SolarWinds Virtualization Manager 4.0 Rides Herd VMware Management

The admin tool cuts through capacity planning and estimating a chore list.

The SolarWinds Virtualization Manager 4.0 is a VMware-only management tool that monitors compute, network and storage resource use to predict capacity limits, answers "what-if" resource planning questions and estimates what it would cost to run your virtual infrastructure on Amazon's EC2 public cloud service.

SolarWinds picked up Virtualization Manager when it acquired Hyper9 in January. The reminted VM (Virtualization Manager) neatly fits with SolarWinds' network and system management tools. Tests at eWEEK Labs showed that VM is well worth adding to any organization's management toolkit.

SolarWinds VM started shipping on June 7 and is available as a virtual appliance. The product costs $2,995 for 50 powered-on VMs under management.
One caveat worth noting up front is that SolarWinds VM is a VMware-only tool and can't be used to monitor Microsoft Hyper-V or open-source hypervisor platforms.

For eWEEK Labs images of the SolarWinds Virtualization Manager in action, click here.

SolarWinds VM is a virtual machine management tool that gets data from VMware vCenter systems. This data is then processed to display CPU, datastore and physical memory usage. New in this version, SolarWinds VM can use configuration and performance information to provide an estimate of what it would cost to run the same infrastructure on Amazon's AWS EC2 service.

In the case of eWEEK Labs, this totted up to $2,587.84 to run seven virtual machines. Of course, your mileage will vary, and I provide this number, which I think is in the ballpark, only to illustrate SolarWinds VM precise measurement. The EC2 estimator is a handy add-on but only works with Amazon. While I could go through and manually change all metrics to reflect the costs of a different IaaS (infrastructure as a service) or public cloud provider, it wasn't convenient. Only AWS EC2 prices are updated by SolarWinds. Even with these limits, the estimating feature should be of use to IT managers at small and midsize shops who are considering a move to the cloud.

Almost as interesting as using performance data to estimate cloud costs was SolarWinds VM ability to use the same data for what is called "Time Travel." I used SolarWinds Time Travel to reveal past configuration and performance data. In the physical world, this type of information isn't that interesting. When troubleshooting or planning in the x86 server virtualization world, Time Travel could be a lifesaver. I was able to select a virtual machine in our VMware vSphere test environment and then go back in time to see this system as our environment was configured. I could see what virtual machines were turned on and the performance characteristics of these systems and the overall VMware cluster.

For this test the eWEEK Labs test VMware environment was running vSphere 4.1 on an HP DL360 G6 and DL380 G6 servers that were clustered together, along with a variety of other server hardware running as ESXi hosts. Using the various dashboards I was able to easily see which virtual machines were the top CPU, memory and datastore users, along with information about datastore I/O information. I was able to use preconfigured reports that were suitable for distribution to senior managers and other IT staff.

I was also able to use the SolarWinds VM plugin for the VMware vSphere infrastructure client to directly access SolarWinds VM capabilities. After enabling the VMware plugin in the SolarWinds VM advanced configuration section, I was able to select a virtual machine in vCenter, right click on the system and then perform a number of tasks including opening performance data charts. The plugin performed well, mandating a login if I wasn't already running SolarWinds VM.