Virtualization has definitely grown a lot in popularity over the past 10 years. VMware used to be the only player but many other vendors have recently jumped in. And they’re no small players. We’re thinking about giants like Microsoft, Oracle, and Citrix. Even Novell, that many believed to be all but dead has joined the parade. In all honesty, though, VMware is still the number one and none of its competitors have managed to capture more than a 10% market share.
Today, virtualization is everywhere and with it come some management challenges. And while the different vendors are great at providing hypervisors and the virtualization underlying infrastructure, none of them propose very interesting management tools. This has given rise to a huge aftermarket of virtualization management tools and software. There are so many players that finding the best one for your needs can be challenging. This is why we’ve compiled this list of the best virtualization management tools and software.
Before we get the reviewing the different tools, we’ll start off by discussing virtualization management in general. We’ll then have a look at what typical virtualization management tools and software do and what their main features are. Only then will we have all the background information we need to better compare the different products that we’ll be later reviewing.
About Virtualization Management
Virtualization vendors such as VMware have traditionally focused their development efforts on their core products. While this was likely a sensible decision, it left the door open for third-parties to develop virtualization management tools that addressed some of the shortcomings in management and usability that existed in the virtualization vendors’ offering.
Today there are many third-party vendors delivering feature-rich virtualization management tools and software that pick up where the main vendor’s tool stop. They go well beyond the basic tools supplied by the virtualization vendors and include security, monitoring, reporting, backups, and automation. While some of the best virtualization management tools and software are expensive, there are also very interesting low(er)-cost ones and free tools which are available and that can help make virtualization management easier.
What Do Virtualization Managment Tools And Software Do?
This is a tough question to answer as there are about as many answers as there are products. And there are a lot of products. Generally speaking, some of the most essential tasks these tools perform are to ensure that all virtual machine software and hypervisor versions are up to date. Most will also establish and maintain connectivity across the environment and monitor the state and performance of each virtual machine. Some of the best tools will even ensure that everything runs smoothly by adjusting memory or processor allocation on the fly so that each machine get optimal performance.
Virtualization management tools and software can also often be used to help identify the root cause of problems. This task can be accomplished by analyzing the application, server, virtual and storage layers to troubleshoot issues. And lately–and it seems to be a trend in the market–virtualization management tools are made to handle more strategic management tasks. For instance, they can be used to identify usage patterns and help predict future virtualization infrastructure bottlenecks and resource limits. This makes them good capacity planning tools.
Main Features Of Virtualization Management Tools And Software
While each virtualization management tool is different, some features are found across a number of them, if not all. For instance, most products provide virtual machine administrator alerts. Many will also handle the allocation of processor and memory resources to virtual machines. The best ones will even do it on the fly, effectively offering dynamic resource allocation. Another feature that pretty much every product offer is performance monitoring. In fact, it is for many administrators, the main reason why they use such tools. Programmable APIs which allow the control of the management tools from you in-house products is also a popular feature of some tools, just as is the prediction of future resource requirement and capacity planning.
The Best Virtualization Management Tools And Software
As we’ve said previously, there are many packages available on the market and the number of virtualization management tools and software is impressive. Some are from major administration tools vendors, others are from hardware vendors and some are from lesser-known companies which by no means signifies they are not just as good. Let’s review the best features and functionalities of the tools that we’ve found.
SolarWinds has been around for quite a while, focusing on providing network and system administrators with some of the best tools on the market. Its flagship product, the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, is recognized as one of the best network monitoring platform. And as if making some of the best tools wasn’t enough, SolarWinds also makes several great free tools. They are smaller tools, each addressing a specific need of network administrator. The Advanced Subnet Calculator or the Kiwi Syslog Server are two examples of these tools.
When it comes to virtualization management tools, SolarWinds offering is aptly called the SolarWinds Virtualization Manager. This broad product offers comprehensive virtual machine monitoring, performance management, capacity planning, and optimization. Using this tool, you can examine the performance, capacity, and current usage of your infrastructure. This includes hosts, virtual machines, clusters, containers, vSANs, and other datastores. In addition, the monitoring component of this tool can help remediate virtual machine issues without logging in to a hypervisor.
Another interesting feature of the SolarWinds Virtualization Manager is that it can be used to monitor cloud infrastructures, as well as hybrid and on-premise virtualization environment. The tool will manage both Amazon EC2 instances and Microsoft Azure VMs from the same console as your on-premise devices. The product also has powerful capacity planning tools and it can predict CPU, memory, network, and storage needs for VMware vSphere, and Microsoft Hyper-V hosts. You can run modeling scenarios and learn how best to support new workloads.
The SolarWinds Virtualization Manager, which supports both VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, features a powerful and easy to use dashboard which offers an intuitive presentation of alerts with drill-down capabilities. And corresponding virtual machine tools and VM monitoring dashboards allow for faster troubleshooting of issues.
Pricing for the SolarWinds Virtualization Manager is based on the total number of processor sockets in all your hosts and starts at $2 995 for up to eight sockets. Licenses are available for up to 640 sockets and larger licenses can be custom-arranged by contacting SolarWinds. If you’d rather try the tool before purchasing it, a free trial version can be obtained here.
2. vRealize Operations (vROps)
vRealize Operations is a tool from VMware itself. It delivers intelligent operations management across physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructures, supporting both VMware vSphere and Hyper-V as well as Amazon Web Services. It correlates data at all levels, from applications to storage, in a unified, easy-to-use management tool providing control over performance, capacity, and configuration. The tool offers predictive analytics driving proactive action, and policy-based automation.
Among the vRealize Operations‘ key benefits are the proactive identification and remediation of performance, capacity, and configuration issues, a broad visibility across applications and infrastructure in a single console, automated capacity optimization and planning, and enforcement of standards providing continuous compliance. All this in an open and extendable platform which leverages existing investments. Furthermore, third-party management packs for Microsoft, SAP, and more are available, allowing this tool to be your one and only tool, no matter what vendor(s) you’re dealing with.
Our next entry, which used to be known as VM Turbo and is now called Turbonomic, is way more than just a virtualization management tool. It is rather a full-stack tool which handles everything from the applications through the infrastructure, including your virtualization environment. The tool has an innovative approach as it applies the economic principles of supply and demand to manage IT resources. It can control any type of workload on any cloud or infrastructure.
You can use Tubonomics to provide predictable performance by ensuring workloads get exactly what they need when they need them. The tool can also align policies, business, and IT constraints to workloads regardless of their location, and enforce them in real time. Furthermore, it can increase on-premises infrastructure utilization, without risking application performance, and it also optimizes public cloud costs.
4. Veeam ONE
Next on our list is Veeam ONE, a tool which provides complete visibility into your entire IT environment. That includes virtual, physical and cloud-based resources. It supports the management of VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V hosts. This tool also delivers proactive monitoring and alerting through interactive tools. The system will ensure you are alerted to potential problems with VMs, physical servers, and cloud-based resources before there is an impact on your operations.
Veeam ONE is truly a feature-rich product. It offers real-time monitoring, reporting, alerting and managing for virtual and physical environments. It will notify users of availability and performance issues within virtual infrastructures, physical servers, and cloud-based resources to avoid downtime, meet SLAs and maintain compliance. It also provides resource management functions and configuration tracking. You can evaluate the performance of your infrastructure and ensure your configurations follow the best practices. The tool also has capacity planning and forecasting. You can use it to forecast resource usage and utilization trends. You can also use what-if modeling and resource overcommit tracking for backup and virtual infrastructures.
Canadian vendor Densify mainly offers automated optimization for virtual and bare metal cloud infrastructure. The company also offers automated optimization for your on-premises virtual infrastructure. While most organizations combat risk in virtualized infrastructure by significantly over-provisioning hardware, Densify leverages machine-learning-based technology to optimize your virtual infrastructure, enabling you to operate with reduced costs, less infrastructure, and better performing applications. This approach reduces inefficiencies by optimizing workload placements and right-sizing VM allocations to simultaneously reduce both risk and capacity waste.
Densify’s real-time capabilities provide intelligent, automated response, simultaneously increasing VM density & reducing resource contention. Densify provides users with the best of both worlds. It uses automated proactive optimization to avoid resource contention while increasing efficiency and real-time response to operational anomalies.
Our next entry, Opvizor might not be as full-featured as some other products on our list but it remains a very interesting choice for administrators with more limited requirements. This tool lets you stay on top of your virtual infrastructure and give you the pulse of your environment. It will monitor the vital metrics of your virtual machines, check the network utilization of your ESXi hosts and much more from a single point of management. This tool is excellent for capacity planning, it has wasted resources and right-sizing dashboards as well as capacity planning dashboards.
Opvizor also has visual warnings and alerts for several key performance indicators. Predefined thresholds and alerts give you an instant view of potential performance or stability issues that exist in your environment based on point in time and historical data. Having access to long-term information about current, average and maximum values with visual warnings can provide assistance in keeping your virtual infrastructure running smoothly.
7. Quest Foglight For Virtualization
Quest Foglight for Virtualization is a hybrid Data Center Performance Management which optimizes the configuration, performance, and utilization of your cloud, hypervisors, virtual machines, and storage. It effectively gives you visibility across your entire hybrid infrastructure. The tool features real-time and historical data reporting capabilities which enable informed decision-making and provide critical insights into your future capacity needs. This tool can be used to Automate, optimize, monitor and forecast capacity for VMware, Hyper-V, Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and physical servers.
Using Quest Foglight for Virtualization, you can eliminate unused resources, perform capacity planning to expose the impact of planned changes, and, more importantly, reduce costs. The tool can also be used to monitor applications such as Microsoft Active Directory, Exchange and Office 365. And it also allows the monitoring of all your physical and virtualized storage. As an added bonus, this tool will let you monitor and manage the operating systems behind every application, database, network device, and server in your environment. You’ll be able to control all parts of your environment from one centralized platform, visualize core physical and virtual metrics, and act upon them.
CloudPhysics is another tool which, despite not being a true virtualization management tool in the proper sense of the term, has functionality that will help you manage your virtual environment. This product boasts itself as a collaborative Intelligence platform, using shared information to create true collaborative partnerships that transform data centers. CouldPhysics‘ VM rightsizing tool will help you get a handle on your current workloads and potentially avoid unnecessary and costly expansions. The platform also includes tools to balance workloads between available cores, making the best use of your licenses.
More concretely, CloudPhysics is a simple Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that monitors and analyzes your IT infrastructure and offers insights and reports that can help you upgrade, repair, and adapt data centers to changing needs. The platform also simulates possible migrations to the various cloud platforms, estimating costs and viability, in addition to modeling your exact infrastructure as a virtual environment, machine-by-machine, to provide the data you need to decide between cloud and on-premise infrastructures.
9. Dell OpenManage Integration For VMware vCenter
Dell OpenManage Integration for VMware vCenter (OMIVV) has been created to help you streamline the management processes of your data center environment by allowing you to use VMware vCenter Server to manage your full server infrastructure–both physical and virtual. Its features include monitoring system-level information, raising system alerts for action in vCenter, rolling out firmware updates for an ESXi or vSAN cluster. OpenManage Integration for VMware vCenter can expand and enrich your data center management experience with Dell EMC PowerEdge servers.
Dell OpenManage Integration for VMware vCenter includes rights for a server management pack for vRealize Ops described above. This leverages the platform to provide hardware alerts and new dashboards, giving hardware relationship mapping into the vRealize Operations data for easier and faster troubleshooting as well as combined reporting.
As good as this product may be, it has a major drawback, though, It will only work with Dell PowerEdge servers. If this is what you’re using–and nothing else–the tool may be right for you but for those with other hardware, perhaps you’d better look at other options.
The Savision is another product with a non-conventional approach. And it’s also one which is not a true virtualization management tool. Instead, Savision is a powerful solution which can integrate and control all your existing monitoring, cloud, and service management tools. Using it, you get the advantages of each individual tool along with the benefit of unified dashboards. This tool can help you resolve issues by putting them right in front of you on a clean and personalized dashboard which can be accessed from anywhere and from any device.
From high-level dashboards to detailed performance trends, Savision enables you to visualize all IT data according to your requirements. And you can easily share information with all stakeholders while staying in control thanks to the tool’s advanced permission features. The tool also features a comprehensive alerting system and automated incident response workflows.