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Virtualization Comes To The Big Four Management Vendors

CA is catching up to Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and BMC.

There's widespread agreement that managing the data center cries for automation--even as workload complexity increases. Virtualization adds a new layer of complexity to the task and a new opportunity.

Last week, in a move that sharpens the competition between leading systems management vendors, CA enhanced its recently introduced CA Data Center Automation Manager so that it better manages the virtual side of the data center as well as physical servers.

Elavon is a CA customer that's been using a beta version of Data Center Automation Manager for the past year. It bills itself as the world's third-largest processor of credit card transactions and dedicates one of its three U.S. data centers to software testing and quality assurance. It adds a million lines of code to its applications each year, so quality assurance is a critical function. Unlike data centers where 15% or 20% of servers are virtualized, 100% of its Denver test and quality assurance servers are virtualized.

Given the need to run thousands of tests on precisely configured software sets, more sophisticated virtual machine management is a big plus. Behind the scenes, DCA Manager marshals virtual machines stored in a library to run the tests. Then as hardware resources become available, it moves the test sequence into its slot.

It "helps us create a disassociation between this activity and the possibility of human beings making an error," says David Brattain, senior VP for systems. It speeds the process, while reducing the need for operations managers by one per shift, he estimates.

Elavon must be sure its software testing processes are standardized and auditable, two other areas where DCA Manager helps out. With his transaction-processing data centers 80% virtualized, Brattain expects to rely more on DCA Manager over the coming year.

But CA isn't the only one trying to get a grip on virtual resources. In fact, it's playing catch-up with BMC Software, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.

HP is a market leader with its Business Technology Optimization suite, built in part through its acquisition of Opsware a year ago. Such tools as HP Operations Center and HP Service Management Center manage virtual as well as physical resources and support multiple hypervisors. HP's Insight manages virtual machines and analyzes physical server usage, both CPU capacity and power consumption, ideally yielding efficiency gains.

Tivoli Provisioning Manager, IBM's lead data center automation product, can create and track virtual machines and the physical resources that they share. It also displays which set of virtual machines a software service requires.

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BMC Software acquired RealOps, a pioneer in run-book automation, and later BladeLogic, a leader in data center automation products, including managing virtual resources. BMC was an early supplier of a configuration management database and is a well-established supplier of systems management through BMC Patrol.

Forrester Research's Evelyn Hubbert notes that HP and BMC have grown their data center automation capabilities through acquisition and worked hard to achieve integration between the products in their data center automation suites.

Newcomers to the field include mValent with Integrity and Novell with ZENworks Orchestrator. Sun Microsystems also has launched its combined virtual/physical resources manager, xVM OpsCenter product.

Virtualization Startups

Altor Networks Monitoring and firewalls to audit inter-VM traffic

Embotics Identifies and tracks virtual machines from creation to deprovisioning

StackSafe Virtualized environment for software testing, patching, and upgrades

Virtual Iron Xen-based hypervisor, provides VM management and provisioning

Vizioncore Provides disaster recovery, high availability, and monitoring for virtual servers

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