RealTime IT News

IBM Goes Swiss For Virtualization

IBM today agreed to purchase Rembo Technology, a maker of software that helps companies automatically install or upgrade operating systems on thousands of servers, laptops and desktop computers at the same time.

The buy fills a gap in IBM's software portfolio and allows it to compete better with smaller rivals Opsware and Altiris in a virtualization market that research firm IDC said could top $15 billion by 2009.

Virtualization technologies, which shift the onus from the IT administrators to the machines, are becoming the popular choice to ease software installations in shops where IT staffs are short-handed and overworked.

With higher demands placed on efficiency and speedy configuration, the idea that a technician could take two hours to plant an operating system on one computer is unthinkable to many IT executives.

CIOs have fallen in love with the notion that they can buy software that will get their numerous servers, workstations and PCs up and running without human intervention.

Rembo, of Geneva, Switzerland, provides such operational remedies, eliminating the need for IT specialists to spend days installing software on each physical or virtualized computer.

Kevin Leahy, director of virtualization strategy for IBM, said Rembo's Auto-Deploy and Auto-Backup software will fill a gap in IBM's Tivoli software portfolio.

While the Tivoli line includes such automation tools as change management and provisioning software for machines, it lacks the assets to help companies automate operating system deployment across many machines.

Rembo's software will help IT admins install operating systems from a single computer console in minutes, allowing PCs to function as usual.

The software also contains security features that protect workstations used by multiple people. The products wipe away operating systems and personal data after each use and re-install new software.

In one scenario, Leahy said university students using computer kiosks could accidentally install a computer virus or leave personal information on the hard drive.

Rembo's software would wipe out the infected software, strip the hard drive and reinstall the original operating system.

Such security functions are a boon in an age when government regulations for clean record retention loom over enterprises.

Leahy said that, of Rembo's 800 customers, its software is most popular in government and educational sectors, where agencies and universities have several machines to manage and sometimes too few staffers to manage them.

He expects Rembo's technology to gain traction in financial services firms, as well.

Rembo is another notch on IBM's virtualization belt.

Big Blue has offered virtualization on its mainframes going back several decades and has adapted that technology for its other servers and management software lines.

IBM will negotiate a similar path with the Rembo buy, which will close in the second quarter.

Leahy said IBM plans to tuck Rembo's staff of 12 and operations into its Tivoli software division, integrating the company's technology with Tivoli Provisioning Manager and IBM Director software.

The systems vendor will also sprinkle Rembo's technology on its Virtualization Engine portfolio of software, hardware and services.