IBM Offers a Datacenter-Wide Systems View

IBM today unveiled a new software package designed to pull the management of a diverse array of servers under a single umbrella, giving administrators a complete view of their systems and a single point of management.

IBM Systems Director VMControl Enterprise Edition, or VMControl for short, is due to ship in December. It will allow administrators to manage VMware, Microsoft’s Hyper-V, Linux KVM, and Xen virtual machines running on x86 servers, PowerVM on IBM Power-based servers and z/VM on its mainframes.

Technology like this is a long time in coming and only IBM (NYSE: IBM) could have done it, said Joe Clabby, president of Clabby Analytics.

“VMware is an x86 product set. HP, I guess, could have done it. Sun could have done it, but they have the whole Oracle thing going on. Citrix couldn’t have done it because they are x86. So I don’t know who else could have done it,” Clabby told

While every vendor would love their customers to buy only their product, it is a fact of life that datacenters are a heterogeneous system with a mix of operating systems, processors and platforms. The multiple virtual machines in the market complicate things further.

IBM found that among those who bought both AIX and x86 servers, 80 percent were using more than one hypervisor and 66 percent were using different hypervisors for the Unix servers, the x86 servers and the mainframe.

The result is isolating the systems in the datacenter so they can’t see each other and all require separate management consoles, said Clabby.

“What you get is a bunch of siloed infrastructure management platforms. To me that’s crazy. What VMControl does is it mitigates that by creating a common interface for all the packages and a common infrastructure. That’s the beauty of it,” he said.

VMControl shows all of the datacenter resources as a single entity, which can be managed from one console. Workloads can be shifted around as needed, depending on the load and system availability. Virtual machines running in each pool can make use of virtual adapters connecting them to storage and networks, reducing the number of physical connections required by the pool.

VMControl works in conjunction with IBM’s Tivoli software to help reduce the time for deploying workloads from weeks to minutes and makes it easier to monitor the whole datacenter, not just the silos.

As part of the announcement, IBM also unveiled plans a new version of its Tivoli Provisioning Manager. The new Provisioning Manager will help further automate manual provisioning and configuring tasks around servers, operating systems, middleware, applications, networking and storage devices.

No release date was given.

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