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2/25/2008
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VMware Launches Two Data Center Products From France

The company puts its Lifecycle Manager and Site Recovery Manager products in place to compete with disaster recovery specialist PlateSpin.

VMware is expanding its data center management capabilities by adding VMware Lifecycle Manager to two previously announced products to make up an IT service delivery suite.

It's also launching Site Recovery Manager for disaster recovery as another piece of management software that it wants to add to its offerings. Recovery Manager puts VMware in a position to compete with disaster recovery specialist PlateSpin.

VMware made the product announcements on the opening day of its VMworld conference in Europe, being held this week in Cannes, France. Novell officials chose the same opening day to announce they were acquiring PlateSpin's competing product line for $205 million.

"The next front is allowing customers to leverage all the core capabilities of VMware to optimize and streamline operations," said Bogomil Balkansky, senior director of product marketing at VMware. By adopting VMware's approach, data center operators will be able to "manage the lifecycle of an IT service from cradle to decommissioning and retirement," he said.

Lifecycle Manager allows IT administrators to create a catalogue of services, then "funnel all requests for virtual machines through an approval process." If the requests are approved, then Lifecycle Manager can provision the required virtual machine, set up chargeback provisions for the user and set a date when its operation requires review or decommissioning, said Balkansky in an interview.

Users determine the rate of chargeback, based for example on the user's request for a virtual machine running on multi-core processors of a powerful, four-way server. Such a VM might be priced at $1,000 a month, compared to a more bare bones virtual machine priced at $200 a month. There is not enough experience in virtual machine use in different shops for VMware to include a pricing mechanism built into the software, said Balkansky.

"We don't do the metering" that shows how much the virtual machine is being used, but administrators can control virtual machine sprawl by assigning chargeback values and subjecting virtual machine creation to an approval process, he said.

Lifecycle Manager will be demonstrated at Cannes and made generally available in the second quarter, when pricing will be announced. The technology springs from VMware's acquisition of Dunes Technology last September.

Lifecycle Manager will be teamed up with VMware Stage Manager announced Jan. 21 and VMware Lab Manager, now on version 2.5, to form its IT Service Delivery suite. Lab Manager, now on version 2.5, is currently available. Stage Manager will become available in the second quarter as well, Balkansky said.

The second new product, Site Recovery Manager, invokes virtualization to make it easier to set up, test and maintain a disaster recovery system. When you are dependent on a physical match to your production systems for disaster recovery, "it's been impossible to test the disaster recovery system," Balkansky said. No one wants to throw the switch on production systems for the sake of a test, lest they discover they've created a real disaster, he explains.

With virtual machines matching the physical hardware of a data center, it's easier to trigger tests and insure the backup systems will work in the event of a disaster. "This is a ground breaking capability to make disaster recovery faster and more reliable," Balkansky said.

Because data center systems can be more easily created in virtual machines than in hardware, companies will find "real savings" in taking a virtualized approach to disaster recovery. "You still need a secondary site, but it doesn't need to be an exact hardware duplicate," he said. The software will become available in the second quarter.

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