One of the ongoing issues with virtualization is that it's painful to deploy on a large scale and it's expensive to manage.
VMware today finally moved to address both these issues with the launch of a new Cloud Infrastructure Suite that includes a major update to VMware vSphere that allows IT organizations to better manage virtual machines across as many as 32 virtual processors and up to 1TB of virtual RAM, otherwise known as "monster VMs."
According to VMware CEO Paul Maritz, the company's primary goal with this announcement is to deliver an integrated infrastructure that automates data center operations in a way that makes the total cost of managing enterprise IT more affordable.
The VMware Cloud Infrastructure Suite includes vSphere 5, VMware vShield 5, VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5, VMware vCloud Director 1.5 and a new vSphere Storage Appliance. New capabilities into the VMware toolbox of note include the ability to manage I/O allocation and tools that discover compliance-related issues. In addition, Maritz promised that in the future VMware will make it easier for virtual security technologies to maintain association with specific application workloads as they migrate across multiple virtual machines.
VMware CTO Steve Herrod added that collectively these tools will make it easier to reduce both the "noisy neighbor" syndrome that results in virtual machines hogging too many system resources at the expense of other virtual machines, and the "nosy neighbor" syndrome where one instance of virtual machine has too much visibility into what another virtual machine is doing.
Arguably, the ability to acquire VMware management tools as part of a suite is somewhat overdue. In many instances, customers are being "nickled and dimed to death" over the cost of virtualization tools, which leads many of them to forgo acquiring them. Of course, without the tools in place, many of them can only manage a finite number of virtual machines, which then leads to what many refer to as a general state of virtualization stall.
To help further alleviate this situation, VMware also reduced the complexity associated with managing its software by pricing based on the total amount of virtual RAM consumed by its wares, while at the same time reducing the number of VMware packaged software offerings from six to five.
In many cases, IT organizations have developed their own scripts to manage virtual machines or rely on a variety of third-party management tools. Clearly, VMware is trying to evict many of those vendors from its backyard while trying to convince customers to pay extra for tools developed and supported by the people who develop the virtual machines. The extent to which that appeals to customers remains to be seen, but history suggests that bundling tools into a suite is usually a pretty effective approach to gaining market share.