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Big Bucks Lure New Blood in Virtualization Tools

A slew of contenders old and new are coming out swinging in the market for add-on software and services for virtualization.

The latest contenders looking for a share of the enterprise virtualization dollar are focusing on monitoring and management software and virtualized test management. These are key support technologies to ensure compliance and make sure new virtual machines (VMs) work as intended.

At the Next Generation Data Center and LinuxWorld conferences, held concurrently at San Francisco's Moscone Center this week through Thursday, open source Web infrastructure management provider Hyperic is showing off its management and monitoring offering, Hyperic HQ, for Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS) XenServer.

Hyperic HQ lets administrators assess IT decisions within their XenServer environment. Hyperic has offered the same capability for VMware (NYSE: VMW) for some time.

"We provide enterprise management for the complete infrastructure, whether virtualized or non-virtualized," Stacey Schneider, Hyperic's senior director of marketing, told InternetNews.com. "Rather than just using XenServer-specific management tools at the hypervisor, we manage physical hosts, virtual guests and anything else that's hooked up to the environment, including mainframes, databases, clouds and SaaS [Software as a Service]."

While acknowledging that Hyperic is getting into the ring with the Big Four -- IBM (NYSE: IBM), CA (NYSE: CA), HP (NYSE: HPQ) and BMC (NYSE: BMC) -- Schneider said tools from those companies "are not as friendly for production infrastructures that have a high rate of change, which you typically see in infrastructures with virtualization.

"Eighty-five percent of our end users update their production-level systems more than once a week," Schneider added, citing customers including CNet, Microsoft and eBay.

"As a rule, XenServer isn't well managed in the ecosystem yet, and Hyperic's all about managing that environment -- monitoring performance and resources, and adjusting them automatically," Andi Mann, research director at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), told InternetNews.com. "For what they do, they're the first such product for Citrix XenServer."

Another contestant is 3Leaf Systems, which is pushing version 2.0 of its V-8000 Virtual I/O Server. This version offers disaster recovery, streamlined management and enhanced availability for large x86 server deployments.

Virtualization-friendly input/output servers are increasingly important as enterprises adopt the technology, EMA's Mann said. "Servers have physically been designed to handle one environment and the I/O that goes with it, including interfaces to storage and the network. They aren't optimized to run multiple environments simultaneously, so when you run lots of different environments on a single server, you have the potential for them to conflict with one another as they try to get to storage and network resources -- and that's a real bottleneck," he said.

While Citrix and VMware do "some balancing" of I/O, it's "not really efficient enough so you need something like 3Leaf."

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