Dell Adds Self-Service, Management Tools to Virtual Integrated System

Three new software tools for Dell Virtual Integrated System are designed to speed up the shift to cloud computing and virtualization, while adding self-service to the mix.

Dell announced something old, something new and something to come for its Virtual Integrated System cloud platform on Sept. 29.

The new tools add self-service automation, management and network monitoring to the company's VIS architecture, launched in spring 2010.

The announcement focused on enhancements to Dell's Advanced Infrastructure Manager, a technology the company acquired as part of its Scalent acquisition a few months ago. The enhancements include a VIS Self-Service portal to automate deployments and a preview of VIS Director, an operations management software tool. AIM and Self-Service are available immediately; VIS Director is expected early in 2011.

The AIM update adds Fibre-Channel-over-Ethernet support and gives virtual machine administrators more direct control over physical servers and storage. It also includes Web services APIs to integrate the management platform with third-party products. A single administrator can allocate server, storage and network resources against application workloads by use of graphical wizards.

Dell supports a modular approach to building private cloud infrastructure by mixing and matching computing, networking and storage hardware from various vendors with existing management tools, such as VMware's vCenter. Customers can gradually build up instead of investing in a whole new set of systems. VIS also supports multiple virtualization hypervisors, including ones from VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems.

AIM abstracts the hardware and virtualization layers from the data center so that customers can focus on allocating a single pool of resources instead of managing various technologies.

This is in stark contrast to competitors like HP and Cisco Systems, who offer closed proprietary solutions for the cloud.

VIS Self-Service allows administrators to set up a cloud computing service that lets end users directly request IT resources with little to no intervention from the internal IT department. With Self-Service, end users can provision new virtual machines based on predefined templates. Governance controls in VIS Self-Service restrict access to only those who need it. The product is designed to balance the needs of the IT organization that controls the infrastructure and the needs of end users while reducing deployment times.

VIS Director is an IT operations hub that monitors and optimizes the entire system, according to Dell, checking whether virtual machines are the right size for their workloads and reclaiming resources from any that are no longer used. The module includes advanced reporting, what-if and trend analysis, capacity and utilization reporting and cost allocation and chargeback solutions. Instead of going through a separate management console for each virtual and physical server, storage device, and networking component, VIS Director does it all at once.

With VIS Director, IT managers have a greater level of visibility into their IT environment and better information upon which to take action, said Dell.

By using the VIS architecture and new management products, customers can dynamically provision application workloads and unify their existing infrastructure in a common pool, which lowers IT management costs and adds flexibility to the data center, Dell said.