Infrastructure Management Software Blog

The best way to manage VMware environments

Virtualization management seems to be the hottest topic for discussion, among both customers, partners, and my product marketing and product management peers. I was recently involved in a conversation with some sales people about why HP’s approach is unique.


The reference platform for virtualization management of VMware environments is vCenter (formerly Virtual Center). But, many customers do not want their virtualization experts to spend their (very expensive) time managing first level events. So, they look to a centralized management console such as Operations Manager to handle events from both the virtual and physical IT infrastructure. This is the value behind a consolidated event and performance management approach.


So, the challenge is how to get information about the virtual infrastructure into central event console. The old way, which we used to do, was to install our agents on the VMware hypervisor. We worked closely with VMware to ensure that it worked and was supportable but customers got nervous because the general advice is "do not install anything in the hypervisor". Obviously, if the hypervisor becomes unstable then all of the virtual machines suffer.


The new, and recommended by VMware, approach is to use the vMA or “vSphere Management Assistant”. The vMA is a pre-build Linux virtual machine. It is built and owned by VMware and is downloaded free of charge from their web site. You run the vMA just like any other virtual machine.





The vMA includes all of the VMware-approved and supported interfaces and APIs to enable access to VMware environment monitoring. It provides access to information such as current configuration of the VMs, fault information and very accurate performance information. This is the new way that VMware wants other management systems to get their information from the hypervisor. vMA provides more granular, fine grained, and real-time information than you can get from vCenter. HP was the first vendor to release a management product using the vMA.


We install our agent and Virtualization SPI onto the vMA and make use of the interfaces. One vMA can provide access to monitoring information from multiple VMware server hosts. The “resolution” of the data that we get with the Virtualization SPI vs. vCenter is really just a reflection on what customers told us they wanted. I'm sure that VMware could provide much of the same detail - certainly for a VMware server - but they did not. Customers told us they wanted more - "Don't just give us what Virtual Center provides, go deeper".


The advantage of using the HP Virtualization SPI and Operations Manager is that you can see very granular fault and performance data for both physical and virtual infrastructure in your Operations Manager console. This means your tier 1 operators can manage events and handle basic triage and remediation functions. This keeps your virtualization experts focused on more strategic tasks, until they need to manage an escalation.


This is just one example of HP’s close ties with VMware. We also have integration between HP Insight Control and vCenter that allows customers to manage both physical and virtual infrastructure through the VMware vCenter console. We announced this capability at VMworld in September
This is aimed at server administrators who want a single expert tool for troubleshooting complex problems that could span the hardware and hypervisor.


For HP Operations Center, Jon Haworth and Peter Spielvogel.


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