In the past, HP has linked its systems management software to VMware's through an external interface. Now ties between the two will be built into the respective product lines.
HP and VMware announced the joint R&D effort at HP's Software Universe for customers and partners in Las Vegas this week. It's a sign that virtualization is such a strong phenomenon that managing the virtualized environment is no longer a stepchild of systems management; it's being built into the core of management software.
"We've previously done this through the interfaces they've provided," said Sharmila Shahani, chief marketing officer for HP Software and former executive VP of marketing at Opsware, a company that HP acquired 11 months ago. "Now we're entering a joint collaboration of managing the virtualized environment. This is strategic research and development as well as strategic marketing."
The closer collaboration should begin to erase the divide between views of physical resources versus virtual machines.
HP Business Service management will monitor both physical and virtual environments. Upcoming products, such as Business Availability Center 7.5, to be available in July, will manage composite applications and transactions in both real and virtual resources, Shahani said. Upcoming releases of HP Operations Center and HP Network Management Center will monitor both physical and virtual resources.
An upcoming release of HP Discovery and Dependency Mapping, which automatically maps the data center infrastructure and the dependency of one product on another, will discover virtual machines as well as physical resources. The HP Universal Configuration Management Database will store base configuration data and any changes to existing resources for virtual machines as well as physical devices.
HP's software suite -- meant to automate some data center operations, such as provisioning new servers through HP Server Automation Center, creating new user machines through HP Client Automation and HP Operations Orchestration -- also will manage a virtual machine life cycle, from creation to setting a date when a virtual machine expires, as well as physical device life cycles.
VMware produces VMware Infrastructure 3 to manage its virtual machines and hypervisors, but has left it to third parties to build larger management tools. Virtual Center is a component of Virtual Infrastructure 3, handling the most direct management tasks. But customers complain they end up implementing several Virtual Centers, with each attending its own set of virtual servers. HP, CA, and other systems management vendors are talking about being able to manage the complete virtual machine life cycle and monitor the whole virtualized environment through one management console.
"Virtual environments require the same process and discipline as physical infrastructure," said Ben Horowitz, VP of Business Technology Optimization, a unit of HP Software, in a prepared statement announcing the alliance.
In some cases, virtual environments bring new demands on the older forms of systems management. With VMware's VMotion, for example, a virtual machine may be migrated off a secured server onto a new physical machine, without stopping. But does the new machine have the same level of security the previous server did?
Shahani said HP's Business Service Automation would know what policies should apply to the virtual machine, and would issue an alert to a system administrator or operations manager if they weren't in force in the new environment. It's still the responsibility of a human administrator to respond to that alert and make sure the virtual machine is equipped with the right security measures.
"Right now, it's more about alerting them to what they need to know rather than leaving them in the dark," she said. In the future, policy enforcement measures already available in some HP products may be imported into managing the virtualized environment and making it a better fit with other automated parts of the data center, she said.