After more than one year VMware finally seems to make some progress on one of the most useful tools in its revamped product portfolio: Lifecycle Manager.
The technology behind this product was acquired in September 2007 from the Swiss startup Dunes Technologies.
The Dunes orchestration framework was used to build a simple yet very useful web portal for self-service virtual machines provisioning.
The framework itself turned into vCenter Orchestrator, bundled as part of vSphere 4.0, while the automation package turned into vCenter Lifecycle Manager. In fact the new 1.1 beta (build 4376) requires an updated version of the former to run properly.
While fairly complex, in theory a customer should be able to develop his own version of Lifecycle Manager just using Orchestrator.
It’s not clear what new features are available with this update except the obvious support for vSphere 4.0. The release notes only mention the resolution of bug fixes and the performance enhancement.
Sadly the new beta doesn’t support any recent version of the most popular browsers and this includes Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 3.5 (that is fine as it was released just one week ago), Safari 4 and Chrome 1.0/2.0.
Yet the product should be considered as critical in many virtual environments.
The key component of Lifecycle Manager is the capability to authorize the deployment of new VMs through four different access levels: the user (who requires a new VM), the approver (who accepts or refuse new provisioning inquiries), the IT staff member (who decides where to deploy the approved VM) and the IT administrator (who can allow access to VM templates and define deployment guidelines).
It may sound like this product is most useful in the big enterprises where multiple departments continuously require new virtual machines to the IT staff, but the VM sprawl phenomenon is more pronounced in the SMB segment where there are not robust operational frameworks and not enough administrators.
VMware may want to consider a full blend with vCenter Server like Microsoft does in System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).
Enroll for the beta program here.