VMware has launched two bundles of management and automation products designed for disaster recovery and application delivery.

The bundles include several previously released products built on top of the VMware virtualisation software and two that are brand-new. The new products are Site Recovery Manager, designed to simplify disaster recovery on virtual machines; and Stage Manager, designed for deploying and updating applications on virtual machines.

IT departments often struggle to keep hardware and data in sync when a disaster recovery situation forces fail-over from one server to another, says Melinda Wilken, a senior director of marketing at VMware. Changes at primary sites have to be reflected on failover servers, and this can require a lot of manual work, she said.

"There's a lot of moving parts involved and the upshot is most disaster recovery plans and processes really fail to meet the recovery objective," Wilken said.

VMware described three key features of Site Recovery Manager:

  • Integrated management of disaster recovery plans, letting IT pros create, update and document recovery plans in the VMware VirtualCenter http://www.vmware.com/products/vi/vc/ management interface.
  • Automated tests of disaster recovery plans in an "isolated testing environment."
  • Automated failover and recovery in the event of an actual disaster.

Site Recovery Manager is part of the VMware Management and Automation Bundle, which includes the new Stage Manager software and previously released products Lifecycle Manager and Lab Manager.

A second software package called the IT Service Delivery Bundle is identical to the Management and Automation package, except it is cheaper and does not include the Site Recovery Manager.

Stage Manager targets virtual server sprawl, a common problem in which virtual machines spread through an enterprise with IT managers exhibiting little oversight or control. Administrators don't want to make changes in production environments, so they create "shadow instances" for testing new applications or patching and updating existing ones, Wilken says. The shadow application instances end up being out of sync with those in production, she notes.

"As IT managers roll out or update applications, instead of having to keep track of multiple instances of configurations throughout these stages, IT managers using VMware Stage Manager can automate the process so changes and updates are efficiently propagated," said VMware in a statement.

This reduces risk and eliminates errors, the release adds. Essentially, the product lets IT update an application using an exact replica of the one in production, and then transfers the updated software to a production server when it's ready, Wilken notes.

VMware Lifecycle Manager, released in March, provides an automated system for requesting, approving, deploying, updating and retiring virtual machines. Lab Manager, which has been available since December 2006, gives users quick access to virtual machines without sacrificing IT control.