Virtualization and the Dynamic Enterprise

Whether you choose to call it dynamic infrastructure or adaptive infrastructure, the ability to alter your IT infrastructure on the fly is not just important, it’s critical.

Virtually Speaking: Infrastructure movement management got a boost this week when CA, HP and IBM all announcing new offerings. Virtualization loomed large.

To better facilitate this paradigm, several new offerings were unveiled this week. In all cases, virtualization is at the very least a component, and in some cases it’s the driver.

At the Microsoft Management Summit on Tuesday, HP announced plans to “tie its adaptive infrastructure suite of software and hardware designed for always-on data centers into Microsoft’s back office software — including System Center, Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, and Virtual Machine Manager — when running on HP ProLiant and HP BladeServer hardware,” InternetNews reported.

Scott Farrand, vice president, HP Infrastructure Software and BladeSystem, explained to ServerWatch that 72 percent of HP ProLiants are currently running Windows. Although he had no hard numbers to share, he noted that the likelihood they’re running System Center is very high.

Thus, the chief advantage of the partnership is the integration it will afford. Farrand said users will go from a joint pane of glass, where there is much redundancy, particularly in the area of OS deployment, to a single interface.

This integration, which Farrand noted is “by design deeper integrated than other solutions,” packages rich, deep management features in a manner that makes both System Center and Insight Control software much easier to manage, so customers “get best of both worlds.”

The software is expected to be available in June. It will be priced at $549 per server. Customers that have the ILO Advance pack will be able upgrade from their license for $289.

HP was not the only hardware vendor to announce new software. IBM announced a great many new solutions on Monday centered around its dynamic infrastructure products and services. IBM PowerVM Active Memory Sharing, which enables memory to flow from one virtual server — or “logical partition” — to another. This is designed to improve memory utilization and flexibility. The software pools memory and automatically adjusts to meet varying workload demands.

Other solutions announced include, IT Optimization Business Value Roadmap, The IBM Service Management Center for Cloud Computing, and two new System x appliances for system and application monitoring and service request management. Full details of the new offerings can be found, here.

Finally, CA announced new version of CA Spectrum Infrastructure Manager r9.1 and CA eHealth Performance Manager r6.1.1 (formerly CA SPECTRUM Network Fault Manager and CA eHealth Network Performance Manager, respectively).

The name change represents a shift in focus from the product being about the “network” to being a systems management product that also offers database management capabilities. “It’s Not just for networks anymore, spokesperson Steve Guthrie told ServerWatch.

The products seek to resolve issues that crop up when managing virtualized environments as well as networked application flows, IP telephony applications, MPLS network services and carrier-class service delivery platforms.

In general, there is little crossover in tool capabilities, and the tools don’t recognize each other. Thus, enterprises must resolve each issue with a different tool, and the obvious long-term result is a tool shed full of abandoned niche tools that often go unnoticed and forgotten until the maintenance expenses get significant enough to warrant a close look.

CA Spectrum r9.1 aims to change this. It uses an agent on VMware vCenter to talk to vCenter and collect facts and performance information. It also talks to vCenter to determine hosts and see where the virtual machines are as well as what has been virtualized. It is then able to perform root cause analysis and event correlation.

“We are the only infrastructure management vendor instrumenting infrastructure management in the way we are talking to vCenter” Guthrie said.

It is not, however, the only integrated offering. EMC’s SMARTS suite, is quite similar, the main difference being how it handles the “codebook.” Both feature out-of-the-box event correlation, but CA’s platform is open and customizable platform allowing multiple tweaks. According the Guthrie, EMC claims its codebook is open but said “I’ve yet to meet a customer who can do it themselves.”

Both CA Spectrum and CA eHealth are expected be available within calendar year 2009. Pricing will begin at $125,000 to support 100 CPUs.

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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