Automation Tools to Drive Cloud Computing Journey

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jul 8, 2009

Much is said about virtualization penetration, and much weight is given to penetration when discussing where the technology is in terms of acceptance. A recently published survey of 474 companies sponsored by Sun Guard Availability shed new light on the maturity. Virtually Speaking: Everybody is talking about virtualization, but not everyone is at the same place in the migration from physical to virtual to ... cloud?

Don Norbeck, technology officer for virtualization, cloud computing and product strategy SunGard Availability Services, told ServerWatch that the study found virtualization to have moved from being accepted in test and dev to being deployed for applications where it was well suited, to being considered for deployment for all applications except for those where it is unsuitable.

What is now the exception instead of the rule has shifted, in other words.

Cloud computing, he told ServerWatch, appears to be following a similar path. The survey, which focused on disaster recovery, looked at how the two technologies are being applied.

Particularly interesting is the perception of where virtualization and cloud come in when it comes to disaster recovery. Of the 220 respondents who are IT professionals, 50 percent said they would not deploy virtualization for disaster recovery. Of the remaining 277, employees at the director level and above in various business areas, 44 percent were not aware of how disaster recovery needs were being met.

Clearly virtualization hasn't won over all hearts and minds, or maybe it's just not suited for the task. And disaster recovery isn't the only area that could be affected by this.

In a recent conversation with ServerWatch, Director of Marketing EMC Ionix Jon Siegal told ServerWatch he believes, "unless automated tools are leverage for virtualization, virtualization adoption rates will stall."

On Wednesday, EMC set out to resolve this with the unveiling of its Ionix IT management software. The rebranding and integration of the four product families under the Ionix name represents "the culmination of a five-year strategy of helping enterprises move from physical to virtual and eventually cloud," Siegal said.

Ionix Software brings together all of EMC's automated server compliance and configuration solutions, integrating those picked up via acquisition (product lines from Configuresoft, Infra, nLayers, Voyence) with those built in-house (ControlCenter and Smarts) to create four IT management solutions sets:

  • Ionix for Service Discovery & Mapping finds what customers have
  • Ionix for Service Management helps coordinate process functions (e.g., ITIL, service desk and service management)
  • Ionix for Data Center Automation & Compliance delivers automation across the data center and ensures compliance across the stack
  • Ionix for IT Operations Intelligence provides root cause analysis across the physical and virtual servers

Functionality-wise little has changed, and all of the software is available now under the new branding. It looks, from here, as though EMC's main aim is to offer a cohesive smorgasbord. It's much easier to pick and choose when things are sorted similarly, and functional overlap is if not minimal, at least clear.

Siegal said that although integrated solution packs will be available, like previously, the products within each grouping are modular in nature. Thus, it's not an all or nothing proposition. Nor does EMC anticipate companies will dump all of their management tools in favor of Ionix. The software will continue to integrate with products from the Big Four of the IT management world.

When it comes to virtualization, however, EMC is less flexible: All of these products are integrated with VMware's products' APIs.

If we are indeed moving to a virtual world, EMC has a huge stake in making sure VMware is a key part of the landscape. Currently, VMware is the most profitable arm of EMC.

Combine this with Siegal's belief that "new management is required for the virtualization problem. If it is not solved, it could become a hurdle [to adoption]," and it's by no means a stretch to think this is the last we'll hear of virtualization products out of EMC.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization space since 2001, and is coauthoring a book about virtualization that is scheduled for publication in October 2009.

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