as opposed to just their infrastructure are far more attractive, VMware’s vCenter Infrastructure Navigator has been introduced to automatically discover application services and map their dependencies and relationships. One of the main benefits of having a knowledge of the application and virtual infrastructure’s interdependencies is that it will immediately help reduce MTTR by either eliminating or implicating the infrastructure as a cause of application slowdowns. Furthermore as key applications and their underlying infrastructure are constantly identified and monitored the end user can quickly ensure that the right level of resources are allocated and that priority is given to those VMs that actually need it.

When you put this in the context of disaster recovery and more specifically VMware’s latest version of Site Recovery Manager, end users now have the opportunity to create recovery plans and protection groups that are aligned to the applications that reside on their VCOPs monitored VMs. This is a far cry from the competition whose equivalent Disaster Recovery solutions still don’t allow you to automatically failback or even failover multiple VMs simultaneously. Using VCOPs’ metrics and mapping of application interdependencies with VMs and underlying hosts, the level of sophistication in Disaster Recovery planning is raised significantly in that it’s now related to what matters to the business most, namely the apps.
vCenter Infrastructure Navigator provides VCOPs a unique visibility of application interdependency mappings 

So while this all sounds great does VCOPs really spell the end of other VM monitoring solutions and a consequent reduction of third party stalls and their scantily clad glamour models at VMworld? Does it really constitute a comprehensive Cloud monitoring solution? At present, probably not. VCOPs is still more expensive than most of its competitors with a per VM pricing model and still has some limitations, most significantly its inability to monitor physical servers in the same way it monitors VMs. It also has to gain a market share by going against already popular and seasoned solutions that have already existent end users and champions. In saying that, this is VCOPs 5 and is merely the beginning.

Looking firstly at the price challenge, VCOPs is software and indeed it would be foolhardy to not expect the pricing model to change and become more attractive to new customers or even bundled in with new hypervisor purchases.  When looking at the bigger picture, VMware are clearly focusing further up the stack with a PaaS offering and it would also be short-sighted to think VMware only see VCOPs as a single entity product that just monitors the infrastructure space. If anything it’s an investment to what will be an integral component to a comprehensive Cloud monitoring package that enables successful migrations to VMware’s PaaS offerings. In such a scenario it would be ideal for VMware to have a PaaS offering that was already built on an IaaS monitoring, management and orchestration solution that they themselves have developed. Furthermore should the next version of VCOPs or the package that it comes with include the ability to monitor analytics that incorporate physical blades we could well have an integrated monitoring tool that’s impossible to compete with. Just imagine being able to run a what if scenario on a physical blade prior to virtualizing it onto a VM so that you’re able to size up the resources accurately not based just on current metrics but also analysed and predicted growth?  

So taking a step back and looking at the whole VMware portfolio it seems that the heavy investment and marketing of VCOPs is more a ploy of eventually tying in many of their separate solutions as a single comprehensive management, orchestration and Cloud monitoring package that is managed singlehandedly via the vCenter interface. Currently VMware is littered with lots of separate solutions that include vCloud Director and vCenter Chargeback Manager but if they were fully integrated with VCOPs they would make a tasty introduction package to those looking to deploy a Private Cloud. Then there’s VMware’s Hyperic which has the ability to close the aforementioned physical gap as it can monitor the physical environment underlying vSphere hence providing performance management of applications in both physical and virtual environments.Therefore it’s not impossible even today for a Cloud infrastructure’s components to be monitored with a bolted together Hyperic and VCOPs solution, with Hyperic monitoring the applications and the processes running on vCloud Director, which in turn is conveyed to VCOPs which is monitoring the VMs and consequently other components such as vShield Manager. 
Using VCOPs in conjunction with vCloud Director, vShield Manager & Hyperic may provide a Cloud monitoring solution but currently it's the sum of parts as opposed to a fully integrated and seamless stack

But for VMware to be successful in the PaaS sphere they need to enter and engage with a market segment they’ve had little exposure to i.e. the application owners. Looking at VMware’s vFabric Application Performance Manager (driven by AppInsight) as part of a fully integrated package of VCOPs, vCloud Director, Hyperic etc. could be they key that opens the door to application owners. It would also provide VMware a true Cloud monitoring solution that could provide real-time visibility and control from application to infrastructure via a single management interface.

Integration with vFabric AppInsight could provide a comprehensive Cloud monitoring solution that looks from infrastructure all the way up to the application layer 

Ultimately this requires a lot of development work and effort from VMware and will eventually bring them into competition with a new breed of vendors that specialize in Cloud management and monitoring. The point is as good as VCOPs is and as good as the competitors are it's important not to get blinkered and avoid the bigger picture of what VCOPs may eventually become part of. Either way VCOPs’ current competitors need to up their game quick or find alternative features to their solutions – to survive in this game it’s clear, you’re either big or niche.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Archie Hendryx

SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at different existing uses of peer-to-peer data sharing and how it can become useful in a live session to...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.