VMware in Log Management and Analytics Play

The intricacies of machine-to-machine data manipulation and Big Data get mainstream attention when they are unleashed on things like traffic jams and soybean crops. But M2M and high-intensity log processing is growing in importance as a tool for proactive IT infrastructure management.

With the high volume of log data and the dynamic nature of data structures, IT administrators and service providers have difficulty managing and mining logs for operational insights in real-time. To address that need, a number of upstarts like Splunk Inc., Loggly Inc. and others are finding success delivering cloud-based tools that collect and analyze unstructured data from the myriad constituents of complex IT infrastructures to identify potential problems and fast-track fixes before they impact business.

Along comes VMware Inc., one of the first big-name IT vendors to jump into the space by unveiling VMware vCenter Log Insight, a cloud-based, automated log management and analytics tool that promises real-time insights from the vast amounts of log data generated by applications, firewalls, network devices, operating systems, storage devices and virtual machines. Like the offerings of its smaller competitors, vCenter Log Insight is designed to help IT admins and solution providers minimize troubleshooting times, improve operational efficiency and reduce costs.

“Dynamic virtual and cloud environments generate vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, requiring analytics for real-time intelligence and visibility across IT infrastructure and applications,” said Ramin Sayar, vice president and general manager for cloud management at VMware. “We’re extending our analytics-based approach to provide timely and rich insight of machine-generated data to IT administrators and operations teams. “

vCenter Log Insight is delivered as a virtual appliance, and features pre-built dashboards and reports based on best practices from VMware engineering and global support. The tool can be launched from within vCenter Operations, and log data can be converted into KPIs for administrators to view log details and alerts in the Ops dashboard.

While the capabilities in VMware vCenter Log Insight aren’t new or unique, solution providers and IT pros may be more attracted to an offering from an established vendor partner that plays well in a familiar environment and is tightly integrated with vCenter Operations.

Brandon Gordon, IT architect at transportation services specialist CSX Corp. in Jacksonville, Fla., says he found the new VMware log tools “surprisingly easy to set up. It just worked after deploying the virtual appliance and setting the IP. The ease of extracting data, combined with the data visualization, makes VMware vCenter Log Insight deceptively simple and extremely powerful to use.”

Splunk also has VMware-specific apps for monitoring virtual environments. But partners will likely be more enamored with vCenter Log Insight’s simpler, more predictable pricing model. While most other tools in the space charge users by log data volume, VMware is opting for a fixed price of around $200 per-operating-system instance — such as a physical server, virtual machine or virtualized host — with no data size limits.

VMware vCenter Log Insight is available now for download as a public beta. The tool is expected to be generally available in the third quarter of this year.