VMware continued its march up-market last week with the release of three new product suites that put it into direct competition with mainline management vendors such as BMC and even smaller enterprise vendors.
The enhancements to its vCenter Operations suite, and the new VMware vFabric Application Management and VMware IT Business Management suites, seek to speed the deployment, operations and management of virtualized cloud environments by spanning traditional IT silos such as development, operations and infrastructure.
VMware has 3 goals for the new offerings. The first is to build more policy-based automation into the development, deployment and operation of virtualized cloud environments. The second is to bring together formerly separate disciplines such as the creation of applications, their deployment and their ongoing management. The final aim is to allow IT to move from being a “builder” of applications and services to a “broker” of services that might come from inside the organization or be built outside.
In some cases, VMware is more tightly integrating capabilities that formerly required “bolt on” tools, says Ramin Sayar, VP of Products & Strategy, Virtualization & Cloud Management. In other cases, For example, the VMware vCenter Operations Management™ Suite gains deeper integration with VMware vCenter Capacity IQ™ and VMware vCenter Configuration Manager. In other cases, such as with the IT Business Management Suite, it is using technology acquired by buying another company (Digital Fuel) to move into the “business services” management space already claimed by traditional management vendors such as BMC, which is allegedly a partner.
The vFabric Application Management Suite will help customers combine and streamline work previously done by development and operations staffs, while vFabric AppDirector “will standardize and automate the release/deployment of applications to any cloud through easy-to-create blueprints with standardized templates, component libraries, and deployment workflows,” the company says.
VMware also claim it will allow customers to easily see which IT components support which specific applications. That makes it easier to determine which might need upgrading and which are redundant or are no longer needed – a capability also provided by enterprise architecture vendors. Sayar says the capabilities VMware provides are easier to use, integrated with their other management tools and are free.
The enhancements speak well to customer needs for more policy-driven automation, and even the use of template server and service configurations, to drive down the cost and time required to deliver IT as a utility. Customers will also welcome the ability to manage private, public or “hybrid” clouds from a single console, even though many are only now edging cautiously out of their own data centers into hybrid clouds.
Some of the bigger, non-technical issues vendors must tackle are lingering concerns over security, such as those I addressed in a recent Computerworld story, as well more general control and compliance issues. Then there is the cultural change required for a CIO, and their staffs, to move from being builders (real men code, you know) to mere bean counters weighing terms and conditions from the internal staff vs. an outsourcer.
Finally, for vendors, I suggest being careful with how they explain and differentiate their offerings. Management spans a lot of functions, and so do services (IT services such as database and authentication? Business services such as underwriting or order entry?) Trying to re-use established terms like “services” too many times makes the listeners eyes and brains glaze over. Using more specific words in product descriptions, such as “Service Delivery Manager” or “Service Operations Manager” will make it clearer.
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