Free VM Discovery

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

Spreadsheets. At some point, every system administrator that deals with a virtualized infrastructure will have to deal with them: They keep track of everything in the environment, from guest operating systems 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 system administrators 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., a company that specializes in these applications, has released a free, lightweight version of their 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 this free product brought to the table.

Installation Experience
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 that 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: 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. 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.

In addition, V-Scout 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 whose 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.

Embotics V-Scout
Embotics Corp.

About the Author

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

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Feb 21, 2007 Anonymous Anonymous

Agent Optional, you can have an agent/engine on your critical machines or all your machines for the same price as the distributed model.

Thu, Oct 20, 2005 Kevin M. Anonymous

Great article, we will evaluate the product due to this article. Jimmy, you're the best.

Wed, Oct 2, 2002 Nagi Anonymous

A very good review. The product seems, good indeed. But $15,000 for just 10 servers sucks!

Wed, Jul 31, 2002 Olaf Toronto CA

Agent-less Management!!! and a very powerful package. Every network manager needs this tool.

Mon, Jan 14, 2002 Dan Atlanta

We just bought The Argent Guardian (which explains why I am posting a comment now). We evaluated numerous solutions and found The Argent Guardian to be the easiest product to customize to our exact requirements. We will be monitoring 220 servers and the fact that we will only need to install Guardian on a handful of servers was the deal-clincher. Not to mention, Argent was easy to work with and did not take us for a ride when it came time to talk $$$.

Thu, Dec 20, 2001 omar c texas

I really like the fact that guardian gives you the option to install agents or to not install them. In some cases we need agents installed on our servers. but in most cases it is not needed. Why put something on a server that does not need to be there? I still get the data that I need. I also like the fact that it is so scalable and it actually works. we monitor 200 production boxes and it does the job. great piece of software!

Thu, Dec 6, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Scalable, simple to use and yet so powerful. This is why our Organisation purchased the Argent Guardian to monitor our sites around the world. The chioce of wheather to use agents or not is totally up to us and allows us to tailor our monitoring to suit our environment. The support is second to none.

Wed, Dec 5, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

The lack of agents makes Guardian a non-player in the enterprise market. What happens when the network goes down? You lose all managmenet capabilities and your reporting trends becoem worthless.

Wed, Oct 3, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

We use The Argent Guardian to monitor an infrastructure consisting of 40 servers spread across 3 locations. Whoever said the product is not intuitive is crazy! When we were evaluating solutions, it was by far the easiest product to get up and running. Biggest selling point is the fact that Guardian does not require agents.

Wed, Oct 3, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Super, Fantastic Tool! The Argent Guardian is a true treasure in the monitoring and alerting arena. You get true bang for your buck and it really works, unlike so many other solutions!

Mon, Sep 17, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

The manual sucks, and it's far from intuitive. However, it has a lot of features and is a good product.

Tue, Sep 4, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Very nice product!

Tue, Aug 28, 2001 Christine Dengate Australia

An outstanding package that is both simple to use yet so powerful. The best value for money in monitoring products by far.

Tue, Aug 28, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Definitely worth a look.

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