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3/24/2010
10:56 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Dell Builds Out Virtualized Server Management

Dell has learned a lot over the last three and a half years, as it's quietly established its Data Center Solutions business, producing cloud-configured servers for Ask.com, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Now it's crafting management systems to manage those servers like a cloud, as well.

Dell has learned a lot over the last three and a half years, as it's quietly established its Data Center Solutions business, producing cloud-configured servers for Ask.com, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Now it's crafting management systems to manage those servers like a cloud, as well.In November, Dell launched Advanced Infrastructure Manager, a software system that would accompany your order of new Dell servers or stand-alone software that could be installed in the data center to manage different brands of x86 servers. It's also meant of identify and manage as a pool your network and storage resources attached to the x86 servers.

If you install VMware ESX Server on a physical server, AIM is supposed to find it, configure it and boot it up as a running host of virtual machines. Dell is install management agents that help AIM discover and manage its hardware, once it's installed on a customer site. And it's trying to give AIM cross-vendor capabilities. It doesn't just see VMware hypervisors but Microsoft's Hype-V and Red Hat Enterprise Linux' Xen as well.

In addition, Matt Baker, Dell enterprise strategist, said at a press and analyst briefing in San Francisco today that Dell will front end its systems management with its Rapid Service Platform, a front end portal for provisioning virtual machines and managing their life cycles.

A user going to the portal would be offered a catalogue of possible virtual machine servers, based on his identify and level of resource authorization. The catalogue might include resources from an external cloud, such as Amazon's EC2, as well as the company's internal data center. After the user makes his request, they are submitted to an IT manager who must sign off on them. The Rapid Service Platform is integrated with the virtualization vendor's management system, say VMware's vCenter Server, so the IT manager doesn't need to leave the console where she is currently working to approve the request, Baker said in a break-out session explaining Dell's approach.

The portal is designed to deal with the provisioning of physical as well as virtual servers, he said.

Advanced Infrastructure Manager and Rapid Service Platform are two examples of how Dell is extending its reach when it comes to selling servers designed to be virtualized and helping to manage them after deployment.

"We are making enormous investments in virtualization integration solutions," said Steve Schuckenbrock, the former CIO of Dell, now president of Dell's large enterprise group, at the event. Virtualizing the data center puts IT shops on the path to doing more through automated workflows. "Less labor, more automation is absolutely the key" to doing more with less for the business, he said.



InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on data center operational trends. Download the report here (registration required).

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