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Power to the Virtual

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Aug 12, 2008


Power-savings is a big driver when it comes to getting enterprises to virtualize. But what happens after you go virtual? How do you know your servers really are running efficiently? Virtually Speaking: Virtual Iron is counting on LivePower to flip the switch.

Virtual Iron is going live with what it believes is the solution.

VMware and Microsoft have grabbed most of the headlines this summer. It's been a while since anything much more than chants from those two vendors made up the virtual hum. With Monday's release of Virtual Iron 4.4, and its LivePower functionality in particular, Virtual Iron is hoping to change this tune.

With this latest release, Virtual Iron's VI-Center, is the "only real competitive solution comparable with VMware today," Tony Asaro, chief strategy officer of Virtual Iron told ServerWatch.

LivePower is designed to automate power usage to deliver significant cost-savings and environmental benefits across the data center. The goal is to enable enterprises to power up or down, as needed, during the course of the day or week.

"Nobody but us and VMware has it," he added referring to the capabilities LivePower offers.

What LivePower does is so straightforward that it's somewhat surprising VMware is the only other vendor to offer similar functionality. To monitor resource utilization across the virtual data center, LivePower uses enterprise-defined policies to consolidate virtual machines onto fewer servers when there is excess CPU capacity. On the flip side, when virtual machine load increases beyond these defined thresholds, LivePower turns on physical servers and LiveMigrates the virtual machines, thus ensuring resource requirements and service levels are met.

With energy savings becoming a bigger issue by the day, and certainly a key driver for virtualization, if Virtual Iron can pull this off, it may deliver the leg up on VMware and Hyper-V it has been seeking.

Although not nearly as exciting, Virtual Iron also announced support for the new Intel Node Manager, an out-of-band (OOB) power management policy engine embedded in the Intel server chipset. It works with BIOS and OS power management (OSPM) to dynamically adjust platform power to maximize performance/power at the node level.

Intel Node Manager measures the power consumption of the server platform and sets the platform power to a targeted power budget to achieve maximum performance for the given power level. It also monitors platform power against the targeted power budget, sending alerts via the management console when the targeted power budget cannot be maintained.

The combined forces of Node Manager and LivePower aim to provide real-time power consumption information to better enable users to power servers automatically up or down.

Virtual Iron Version 4.4 Extended Enterprise Edition and Version 4.4 Single Server Edition are scheduled to be generally available next Monday, Virtual Iron Director of Marketing Tim Walsh told ServerWatch.

VMware meanwhile announced it taken some measurements with its VMmark virtualization benchmark. The big winners: Dell and HP.

Maybe the next key metric should be, how efficient are the servers running the various virtualization environments?

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

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