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VMware VirtualCenter 1.1

VMware VirtualCenter 1.1 manages and monitors multiple VMware servers and guest virtual machines (VMs) and moves VMs between servers for scheduled maintenance. When used with VMware ESX Server and VMotion technology, VirtualCenter lets you dynamically shift live computing resources between servers to optimize resource utilization. Released in June 2004, version 1.1 works with VMware GSX Server 3.1 or later as well as with VMware ESX Server. The requirements for running VirtualCenter are fairly high—a 2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM are required and Gigabit Ethernet is recommended—but the functionality rewards that investment.

I put VirtualCenter through its paces using an HP ProLiant ML350 that has dual 3.2GHz processors, 2GB of RAM, and a SCSI RAID 1 drive array. GSX Server was running on my ProLiant and on other nodes across a 100MB Ethernet network. The VirtualCenter client installation manages the VirtualCenter product; the server installation monitors and manages the VMware servers and their VMs. To store information about the VM environment, you can use Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, MSDE, or an Oracle database. I used an existing MSDE database, which worked fine.

Installing the VirtualCenter server and client was effortless, but entering the license keys was clumsy and cumbersome. After I added the servers, the VirtualCenter management console dynamically listed all the guest VMs.

Well laid out and easy to use, the management console provides a central dashboard view of your VM environment. You can get performance statistics for all managed VMs and their host systems, configure and clone VMs, view the VM logs, and even attach to and operate each VM. I moved VMs between servers simply by dragging the VMs to a new server on the console, then using the Migration Wizard. VirtualCenter handles the move in the background, but this action definitely benefits from gigabit-speed networking.

VirtualCenter enables centralized configuration and management of all your GSX and ESX servers. For GSX Server, VirtualCenter is primarily a central management tool. Used in conjunction with ESX Server's VMotion feature, VirtualCenter enables dynamic and seamless server partitioning.

VMware VirtualCenter 1.1
Contact: VMware * 650-475-5000 or 877-486-9273
Price: $5000
Pros: Easy to use; powerful central management and monitoring capabilities
Cons: Clumsy licensing procedure
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Recommendation: This product merits consideration if you manage multiple VMware GSX or VMware ESX servers.
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