Storage giant EMC is looking beyond its traditional roots in data storage and network management software and will now begin offering a new set of products that address server configuration and compliance management.
EMC plans to introduce two new management tools Oct. 29. The first, Server Configuration Manager, automates the management of individual servers and ensures compliance with different federal regulations. The second, Configuration Analytics Manager, acts as a business intelligence tool and will keep track of data and configuration changes over time.
These two new management tools, which will integrate with existing EMC products such as its VoyenceControl tool for network configuration management, will be available on Nov. 15. The EMC Server Configuration Manager tool will also integrate with VMware’s virtual infrastructure products to allow IT managers to track both physical and virtual machines within a data center.
The fact that EMC is offering tools for server management means that company is looking to offer the type of end-to-end data center management that Hewlett-Packard can offer through its Opsware acquisition and that BMC inherited through its BladeLogic purchase. The new tools also allow EMC to offer customers ways to ensure that servers are being configured correctly and that the organization is in compliance with federal regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
“We wanted to add the server component to build out the full complement of data center management capabilities,” said Bob Quillin, a senior director of product marketing for resource management software at EMC. “The server configuration management tool really looks to help the data center managers and folks who are responsible for configuring and patching as well as those people who are focusing heavily on issues around compliance.”
Enterprise-Class Storage Products Not Enough
Tracy Corbo, an analyst with IDC, said that, as a company, EMC can no longer just offer enterprise-class storage products, but needs to present customers with a full suite of management tools that take an end-to-end view of the data center. This vision, however, requires tools to address server and network configuration management.
“Everything is much more complicated than it used to be, and you can’t just sit there and worry about the individual servers; [it] is not good enough now because it’s about the service,” said Corbo. “It’s not just about one server but the application running on the network across various devices and accessing storage. You can’t just manage one part anymore.”
What EMC, HP and BMC are looking to do is eliminate some of errors associated with patching and configuration by automating more of the management process and allowing IT managers to set policies and best practices for controlling the data center. This is also a way to save money, since more and more of the management is automated.
“It is also a way to optimize your environment and allows the IT department to get the most bang out of the buck,” said Corbo.
These types of management tools are essential as virtualization looks to eliminate some of the barriers between server and storage management and allows IT to draw on a large pool of compute resources to support various applications. These tools, which can track individual resources, are also needed as large physical servers are carved up into smaller virtual machines and the IT department needs to keep track of many virtual and physical machines the network is supporting.
Eventually, companies such as HP and EMC want to offer a single management console that will allow for proactive management of the network and give the IT department an indication of where failures will happen before these problems take place.
For now, the EMC Server Configuration Manager will offer a set of server configuration management tools that will integrate with EMC’s other products such as EMC Smarts and its Application Discovery Manager. The server configuration manager also allows for patch management and remediation, and ensures compliance for server systems as well as the desktop.
EMC Server Configuration Manager currently will work with VMware, but EMC plans to add support for Xen-based hypervisors-such as Citrix XenServer-and Microsoft Hyper-V in the next year to 18 months.
The EMC Analytics Manager will integrate with both the Server Configuration Manager and its VoyenceControl product in order to gather information on performance indicators to ensure the data center is compliant and allow IT to track data trends over time.