Working in the SMB / SME customers 2011 has been the year when cloud has started to be more defined for our customers, IT managers are starting to understand what they want to achieve when it comes to “cloud” and are starting to look to how they can achieve it.
Some of the key requirements that I have been discussing with IT managers is as follows
- Chargeback – IT Managers need to understand the usage of the IT infrastructure and be able to justify expenditure to key people within the business. Traditionally when talking about chargeback in smaller companies it is usually met with a chuckle and a comment along the lines of “I have no ability to charge my users for IT”, however with the current economic climate and further guidance IT managers are understanding that it isn’t necessarily about being able to physically charge someone, just making the business aware of the costs involved and when money needs to be saved this can be one of the first tools to help.
- Self Service – Being able to pass the ability of creating virtual machines and managing virtual machines to other people and departments is a key goal for a number of businesses, especially where test and development is concerned. The main concern with self service is control, we are all aware of virtual machine sprawl and all of a sudden how an infrastructure can grow, so self service needs to be integrated with security, control, lifecycle management and workflow.
- Capacity Planing and Virtual Machine Optimisation– As ever IT departments are having to do more for less, understanding what is happening in your virtual environment and just how much further you can push it is key.
- Automation – More increasingly companies are starting to understand the benefits to automation in their business and are looking into ways that they are able to automate everyday tasks, this allows IT departments to spend more time being proactive to the environment than reactive.
A lot of larger enterprises have had many of these processes in place for a while and are starting to look at products like VMware vCloud Director, unfortunately at present solutions like vCloud Director don’t scale well into many smaller and medium sized businesses for managing their private cloud. There are a number of different ways the elements above can be achieved within business from solutions as easy as an Excel spreadsheet for chargeback to more detailed products like VMware vCenter chargeback, but in steps Embotics V-Commander for an all in one solution to your private cloud management needs.
I have been aware of Embotics V-Commandar since the London VMware User Group earlier this year, at the time I was wowed by the feature set, but had assumed it would be another vCloud Director style solution for large businesses with complex requirements and lengthy configuration required, how wrong was I! V-Commander is simply and quickly installed and easily configured with a staged process to guide you.
V-Commader gives you a number of features that will assist you with all the elements above and more, the image below from Embotics site details some of the features well.
V-Commandar runs on Windows Server 2003 R2 or above and can either used with an included PostgreSQL database for environments with 500 VMs or less or recommended is a SQL 2005 or above database, 4GB of RAM is recommended with a 2GHz dual core CPU if the database is on the same host. You can download the V-Commander for Embotics website with a free trial available, when you download V-Commander you are given a setup executable and a number of helpful PDF’s to guide you.
The installation is a simple affair with an easy installer to run you through the installation process
During the installation you are given the opportunity to decide where you wish to host the database, for my small lab solution I choose the in built database.
You are also asked to specify a user account for V-Commandar, note this account must not be an administrator on the machine for the installation to continue
Once the installation is complete you are ready to roll, you can connect the V-Commander console from a web browser using https://localhost or https://name_of_your_embotics_server from a remote machine.
When you first login you will need to input your V-Commandar licence key and login with Username: superuser and Password: secret, you are then presented with a simple staged process to complete the configuration of your V-Commandar environment.
During this process we undertake several very simple tasks, the first task is to connect our vCenter, install the vCenter plugin and then collect historical data.
We then move on to schedule a datastore scan, configure active directory and email integration. The final step is to configure custom attributes, I would recommend skipping this step at this point and re-visit later once you have a good feel for the product. Now we have the base configuration completed we can start to look at the product itself.
I would recommend getting started at the “Solve” screen, I have also chosen to set this has my homepage by ticking the box in the top right.
As you can see on this screen we have 6 sections
- Change and Configuration
- Lifecycle Management
- Self Service
- Chargeback and IT Costing
As you can imagine if I was to cover every section of this product it would turn into a book rather than a blog post, so what I intend to do is to do a more detailed blog post on each of these section separately. For now I have included some tasters below.
Capacity and Waste Reclamation! Looks like I need some more hosts in my lab!
VM’s not in the inventory, you will be amazed what you can find and how much space you maybe able to reclaim
VM’s that have been Powered Off for more than 30 days – Do I really need them still?
Self Service Portal
There are only a few products that I get really excited about but with the functionality within V-Commander and the endless future possibilties V-Commander is defiantly one of these. For more information check out Embotics webpage http://www.embotics.com and be sure to check back for blog posts regarding each of the key areas of functionality within the product.