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Head-to-Head: SolarWinds Virtualization Manager vs. Microsoft System Center 2012

In taking one last look at Scott Lowe’s competitive matrix for virtualization management, I started to wonder if a comparison of  VMware performance monitoring tools, SolarWinds Virtualization Manager and Microsoft System Center 2012 was really warranted. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that this is not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison since System Center 2012 is a behemoth, all-encompassing systems management solution, and Virtualization Manager is a tool targeted to do one thing, virtualization management, very well. However, since Microsoft is pushing so hard into the virtualization marketplace with the upcoming launch of Windows Server 2012 & Hyper-V 3.0, along with the already-released System Center 2012, I think it merits a quick analysis. We’ve also built a page with a feature-by-feature comparison of SolarWinds Virtualization Manager and Microsoft System Center 2012.

We’ve all at least heard of System Center over the years even if we haven’t all used it. It manages Microsoft environments pretty well, but has a reputation of being a real beast to get running – meaning lots of consultants working hundreds of hours just to get it configured. System Center used to be broken in to a bunch of different modules (System Center Operations Manager (SCOM), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM),  System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), and the list goes on…), but with System Center 2012, Microsoft has bundled all of these into one, REALLY BIG package (with an equivalently-sized price tag). This doesn’t mean System Center 2012 is any easier to implement because it’s still basically the same modules – they’re just all licensed in at one price instead of paying separately for each module.

For those who would rather avoid having to hire Accenture to install and configure their VMware or Hyper-V virtualization monitoring solution, SolarWinds Virtualization Manager, VMware monitoring provides a great alternative.

The following are the major differentiators, as far as I can see them, between SolarWinds Virtualization Manager and Microsoft System Center 2012:

  • System Center 2012 does a lot of management of your non-virtualized environment – that’s part of the reason you’ll pay 3-10+ times the price for System Center 2012 that you pay for Virtualization Manager.
  • System Center 2012, like many of the other virtualization management offerings we’ve written about, was developed in multiple disparate modules with varying levels of functionality and reporting in each.
  • System Center 2012’s multiple modules make it more difficult to deploy than Virtualization Manager.
  • System Center 2012 says it can manage VMware environments, but very few companies are using it for this purpose today.
  • Using System Center 2012 primarily for virtualization management is extremely expensive when compared to Virtualization Manager.
  • SolarWinds Virtualization Manager provides a simple-to-deploy virtual appliance that lives up to its promise of a single-pane-of-glass management console with seamlessly integrated functionality. With the virtual appliance, you can be up and running in as little as 15 minutes!
  • Virtualization Manager’s TimeTravel feature gives you the ability to do a forensic analysis of what changed in your environment that caused a performance problem. System Center 2012 doesn’t give you this functionality in any of its modules.
  • SolarWinds Storage Manager enables integration between virtual resource management and physical storage management for full VM-to-spindle mapping for faster troubleshooting. Microsoft is sorely-lacking in storage management.

For the IT practitioner who wants excellent heterogeneous virtualization management at a fraction of the cost of System Center 2012, SolarWinds Virtualization Manager, VMware monitoring software is a must see! You can even try a full-version trial for free for 30 days by downloading at Try it today!!