[caption id="attachment_6254" align="aligncenter" width="600"] VMware is pushing tools for cloud automation and management.[/caption] VMware has announced general availability of its vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.6 and vFabric Application Director 5.0, updates of two software packages designed to help IT pros automate cloud (and cloud-based application) management. Both updates have been folded into VMware vCloud Suite 5.1, a platform unifying a number of functions—including virtualization and cloud-infrastructure management. “In the cloud era, customers must think holistically about how they manage their multi-cloud, multi-platform and multi-vendor resources,” Ramin Sayar, vice president and general manager of VMware’s Cloud Infrastructure and Management, wrote in a Dec. 3 statement. The vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.6 leverages proprietary analytics as part of its management capabilities, giving IT pros a more insightful view into their systems. Other features include new compliance dashboards, group-based views, and application-level monitoring. Announced last month, the vFabric Application Director 5.0 offers users a set of application blueprints with standardized OS and middleware components, the better (at least in theory) to deploy those applications across virtual and hybrid cloud infrastructures such as Amazon EC2. VMware recently updated its cloud-management portfolio to support alternative tools, including Amazon’s platform. That was considered a significant step for the company, which had previously seemed to shy away from the idea of backing heterogeneous cloud environments. At the VMworld 2012 conference this summer, it was clear that VMware would have to deal with its increasingly heterogeneous environment in some fashion. Microsoft and Red Hat have been gaining ground with their respective Hyper-V and KVM virtual machine platforms, even as Amazon gained more ground in the cloud. “There no longer is anything such as a VMware or KVM only shop,” Convirture CEO Arsalan Farooq said at the time. Other companies such as Citrix have targeted the virtualization side of VMware’s portfolio. At that conference, VMware also announced the death of its complex licensing model, killing off its vRAM program and providing more simplified pricing based on physical processor cores. In theory, that measure will also allow the company to remain competitive against its rivals.   Image: VMware