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Platespin's OS Portability promising

Imagine a data center with no boundaries between hardware, software and operating systems. The impending release of OS Portability, from software start-up PlateSpin hopes to make that a reality.

Just two years after opening its doors, Toronto-based PlateSpin thinks it's about to drop jaws thanks to its latest product -- OS Portability -- which it says will be the industry's first tool that can completely de-couple the software layer from the hardware.

The possibilities offered by OS Portability -- currently in its beta test trial phase -- are intriguing, especially for ecosystems becoming more diverse by the quarter. It's designed to enable the complete interchange of data, applications, and operating systems (a.k.a. the software layer) across the hardware and its related infrastructure models.

"The main point of emphasis -- the challenge we've taken on -- is how to make operating systems more portable in the data center," PlateSpin CEO Stephen Pollack said. "What our technology does is it creates a way to break down the barrier between hardware and the configuration. The focus is on creating a seamless migration from a physical to a virtual configuration."

The technology can automate the migration of the software layer to the boxes that best match the needs of the workload, all from a single point of control, allowing movement between physical servers, whether they're single CPU, SMP, multi-cores, blade or virtual infrastructure servers.

Tony Lock, chief analyst for Bloor Research, and an industry expert familiar with PlateSpin, said he's been impressed by what the company is trying to do, and thinks that if it can get the word out that they can help companies break free of the physical boundaries between their applications, operating systems and servers, they just might strike gold.

"If they can do a really good job marketing [OS Portability], they have the potential to find an awful lot of willing users. A lot of organizations out there have all sorts of different hardware in their data center, and at the moment there is a drive to utilize all of their resources," Lock said. "Anything that can break that linkage between the three (applications, operating systems and servers) will probably find a lot of users willing [to try it]."

OS Portability is built on PlateSpin's initial major offering, PowerP2V, which allows data, applications, and operating systems to be migrated or replicated to a virtual infrastructure or as images for future deployment, and it's got Pollack thinking big.

Of all the bells and whistles OS Portability offers, Pollack cites the technologies' disaster recovery capabilities as a shining light, simply because it offers the user flexibility when they need it most.

"If a disaster occurs, you don't have to choose what servers to recover on," Polack said. "But rather the best server suited for it at that time."

Citing virtualization software up-and-comer VMware as an example, Pollack said there's plenty of room in the data center space for companies intent on bringing new tools to the server farm -- and he wants PlateSpin to help pioneer a new class of forward-thinking vendors.

"One of the biggest challenges [in the data center] is how do you bring in new technology? There's a new class of vendors that we think need to be created, which is companies catering toward bringing in new technologies into data center… [and] creating solutions to help them adopt new types of infrastructure," Pollack said.

Lock agrees, though he thinks PlateSpin's plans for immediate future are, for now, much more realistic.

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"Certainly [pioneering new technology awareness] is one of their long term goals. But their short-term goal is much more practical," said Lock. "Utilize the hardware you've got more efficiently."

OS Portability is currently available as a technology preview. But PlateSpin promises it will be releasing more information about OS Portability and its associated commercial products in July, and customers who are interested in reviewing the technology are encouraged to register for the beta trial program.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer

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