Hyper9, for example, offers a set of tools called Hyper9 VEO (Virtual Environment Optimisation) designed to discover all the VMs in an infrastructure, all the applications running on them, the relationships between the applications, VMs and physical servers and to collect data on performance, configuration and capacity.
Those capabilities were de rigeur in the physical world, but are still uncommon in the virtual, Wolf says. ISVs such as Akorri, Netuitive and VMware's CapacityIQ are also making good progress on performance optimisation tools, he says.
3. Storage management
Storage continues to be one of the most consistent source of headaches for virtual infrastructure managers, Wolf says. Converting physical servers to virtual requires more back-end storage space, a problem exacerbated by VM sprawl, and not even virtual storage systems are typically designed in ways that make it easy for virtual servers to run at their best, Wolf says.
"Companies have been able to plan their CPU and memory density, anticipate boot storms that generate a lot of I/O, but they haven't always been able to optimise tiered storage for virtual servers, or do things like queue data locally so you aren't pushing as much data through the pipe," Wolf says.
Three-year-old ISV Virsto tries to address VM storage problems by reducing the amount of disk space used for VMs by eliminating the need to store the same data for 100 golden images, and improve performance by reducing the number of data packet collisions VMs generate at storage I/O busses by not coordinating their timing the way a single server would.
Akorri's BalancePoint virtual appliance also does a good job of mapping virtual servers to physical storage and, keeping real time data on performance and capacity and notifying IT if a problem develops, Wolf says. Netuitive has also done a good job with its self-learning technology to detect and flag failures, he adds. VMware storage products include storage I/O management, performance and resource managers and backup, among others, but the company spends as much effort remaining neutral in the storage market so as not to seem too tied to parent company EMC. EMC, on the other hand offers an array of hardware and software products designed to optimise storage for virtual environments; to simplify things, it announced in August an integrated product set called Unified Storage.
4. Virtual enterprise management suites
Not surprisingly, a lot of the physical-IT-management vendors have been eager to expand their reach into the virtual world as well, and have done so very effectively, Wolf says. VMware partners BMC, CA, HP and IBM have all been making creditable forays into virtual enterprise management, even against VMware's claim that its vCloud Director is purpose-built for the environment, Wolf says.
"You have a lot of very sophisticated capabilities coming in from these platforms, like the service automation suite HP got from OpsWare," Wolf says. "There's more pull there from that level of capability and because VMware knows it's not going to be a device management company, so it's not reaching down where some of the enterprise ISVs already go."
5. Desktop virtualisation planning and management
"Virtual server environments are an order of magnitude more complex than physical server environments because of the additional ecosystem they add to the physical one," Shields says. "Desktop virtualisation adds even one more ecosystem and a lot more."
Virtual desktops can also be delivered in more ways than virtual servers, ranging from full-on VDI in which each user gets a dedicated VM with a single OS running on a backend server, to virtual applications that can be viewed from almost any machine, Shields says.