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The best guide to VMware's management products

This crash course gives you an easily digestible overview of VMware's range of management products, from vCenter CapacityIQ to vCenter Site Recovery Manager.

It wasn't long ago that when talking about VMware, we were only talking about VMware Workstation, GSX and ESX. It was a nice portfolio of products and everyone knew exactly what did what. Today the story is a bit different when you look at the VMware products website.

In this two-part series, we're going to go over what products are what and what they do.

Management products

VMware vCenter Server
Managing a virtual infrastructure is more than just managing of a bunch of hypervisors in your data center. Without centralized proactive management, standardization, and automation, your business won't benefit as much as it could from that virtual infrastructure. VMware vCenter Server is the foundation for virtualization management. It provides the first step to managing your virtual infrastructure. Additional applications like Site Recovery Manager, Lab Manager, Chargeback, etc. all depend on vCenter Server.

The best VMware product guide: Hypervisors, desktop products and cloud services
Go check out part one if you missed our recap of VMware's hypervisors, desktop products and cloud services.

VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat
As vCenter Server becomes one of the most important components of your IT infrastructure, availability and continuity of vCenter Server is key. With vCenter Server Heartbeat, high availability and disaster recovery of your vCenter Server is guaranteed whether it is on a Local Area Network (LAN) or over a Wireless Area Network (WAN). VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat will continuously replicate all vCenter traffic between two vCenter Server instances and their respective databases.

VMware vCenter Orchestrator
Many tasks in your virtual infrastructure can be automated with vCenter Orchestrator by simply dragging building blocks into a workflow or using one of the many predefined workflows. For example, if you want to create a snapshots of multiple virtual machines within a resource pool, a workflow designed with vCenter Orchestrator can automate this process and bring it back to a single mouse click. In combination with VMware Lifecycle Manager, procedures to deploy, track and decommission virtual machines can be fully automated.

VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager
With physical server infrastructures, switching to a second data center in the event of a disaster is a very tedious task. In a virtual infrastructure, this switch is much easier but still not something to think of lightly. With VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager, the switch to the second data center is fully automated. Several recovery plans have been scripted to make complex recovery steps easy and reliable. Testing of those recovery plans can be done without disruption of the production environment.

VMware vCenter Lab Manager
Building a separated lab environment for project teams used to take a lot of time. With vCenter Lab Manager a set of virtual machines can be deployed without intervention of an admin. Teams can use the Self Service Portal that is provided with vCenter Lab Manager to build their own set of virtual machines, making this an ideal solution for software development and release management teams.

VMware vCenter Lifecycle Manager
In virtual infrastructures it has become so easy to deploy virtual machines that sometimes the number of virtual machines can multiple exponentially very quickly. With vCenter Lifecycle Manager you can control this phenomenon known as virtual machine sprawl by tracking ownership of virtual machines and keep track of when a virtual machine was deployed or decommissioned. As with with vCenter Lab Manager, the soon-to-be owner of the virtual machine can request a virtual machine, define the properties and the admin only needs to approve the request by e-mail to start deployment. It is possible to create a service catalog with standard sets of virtual machines or offer the ability to request a fully customized virtual machine.

VMware vCenter Converter
VMware vCenter Converter is used to convert physical Windows or Linux servers into virtual machines. This can be done through cold conversions where the physical server is booted from a special vCenter Converter CD or it can be done via live migration. In a live migration scenario an agent is installed on the physical machine and the conversion to virtual is performed while the server is still running and without downtime.

VMware vCenter Chargeback
In physical environments it often is very clear what resources a server is using and what price tag to put on it. In a virtual environment this is much more difficult since a virtual machine is not using the full power of the physical host but only the resources assigned, which can change dynamically. With vCenter Chargeback resource utilization and allocation con be measured more accurately to help the business make informed decisions about their service-level agreements (SLAs) and the associated costs.

VMware vCenter CapacityIQ
With vCenter CapacityIQ you can plan your virtual infrastructure capacity needs to help you determine when to invest in more hardware to feed the growing needs of your data center. You can also create "what if" scenarios to see the impact various changes might have on your virtual infrastructure. CapacityIQ can also help you identify inefficient use of resources and free up unused capacity.

VMware vCenter AppSpeed
One of the most difficult tasks in a virtual environment is measuring and ensuring application performance. Standard tools are often not capable of working with the dynamic resource allocation that is done in a virtual infrastructure. With vCenter AppSpeed application performance is measured outside of the virtual machine and is therefore non-intrusive. AppSpeed can determine the root cause of a performance problem, whether it is a network, infrastructure or application problem.


Gabrie van Zanten (VCP) has been in the IT industry for 12 years. Currently he is a virtualization architect for a worldwide consultancy company and has designed and maintained virtual infrastructures for a number of customers. He has written articles for magazines and frequently publishes in-depth articles at his weblog, GabesVirtualWorld.

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