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Capacity-management tools provider VKernal, working with Microsoft, has fashioned a chargeback tool that is being revealed to the world Tuesday at Redmond's TechEd Europe conference in Berlin.

CIOs love virtual machines because they help them run efficient infrastructure, but CFOs are learning to love them because — thanks to chargeback systems — they can allocate those cloudy infrastructure costs to businesses and their users. Just like Amazon does with its EC2 compute cloud.

Chargeback systems are not new in IT departments, and they're not necessarily popular or accurate on physical systems. But with virtual machines, where you can meter the use of CPUs, memory capacity, network bandwidth, and storage, and where the hypervisor is actually keeping track of these capacities, metering usage and then providing chargeback info is somewhat easier.

As El Reg previously reported, VMware added a feature called vCenter Chargeback to its vSphere server virtualization stack back in July 2009. This feature costs $750 per processor socket upon which you want to be able to use for chargeback. VMware also has its own capacity management tools, called Capacity IQ.

VKernel was founded in 2007 and launched its Capacity Management Suite 2.0 bundle for VMware environments back in August.

That bundle was comprised of rejiggered products with lower prices, including Capacity Analyzer 5.0 for performance analysis and capacity planning for virtualized server environments; Optimization Pack 2.0 for provisioning CPU, memory, and storage for VMs based on what they use (not on initial setup conditions required by the OS and software stacks); Inventory 2.0, a VM tracking tool to show where virtual servers are out there on the network; and Chargeback 2.0, an updated tool for showing allocated and measured VM usage by user, line of business, or company. All four modules cost $299 per socket each for the servers under their management, and they can be licensed separately.

The Chargeback 2.0 product, which came out with the Capacity Management Suite 2.0 bundle, added support for Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor and its Systems Center console to the VMware ESX Server hypervisor and vCenter Server console. Up to six vCenter consoles can plug into the CMS 2.0 VM management tools, so hundreds to thousands of VMs can be monitored and managed with a single CMS instance.

Not every customer needs the full-tilt-boogie CMS 2.0 toolset, according to Bryan Semple, chief marketing officer at VKernel, and Hyper-V customers in particular want to stick with their Systems Center tools and still get chargeback functionality.

And so VKernel has worked with Microsoft to create a standalone tool called Chargeback 2.5 for Hyper-V, which integrates into the Virtual Machine Manager self-service portal that Microsoft created for its Systems Center Operations Center console and that it's showing off at TechEd Europe. That VM self-service portal software for Systems Center went into release candidate state back in July.

Chargeback 2.5 with Hyper-V costs $299 per socket, just like the similar but somewhat different chargeback feature in the Capacity Management Suite 2.0. That tool can accept data from Hyper-V and Systems Center, but CMS — not Systems Center — is the console you use to drive it. ®

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