Today VMware releases some of the new vCenter applications announced in January.
The first ones, Data Recovery and vShield Zones, came out with vSphere 4.0 last month.
Today is time for vCenter Chargeback 1.0 and AppSpeed 1.0.
The need for chargeback capabilities is growing at a fast pace as the virtualization technologies mature and multiple departments of the same organization start to use the same virtual infrastructure with confidence.
This is why startups like VKernel are growing in popularity and seasoned players like Vizioncore start to include the chargeback feature in their performance monitoring products.
With a perfect timing VMware enters the segment and releases this new module for vCenter Server 3.5 and 4.0.
Chargeback 1.0 (build 175384), which comes as a virtual appliance, sports the following capabilities:
- Support for multiple cost centers
The product allows to segment the virtual infrastructure in multiple chargeback hierarchies which group the various hosts and virtual machines assigned to different departments, cost centers, or business units in an organization.
- Support for multiple cost models
The product tracks CPU, Memory, Storage, Network Received and Transmitted, and Disk Read and Write. These resources can be analyzed against three cost models: fixed costing, allocation-based costing and utilization based costing.
- Support for cost comparison reports
The reporting functionality allows to generate cost reports for a hierarchy and for any entity or set of entities within a hierarchy. A cost comparison report can be generated by using two different cost models.
- Support for local users and LDAP users (Active Directory only)
Different users with specific permission sets can be created and predefined roles can be assigned. A user can have different permissions at different levels within a hierarchy and across hierarchies.
- Support for high-availability
More than one instance can be installed and added to a cluster. All the instances in a cluster are automatically synchronized, use the same database and can be accessed through a load balancer.
The Chargeback pricing starts at $750 per CPU.
As the list above highlights, the product is fairly granular and rich enough for a 1.0 release. Some of the competitors in this space don’t even have three different cost models.
The tight integration with vCenter and the huge potential (cost prediction, what-if cost analysis, etc.) makes this product a highly desirable addition for the enterprises that demanded for chargeback capabilities for a long time.
Of course this is not exactly a good news for VMware partners, which have less room to add value.
So far the company defended its current strategy by saying that it’s natural for a vendor that grows like VMware does to expand its product portfolio in many directions, that the customers specifically asked to have all the features that are being launched, and that the product portfolio competes with the partners’ offering just in part, because VMware only offers basic capabilities.
While the first two are perfectly reasonable points, the last one doesn’t seem applicable anymore looking at how complete Chargeback is at its first release.
virtualization.info stressed out much so far about this expansionistic behavior not to blame VMware, but to highlight how the company strategy is basically opening new opportunities for its primary competitors (namely Microsoft and Citrix) which still lack of a rich partner ecosystem and miss a number of highly desirable 3rd party tools (chargeback is one of them).
VMware still is the cash cow of virtualization and everybody wants to partner with them, but compared to three years ago, a startup with limited funding may have to choose between playing the catch up game with the market leader or bringing value to its competitors which offer big opportunities to grow (mostly when one of the competitors is Microsoft) in the mid term.
Rather than trying to slow down this natural opening to multiple hypervisor as they enjoy a wider adoption and turn into more interesting revenue opportunities, VMware is accelerating the shift.
So, ultimately, this is a message to all those non-VMware customers: the VMware partners are coming, sooner rather than later the tool that today only supports ESX and vCenter will eventually become available to everybody.