One of the problems with virtualization is that at some point the products created – servers, storage or networking – have to meet the physical world.

And while VMware’s vCentre management application is very good at managing virtual machines, it isn’t as good at overseeing hardware. That can mean that configuring hardware for VMs can be time-consuming.

Hewlett-Packard is trying to give IT administrators a hand with a vCenter plug-in for its OneView management suite which it says allows BladeSystem and ProLiant Gen 7 and 8 servers to be configured in as few as five steps through a profile.

“The idea is people who are experts at configuring hardware are the ones that should create the templates,” says Bradley Kirby, product manager for HP converged systems.

Called Insight Control for VMware v 7.3, the plug in was announced Monday at VM World Partner Exchange in San Francisco.

Through wizards, the plug-in automates the monitoring, management, and diagnostics and provision  of VMware vSphere hosts and clusters, including servers, networking, and storage.

This screen shot shows the wizard used to grow a cluster
This screen shot shows the OneView wizard is used to grow a cluster

A hardware profile, which configures the server BIOS and boot order, is first created in OneView, Kirby said. To deploy a cluster an administrator right clicks on a cluster, picks the profile and ESX image, enters some network settings and presses “Done.” OneView configures server, updates firmware and deploys the operating system and other configurations.

Initially the automation only works for servers. Coming later this year will be the capability to create virtual shared storage, Kirby said.

Still, HP says OneView enables administrators to visually trace and monitor connectivity end-to-end, from virtual machines and the vSphere hosts through Virtual Connect modules and out to the production network.

With a simple click, configuration differences between host networks and Virtual Connect enclosure networking can be fixed. A wizard lists the changes needed and, once confirmed, the appropriate networks and vLANs get created, HP says.

The plug-in is free for HP Insight Control server management users and OneView customers. It includes HP [NYSE: HPQ] support.

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