Software // Information Management
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12/6/2008
10:04 AM
Joe Hernick
Joe Hernick
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PlateSpin Spins Up

Novell's Richard Whitehead is a pretty sharp guy. I tend to tout shiny new startups in the world of VMs; I'm a big fan of up-and-comers. I'm also an open source fan. Well. It is easy to forget that Novell is an open source shop and that PlateSpin offers pretty snazzy Swiss-army knife functionality for physical and virtual server management. Richard, bless his heart, won't let me forget.

Novell's Richard Whitehead is a pretty sharp guy. I tend to tout shiny new startups in the world of VMs; I'm a big fan of up-and-comers. I'm also an open source fan. Well. It is easy to forget that Novell is an open source shop and that PlateSpin offers pretty snazzy Swiss-army knife functionality for physical and virtual server management. Richard, bless his heart, won't let me forget.Whitehead and I connected at the end of November to catch up on open source, virtualization, and heterogeneous VM management; all areas where Novell is well versed. Novell has been on the open source bandwagon, pushing SUSE as an enterprise Linux offering for years. SUSE leverages XEN to host VMs. Novell is on good terms with the Xen community, VMware and Microsoft. With the acquisition of PlateSpin this past February, Novell upped the ante on management of diverse server platforms. After all, how many companies run a completely homogeneous shop? Novell is now offering a suite of solutions under the PlateSpin Workload Manager umbrella, supporting servers under VMware ESX and ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V and Virtual Server, Novell Xen, Virtual Iron and Citrix XenServer. As well as deployment to 32- and 64-bit physical boxes. The brand now includes Migrate, Protect, Recon and Orchestrate.

Need to move a W2K3 server instance between any of the above? PlateSpin Migrate decouples the OS from underlying hardware or virtualization host, allowing admins to scoot servers from box to box, host to host, in or out of an image archive, or platform to platform. Migrate relies on the workload portability/conversion tech in PowerConvert as the base for its migratory magic. Many Citrix Xen customers graduate from the decently-capable XenConvert to PlateSpin's workhorse PowerConvert for P2V, V2V, and V2P conversions, and heterogeneous virtualization shops have relied on PowerConvert for V2V one-offs. Migrate takes this tech and allows platform jumping to essentially become an on-demand practice rather than a point-in-time conversion milestone. Migrate is sold per workload, not per physical server. Pricing starts at $275 per workload.

Also built on PowerConvert tech, PlateSpin Protect fits into the disaster recovery niche by virtualizing everything in your shop for redeployment as necessary in the event of a very bad day. Virtualization plus every iteration of workload conversion implies that you could get your enterprise back up and running on whatever hardware or hosting platforms you have available, post-discovery. This is a very nice hook for business resumption planning. Protect allows you to start off with pretty much any mix of workloads, running on divergent hardware, and restore functionality as needed on new gear (assuming comparable horsepower and storage) without much hassle. Novell sells Protect by workload or as a subscription service; workload pricing starts at $795.

PowerRecon is PlateSpin's workload profiler, geared towards assessing an enterprise, categorizing all physical servers, VM hosts, and running server instances be they physical or virtual. Shops large or small can dial up a PowerRecon assessment from Novell; a 100 server inventory can be generated pro bono. Standard pricing is $299 per server, $399 per server with planning functionality. Be sure to add an industry standard 20% service contact on top.

PlateSpin Orchestrate grew out of Novell's (somewhat confusingly named) ZenWorks (not XenWorks) Orchestrator product, and should be available in 1Q09. Orchestrate aggregates system information from PowerRecon and other vendor solutions to manage server and storage resources, shuttling workloads around the datacenter, managing VM lifecycles across hypervisor platforms, and generally optimizing hardware while keeping efficiencies up.

Dell relies in part on PlateSpin tech, OEM'ing PowerConvert for resale to enterprise customers, and uses PowerRecon as part of its Virtual Readiness Assessment service offering. A number of consultancies rely on PlateSpin tools to run their P2V consolidation numbers, and Novell has a decent list of Fortune 500 companies on their customer list. If need to manage a heterogeneous VM shop, are courting virtualization as part of your DR plan, or are trying to make the most of your existing server hardware investment as corporate belts tighten, take a look at the PlateSpin Workload Manager offerings. And yes, I've teased Whitehead about Novell's less-than sexy product branding...Novell's Richard Whitehead is a pretty sharp guy. I tend to tout shiny new startups in the world of VMs; I'm a big fan of up-and-comers. I'm also an open source fan. Well. It is easy to forget that Novell is an open source shop and that PlateSpin offers pretty snazzy Swiss-army knife functionality for physical and virtual server management. Richard, bless his heart, won't let me forget.

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