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VMTurbo control freak spans more clouds

Allocating virty resources, free market–style

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There are a lot of different ways to allocate resources in a world that has a scarcity of just about everything except wise guys. You can do command and control from the top down, as many governments have tried and many systems management tools do as well. Or you can take the free-market approach by creating pools of resources and hordes of potential buyers, and letting them compete for resources.

VMTurbo does the latter by using what it calls an economic scheduling engine that works just like the real world: when a resource is in contention, a host machine makes it more expensive and an application trying to consume that resource has to look in its virtual wallet and see if it has enough money to pay for that resource.

This "free-market" method contrasts with workflow rules for systems management and cloud managers. Those might be able to allocate resources based on priorities, but what do you do when two jobs on a cloud are chasing the same resources? You sell that resource to the highest bidder, of course. And that, in essence, is how VMTurbo's product works – but, of course, it uses virtual money, not the real stuff.

Perhaps equally importantly, the economic model is designed to be proactive rather than reactive. "So instead of waiting for something to go wrong and then fixing it, we are constantly assessing performance and changing resources before a problem occurs," explains Derek Slayton, vice president of marketing at VMTurbo. It works like a market economy of the Adam Smith idealized variety is supposed to.

When VMTurbo launched the 1.0 version of its eponymous product in October 2010, it was designed strictly for VMware ESXi 4.0 and 4.1 hypervisors and their virtual machines. The VMTurbo tool had three modules – Optimizer, Planner, and Monitor – and they were sold as a suite. In July 2011, when 2.0 was released, the tool could reach into Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor and control its resources as well as those consumed by its virtual machines. With the just-announced 3.0 release, all three modules are now bundled together as Operations Manager 3.0 and sold as a single product.

In addition to rolling up Operations Manager, the 3.0 release integrates with VMware's vCloud Director cloud fabric controller for underpinning infrastructure clouds. With the integration, the economic model at the heart of Operations Manager can be applied to all of the virty boxes in a data center and across multiple data centers that have vCloud Director orchestrating their movements.

Slayton says that Operations Manager can plug into either vCloud Director 1.0 or 1.5. More importantly, because of the way that vCloud Director abstracts above the vCenter management console for the ESXi hypervisor, it can be difficult to see into complex clouds through vCloud Director. VMTurbo says Operations Manager does a better job.

Operations Manager 3.0 also now supports the XenServer hypervisor from Citrix Systems, and the interesting thing is that now VMTurbo can apply its economic resource scheduling model across three different and incompatible hypervisors from a single management console. XenServer 5.6 and 6.0 are supported and Red Hat's KVM is the next obvious hypervisor that needs to be added. "We just haven't seen a lot of customer adoption of KVM, but people are starting to ask about it," Slayton tells El Reg. Support is expected for KVM in the next couple of months.

Operations Manager is a Linux-based software appliance that sits inside of an ESXi or Hyper-V virtual machine. The software uses data culled from VMware's vCenter console and Microsoft's Systems Center console as well as the Xen APIs to figure out what is going on inside the hypervisors and their virtual machines. (You don't need the XenCenter console since the tool can speak native Xen APIs.)

Slayton says that a single instance of Operations Manager has been used in a real-world setting managing 10,000 VMs, and adds that the company is looking to scale that up to 100,000 VMs.

The cloudy control freak with an economics degree comes in three editions. The Community Edition is a freebie monitoring and reporting tool that is currently used by more than 4,000 customers, including cloud and other service providers and enterprise IT shops. The Enterprise Edition adds capacity planning, dynamic workload orchestration and resource allocation, and proactive performance resolution features; it costs $399 per server socket under management per year. The Cloud Edition integrates with vCloud Director and has multitenant features such as role-based access, and support for multiple hypervisors from one console; it costs $799 per socket under management per year. ®

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