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Virtually Speaking: Available Beyond the Physical

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted May 13, 2008


The big news out of Palo Alto this week is HP's intention to acquire EDS. The $13.9 billion offer on the table pretty much obliviates anything else. Understandably lost in the hypnotic haze of nine zeros are the five nines of new products. From hardware to hypervisor, high availability is getting a virtual boost.

Back in March, HP previewed HP Insight Dynamics - VSE (ID-VSE) at its Tech Forum in Barcelona.

ID-VSE is designed for ProLiant and BladeSystem products. Its Integrity counterpart is the HP Virtual Server Environment.

ID-VSE is basically a compilation of a variety of HP infrastructure management tools that enable physical and virtual servers to be managed the same way. ID-VSE is positioned as the ideal tool for continuous infrastructure consolidations looking to build more dynamic test and dev infrastructures, provide fast and affordable high availability where it was not cost-effective before, and perform energy-aware capacity planning.

This week, three components were added to the ID-VSE mix: Logical Server, Smart Solver and Insight Manager Console.

Logical Server "brings the core benefits of virtualization to the physical in a unique way," Mark Linesch, vice president, HP Infrastructure Software, told ServerWatch. It extends capabilities formerly limited to VMs to the logical environment. The logical server is an abstract template or file that encapsulates info about image, dependencies on each other and on network. Logical Server encapsulates meta info into a file that can be saved, copied or moved as a virtual machine Linesch said.

Smart Solver, meanwhile can take a historical snapshot up to every five minutes and gives admins consolidation tools that "empower intelligent, insightful choices as to where to place workloads to maximize for goals," Linesch said.

It is, he emphasized, a real-time look, not a separate tool.

The third new component is Insight Manager Console, which offers a physical to virtual, real-time capacity planning capability in a single-screen environment.

ID-VSE delivers dynamic test and dev. This adds flexibility when moving an app into production. Linesch noted that an admin can move a server into production environment and subsequently back to test and dev. This is especially significant since, "consolidation is not a one-time event anymore."

ID-VSE also offers energy-aware capacity planning. Admins can use the functionality to look at server usage across pools and evaluate energy implications and savings that can be accrued.

It's hard to argue with the fact that, by and large "replaced server sprawl with VM sprawl," as Linesch noted. The assumption, however, that VM sprawl spans homogeneous hardware is where the fly gets stuck in the ointment. ID-VSE, while comprehensive in its coverage of HP-supported operating systems — HP-UX, Windows, Linux —l is limited to HP hardware.

This is not unusual to HP, however. With few exceptions, OEMs trend to stick with their own.

ID-VSE's support is also limited to the VMware universe, although HP does plans to work with with Microsoft when Hyper-V becomes available and Xen Citrix, down the road.

VMware, in contrast, ties its management solutions not to the hardware but to the operating environment around its hypervisor. To be, fair, that is its business, and with the rise of commodity hardware, it's not hard to visualize a future where the choice of virtualization platform is as critical as choice of hardware was once upon a time.

On Monday, VMware unveiled product bundles and deals with nine replication software vendors, and stamped two products gold.

Site Recovery Manager and Stage Manager are now available for use with VMware Virtual Infrastructure, Bogomil Balansky, VMware's senior director of product marketing, told ServerWatch. StageManger, which has been in beta since January, "is all about putting application into production and minimizing risk."

Site Recovery Manager makes makes disaster recovery more reliable, less expensive, and faster for VMs. Its key requirement is that the enterprise have a a secondary site for recovery, and with that, shared storage and storage replication. The program waits for confirmation from a human being, then initiates recovery sequence on second site, which can be anywhere (e.g., a colo or hosting provider), and it can go both ways, Balansky said.

The products are scheduled to being shipping next week. They will be available both a la carte or as part of a Lifecycle Manager bundle.

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

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