F5 Networks, which specializes in automated virtualization software for data centers, launched a new version of its Acopia FreedomFabric network operating system Feb. 4, alongside a new data center network manager.
The combination of the FreedomFabric 3.0 operating system and the FreedomFabric Network Manager gives F5 Networks the industry's first "independent management platform for intelligent file virtualization networks," said Christopher Lynch, senior vice president of Data Solutions at F5.
"With this release, we are making it easier than ever for our customers to put intelligence to work managing their data storage assets," Lynch said from company headquarters in Seattle.
Companies such as VMware, XenSource, CA, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, EMC and Network Appliance also offer data center virtualization management software products.
The F5 software can run on any industry-standard server, Lynch said. Network Manager allows management of IT policies across diversified file virtualization systems in large enterprises, which greatly simplifies operations and reduces errors, he said.
The new F5 virtualization platform offers as a standard feature "virtual snapshots"-replicas of data as it existed at a specific point in time. These can be very important in a disaster recovery situation, Lynch said.
"The biggest news I see is the ability to manage file level snapshots across heterogeneous file servers," Mark Bowker, data center analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group, told eWEEK.
"Managing snapshots can be a full time job for a storage admin if they have to jump between array vendors and they each do it slightly different. Being able to manage, schedule and recover snapshots across all the file servers is extremely valuable."
IT professionals are really starting to see the benefits of infrastructure virtualization at every level, Bowker said.
"With the addition of F5's Acopia File Virtualization services, IT professionals finally have the ability to really harness all the power of virtualization, from servers to data," Bowker said. "Adding Acopia has made F5's network virtualization service offerings among the most complete in the entire industry."