IBM Virtually Tabs The ‘Next Frontier’

Increasingly, virtualization software is proving to be an invaluable tool in the datacenter to help manage the mechanical sprawl of hardware and cut costs.

But what is managing the influx of virtualization software in datacenters?

IBM  believes it has the answer in Systems Director, a suite of software that manages physical and virtual servers and storage in one shot, opening the door to the “next frontier” in virtualization, said Peter McCaffrey, director of IBM’s virtualization strategy.

Systems Director consists of IBM’s Director server management software and TotalStorage Productivity Center, IBM Enterprise Workload Manager, IBM Usage and Accounting Manager, IBM z/OS Management Console and IBM Tivoli Monitor Systems Edition for System p.

“[Systems Director] allows our client to virtualize more of their infrastructure while at the same time spending less on the management of that infrastructure,” McCaffrey said.

While customers may be trimming their hardware deployments with virtualization software, they still have to account for the virtual servers present on physical servers.

So, while clients no longer have 100 physical computers to manage, they still have 100 virtual computers to manage.

Enter Virtualization Manager.

An extension of IBM Director and the first new application under the Systems Director family, Virtualization Manager maps and manages virtual and physical computing tools from IBM and non-IBM systems from one dashboard-like console, said McCaffrey.

Using a Web-based user interface, Virtualization Manager allows businesses to shuttle and expand computing workloads in areas of the datacenter that need it, add or subtract those resources and pinpoint problems in the infrastructure to avoid downtime.

Available today as a free download for customers of IBM System x, BladeCenter and System p servers, the software will support such virtualization flavors as VMware, Xen, Microsoft Virtual Server and IBM’s own System p.

The Systems Director suite also integrates with IBM’s Tivoli management family, which includes a change and configuration management database to trigger process automation and integration across networks.

Some IBM customers already have Virtualization Manager in production.

Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, one of the largest nature and scientific research organizations in Europe, is currently using the new Virtualization Manager to manage a grid consisting of about 2,000 computers that includes IBM BladeCenter Systems and virtualization software from Xen and VMware.

IBM competes with HP  and Sun Microsystems  on the systems virtualization front, where managing virtual servers will continue to be a priority on CIOs’ wish lists for years to come.

In related virtualization news for the company, IBM this week unveiled Virtual Infrastructure Access, a service that creates a level of independence between the device, the operating system and the applications.

The service lets employees securely access applications anytime from anywhere, a key factor at a time when corporate employees are located in branch offices all over the U.S. or even the world.

The service also helps IT departments by letting administrators quickly upload software updates and provision resources to meet performance needs of each virtual client.

Such management can reduce downtime and costs by placing processing power requirements onto the server, typically the workhorse for the datacenter. These efficiencies can reduce PC support costs by as much as 40 percent.

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