Virtualization Management Decision: Best of Breed vs Hypervisor Vendor's Solution (Part II)

Beginning with VMware’s introduction of vCenter Operations in early March and continuing with VKernel’s launch of vOPS Performance Analyzer last week, a number of interesting articles have been written about which virtualization management solution to select. This decision at a high level boils down to choosing between add-on tools developed by a hypervisor vendor or selecting a specialized third party solution. Yesterday, we compared product roadmaps for CapacityIQ, representing VMware (a hypervisor vendor’s offering) and VKernel (a best of breed product) in terms of development efforts as measured by releases in a two year period. As this chart shows, the third party vendor aggressively worked to provide new features while the hypervisor add-on goes over a year without a release, despite three new hypervisor versions that become available during that time frame.

Importantly, differences in development philosophy can also significantly affect the effectiveness, technical capabilities, and usability of a product. Today we’ll examine the impacts of buying a way into a space vs. developing a product in-house.

Development Philosophy: Acquisition vs Organic Growth

To develop new capabilities, a software vendor can either develop in-house, or purchase technology from other firms. A major difference is time and effort between these two approaches: Making a product is time-consuming and takes a lot of effort in discovering use cases, and then developing, testing and refining feature sets to best address user’s needs. However, when a need is identified and targeted for support, a development team can iterate until they get features to work “just right” and truly solve a problem for a user.

On the other hand, purchasing a technology gets new capabilities into a product line nearly instantaneously, but, often with major deficiencies. For starters, the new product will be very different in how it works and looks, and may not integrate with the purchasing company’s existing product line. Uniting the back end and user interfaces for products that were grafted on is difficult and tedious. But more importantly, the feature development experience and infrastructural knowledge from the acquired company’s development team is also challenging and time-consuming to transmit to the acquirer. Long story short, it takes time for purchased technology to become integrated into the purchaser’s product line and also for the purchasing company to get it done right. Until that happens, using separate technologies yields solutions that take more time to use, contain feature gaps, and don’t fully address all use cases.

Users choosing VMware as a performance and capacity management solution will experience this first hand as vCenter Operations (from the purchase of Integrien) is packaged as a different virtual appliance with a completely different look and feel from CapacityIQ and no integration between the two. CapacityIQ is included in the vCenter Operations Advanced and Enterprise packages, but this is just a marketing bundle. The separations between the products will leave it up to the end user to manually handle several aspects of management workflows, as insights into the current health of an environment have significant impacts on planning for environment growth.

Integration of performance and capacity management is critical for VM administrators. Yet, there is nothing on the publicly available VMware roadmap right now to indicate when these two products will be integrated.

At VKernel, we are focusing exclusively on organic development, focused 100% on solving the capacity and performance management problems for virtualization administrators. As Dan Kusnetzky put it recently, “VKernel is one of the companies I’ve spoken to again and again. Each time, I’m left with the impression that VKernel is really listening to their customers and trying to address their concerns”.

The choice between waiting for the hypervisor vendor to deliver a united virtualization management solution or relying on a best of breed vendor to provide a superior offering today is not always easy depending on the vendor. The integrated vOperations Suite 3.0, which features one virtual appliance to support all performance and capacity management functions is available for download right now. Our goal at VKernel is to continue to make the virtualization management choice an easy one. Stay tuned for more news of upcoming VKernel releases in the next few months.