Embotics V-Scout gives users insight into VMs

Many IT administrators, especially those in the early stages of a server virtualization deployment, don’t have enough insight into their virtual environment, according to Embotics Corp. In an effort to change that, the Ottawa-based VM lifecycle management company has launched a free insight and reporting tool aimed at clearing up the blind spots for VMware users.

Before virtualization administrators can begin to take advantage of the control and automation advancements that come with the innovative technology, the company said, they’ll need to find an effective way to compile and document detailed information about their virtual setups. To help tackle this issue, Embotics has launched V-Scout, a free insight tool for VMware environments, which can generate real-time data and reports across multiple VirtualCenter deployments.

“VirtualCenter provides some basic information, but its reporting system is not tremendously robust,” David Lynch, vice-president of marketing at Embotics, said. “It’s not aimed at providing you a lot of information on what’s going on in your virtual infrastructure, as much as it is helping you deploy virtual machines in your environment.”

“Almost every customer we visited is supplementing VirtualCenter with some form of manual tracking system,” he added. “Usually this is a spreadsheet, but I’ve also seen whiteboards, and in one case, I’ve seen a wall that was completely covered in sticky notes – with each sticky representing a VM.”

Embotics said V-Scout can locate all the VMs running in a particular environment and populate up to two instances of VirtualCenter with relevant information about each VM. For example, using the platform’s population trending capabilities will allow IT managers to view how their environment has changed over time, the attached costs of each VM and how that will project toward the future.

“You can very quickly define the average cost per GB of storage, how much the licences will cost, and what you’ll need to spend for support and administration,” Lynch added.

The tool’s ad hoc reporting system gives admins the ability to sort any group of VMs and associate them with an almost “nauseating” amount of different virtualization elements – such as who owns the VM, what department it belongs to, what kind of resources it uses, and the dependencies it might have in the environment. Once a problem is identified, Lynch said, IT admins can quickly switch over to their VirtualCenter screens and make the necessary changes.

At least one industry analyst said the tool will benefit small and medium-sized business that might not have enough staff or money to use VirtualCenter to its fullest capabilities.

“This is giving new virtualization administrators the ability to understand what’s going on in their environment, without having to deal with a lot of the sophistication that tools like VirtualCenter can bring and without making large investments in new management infrastructure,” Jeff Byrne, senior analyst and consultant with the Taneja Group, said.

But, Byrne warned, the benefits might only be temporary as companies might eventually need to upgrade to a more comprehensive management tool. “Just having a point-in-time view of the sprawl issues in your environment is valuable, but it’s not an ongoing management resource,” he said. “V-Scout just gives them some visibility into what’s going on. It doesn’t allow them to begin controlling or automating anything.”

Some small businesses will decide this reporting tool is enough for them, but a lot of companies will want to take that extra step to help gain total control on their VMs, he added.

Lynch hopes that users take that next step and eventually upgrade to V-Commander, which adds automation and control tools overtop of V-Scout’s insight and reporting capabilities. With V-Commander, administrators can patch, configure, manage and rollback VMs with the VirtualCenter environment.

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