VMware has this week officially made available its Lifecycle Manager tool, which allows IT managers to better control the lifecycle of virtual machines (VMs), right from their creation, through to their decommissioning.

It does this by tracking (via a web interface) who created or owns the VM, when it was requested, who approved it, where it is deployed, how long it has been in operation, and when it is scheduled to be decommissioned.

VMware has essentially used the virtual environment automation technology it inherited from the Swiss company Dunes Technologies, which it acquired back in September last year.

According to Douglas Phillips, senior product marketing manager, EMEA, Dunes' underlying platform was called VSO. VMware Lifecycle Manager is a totally separate tool developed by VMware, but it uses VSO as the underlying platform," he told Techworld.

VMware has also added a highly useful chargeback feature to Lifecycle Manager, which gives IT managers the ability to measure and chargeback the use of specific virtual machines to individual department owners. These chargeback metrics can also be tied in to existing financial systems.

This feature is going to become increasingly useful with more and more deployment of large-scale virtual machines within the enterprise.

"A recent ESG survey of current and planned virtual server adopters showed that current users expect that the number of their virtual machines will grow by 173 percent over the next two years," said Mark Bowker, industry analyst at ESG.

"To handle this massive growth, VMware Lifecycle Manager delivers IT organisations a method to automate best practices by implementing a standardised approach for managing user requests for the provisioning of virtual machines, while simultaneously eliminating manual and repetitive tasks," he added.

Lifecycle Manager also allows customers to create a catalogue of standard IT services. Users then pick and choose from a menu of virtual machines with different properties. It apparently also streamlines requests and approvals, as VMware Lifecycle Manager establishes a scalable mechanism to route and approve all requests for virtual machines, which "helps ensure compliance with internal policies."

VMware Lifecycle Manager is now available for purchase, and costs $895 (£445) per physical CPU socket.

According to Phillips, this price is fixed across all geographic regions, although there is an unlocked version of the product (typically used by large global accounts), with a one-time cost of $20,000 (£9,990).