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Server Specs: Opsware rolls out VM lifecycle manager

Opsware rolls out VM lifecycle manager. IBM adds five new quad-core Intel-based servers, including a BladeCenter model. Aperture updates data center blueprint software.

Opsware rolls out virtual machine lifecycle manager

San Jose, Calif.-based data center automation specialist Opsware rolled out a new server virtualization management tool called Virtualization Director this week.

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Opsware CTO Tim Howes says virtual machine (VM) sprawl is becoming more of a problem as users can now create VMs by pressing a button. "Creating a virtual machine is pretty addictive," House said. "Now there are new relationships to track -- what virtual machines are hosted where."

According to Howes, most server virtualization management tools are focused on provisioning -- which is really good for test and development. But those tools are primarily about creation and deletion of VMs.

So what is Opsware's angle? According to Howes, the new software handles compliance, patch management and configuration management of VMs in production environments.

According to IDC analyst Stephen Elliot, focusing on these server lifecycle functions is what sets Opsware apart from the traditional systems management vendors and virtualization companies.

Who is Opsware competing with? According to Elliot, Lexington, Mass.-based Blade Logic is a main competitor. Others include Hewlett-Packard. Elliot said HP has a similar tool from its Novadigm acquisition but was lost in the shuffle. "I'd expect them to pay more attention to it next year. After they get the Mercury products in place."

Elliot also said IBM and Symantec ( which recently purchased Relicore) are also paying more attention to VM lifecycle management. "CA really doesn't have anything at this point," Elliot added.

Despite the obvious need for this type of management software, a recent readership survey on shows that the adoption of specialized VM tools is fairly low.

"I would agree that there is not a lot of saturation in the market for these tools," Elliot said. "And they're not cheap. As more competition gets into the market, there will be more market pressure [for the costs to come down]. But in terms of ROI there are some strong opportunities."

Opsware's Virtualization Director is not supporting VMware's virtual machine provisioning tool VMotion in its first version. "The reason it's not included in the first release is customer demand -- nobody has deployed it yet," Howes said. "We'll get to it in the next release."

This current release supports Sun Microsystems' Solaris Containers and VMware's ESX. The next version will support Microsoft Virtual Server and Xen. The version after that will support AIX and HP-UX logical partitions.

IBM integrates Intel quad-core into its x86 lineup

IBM will use the new quad-core Intel Xeon 5300 processor in five of its x86 systems, including a blade server.

The release includes System x system models x3650, x3550, x3500, and x3400; as well as BladeCenter model HS21. Customers can order the systems starting today, with shipping on the x3550 and x3650 to start in December and the others in January. Starting prices on the servers are between about $1,800 and $3,000 depending on the model.

IBM said that tests done on the x3650, a 2U rack server, with quad-core processors performed 64% better than the x3650 with dual-core processors on the SPECint_rate benchmark, which measures a CPU's integer processing power.

The Intel Xeon 5300 processor, nicknamed Clovertown, consists of two dual-core server chips tied together by a frontside bus on a multichip module. AMD claims that is not a native quad-core, which it said would be four cores on a single die, but it plans on releasing this type next year. Intel also plans on releasing a new "native" quad core next year, so the race continues.

Last week Dell released a half-dozen two-socket servers that include Intel's new quad-core chip.

Aperture updates Vista data center blueprint software

Aperture has updated its Vista software, which creates a blueprint of the data center that displays hardware layout and helps identify problems such as hot spots.

The Stamford, Conn.-based company says Vista 500 now has support for three-phase power devices, further support for blade servers and their chassis, an increased number of Web-based tools and more reporting and drawing features.

Vista 500 is available starting today. The company said its future versions of the software will focus more on allowing data center managers to do more capacity planning. Another feature planned for the future is self-discovery for new equipment.

Aperture also has a consulting division.

Voltaire offers 10 Gigabit Ethernet capability

Voltaire, an InfiniBand vendor, announced that its offering 10 Gigabit Ethernet capability for its Grid Director networking switches, adding to the list of vendors looking to combine InfiniBand with Ethernet.

The new capability is possible because of a new line card from Voltaire on its 96- and 288-port switches. On the 288-port switches, for example, the line card includes 22 InfiniBand ports and two Ethernet ports, allowing about 240 servers to be connected to the InfiniBand backbone. The capability will be available next year.

InfiniBand supporters say it is a faster and cheaper alternative to Ethernet, especially for applications that need data to be moved faster between servers or to storage.

InfiniBand proponents say it is faster, lower in latency, and less expensive than 10-Gigabit Ethernet. InfiniBand is considered the better fit for applications that need faster movement between CPUs or between compute and storage systems. That includes applications that handle high-speed transactional data. With its new product, Voltaire hopes to get more InfiniBand into data centers that favor the more-popular Ethernet

"Voltaire's new multi-service switch enables us to incorporate 10 Gigabit Ethernet in our InfiniBand cluster fabric," said Glenn Newell, IT Manager at Synopsys, a world leader in semiconductor design software. "This allows us to move data to and from multiple sources and locations outside of our fabric at high speeds. As a result, we can run more jobs in less time."

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

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