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Latest IBM buy will enhance virtualization toolset

IBM acquired Meiosys, a toolmaker whose software allows apps to be transferred from one server to another while they're still running. Experts say the buy is a boon for IBM's virtualization program.

In an effort to meet the demand for more functionality from virtualization , IBM recently acquired Meiosys, a privately held software company based in Palo Alto, Calif., and Toulouse, France.

Meiosys's software allows users to transfer a running application from one server to another (or to a virtual machine), without interruption. The technology is called stateful application transfer.

Industry experts say that adding a tool to move applications around on the network will add significant value to Big Blue's virtualization portfolio, specifically its Tivoli line of management tools.

"The premise of virtualization is to match resources with what you need. [Stateful application transfer] could be used for load balancing for spikes and surges. It would help move applications from smaller servers to a larger machine," said Tony Iams, analyst with Port Chester, N.Y.-based Ideas International.

The technology comes in handy when you need to move an application off a machine for disaster recovery. If you have an outage, you don't have to recreate a network connection, which delays the process.

According to Iams, Meiosys has a powerful--if not completely unique-- technology. VMware has Vmotion, a similar tool, for example. And,Veritas has UpScale, a product it acquired throughEjasent Inc., a stateful transfer company, it purchased in 2004.

According to Leslie Swanson, development vice president of software business development at IBM, the software runs above the virtualization layer. It's currently being used with AIX and Linux, but Swanson said Big Blue is interested in applying the technology across IBM's software portfolio.

"As clients increasingly turn to virtualization, systems management programs are going to become increasingly important," Swanson said..

This purchase is the latest by IBM intended to strengthen its Tivoli brand. The company just recently finalized the acquisition of Ascential Software Corp. an Integration software provider based in Westboro, Mass., and earlier this month it bought Isogon Corp. a New York-based. software maker that tracks and manages applications.According to Iams, it's indicative of opportunities shifting to system management.

"The best way to lower the cost of IT is to make management more efficient. It's one thing to move resources around. It's another to know when and how they need to be moved. Management is the interface," Iams said.

From the Meiosys standpoint, Iams said the company has a great product, but they weren't big enough to get it into a lot of systems. IBM picked it up and it fits very well into its virtualization engine.

"A lot of companies are making point products that are very powerful virtualization tools, and large players--Hewlett Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems--are going to start buying up and integrating these tools," Iams said.

For more information:

Gartner: Virtualization a megatrend

Virtualization: Motivations and cost 

In addition to stateful application transfer software, Meiosys provides a checkpoint/restart capability, which is designed to allow users of long-running batch applications to checkpoint those applications to reduce potential lost time from application failure.

Big Blue intends to apply this technology across its high-performance computing product lines--where applications can take a number of days to run.

Meiosys has also developed software and other intellectual property that is designed to enable deterministic record and replay of applications on symmetrical multi-processor machines, a key building block for application-agnostic fault-tolerant solutions.

IBM will be integrating the company's technology into its offerings, with initial deliveries planned in the second half of this year.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, News Editor

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