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Sun's New Datacenter Approach Takes Shape

MENLO PARK, Calif. -- Sun xVM Ops Center, Sun's datacenter management tool, is available for purchase starting today. Although it's a new product, Ops Center builds on systems management technology Sun has been developing for years.

Ops Center, which Sun first unveiled in November at the Oracle OpenWorld show, boasts features for mixed environments, including Linux and Solaris as well as x86 and SPARC-based systems.

For server discovery and inventory management, Ops Center can automatically scan and identify thousands of servers across the network, even those powered off. Other features include patch management tools for Red Hat, SUSE and Solaris as well as the ability to securely and remotely manage users and heterogeneous datacenter assets from a single console.
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Sun said Ops Center can proactively resolve problems by monitoring preset critical parameters. Also, it can deliver automatic firmware updates to Sun hardware.

"I'd say this is 50/50 about addressing existing Sun customers and getting new ones," Oren Teich, director of marketing for Sun's xVM virtualization products, told InternetNews.com. He noted Sun already has customers for its systems management products that aren't otherwise users of Sun products. "It's a great solution for any Red Hat, Linux or Solaris customer," he said.

In a demo at Sun's offices here, Teich ran through several scenarios showing how thousands of servers could be updated and managed from a single screen. "You can filter by whatever you want," he said. "If you want to see all the Red Hat systems on the network for example, you can do that. And you can provision or boot up systems that need to be updated as well."

While Ops Center was announced last year along with Sun's forthcoming xVM virtualization software, Teich said mixing the two probably created some confusion. "xVM is the intersection of virtualization and management," he said. "What we're announcing with Ops Center is a systems management tool. Today, there is no overlap with VMware." In fact, Teich noted Ops Center can be used to manage both physical and virtual servers such as VMWare offers. In the summer, as Sun rolls out its own virtual offerings, it will be more in direct competition with VMWare and other virtualization companies, said Teich.

Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff said Ops Center looks like good technology that has the advantage of managing both physical and virtual systems. Going forward he sees both challenges and opportunities for Sun's virtualization ambitions.

"Only about ten percent of servers going out the door are virtualized, so we're at an early stage," Haff told InternetNews.com. "But, like Microsoft, Sun doesn't want its customers going to VMWare for virtualization. Sun can differentiate with things like Ops Center, but in virtualization I don't think they're going to convert Windows users, it's more about keeping Sun customers in the fold."

Commercial software subscriptions to Ops Center that includes support and network delivered services are priced from $100 per managed server up to $350 a year, depending on customer selected features. A $10,000 Satellite Server subscription a year includes an on-site enterprise installation service and hands-on training. Sun also announced it's released updates to the source code used to build Sun xVM Ops Center to the Openxvm.org community under the GNU General Public License Version 3 (GPLv3).