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Exploring the possibilities of Embotics vCommander

When it comes to hybrid cloud managing, vRealize can be difficult to set up. Embotics vCommander offers many of the same utilities but with a simpler installation process.

I have recently written a great deal about the VMware vRealize Suite, but it certainly isn't the only hybrid cloud...

managing software on the market. Embotics vCommander has been around just as long as vRealize, and it has many of the same services, including multi-tenant self-service and a cloud aware platform, but presents them in a different way.

If you've been following my series on vRealize, you know that it is a hefty application and requires several virtual servers to achieve a working setup. By comparison, the vCommander installation process is simple and straightforward. VCommander comes in a single executable file download and requires just one Windows server to get the product up and running. Smaller vCommander deployments can use the integrated PostgreSQL, while larger installations can use Microsoft SQL, though this will require an additional server.

Configuring Embotics vCommander server

This clear-cut approach remains consistent through the entire product; my complete vCommander test lab was up and running within an hour.

Each stage of the vCommander configuration offers a step-by-step guide to achieving your desired setup. For example, one guide walks the administrator through setting up such items as system tenants, Active Directory (AD) and email integration.

Embotics vCommander basic setup screen.
Figure A. Embotics vCommander basic setup screen.

There are a couple of special accounts that vCommander needs that aren't AD integrated. These local accounts are similar to infrastructure and tenant administrator accounts, so this isn't too big of an issue, but it would be nice to have the option to use AD accounts from the outset.

Pulling in VMware infrastructure data

Once the Embotics vCommander server is installed, there are several manual steps required to pull the VMware infrastructure data into the application. It was clear that this task wouldn't be overly burdensome, even in a large estate. This also allows you to effectively add in the existing virtual servers so that they can be managed, should you so desire.

At the most fundamental level of creating a new service offering, you can take existing VMware templates and add them to the service catalogue for approved users to request customization as needed.

Creating tenants and users is a relatively effortless process, one which allows you to assign roles to users and managers or to define custom roles as the administrator sees fit. Much like vRealize, there are several roles within the system, and, to be honest, it's far easier to administer because it lets admins assign people to roles or even create new roles based on required settings.

Developing and providing service catalogs with coherent offerings can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. You can build simple VMs or complete multi-VM services by combining several steps, each with a script, command, clone or other items. In a similar vein, you can adjust the way in which approvals are granted.

It doesn't have quite the same level of deep diving as Javascript and vRealize Orchestrator, but you can build almost anything you need using the available tools, even if that means using external functionality.

Creating a new service offering

At the most fundamental level of creating a new service offering, you can take existing VMware templates and add them to the service catalogue for approved users to request customization as needed. VCommander has some really useful default settings out of the box, such as an estimation of how much the machine being purchased will cost. This estimation is based on settings you can modify to adjust the cost appropriately.

All of these items can easily be adjusted, and vCommander includes a graphical user interface editor to which the administrator can connect settings to customize the VMs in question. It allows you to modify other aspects of the deployment should you so choose.

VCommander even goes above and beyond this level of use by offering the ability to integrate with other technologies, such as Chef, to customize and build new servers.

It's possible to build complex interdependent applications around a number of VMs, using preassigned pools of available IP addresses.

A closer look at Embotics vCommander features

VCommander also provides easy to use features like reporting and metrics to help you get a handle on your estate. Let's take a closer look at the reporting function. VCommander shows a whole host of reports right out of the box. I particularly liked the report showing all the snapshots across the estate, as seen in Figure B. Though it isn't the most critical report, it's a good example of which items are useful right away.

Snapshot Summary Report window.
Figure B. A report showing all of the snapshots across the estate.

The beauty of vCommander's simplicity is that it allows you to use a wide variety of external configuration tools to create the level of customization you require.

In summary, Embotics vCommander can be a very capable alternative to vRealize in certain situations. It's easy to use, polished and integrates well with a number of useful out the box components, including costing and resource management tools, to help identify potential issues.

For those looking for a straightforward approach and a quick turnaround, I'd recommend downloading and testing out vCommander.

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