BMC Software Inc.s BMC performance Manager for Virtual Servers helps companies accurately gauge the performance of both real and virtual systems. BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers uses information provided as a Web service from VMware Inc.s VirtualCenter, the management interface for VMwares ESX Server and GSX Server software. ESX Server and GSX Server are used to create virtual IT infrastructure, including virtual servers, NICs, network switches and SCSI drives.BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers covers gaps in the monitoring and configuration provided by VMwares VirtualCenter, which is focused on the operational state of the virtual servers. VirtualCenter reports the impact of virtual systems on the physical host machines, but it is not well-equipped to provide data for an SLA (service-level agreement). The main reason to consider virtual-system-specific management softwarebe it from BMC or rivals Computer Associates International Inc., IBM or Hewlett-Packard Co.is to marry information about virtual infrastructure performance with physical equipment performance and business needs. IT managers can use the BMC product to get the big picture on how well their virtualized IT infrastructure is performing, based on data provided by VirtualCenter. BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers, which is available now, is priced from $815 for what BMC calls a workgroup license to $34,000 for a large-enterprise license. The product also requires a console license that costs $3,500 per concurrent connection. In tests, eWEEK Labs connected BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers to a VirtualCenter management console running on a Windows 2000 Server system. The VirtualCenter console, in turn, managed the virtual machines that were created by ESX Server 2.5. Our ESX Server software was installed on a Sun Microsystems Inc. Cobalt dual-processor system equipped with Intel Corp. Pentium III processors, two Broadcom Corp. NICs, and 2GB of RAM and 48GB of disk spaceabout the bare-minimum number of processors, RAM and NICs needed to support ESX Server. BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers doesnt require agents on any monitored components. Instead, it requests data from a Web service API supplied by VMware. We had to do a minimal amount of mucking around with vmaconfig.xml to activate periodic performance reporting, but after minor changes it was a pretty straight shot to access performance data for VMs and VMware host machines. In fact, we were quite happy that we didnt have to install BMC agents because agent management generally adds update and administration costs that can sometimes rival the time savings gained by implementing this kind of system. However, we advise IT managers to install management agents on VMs, ESX Server and the system running VirtualCenter. BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers ability to collect application and server performance information makes it especially well-suited to IT shops that are already running BMCs Patrol management tools. Aside from getting all monitoring and management data in a single console, IT managers who already know how to use Patrol tools will have no trouble integrating BMC Performance Manager for Virtual Servers, which is just another BMC KM (Knowledge Module). Next Page: Know your servers.