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Virtually Speaking: The Power of Integration

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Mar 19, 2008


The Oscars and Golden Globes may have come and gone, but that doesn't mean award season is over. Be sure to nominate your favorite virtualization platform and tools (as well as other server room faves) in the third annual ServerWatch Product Excellence Awards. The nominations period kicked off Tuesday and runs through April 15, but don't delay! And, please, only one nomination per person per product. It's a not vote, and multiple submissions will only annoy the judges and will likely impact your chances in a negative way. With virtualization capabilities being rolled into hardware and software products, is the era of the virtual tool as a stand-alone product drawing to a close?

In other news, this week isn't even half over, but if virtualization were to be summed up in a single word, that word would be "integration."

HP, for example, is bringing virtualization in via its hardware. It unveiled the ProLaint DL785 G5, a quad-core Opteron powered 8-socket x86 server on Tuesday. Slated for a May ship date, HP described the server to InternetNews as "an excellent system for virtualization and very large processing needs."

This may not seem to have much to do with virtualization per se, but as IDC analyst Jean Bozman told InternetNews, the release underscores enterprise interest in larger virtualization projects. HP hadn't shipped an 8-socket, x86 system in two years. "It's coming back as part of a wave of virtualization and consolidation in the data center," Bozman said.

Obviously, HP isn't the first OEM to be thinking virtual as it releases hardware. It is, however, claiming to be the first to, "let customers seamlessly manage virtual and physical servers with a single tool," although pundits and other industry watchers may disagree including The Register, which isn't the least bit impressed with the uniqueness of the offering.

The solution, HP Insight Dynamics - VSE, combines a number of HP applications to let customers install, move and tweak virtual systems via a central console designed to wrangle the inevitable virtual server sprawl.

According to The Register, the offering is bland at best — typical server management fare, rolled together from tools found in HP's various management packages along with support for controlling VMware's hypervisor and Smart Solver bits.

Virtualization also managed to find its way into the software side. At its annual Brainshare conference this week, Novell reminded the world that it "is first and foremost a software infrastructure company."

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is one component of this infrastructure, and virtualization will play a key role in the next version, slated for release later this year. Virtualization is currently available in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 via Xen, which has been integrated in the operating system since it began shipping in mid-2006.

Could we be entering the Age of Virtualization 2.0, where virtualization capabilities are not only the expected default but also omnipresent and managed as seamlessly as a single server? All evidence seems to be pointing in that direction, and perhaps the technology's long back story will soften the technological bumps inherent in newly popular technologies.

Should virtualization become just another attribute of software or hardware, its true value add will be in the management software and capabilities it facilitates.

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

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