The prospect of transforming data-center operations into an IT utility appeals to companies looking to synchronize their technology with the ebb and flow of business. But it looks like a fully automated data center, where information passes through an intelligently integrated IT infrastructure, will be delivered in pieces, starting with the servers that drive network traffic.
To that end, VMware Inc. on Monday introduced new management capabilities to its software, which is used by companies to carve multiprocessor servers up into smaller virtual servers. VMware had lacked a strong management tool to help customers manage the creation of virtual servers on the Intel platform. But the new VMware Control Center provides a graphical interface for centrally managing and controlling these virtual servers.
In addition, VMware has also developed "VMotion" software, which lets IT managers move a virtual server from one physical server to another, without interrupting the apps running on the virtual server. "It's like moving a file from one place to another in Windows," says Michael Mullany, VMware's senior director of product management. "Before VMotion, there would be hardware downtime to transfer virtual servers."
While companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems have established strategies or visions of what utility computing will look like, virtualization of servers, networking, and storage form the foundation. From there, companies can automate resource allocation among virtual resources and write policy-management programs, Mullany says.
VMware is making available scripting APIs for Control Center, which will be available in the fourth quarter. The availability of these interfaces is expected to make it easier for companies to use VMware with more comprehensive IT management software from Computer Associates, HP, and IBM.