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Virtually Speaking: Simplifying the Infrastructure

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Sep 22, 2006


Amy Newman
Virtualization doesn't mean simplification. Reducing the complexity may remove some barriers to entry, though.

There are many well-documented advantages to virtualization. Now that the technology is deployed throughout the data center, the disadvantages are starting to surface.

One such disadvantage is rising complexity.

Although virtualization simplifies the infrastructure in some ways, in others it's equally complex and requires as much, if not more, administrative effort.

From workshops to keynotes, the pros and cons of virtualization surfaced frequently at this week's Interop show in New York City. CA CEO John Swainson's keynote was particularly focused on virtualization, citing the stat that during the next five years, the computing resources constituting today's typical IT infrastructure all will be virtualized.

Thus, tomorrow's admins will be wrangling with managing virtual complexity, as opposed to physical complexity.

One company that already has an eye on managing the complexity is PlateSpin. PlateSpin offers a number of agentless data center automation software products that collect and analyze a given server infrastructure and then determines the best fit for application workloads on the given hardware resources and streams over the network from any source to any destination. This approach makes its products well-suited for virtualization.

And indeed, this week PlateSpin went public on two alliances involving two of its software offerings: PowerRecon and PowerConvert.

PlateSpin's PowerConvert was selected for IBM's Project SwitchBlade, an IBM migration effort designed to steer enterprises away from Dell's and HP's blades to those from Big Blue. Virtualization is the cheese in a blade system sandwich — not essential, but often present.

PowerConvert is an automated migration tool that functions in both physical and virtual environments. It migrates data, applications, and operating systems across physical, virtual, blade and image-based infrastructures in any direction. It's also designed to do it quickly, reducing migration time from days or weeks to hours by removing the need to re-provision new Windows and Linux servers from scratch.

As far as alliances and partnerships go, that one is fairly ho-hum. More significant is the relationship PlateSpin forged with Virtual Iron Software.

The companies have agreed to co-develop joint product offerings for users and resellers as well as to collaborate on marketing and sales efforts. The initial fruits are compatibility and bundling.

PlateSpin's PowerRecon will now support the Virtual Iron environments. Thus, when the software scans the network, and returns an analysis of where resources can best be consolidated, its deep knowledge of Virtual Iron will enable it to spit back an infrastructure optimized for Virtual Iron.

It can then switch over to PowerConvert, which performs the actual migration.

The software has supported VMware environments and Microsoft Virtual server since its inception.

Partnering with Virtual Iron is no doubt a boon for the less-prominent vendor.

Although Virtual Iron Software Director of Product Management Chris Barclay told ServerWatch that he anticipates the bulk of the the action taking place at the value-added reseller (VAR) level. Virtual Iron will bundle one free migration of PlateSpin PowerConvert with every Virtual Iron Consolidation and Enterprise Editions license.

Support for Virtual Iron in both in PowerRecon and PowerConvert is expected to be available in November. The products will also be made available at that time for VARs to sell as a single bundle.

The bundling will feature PlateSpin PowerRecon and a Virtual Iron/PlateSpin PowerConvert priced to encourage enterprises joint solution. PlateSpin CEO Stephen Pollack noted that the solution will be the only one on the market to cover the process from start to finish.

That may well be, but it's doubtful others won't be joining them soon. Removing the physical server does not eliminate the infrastructure, and there is ample opportunity for vendors that can connect the two.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been following the virtualization space since 2001.

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