Virtualization is fulfilling much of its promise to increase server utilization and reduce the number of physical servers and enterprise needs in its data centers, but it also is bringing with it increased complexity in the management of those environments.
Adding to that complexity is the growing number of virtualization platforms that are coming into a space once dominated by VMware.
Vendors are pushing out products designed to ease the management headaches. Opsware and Egenera on Nov. 13 are unveiling software designed to streamline how enterprises handle their virtualized environments.
Those announcements come less than two weeks after IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., introduced the Virtual Manager dashboard, which enables IT administrators to manage multiple virtualization platforms, including VMware, Microsofts Virtual Server, the open-source Xen hypervisor, and the virtualization technologies in IBMs own Power-based servers.
Managing virtual environments will continue to grow in importance as the adoption by businesses increases, said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research.
"Part of the appeal of virtualization in the first place is giving a company the ability to drastically reduce the number of physical boxes in the data center," said King, in Hayward, Calif. "But those workloads dont go away. They just move from a physical box to a virtual box."
Seamless management of physical and virtual environments is a goal of Opswares Virtualization Director, said Tim Howes, chief technology officer of the San Jose, Calif., company.
The software provides for the automated creation and securing of virtual servers, the tracking of their relationships with their host systems and of changes, and the standardization of management across both physical and virtual systems and other data center components, such as storage and networking devices.
Being able to do that is important at a time when enterprises are beginning to bring virtualization into their production environments, Howe said.
Being able to so easily create a virtual machine promises more virtual machines, and thus more complexity, he said.
"The fact that you can do it so quickly probably means youre going to do it more often," Howes said. "Its a management nightmare. … Virtualization is not just a new technology in the data center. Its a new architecture."
Customers are looking for an easier way to handle virtualized environments, he said.
"They want to be able to manage their virtual machines just like they manage their physical machines," Howes said.
Opswares Virtualization Director gives this ability across multiple platforms, including VMware, Virtual Server, Xen and Sun Microsystems Solaris 10.
Egenera, of Marlborough, Mass., is unveiling vBlade, which gives IT administrators a single point for configuring, allocating and managing both physical and virtual resources.
The software is an add-on to the companys PAN (processing area network) Manager, which can virtualize hundreds of data center resources and manage them as a single pool, said Susan Davis, vice president of marketing for Egenera. PAN Manager works with Egeneras pBlade modules and a high-speed fabric.
With vBlade, IT administrators can define pools of virtual and physical resources, and deploy them on either virtual or physical servers.
"You get all the benefits of virtualization, but without [the need for] additional software," Davis said.