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VMTurbo Seeks to Put Virtualization on the Fast Track

Prevention is better than cure, and vitamins are better than pain killers.

That's the thinking behind VMTurbo, a workload management system for virtualized (and cloud) environments.

"Virtualized environments are often complex, so typically there is always work to be done fighting fires, fixing problems, working out pain points," said Derek Slayton, VMTurbo's VP of marketing. His company's product is designed to help organizations get away from this reactive mode of management. Put simply, it enables administrators to classify Windows applications running in a virtualized environment as mission-critical, normal, or non-mission critical. It then provides them with a "to-do" list to ensure the applications remain within their performance parameters. "The to-do list includes things like reclaiming space, repacking virtual machines, giving hosts a better resource allocation or even adding a new host server."

VMTurbo 3, released Tuesday, treats the data center as a market, where servers, storage and other resources are the suppliers, and applications are the consumers. VMTurbo works as the invisible hand of market forces, balancing supply and demand. "We aim to optimize the 'market' -- it's a preventative approach, rather than waiting for alarms to be triggered," said Slayton.

It can also be used for planning purposes, predicting what must be done to ensure new applications will perform at target levels based on estimates of their resource usage. Once deployed, the system learns what the applications actually need, and it fine tunes the advice accordingly.

About 85 percent of VMTurbo's customers use VMware. For them, the software works by plugging into VMware's vCenter management product. It then gets its system metrics from vCenter and creates an abstraction layer: The market with resources and applications consuming those resources. VMTurbo can also work with both public cloud and hybrid cloud environments by plugging into vCloud Director, enabling it to "optimize the market" when the market includes resources in multiple data centers, including those provided by external vCloud providers.

VMTurbo works the same way with Xen and Hyper-V workloads. It plugs into XenCenter and System Center. There is a catch for heterogeneous hypervisor environments, however: Although VMTurbo can manage different server virtualization environments from a single pane of glass, it treats each environment discretely. Each one is a separate market that the software tries to optimize, but it can't optimize by moving resources or applications between these discrete environments.

VMTurbo is actually available in three versions supplied as preconfigured Linux virtual appliances. There's a Community Edition, which is free (but not open source) and includes only monitoring and reporting modules. "We don't see a lot of value in that and think it should be free," explained Slayton. By far the most popular version is the Enterprise Operations Manager edition, which includes planning and the all-important optimization modules as well -- for $399 per socket or $25 per socket per month. The top-end Cloud Operations Manager edition offers support for multiple hypervisors and data centers, multi-tenant environments and a REST/Perl API, and is priced at $799 per socket or $49 per socket per month.

One thing in VMTurbo's favor is that it doesn't cost the earth, and it claims it can start providing value within minutes of deployment. But the market for uber-management products that sit on top of -- or plug into -- vCenter, System Center or XenCenter is becoming increasingly crowded. The challenge for the company will be to stand out from the crowd. Integration with vCloud Director may help VMTurbo to achieve this.

Let's just say for now that VMTurbo is a virtualization technology company that's worth keeping an eye on.

Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.

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This article was originally published on February 2, 2012
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