Vendors Aim for Easier Virtualization

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Print this article Print


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VMware, Cassatt and Surgient look to tackle customer demand for greater manageability and flexibility of their virtualized environments.

With virtualization becoming more mainstream in the enterprise, businesses now are looking for easier and more flexible ways to deploy and manage their environments.

VMware, Cassatt and Surgient are rolling out offerings designed to address those demands. The moves come at a time when enterprises are beginning to move their virtualization environments from testing to production—VMware says that about 90 percent of their customers use virtualization in production environments.

According to a report in August from Enterprise Management Associates, almost three quarters of businesses surveyed are deploying virtualization in one form or another, and the market is growing by about 26 percent. In addition, less than 4 percent of those polled had no virtualization program in place or any plans for one.

VMware on Oct. 2 is unveiling the latest versions of its Virtual Infrastructure and Converter products, with enhancements aimed at offering greater hardware interoperability, easier upgrades and less complex methods for creating virtual machines.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company is rolling out its Virtual Infrastructure 3, which includes the release of ESX Server 3.0.1 and VirtualCenter 2.0.1. Among the improvements in the products—which are available immediately—is full support of 64-bit operating systems. More software makers are building 64-bit applications, and virtualization will be important as companies begin to adopt the new applications, said Karthik Rau, senior director of infrastructure products and solutions at VMware.

"Virtualization is key in helping customers migrate from 32-bit to 64-bit computing," Rau said. "For the next few years, customers will have to manage both. [With virtualization], you don't have to worry about major migration."

In addition, using VMotion, customers can now upgrade to the new ESX Server versions through a single operation in the user interface.

VMware also is unveiling Converter 3, which makes it easier to create VMware virtual machines. Through this centralized product—which combines VMware P2V Assistant and Virtual Machine Importer into a single product—virtual machines can be created from servers running a host of Windows operating systems, including XP, Server 2003 and Vista, imported from older VMware virtual machine formats or converted from third-party formats such as Microsoft Virtual Server.

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In addition, Converter 3—which is being beta tested and will be available within the next six months—allows physical-to-virtual conversion without having to shut down the physical server, and enables users to clone machines from a remote console.

IXIS Capital Markets started using VMware technology two years ago as a way of extending the life of its data center while a new facility was being built, said Mornay Van Der Walt, vice president and systems architect at the New York-based company.

"We were running out of space, power and cooling," said Van Der Walt, who beta tested Virtual Infrastructure 3. "We were able to prove that the combination of [IBM] blade technology and virtualization would allow us to use our data center while building another data center in New Jersey."

Upgrading to Virtual Infrastructure 3 will enable the company to continue its consolidation initiative by increasing the amount of memory in virtual machines to 16GB, and the ability to upgrade while still running the physical machine will save time, he said.

Next Page: Cassatt goes Xen.

Cassatt, whose Collage product offers automated management capabilities for data center infrastructures, is teaming up with XenSource to offer management of virtualized environments based on the Xen 3.0 open-source hypervisor.

The San Jose, Calif., company in April rolled out its Collage Cross-Virtualization manager, or XVM, to support such environments using VMware hypervisor technology. Now they're expanding that capability to include Xen. In addition, Cassatt will sell XenEnterprise, a packaged offering from XenSource that includes the hypervisor. XenSource was founded by the developers of Xen.

The move by Cassatt "adds significant color around our message of heterogeneity," said Ken Oestreich, director of product management at Cassatt. The company's software not only can manage virtual servers created through VMware and Xen hypervisors, but also physical machines from all the top server makers.

The two companies also will offer joint support for customers and marketing efforts for the combined solution. In addition, Cassatt will offer a "quick start" service for customers considering Cassatt and XenEnterprise solutions. The next version of XVM with support for XenEnterprise 3.0 will be released later this year, though the company is offering an early pilot program for customers interested in early access to the product.

Surgient, of Austin, Texas, is rolling out the latest version of its Virtual Lab Management Applications that offers greater support for heterogeneous virtualized environments and a new management console.

Surgient's technology is designed to automate the software testing and development process. As virtual test labs have become more complex, the demand for greater manageability of heterogeneous environments has grown, said Erik Josowitz, vice president of marketing. People running such labs don't want to have to worry about which virtual machine technology they're using, he said. Version 5.0 of its Virtual Lab Management Applications, which is available immediately, takes care of the details regarding virtual machines, capacity planning, configuration and provisioning.

"It's all about the enterprise," Josowitz said.

The new console offers easier management and allocation of pooled servers, and new reporting tools enable users to have greater insight into server usage and user activity. The new offering also enables virtual labs to scale from hundreds to thousands of virtual machines.

The new product also brings tighter integration with Web services, offering an XML API.

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