VMware Details Lifecycle Management Tool

At its European show, VMware will demo several new products, including a lifecycle management tool for virtual machines.

VMware is looking to give IT administrators cradle-to-grave control of their virtual machines.

At the company's European showcase that kicks off Feb. 25 in Cannes, France, VMware will detail its new Lifecycle Manager as well as offer demonstrations of its various production tools and its business continuity application.

Since the start of the year, VMware and several smaller virtualization companies have begun offering more management features for their various platforms as businesses begin embracing virtualization as a mainstream technology.

"Right now, the broader issues of managing these virtual environments is a top priority for the large enterprises that we talk to," said Stephen Elliot, an analyst with IDC. "If you look at the top 25 global companies, they are well into production with their virtual machines, and once you start rolling along with virtualization, the management challenges don't stop."

With the various products that VMware is detailing this week, Elliot said the company is looking to offer different platforms that expand virtualization beyond just a cost savings tool. He said VMware and its competitors want to show that the technology can be used throughout a company in application and development, operations, and other departments.

For VMware, which is considered the top x86 virtualization vendor, IT departments need better ways to control virtual machines from the time they are created to when the images are no longer needed, said Bogomil Balkansky, the company's senior director of product marketing.

VMware's Lifecycle Manager-it's based on technology the company acquired with its purchase of Dunes Technologies-automates many of the manual processes that administrators now handle when creating, managing and eventually removing virtual machines. The idea is to give IT departments better control, which helps reduce virtual sprawl and the confusion of how virtual machines are created and used.

"The IT guys get a lot of requests, and they lack the ability to check who owns which virtual machines, which machines need updates and do any of these virtual machines conflict with policies," Balkansky said. "What Lifecycle Manager does is allow the IT guys to funnel all the different requests and the information about the different virtual machines into one place. It also allows them to execute the deployment of virtual machines automatically while keeping all the policies in place."

While the Lifecycle product is geared more toward production environments, VMware Lab Manager and VMware Stage Manager, which the company detailed in January, is more for controlling virtual machines in test environments, especially for enterprises with large, in-house software development teams. VMware executives are expected to give several demonstrations of Stage Manager during the European show.

Although VMware is moving ahead with its management offerings, Elliot said the other major virtualization vendors-Citrix and Microsoft-are also looking to develop products that offer lifecycle management for virtual environments.

In addition to Lifecycle Manager and some other tools, Balkansky said VMware will discuss its Site Recovery Manager, which looks to make recovering virtual machines easier. This new tool will work with the company's Virtual Center management tools.

While Lab Manager is already available to customers, the other three products will not be available until later this year.