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Setup complexity casts shadow on vRealize multi-cloud management

VMware's vRealize Suite enables companies to manage workloads from multiple public cloud providers, but concerns about deployment complexity have experts questioning its success.

SAN FRANCISCO -- IT pros want a one-stop-shop cloud management product, but question whether VMware's latest offering, vRealize Suite, will deliver the ease of use they need. 

The vRealize Suite will bundle existing management software, including IT Business Management Suite, vCloud Automation Center (vCAC), vCenter Operations Management Suite and vCenter Log Insight. It will also extend the company's existing vCloud Suite to manage KVM and Hyper-V virtual machines as well as workloads hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), OpenStack and eventually Microsoft Azure. The company will publicly unveil the suite at VMworld 2014 here this week and make the product available to customers this quarter.

"It's trying to pull together all the pieces that help enterprises transition to cloud simpler," said Eric Hanselman, chief analyst with 451 Research "Enterprises are struggling to get to the cloud. It's not easy."

While customers can create and manage new workloads, the suite will not offer the ability to migrate workloads among public clouds or move a VMware virtual machine to AWS, for example.

vRealize Suite's complexity problem

So, for [VMware] to embrace the commoditization and focus on management, I'd say it makes a hell of a lot of sense.
Scott LoweIT consultant and founder of The 1610 Group

Some IT pros are skeptical whether the new product suite would actually ease the process of creating and managing a hybrid cloud. VMware's vCloud Automation Center, which is central to the vRealize Suite, is a powerful tool, but it can be difficult to use, said Brian Kirsch, IT architect and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

"The automation was great, but it was a pain in the neck," Kirsch said. "If VMware is going to pull this off, it needs to be a situation where you manage multiple hypervisors under the same umbrella, and doesn't require a team of engineers to install and not spend months and millions of dollars trying to figure out the technology," he added.

Others echoed Kirsch's vCAC setup concerns and questioned whether that could prevent shops from adopting vRealize.

"I have heard many times that vCAC is a bear to work with," said Scott Lowe, IT consultant and founder of The 1610 Group. "… One of the things they still have a leg up on over other companies, including Microsoft, is ease of administration, but vCAC is the exception to that. It's the one product that really sucks to get going."

Lowe said the concept of a one-stop shop management platform, however, is the right direction for VMware -- if it can improve its user experience. As the hypervisor is increasingly seen as a commodity, companies must rely on management products that add value.

"So, for them to embrace the commoditization and focus on management, I'd say it makes a hell of a lot of sense," Lowe said.

As for other issues with the product, Kirsch said he was also concerned whether the vRealize Suite would be an integrated product suite or simply a haphazard collection of products bundled under a single SKU that would need to be managed separately.

Easier access to competitors

Having a single management portal with the ability to deploy workloads to competitors, such as AWS and Azure, is a novel concept for VMware, which has historically resisted these types of tools. That has changed over the last few years, Hanselman said.

"The reality is customers are moving in new directions," he said. "They're moving into the cloud world, and the degree to which VMware continues to be that management infrastructure provider that opens the door to a number of different paths, the greater competitive advantage they'll have."

A tool that makes it easier for VMware customers to use its competitors' products could make selling other services more difficult. VMware's pitch for its vCloud Air Network, which is the rebranded vCloud Hybrid Service, is that it offers customers a higher level of visibility and management than other with public cloud providers. 

However, VMware representatives talking up the new vRealize Suite identified limitations to the product when asked to explain how the company plans to promote its own vCloud Air Network while purporting to offer similar management capabilities for workloads hosted in competing platforms.

Sajai Krishnan, VP of product marketing at VMware, touted the fluidity of vCloud Air with vSphere underneath, saying it enables doing more things than some competitors.

The company will also release a beta of the software as a service (SaaS) version of vRealize later this year.

VMware's vRealize Suite will be licensed either per-OS instance or per-CPU. The Advanced Edition will cost $575 per OS instance or $5,750 per CPU. Enterprise Edition will cost $995 per operating system instance and $9,950 per CPU. Both editions require at least one year of support at an additional cost based on the level of support and number of licenses.

Nick Martin is Site Editor for SearchServerVirtualization.com. He can be reached at nmartin@techtarget.com

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