Egenera Looks to Scale PAN Manager in 2012

Egenera will grow the number of data center domains that its PAN Manager software can support, and also will enable the product to operate better in heterogeneous environments.

Egenera executives two years ago began transforming the company from a blade server maker to a pure software vendor with its PAN Manager solution as the centerpiece.

They completed the transition earlier this year, and now are looking to rapidly grow the capabilities of the PAN Manager data center management software as they roll into 2012. That will mean increasing the scalability and heterogeneous capabilities of the solution, according to CEO Peter Manca.

"That is the next logical step" in the software's development, Manca said in a recent interview with eWEEK. "We are giving the customer a lot of flexibility."

PAN Manager is designed to give businesses greater management and automation capabilities in converged infrastructure environments, which are key foundations in cloud computing. The software treats all server, storage and network resources as a single pool of computing resources that can be easily provisioned and managed based on workload demand. Such software is important for businesses that run a lot of physical servers or virtual machines in scalable environments, which is becoming more common with the rise of converged infrastructures and cloud computing.

Egenera in November released PAN Manager 7.1, which among other things offered greater disaster recovery and restoration capabilities and doubled the number of blade servers that can be managed by the software.

With the software today, IT administrators can manage up to 64 Hewlett-Packard blade servers in four chasses, essentially creating a domain that can be managed as a single pool of resources, according to Manca and John Humphreys, vice president of marketing for Egenera.

In the first half of 2012, Egenera will increase the scalability of PAN Manager, enabling users to manage up to 16 domains-or up to 256 blades-as a single pool of resources. "It will all look like one blade chassis," Manca said.

Humphreys said scalability will continue to be a key consideration in the evolution of PAN Manager, with support moving from "the hundreds to the thousands of servers."

In 2013, Egenera will extend its scalability push into cloud environments, Manca said.

In addition, Egenera will expand on the heterogeneous capabilities of the software, an important issue for IT managers who have data centers populated with servers from a variety of systems vendors. One of the key points in Egenera's transformation from a hardware provider to a pure software play has been the partnering with key server vendors.

Over the past several years, Egenera has partnered with many of the top systems vendors, and PAN Manager now runs on Dell's PowerEdge servers, Hewlett-Packard's ProLiant blades and Fujitsu's Primergy blades. In addition, Egenera in November added NEC, which will offer PAN Manager on its SigmaBlade servers in Japan.

Egenera also offers PAN Manager on its own BladeFrame blade servers. Manca said the company no longer is selling the systems to new customers but will continue to support legacy BladeFrame legacy customers.

Egenera is looking to enhance the software's ability to support servers from disparate vendors within the same resource pool, Manca said. For example, the software will be able to manage an HP blade at the same time it's managing a system from Dell.

The company this month announced a promotional drive with HP to encourage customers to buy HP's ProLiant systems bundled with PAN Manager. At the same time, through the promotion, which runs through July 31, 2012, Egenera also is offering incentives on PAN Manager for each blade in the configuration.

HP and Egenera-like many other infrastructure players-are looking to leverage the growing demand for converged data center environments. Egenera has cited survey results at a recent Gartner data center conference that showed that half of the respondents said they either have implemented or are in the process of implementing fabric computing environments.

Egenera wants to take advantage of its growing partnerships with server OEMs to get into as many of those implementations as possible.

"With Egenera, you can put it on an HP [server] and the next day you can put on Fujitsu, and the next day you can put it on a Dell," Humprheys said.