VMware has added a dashboard to its vCloud Automation Center product that lets both the IT and finance departments see the overall cost of operating the entire VMware-based infrastructure in the data centre on a month-by-month basis, including an average cost per virtual machine.
vCloud Automation Center 6.0 serves as a self-service catalogue enabling end users in the business to provision new applications and services by themselves.
During a demonstration at VMworld, VMware showed how users get to see a price breakdown when they provision a new application or service from vCloud Automation Center. This also includes comparative pricing against running the same service on public clouds such as Amazon Web Services or Windows Azure, allowing customers to make an informed choice.
If their IT department has created an appropriate blueprint to run that application or service on AWS or Azure, customers can go ahead and click to deploy it to those cloud services if that makes more sense for them, VMware said.
The new cost and comparison dashboard is part of the firm's push to give customers greater visibility and control over their IT spending.
The harsh economic reality also means that IT departments have to work differently, and this is driving VMware down the path of greater automation and flexibility, according to VMware's regional director for the UK and Ireland, David Parry-Jones.
"As UK managing director, I get involved with a lot of conversations with the CIOs and business leaders in organisations, and looking at the economy, it is patently obvious that we need to do things differently, because if we stand still there are a lot of new entrants and competitors coming into the marketplace that will offer a better alternative," he said.
VMware also believes that it is some way along the road to hitting the target of an automated, software-defined data centre capable of meeting the changing needs of the modern business environment, but a key goal now is to bring down the cost of delivering IT services, the firm said.
At its VMworld 2013 Europe conference in Barcelona, VMware delivered key updates to its platform for virtualising and automating data centre infrastructure, including general availability of NSX for network virtualisation and a public beta of its Virtual SAN (VSAN) technology.
Combined with the existing compute virtualisation capabilities of vSphere, this allows pretty much all resources in the data centre to be sliced up and allocated as needed, according to Parry-Jones.
"The only exception right now is storage, as the VSAN product is still in beta, but the way we get to that kind of Nirvana is that we integrate into things like ViPR from EMC that allow us to get a view across the whole data centre into storage arrays that aren't necessarily incorporated within VSAN," he said.
The whole premise of the software-defined data centre is to free up more of that IT budget to allow customers to spend more on innovation.
"And it's about incorporating public cloud resources, to enable businesses to use IT in a consumption model, particularly around new projects, allowing them to move quickly and keep costs down," he added.
Meanwhile, many organisations have still yet to adopt virtualisation, despite the compelling cost savings this first step can bring, Parry-Jones said.
"Cancer Research in the UK have just done server consolidation, and they are now saving 60 percent of the budget that was historically required to run that infrastructure, in both capital and operational expenditure," he claimed.
"It tends to be predominantly SMBs or large organisations stuck in an outsourcing contract, but I think we are about to see a new wave of P2V (physical-to-virtual) migrations, particularly in public sector organisations that have been in these long-term outsourced contracts."
Small companies are likely to take a different path, said Parry-Jones. Many of these have relied on just one or two servers sitting in the corner of the office for email and storage, and as these reach the end of their lives, they are being replaced with cloud-based services instead.
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