Q

Is VMware Capacity Planner free?

Many consultants offer VMware Capacity Planner free to interested virtualization admins, but if you dread their sales pitch, consider vBenchmark.

Using capacity analysis and planning, IT pros can downsize hardware resources, ensure adequate equipment is in place for a new business initiative or expansion, or discover problem spots in their infrastructure.

VMware Capacity Planner is a virtualization estimate tool that assesses an IT infrastructure and its usage. Capacity Planner is free, but you can't simply download the tool and put it to work analyzing your server usage and end-user work patterns. IT shops need to go through authorized VMware partners or consultants for capacity planning services based on the VMware Capacity Planner tool.

Is VMware Capacity Planner free for the IT shop?

On the face of it, Capacity Planner is a free tool for data center infrastructure management. However, services based on Capacity Planner's analysis -- such as virtualization assessments or server consolidation plans drawn up by VMware and its partners -- may either be free, offered for a fee or one part of a larger paid program.

There are free options for VMware capacity planning that admins can deploy without outside help.

Even if VMware partners provide Capacity Planner-based assessments for free, IT shops might shun the coordination efforts required to engage with an outside consultant. Security misgivings might arise when companies consider the outsiders' access to vital infrastructure data.

There are free options for VMware capacity planning that admins can deploy without outside help. IT shops using vSphere 4 can deploy vCenter Guided Consolidation, a lightweight version of Capacity Planner. And anyone can download VMware vBenchmark free from VMware Labs to accumulate metrics and compare them over time, or against results from other infrastructures.

Offered as a virtual appliance, vBenchmark is a fling that measures efficiency, agility and service quality. Users can compare their results with those of peers in an anonymous format if they choose to, but the main draw of vBenchmark is how it automates capacity assessments that would otherwise require a lot of manual inventorying. Features include the option to exclude reporting from certain hosts and the ability to save pertinent queries.

If you've turned to VMware CapacityIQ in the past for basic CPU, memory and I/O usage reporting -- maybe in your last consolidation and virtualization project -- you'll need to investigate an alternative. VMware discontinued the standalone product and support in 2012. Some comparable reporting is integrated into the vCenter Operations Management Suite.

This was first published in April 2013

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