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Virtually Speaking: Going Mainstream

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Dec 1, 2006


Amy Newman
As virtualization goes mainstream, will enterprises expect the functionality in all products? Vendors are counting on it.

Few people would refute the notion that virtualization is going mainstream. Even Gartner, in a recent report, said mainstream use is a mere three years away. Early last month, the analyst firm predicted, "By 2010, mainstream virtualization technology will embrace I/O virtualization, breaking the traditional bonds between physical servers, network switches and storage area network (SAN) switches; by 2010, shared operating system (OS) virtualization will become mainstream."

Mainstream deployment is coming in no small part because options are increasing. More ISVs are on the virtualization bandwagon, and many of them are bringing tools from the physical world along for the ride.

The week, the vendors were CA and Hitachi.

CA released Unicenter Advanced Systems Management (Unicenter ASM) r11.1.

Like most infrastructure management software, Unicenter ASM aims to simplify server management. It offers platform-agnostic, centralized management to wrangle environments that contain virtual and clustered server environments.

CA is no stranger to virtualization. Unicenter ASM is actually the cornerstone of its Virtual Platform Management solution, which helps organizations simplify the management of physical, virtual and clustered server environments. It supports CA's EITM vision by unifying and simplifying the management of multivendor, heterogeneous virtual platform environments, and by improving service while reducing cost.

A major selling point of Unicenter ASM is the high availability insurance it offers. Paula Daley, director of product marketing for CA's systems management product line, told ServerWatch that Unicenter ASM delivers this primarily through "dynamic resource brokering, optimizing first on the virtual machine, then on the host, then on another machine."

If the performance of a mission-critical application begins to degrade and additional memory or CPU capacity is required, Unicenter ASM can automatically reallocate resources.

The host machine, Daley says, is given the highest priority for uptime.

As important as it is to maximize the host machine, however, Daley emphasizes that it should not be utilized to 99 percent of its capacity. Rather, enterprises should be sure to allow for extra room when planning workloads and failover.

Unicenter ASM integrates with myriad other virtualization technologies, including those found in HP MC Service Guard, IBM HACMP and pSeries LPAR-capable eServers (P4 and P5), Microsoft Virtual Server and Cluster, Red Hat Advanced Server cluster, Sun enterprise and midrange servers, and VMware ESX/GSX Servers.

Unicenter ASM is available for immediate purchase, according to CA.

A larger selection of products is always a good thing, especially if the products meet enterprises' needs and facilitate the adoption of the technology.

But in addition to mainstream meaning more products, it also means the functionality is expected. This is fast becoming the case for virtualization.

This week Hitachi announced the addition of an embedded virtualization feature to its BladeSymphony blade server family. The new product, BladeSymphony with Virtage, builds virtualization into a blade server's hardware with blade SMP interconnect technology to enables users to configure multiple blades to work as a single system.

BladeSymphony with Virtage is a 10U chassis, supporting hot-swappable blades capable of running Windows and Linux. It's built on standards-based multicore Intel processors with Intel Virtualization Technology.

The product was introduced in Japan in August and is expected to be generally available in North America in January.

Despite many growth spurts, virtualization technologies are still in their infancies. Cohesive integration with the physical world is a milestone it's fast approaching.

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

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