Review

Free VM Discovery with V-Scout

Embotics' V-Scout ends the days of tracking your virtual machines via spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets. At some point, every systems administrator that deals with a virtualized infrastructure will have to use them: They keep track of everything in the environment, from guest OSes to CPUs to RAM and so on. The issue with spreadsheets, as most of us know, is that they need to be manually updated, which is a chore and not 100 percent reliable.

An alternative to spreadsheets is writing customized scripts that report necessary data. Unfortunately, this usually involves having some sort of coding background that many sysadmins don't have, or don't have time for. A third option is to use an application or pre-built appliance, though these can be rather costly depending on the size of your environment.

Embotics Corp. can help you overcome these issues with a free, lightweight version of its flagship V-Commander product called V-Scout.

V-Scout is an agentless tool for tracking and reporting on virtual machines (VMs) within a VMware environment. I installed V-Scout in my home lab to see what it brought to the table.

Painless Deployment
The product installed within minutes, and I was logged in and checking it out within a few more. Not having to install a single agent on any of my hosts made the deployment less painful. Because V-Scout pulls data straight from the vCenter database -- vCenter, formerly VirtualCenter, is the management tool for ESX -- almost all the data I keep in my spreadsheets was available to me and kept current automatically.

The predefined reports immediately gave me a detailed view into my environment, such as host information, guest OS information and even the tracking of VM population trends. These reports can be kept for later use and regenerated as needed in order to note various areas of concern over time; some can even be exported to .CSV files if incorporating them into spreadsheets is still needed.

The ability to tag VMs, identifying them by their expiration dates or whether or not the VM has been approved to run in your environment, adds additional change- and lifecycle-management capabilities to this already feature-rich product (see Figure 1). If the provided tags don't suffice or you have existing rules in place you'd like to adopt, custom tags are available to track VMs however you'd like.

Embotics V-Scout
Figure 1. A dashboard view showing the various tags available for virtual machines in V-Scout. (Click image to view larger version.)

V-Scout also offers the ability to enter a basic cost model to allow for chargeback or usage reports to be generated, and the ability to handle multiple user accounts.

Positive Results
Overall, Embotics' V-Scout is a great free utility. Its major benefit -- aside from no cost -- is the ability to rapidly provide an admin insight into his virtualized environments in an extremely unobtrusive and rapid fashion. If cost is an issue and getting quick results is a must, V-Scout is a tool that could prove handy in any virtual environment.

V-Scout
Embotics Corp.
Free
A lightweight version of the company's flagship product V-Commander, V-Scout ienables sysadmins to look at their virtualized environments without the hassle of manually updating spreadsheets.

About the Author

Brian Mislavsky, VCP, is a systems engineer specializing in virtualization and consolidation.

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