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Veritas, Altiris Battle to Provision Your Server

Taking the next step in its new utility computing plan, Veritas Software Monday introduced new server provisioning software using the technology of one of its acquisitions from last year.

The Mountain View, Calif. company said Veritas OpForce 3.0 differs from traditional utilities in that it makes sure resources such as servers, switches and load balancers are applied across computer networks as they are needed to reduce the time and costs spent to set up and use servers in data centers.

This type of approach, dubbed utility computing in many circles, is also being taken by HP, Computer Associates and IBM to a degree, as these companies are all aiming to lure customers with the promise of lowering total cost of ownership and raising return-on-investment in this cost-conscious IT era. Competition among the vendors is growing in this high stakes game to win more business at a time when there is arguably less business to be had, and less IT dollars being spent. To boost its own server provisioning offerings, IBM purchased Think Dynamics last month.

According to Marty Ward, director of product marketing for storage and application performance management at Veritas, most companies needing IT infrastructure for networks buy a big machine and let it sit there without getting enough use to compensate for the cost of purchasing it.

Often IT administrators would configure and provision servers in data centers to handle peak loads during certain times, but during off-peak times these same servers are sometimes sitting idle. How big a problem has this been to date?

Ward cited Forrester Research figures that claim server use often fails to go higher than 20 percent. Given the fact that enterprises generally spend hundreds of thousands, or even as much a million dollars for servers, a twenty percent rate of use is hardly cost effective.

Ward said OpForce now lets administrators move tasks from under-utilized servers to "hotspots," or areas of heavy activity in the network. Moreover, OpForce is also now integrated with the company's Volume Manager and File System virtualization products to allow resources to be pooled together.

Ward told internetnews.com Veritas, through its new utility computing strategy, is seeking to eliminate the degradation and misuse of server products by taking technology from its purchase of Jareva Technologies and applying it to its OpForce line, which was originally a storage software product. Veritas concurrently moved to acquire performance management software company Precise Software to round out its bid for utility computing technologies.

Specifically, OpForce 3.0 automatically determines the make up of all resources in an IT environment. The product may then be managed locally or remotely through a Web-based graphical user interface. The enhanced software allows role-based administration and authentication to let IT staffs divide the tasks of system and network management among various system administrators. It also features the ability to let administrators automatically back up and restore server, load balancer and network switch configurations.

Priced at $7,500 per host server and $500 per managed server, Veritas OpForce 3.0 supports Solaris, IBM AIX, Red Hat Linux and Windows, and will be available July 7.

Though hardly new, server provisioning is gaining in popularity. Altiris Monday unveiled a Server Provisioning Suite to automate manual management tasks and promote consistent server systems. The suite includes new capabilities for patch management, operational state backup and recovery, and performance and availability monitoring for dynamic provisioning from a centralized Web console.