RealTime IT News

Avocent Virtualizes Datacenter Software

Virtualization saves time and money, and it even helps save the planet. But in these nascent days of hype and experimentation, the one thing it doesn't save is the sanity of the IT administrator charged with managing these new and decidedly more complex virtual datacenters, which come and go on a whim.

One day a datacenter might have 17 virtual machines on line. The next day, only five. The day after that it might have 24. And at each stage of these virtual machines' lifecycles, different people have different levels of authorization to manage, tinker with and access the lifeblood of a company's IT infrastructure.

That's why Avocent  today unveiled an upgrade to its flagship DSView 3 management software with the virtualization crowd in mind. The software allows IT managers to access and control both virtual and physical server environments from a single dashboard, eliminating the need for multiple control consoles and, presumably, reducing the confusion that can ensue during the migrations of data to, from and between virtual and physical machines.

"We see it as a very logical approach to this otherwise chaotic industry," Chantal Ingerson, Avocent's software product manager, told internetnews.com. "We're going out into this brave new world and taking a rather conservative approach, viewing the [virtual machine] as just another item out there in the infrastructure."

Avocent, based in Huntsville, Ala., claims this "virtualized" version of DSView 3 is the only management software platform available that combines access and control of both virtual and physical servers in the same view. The company plans to prove it actually works next week at the VMworld virtualization conference in San Francisco.

Avocent, which first made its mark selling KVM switches, smart power strips and serial console management devices to most of the companies comprising the Fortune 500, saw the writing on the wall a few years ago and began expanding its expertise to the nuances of datacenter management software and, now, virtual database management.

And why not?

DSView 3 supports VMWare , the undisputed leader in the virtualization software market, which raised nearly $1 billion in its spectacular initial public offering last month. The very next day, Citrix Systems shelled out $500 million to acquire XenSource, another virtualization software contender.

Virtualization software enables IT managers to cram multiple computing environments onto one computer, allowing one physical server to perform the function of two or more servers.

In May, Gartner reported more than 500,000 of these virtual machines were already online and it predicts that figure to grow to more than 3 million machines by 2009.

Avocent's Ingerson said this upgraded version of DSView 3 will look and feel exactly like the version its customers have come to rely on for managing their physical servers. But now it will show administrators all their various virtual centers federated in a topographical format, allowing them to see what's doing what and where and who's doing it.

"The point is that if you've ever lived in an interrupt-driven environment where everything is of importance and you're constantly trying to figure out where things are, you don't want to open up multiple interfaces to view all the stuff you're responsible for," she said.

Just as important as knowing which virtual or physical machines are processing data is knowing who is accessing and controlling this motley hybrid of servers.

Ingerson said DSView 3 authenticates users and audits access with a single record of who is doing what and why. It collects events and alerts from both types of servers in a single interface for easier access, control and rights management to ensure everyone splashing around in the datacenter is following federal and corporate security policies.

The upgraded version of DSView 3 also supports blade systems from IBM , HP and Dell . It will be available to download for existing customers with active maintenance contracts on Sept. 11.