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Automation the Focus of HP's Virtualization News

PALO ALTO -- Hewlett-Packard today announced an upgrade to its Business Service Automation (BSA) suite of virtualization tools designed to take some of the repetitive and menial tasks out of operating a virtual environment.

Virtualization has been highly touted as a cure-all for many IT ills, but there have been some unintended and unforeseen consequences now that it's moving from test beds into deployment.

For starters, expensive IT professionals are often required to do menial tasks that shouldn't require someone of that scale, or can be done with proper automation, said Glenn O'Donnell, senior analyst with Forrester Research.

"Automation with virtualization is a 1-2 punch to take this into a different level," he said during a briefing at HP's (NYSE: HPQ) headquarters. "Too much high-priced talent is wasted on manual jobs when they should be working on innovative jobs. That's why we have to automate the work."

What's about to kill us in the future is not that virtual machines exist, he said, it's what happens when these things start moving around. "We can move a virtual machine. Well what happens when these things are flying around? There's no way we can deal with that manually. Automation has to be integral here," he said.

Killing off virtual machines

John Bennett, worldwide lead in HP's datacenter transformation solutions group, told a story of one customer that had to kill more than 100 virtual machines per month because people within the company just started one without consideration for resources or licenses that comes with a virtual machine.

When customers automate a lot of menial jobs, it frees staff to do other things, or for the company to reduce staff, added Michel Feaster, senior director of products in the BSA group.

This allows the company to act like an internal cloud provider, so the company in effect acts as a competitor with providers like Salesforce and Amazon. "Our most thought-leading customers are thinking of this today, creating a self-service datacenter," she said.

So to that end, HP upgraded its BSA suite to provide more automation to every aspect of the virtual infrastructure, with integration from the client, server, network and storage levels.

HP has updated two applications in the BSA suite, HP Storage Essentials and HP Operations Orchestration. In Storage Essentials, there are new capabilities to manage VMware virtual machine and storage dependencies. Administrators can discover all of the interrelationships and dependencies of a VMware server shown on a topological map

The software also automatically provisions a hypervisor or guest operating system to reduce the amount of work for administrators. Finally, Storage Essentials are integrated with Operations Orchestration to break down the silos within servers and storage domains.

New in Operations Orchestration is out of the box integration with hypervisors from VMware, Citrix and Microsoft, so you can automate tasks from the interfaces from these vendors. Now it doesn't matter which of the three hypervisors you use, you can use their console to automate tasks.

Virtual server deployment can be accelerated through Operations Orchestration because it uses other BSA applications to speed up deployment and building dependencies and relations between the virtual server and physical hardware.

Finally, integration with BSA Essentials provides the customer with a set of subscription services that allow customers to better manage their configurations. Templates can be made to deploy a standard virtual system, for example, and BSA Essentials can report which servers are in or out of compliance with company policies.

HP will demo the upgraded BSA software at its upcoming HP Software Universe 2009 event this June in Las Vegas.