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Cassatt Adds Network Virtualization to Collage

Cassatt Corp., a specialist in the growing market for triggering tasks on virtual and physical servers in corporate datacenters, has added more pieces to its flagship Collage software suite.

Collage automatically allocates and controls application server instances and virtual and physical machines, removing some of the manual operations associated with hardware, freeing up administrators to tackle other tasks.

Now with Collage 4.0, the software uses new Network Virtualization Service (NVS) software to configure network switches so resources can be pooled and shared across networks in a virtual local area network (VLAN).

Whereas prior versions of Collage manage one network, version 4.0 can administer resources across several, significantly expanding a platform's footprint and usefulness.

"The belief is if you're really going to help manage applications and pool resources, then you need to do that across the network," said Ken Oestreich, director of product management at Cassatt. "Whenever we create a new machine, we also decide what network it belongs to."

For example, the NVS lets Collage "talk" to switches from Cisco , Dell , Nortel Networks  or Extreme Networks to determine what new server needs to be assigned which IP address on what network.

In the spirit of utility computing, NVS also allows applications on several networks to draw from a single free pool of resources to boost server utilization.

In a practical scenario, a business requiring peak financial computing resources may have many IT resources that cannot be pooled or shared to balance resources.

Collage NVS can tell network switches to return resources to a pool across network domains, re-allocate those resources into the desired domain, and provision them with whatever application needs them, Oestreich said.

"For example, say there aren't enough machines on the LAN that's supporting the finance department," Oestreich said. "So we want to take our machine, assign it to that VLAN, give it a new IP address and spin up another instance of Oracle or whatever it is. We now have the ability to do that."

The result is that IT departments may now use Collage 4.0 to manage physical, virtual, application server, and network resources to facilitate utility computing in an enterprise.

Oestreich said other upgrades in Collage 4.0 include the ability for the Cross-Virtualization Manager (XVM) module to simultaneously support the automated management of VMware ESX 3.0, Xen 3.0 and XenSource XenEnterprise 3.0 virtual machines.

Previously, Collage could support either physical servers or VMware virtual machines but not both at the same time, Oestreich explained.

He said Cassatt will support all major vendors' virtual machines, including Microsoft  hypervisor  when it arrives, to avoid "vendor lock-in."

Controlling the LAN, as well as whether applications are powered physically or virtually "gets us closer to making the datacenter look like a utility," he said.

Cassatt Collage 4.0 and the new release of the Cassatt Collage Cross-Virtualization Manager (XVM) are scheduled to be generally available and ship Dec. 29.

Cassatt is one of a handful of software startups seeking to better manage computing resources at a time when datacenter sprawl is forcing administrators to practically tear their hair out with stress over the number of machines -- physical and virtual -- they have to manage.

By doing many of these admin tasks for them, Cassatt is saving businesses time and money.

Cassatt competitors include startup PlateSpin and Opsware . Oestreich said Cassatt also sees IBM's Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator product jockeying for new customer accounts.