Infrastructure // Networking
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3/11/2010
05:50 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Startup Sheds Light On Virtual Machine Network Traffic

Virtualization does more than just consolidate servers in the data center, although that's been its primary role. Virtualization opens up the opportunity to manage servers in new ways. By watching traffic between virtual machines and from virtual machines over the network, Xangati has produced a new management tool.

Virtualization does more than just consolidate servers in the data center, although that's been its primary role. Virtualization opens up the opportunity to manage servers in new ways. By watching traffic between virtual machines and from virtual machines over the network, Xangati has produced a new management tool.Xangati makes a virtual machine appliance, Xangati for ESX, that integrates with VMware's vCenter Server, the management server for a group of ESX Hypervisors spread across different physical machines. The appliance watches the network traffic passing through the hypervisors' vSwitches, the software switch that manages network and storage traffic for each virtual machine.

Analysis of the traffic can be displayed through the Xangati Management Dashboard to tell an IT manager whether an application on one virtual machine is talking to another, whether a virtual machine is being used to show video traffic off the Internet, while another virtual machine manages VOiP traffic--someone is talking into the speaker of a computer and the call is being relayed via a virtual server.

In effect, Cupertino, Calif., startup specializes in illuminating a management blind spot when it comes to virtual machines. With virtualized desktops, for example, VMware's vCenter sees the virtual machine powering the desktop and the CPU, memory and other resources that it's using. But "it doesn't see the client hardware, the network protocol being used or the load on the network," said David Messina, VP of product management at Xangati. The Xangati appliance spots that traffic and analyzes it, telling the IT manager through the dashboard a lot about what the client is up to.

"vCenter can see how much traffic a virtual machine is generating, but it can't see the hardware and software in use," Messina in a preview of the product on Feb . 9. If VOiP traffic has been temporarily banned, the IT manager knows if the ban is being violated. If the network is threatened with overload, the IT manager knows if a virtual machine is being used to download video off the Internet. Likewise, Xangati for ESX can start evaluating the network traffic of a running virtual machine right away, even if it's just appeared on the network after an automated move by VMotion from another part of the data center.

"VMotion happens in minutes or seconds. The management solution can't take six weeks" to perform its next inventory of the infrastructure and discover a new VM is running, Messina said. Maybe the other management solutions wouldn't be that slow. But Xangati has got a spotlight that it's shining on a niche in the virtual machine management market, analyzing and displaying the network traffic being generated by a group of virtual machines.

Xangati for ESX virtual appliance and Management Dashboard became generally available Mar. 10.Xangati for ESX is priced at $299; the Management Dashboard is priced at $4,999 in standard edition, $9,999 enterprise edition. A starter kit that includes the dashboard plus Xangati for ESX for 20 hosts is priced at $9,999.

InformationWeek SMB's Virtualization How-To Center cuts through the hype to explain and explore the basics of virtualization and how to implement it. Download reports to help guide your plans. Check it out now.

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