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Cirba server consolidation software targets mainframes

Cirba has included mainframes in its newest updates, which add workload benchmarking, analysis and features to facilitate cross-platform consolidation and planning.

Cirba Inc. has updated its server consolidation software to include mainframes as a possible consolidation target.

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Previously, the Toronto-based company's software would analyze workloads to consolidate only on x86 or Unix platforms. With the addition of the mainframe in the mix, Cirba now caters to users that run IBM's System z. At an IBM event last year, System z General Manager James Stallings revealed that of the mainframes IBM ships today, about 25% of their workloads are designated to run Linux.

Brad Day, a senior analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Forrester Research Inc., has said that the adoption rate is even higher on System z Business Class, the smaller of the z9 mainframes. He estimated that about 30% of new workload adoption on the Business Class mainframe was based specifically on Integrated Facility for Linux IFL.

"We do have customers that were looking to do a mainframe analysis," said Cirba cofounder and CTO Andrew Hillier. "There was a lot of interest out there."

According to Hillier, consolidating on the mainframe is different from the process on other platforms. While x86 and Unix servers tend to emphasize processing power – which can be good for number-crunching applications such as Web applications -- mainframes excel at system bandwidth and cache performance that favor large-scale online transaction processing (OLTP) applications to handle many users simultaneously.

That segues into another major feature of the new release: workload benchmarking, which designed to model how applications will perform in a given environment. According to Cirba, workload benchmarking help organizations get an accurate picture of what a workload will look like on a target platform.

Version 4.6 also includes a workload contention analysis feature that enhances risk management. It enables users to dictate how much risk they want to introduce into an environment. A little bit of risk yields better virtualization ratios. For example, if your workload contention confidence is 99% instead of 100% -- which means that at the busiest time of day, there is a 1% chance of some application operating slower than normal – a user can have 40% less server hardware handling the same number of applications.

Taken together, workload benchmarking and workload contention analysis are designed to help organizations plan and effectively navigate a cross-platform shift, whether that involves a move from Linux/Windows to Unix/mainframe, (i.e., physical-to-physical); a move from x86 to VMware (i.e., physical-to-virtual); or even a move from virtual-to-virtual.

Moving into data centers
Chris Wolf, a senior analyst at Midvale Utah-based Burton Group, an IT research firm, said that version 4.6's new features are a good move.

"Cirba is working to broaden its software so that it does more than consolidation analysis," he said. "The 4.6 release spells out features directed toward Cirba's new direction – data center management." As Wolf sees it, a data center management approach will enable Cirba's products to remain in a customer's environment following a consolidation project.

In the area of virtual infrastructure workload analysis, Wolf sees Akorri, ManageIQ, NetIQ and Netuitive as Cirba's chief competitors. In terms of the data center management market, Cirba faces even more competition.

"I'd like to see Cirba partner with the big four -- CA, IBM, HP, BMC -- as well as Microsoft to integrate their analytics into established enterprise management platforms," Wolf said.

Wolf said he could envision managing a data center with HP OpenView or CA Unicenter and then use Cirba to perform the underlying workload analysis. "It's much easier to work with the powerhouse management vendors than work against them," Wolf said.

Let us know what you think about the story email Megan Santosus, Features Writer, or Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. You can also check out our Server Specs blog.

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