Face Off in Virtualization Management

Two rivals are mixing it up in the virtualization management space today.

Opsware Inc.  and Egenera have created software that
allows corporate customers to manage physical and virtual servers from the
same platform, representing a new growth opportunity at a time when server
sprawl threatens to hinder operations.

Opsware Virtualization Director, which will appear in Opsware
System 6
by the end of the year, manages the complete physical and
virtual servers in companies that employ hundreds or thousands of servers.

Virtualization Director manages physical and virtual machines from VMware,
Microsoft, Sun, XenSource and others, said Tim Howe, CTO of San Jose,
Calif.’s, Opsware.

But the software also creates secure virtual servers for large deployments;
locates and analyzes the dependencies of virtual machines between
applications, servers, network devices and storage; and tracks relationships
between virtual machines and their hosts.

Think of it as a change and configuration management database (CCMDB) for
virtual servers.

Why does the market need this? Howe said Opsware wants to provide an
enterprise-class virtualization management option that virtualization
vendors don’t currently offer.

“What you get from them is a very localized management solution that allows
them to control virtual machines running on a single hypervisor,” Howe said.
We’ve put an enterprise layer on top of them.”

Citing a Forrester Research report, Howe said that 76 percent of all
deployments have been limited to test and development on less than 500

In the cases where 1,000 or more servers were involved, the virtualization
software did its job but administrators had a hard time managing the virtual

The problem is that too many virtual managers are created too quickly, often
with one click of a button, creating a massive server sprawl with very
little organization. These virtual machines need to be configured, patched
regularly and secured.

This can get unwieldy for 1,000+ deployments.

Virtualization Director was designed to solve that problem, Howe said.

“The big question in such a hot market is: why hasn’t virtualization cracked
the mainstream on large deployments,” Howe said. “The answer revolves around
the management of those virtual machines.”

Meanwhile, in Marlboro, Mass., Egenera has created its own answer to the
virtualization management problem.

vBlade, an extension of Egenera’s PAN Manager software that incorporates the
XenEnterprise hypervisor operating system from Egenera partner XenSource,
offers one console for configuring, provisioning and managing both physical
and virtual servers.

Susan Davis, vice president of marketing at Egenera, said customers using
server virtualization and hypervisors are struggling with the new layer of
management software required to manage multiple virtual machines.

“If these applications didn’t require high availability before when you had
a one-to-one relationship between the application and the server, once you
put 10 of them on a server you’ve raised their importance in terms of being
up and running,” Davis said.

“You’re adding complexity where your goal is to try to eliminate
complexity,” Davis said, noting that vBlade with the XenEnterprise
hypervisor should prevent customers from adding additional more management.

vBlade will be priced as a separate add-on to the Egenera BladeFrame system.
BladeFrame customers can get a preview release now; vBlade will be generally
available in 2007.

Opsware’s and Egenera’s announcements indicate the virtualization management
market is heating up. IBM
recently unveiled
Systems Director to manages physical and virtual servers and storage through
one console.

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