vAutomation gives new management options
Vizioncore reaches the parts other suites cannot reach
Comment September 15th, 2008
By Roger Howorth

This week virtual server management specialist Vizioncore launched a new suite of automation tools.

The news follows hot on the heels of moves by the two giants in the world of server virtualisation. Market leader VMware recently announced a free version of its enterprise grade hypervisor called ESX3i. Last week Microsoft followed suit by announcing Hyper-V Server 2008, which, like ESX3i, will be available as a free download. The two software giants are happy to give away their hypervisors because each knows that once hooked on virtualisation, users will need to buy management tools such as VMware Virtual Center 2.5 (VC25) or Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (VMM2008).

The Vizioncore suite, called vAutomation, is aimed squarely at firms running these free hypervisors. The idea is that if they’re using a free hypervisor they probably don’t want to spend a fortune on a high-end management console.

Of course, things change quickly in the world of virtualisation. A few weeks ago if you wanted a graphical tool to manage your VMs there was little choice but to buy VC25, which would cost you around $1,500. Last week Microsoft offered a second choice of management console when it launched VMM2008, which will be available within 30 days.

VMM2008 is the first tool to manage multiple Hyper-V systems, and it can also manage ESX servers provided you buy VC25 as well. Microsoft didn’t specify a price, but we expect it to cost around $500.

In contrast, Vizioncore’s forthcoming vAutomation suite will probably offer much the same functionality as the VMM2008 at a slightly lower entry level price. Better still, vAutomation will also be able to manage ESX systems without needing VC25 running in the background.

The Vizioncore tools won’t be able to migrate VMs using VMware’s VMotion unless you haveVC25, but it could do warm migrations of Hyper-V and ESX VMs without help from other licensed software.

The Vizioncore suite is made of three separate programs, which together can do things that VMM2008 and VC25 cannot. For example, vWorkflow can orchestrate the renaming of a virtual machine. This may sound trivial, but it actually involves a lot of different operations, such as renaming files and directories on the hypervisor’s datastore, changing the hostname inside the VM, and updating the inventory in the management console. The process could take an administrator an hour or so to complete, but without automation it might well need to be done at the weekend or during scheduled downtime because the VM needs to be stopped while the files are renamed. The vAutomation suite will be able to schedule this workflow so it could be performed automatically in the next suitable time slot.

While Vizioncore is a relatively small software group, it has five years experience focussed entirely on supporting virtual server systems. Following the acquisition of Vizioncore by Quest Software earlier this year, Vizioncore has the financial backing to sit at the same table as VMware or even Microsoft. With the launch of vAutomation it has the products to match as well.

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