Any Network or Sys Admin dealing with a swathe of virtual machines is inevitable in this day and age – the cloud is heavy upon us and virtualization is paramount when it comes to assuring redundancy, cutting costs, and saving valuable time by being able to swiftly re-image a troubled VM rather than spending time on extensive troubleshooting.
Both Microsoft and VWmare's offerings in the realm of hypervisors, ESX(i) and Hyper-V, have their own capabilities and features, but as with any given environment there are a plethora of tools which expand on that functionality and can make your workload easier to handle while helping prevent catastrophic downtime.
It's extremely important to be able to easily and swiftly manage your array of virtual machines – whether it's two or twenty you have to be able to quickly manipulate them to adjust for the needs of your environment. Management software for this task can be one of the most powerful tools, if you have the right software and know how best to apply it.
It's easy enough to peruse through your array of VMs and execute scripts, perform updates, and make other various changes, and both Hyper-V and ESX(i) will have some ability to help with this, but a powerful program that can immensely streamline and automate these sorts of tasks, and more, can save untold amounts of time – especially in the case of non-standard updates or configurations, or in an instance of trouble when you need to make fast changes over a number of VMs.
List of the Top VM Monitors and Management Software
We've compiled a list of the best VM managers on the Market along with some screenshots, main features and anything that we thought would be useful to sys admins who are looking for an option when looking for a management tool for the virtual machines. Pricing is included and there are Free Trials for all of them below.
We recommend you grab a Free Trial and see how it works for you and your environment!
SolarWinds VM Monitor – Download 100% FREE Now!
SolarWinds' free offering, VM Monitor, allows the full monitoring of a single VM host and it's entire range of VMs therein. It can monitor and manage custom set thresholds and alerts, apply a range of automated monitoring algorithms to help assure your setup is ideal, and provide all the basic data on your array of VMs as you'd expect!
The non-free software, Virtualization Manager, which does have a thirty-day trial, boasts many more features and a much wider range of monitoring and tracking. It comprehensively assesses the full range of your virtual environment across multiple host machines and will constantly track and assess performance to narrow down bottlenecks and bring your attention to problem areas in your VM setup.
It includes management of VM Sprawl to help assure that precious resources, cycles, and bandwidth aren't wasted, and even integrates seamlessly into several other programs that SolarWinds offer, giving some added benefit to any environments already using their software. The Virtualization Monitor allows swift and easy management of VMs, re-imaging, and even has support for quickly adjusting hardware available to various VMs independently of one another completely on the fly.
Compatibility: VWmare, Hyper-V; VM Monitor runs on Windows environments, even some 32-bit, but requires Microsoft IIS v6.0 or higher in those instances.
Price: VM Monitor is Totally FREE, Virtualization Manager has 30-day trial, license starts at $2,995
ManageEngine VM Manager Plus
VM Manager Plus is a powerful, and surprisingly free, offering that does an excellent job providing a basic level of management for your virtual environment. The software starts with automatic and complete discovery and classification of your virtual environment after simply providing it with the appropriate credentials. It will then build and assess the arrangement of your VMs right from the start to help avoid the hassle of having to configure and assign by hand – though it still allows you manually make changes to its assessment, if need be. It reads all the expected metrics of the VMs as well, such as memory available, memory swap available, disk read/write, memory being shared, CPU available, and so forth.
It even has management tools geared to help avoid sprawl in your VMs – with how easy it is to setup and configure VMs for almost any purpose, it can be easy to let a few fall behind or end up underutilized or just wasting space. VM Manager Plus helps keep an eye out for those and be sure you're utilizing your virtual environments as much as possible! It also can send notification for faults via email/SMS to keep you on top of any errors or issues, and provides a real-time visualized map of your virtual environment for ease of making sure everything is setup just how you need it to be! There's even some built-in historical reporting, though to go beyond a few days time frame you have to purchase a license.
Compatibility: VMware, Hyper-V, XenServer; VM Manager works on Linux and Windows
Price: Free! Some more advanced features (such as VM Sprawl management) are locked behind licensing. License is $1,995 for 50 devices but is also an ‘OpManager' license, another software suite by ManageEngine geared towards network management, making this a sort of two-for-one deal.
VM Turbo is a staggering program that can be somewhat complex to understand and pick apart at first. Its free offering, the Virtual Monitor, performs basic monitoring, assessment, and management of a small VM host environment, allowing you to full manipulate and configure the array of VMs on a small scale. The Operations Manager, which has a free trial, has a wider range of functionality with one particular emphasis that will be mentioned a bit further down. As far as basic functionality VM Turbo has a focus on application workload distribution and management on an automated level, making it easier for you to get the most of your virtual environment without having to manually fine tune the specifics to try to figure out the coveted ideal setup by hand. Operations Manager even scales up beautifully, allowing a range of functions, such as start/stop actions, placement, and sizing from environments ranging from clusters all the way to datastores and data centers! The positive effect on latency, queuing, and prevention of ballooning is hard to ignore.
As mentioned previously, VM Turbo has one particular key feature that really makes it stand out – control modules. These modules include application, network, hybrid cloud, container, storage, and fabric. Each module is essentially an add-in for the base Operations Manager that can dramatically improve performance, reliability, redundancy, and several other key factors of your environment, provided you choose the right module.
Compatibility: VMware, Hyper-V, XenServer; software installs as a virtual appliance that can be accessed via any flash-enabled browser
Price: Virtual Monitor for free, Operation Manager has 30-day free trial, cost is per socket, starts in the $800/range but must contact for specific information
Veeam ONE, which comes in two editions, enterprise and free, is a powerful option for both VMware and Microsoft virtualization environments. It's focus pushes a bit more to data management, as one of its stronger suits comes in the realm of helping to manage moving, and often more importantly backing up of, large amounts of data. Virtualization is immensely powerful but can quickly become extremely convoluted, especially when you have several machines tied up and unable to backup, or are running out of space in a certain part of your backup environment, and having a software which makes certain to track all of these, along with the usual collection of VM data, is invaluable for data rich environments with significant back up needs.
Veeam also attempts to asses a forecast of data use and needs to help alert you as early as possible when there may be impending doom to circumvent! The free version only has a smaller subset of features, which include basic infrastructure health and configuration, 24×7 monitoring and alerting, on-demand reporting and documentation, and VM change rate estimation with a limited ability to monitor and manage guest processes and report on performance and utilization versus the enterprise version.
Compatibility: VMware, Hyper-V; software installs in Windows environment
Price: Free edition with some basic but robust functionality, enterprise version has 30-day trial, enterprise license is $900+ per socket, subscription options also available
5nine Manager is an offering that can have appeal due to the lower price, even though it only functions in the Hyper-V environment. The free version is ideal for a smaller personal environment or for testing out applications or performance on a smaller scale. It does offer a unique GUI for server core and Hyper-V, which is strangely hard to find! The only major limitation is that it only handles six virtual machines on a single host, which again makes the free offering primarily for smaller personal environments or for test case environments.
5nine Manager's paid version has an extensive list of features well beyond the basic – VM creation and editing, guest console, replication, storage management, etc. – but it also has some ability to communicate via Microsoft's RDP for VMs, the unique local GUI for Win Server, SQL server support, resource libraries, searchable VMs, and a range of notification and alert-focused options not offered in the free version.
Compatibility: Hyper-V; even some functionality with public Linux/UNIX distributions to enable a fully license-free solution when using the free version of 5nine Manager
Price: Free edition with optional “full version” $99 option
ESXi Embedded Host Client
This particular offering is somewhat unique because it comes straight from VMware itself and is made solely to work with the ESXi environment. While it lacks a lot of the powerful and more robust functionality of many third-party enterprise tools, it provides a huge amount of expanded functionality, all manageable via a graphical interface added into your ESXi environment, at no cost whatsoever. It's application is somewhat limited as it is best suited for environments that are small, personal in nature, or simply setup as a small test case. With the ability to manage VM power states, create new VMs or from OVF/OVA, configure hosting, view summaries of events and tasks, as well as configure a range of host metrics, it's a powerful offering for the right environment! Initial installation can be a little tricky if you aren't familiar with ESXi, but many walkthroughs exist.
Compatibility: VMware; software interface is purely web/java based
While VMware and Hyper-V both come with their own basic tools and front-ends, which can certainly do the trick, there's simply no way that those options suffice when a business is running on a need for redundancy and reliability or, in the worst case scenario, and extremely fast turn around time on addressing an issue. A powerful VM Manager can aid in that one way more than anything else, and that ability alone more than justifies the cost of many of these software suites when considering the expense a several hour total outage could cost.
A strong VM Manager makes it easy for an admin to swoop to the rescue. Alerts quickly bring the problem to your attention at which point you can swiftly adjust allocations across the entire environment, re-image machines, change resources, or any other number of solutions that all would be far slower without the aid of good VM management software.