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AWS influence apparent in vRealize Suite platform update

Amazon Web Services' fingerprints are all over the latest update to VMware's hybrid cloud management platform, but that support comes with a hefty price tag.

Now that VMware has partnered with Amazon Web Services and embarked on a hybrid cloud adventure, the company has its sights on the post-hypervisor world and, perhaps more importantly, additional revenue streams. Going forward, we can reasonably expect to see VMware build extensive cloud functionality into all of its future products, starting with the recently revised vRealize Suite.

VMware has been keen to boast about the massive uptake of the vRealize Suite by businesses across all sectors, and the posturing is justified. The vRealize Suite -- which consists of vRealize Automation, vRealize Operations (vROps), vRealize Log Insight and vRealize Business for Cloud -- performs as promised, and this new update brings some much-needed changes.

The first of these changes should come as a surprise to no one: The vRealize Suite now fully supports Amazon Web Services (AWS). This means that vRealize now fully understands the AWS infrastructure and offers support for tagging, security groups, microsegmentation and firewall configurations. The user can now search for all of these items within vRealize, which makes it more useful and fluid.

AWS functionality comes at a cost

Although the fruits of the VMware-AWS partnership are apparent in a number of VMware offerings, including vSphere, there's a fly in the ointment: The new AWS functionality requires a subscription level jump. If an IT department wants to manage AWS or other clouds, it needs to purchase the Enterprise Edition, which comes at a high cost.

Although the fruits of the VMware-AWS partnership are apparent … there's a fly in the ointment: The new AWS functionality requires a subscription level jump.

Though this might cause some to grumble, it comes with its own unique benefits. VRealize Enterprise Edition can troubleshoot the full AWS environment and is aware of exactly how AWS works and integrates with VMware. According to marketing talk, the Enterprise Edition reduces time to resolution. What the marketing talk doesn't mention, however, are other cloud providers. This sends a pretty clear message that VMware views AWS as the primary cloud provider of choice.

VMware improves vROPs, HTML5 UI

No matter which edition of the updated vRealize Suite you purchase, all include useful features and updates, including the new vROps Manager 6.6. This version of the vROps Manager can drill down on any part of the stack and extract detailed data. It can also drill below the surface of a standard AWS environment or the software-defined data center stack in general.

One of the biggest issues with the 6.x series of VMware products was its nonintuitive UI. Put bluntly, the UI was overly complex and made it difficult to get things done. Fortunately, VMware addressed this issue and rewrote the HTML5 UI to follow the Clarity Design System. Clarity is an open source project that combines user experience, HTML/CSS framework and Angular components to design UIs. The new HTML5 UI is clean, simple and well-designed; VMware intends to use Clarity's design framework for other projects in the future to ease the administrator learning curve. This should equate to a better overall experience for users and a more device-agnostic approach than in the past.

Along with this change to its UI, VMware rethought its dashboard approach. VRealize Suite now offers several profiles to reflect job roles. For example, cloud costing folks probably aren't all that interested in the operations side of things, so they now have two independent profiles. It also includes different dashboards for operations, compliance and troubleshooting. Out of the box, vRealize Suite now offers about 20 different ready-to-go dashboards.

Workload placements get a major overhaul

VMware also overhauled workload placement. Operators can now optimize an environment for either performance or capacity and can now move VMs across clusters to add, remove or right-size capacity. Before administrators get too excited, be aware that this type of functionality is designed for at-scale shops. Small to medium-sized organizations will find this capability limited due to the way cluster resources are normally designed and consumed. The primary purpose of this overhaul is to prepare the way forward for mass management of microservers. In the world of microservices, automated load management is more effective and efficient than manual management.

Other items in the workload placement sphere include policy-based business objectives and predictive Distributed Resource Scheduler. These items both ensure that the servers in question meet business performance criteria and, if vRealize sees an issue, move guests to alternative hosts to prevent potential downtime.

Finally -- but perhaps most importantly -- VMware made significant changes to vRealize Suite's cost control capabilities and analytics. VRealize can now identify waste in terms of underutilized resources, power off wasteful machines and put a dollar-and-cents value on resource waste. Although this might not sound like a big deal, it's something of a game-changer because it allows administrators to enumerate exactly how much money is spent on underutilized or powered-off VMs.

With on-premises ventures shrinking, VMware is taking a bold stance and doubling down on cloud as the future. VMware initially promised to become the management layer to any cloud environment and opened its arms to all major cloud providers. But with the VMware-AWS partnership, it looks like the company has revised that strategy. The issue with this is that VMware has tied its fate to the loyalty of AWS and put itself at AWS' mercy. If this strategy turns out poorly, VMware could simply change tack and offer support for other hypervisors, but politics might make things messy.

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