Fujitsu Offering Blade Server, Virtualization Management Tool

Fujitsu is looking to expand in the data center through a management tool called the "Resource Coordinator Virtual Edition," or RCVE. This management tool from Fujitsu will allow the IT department to control both the physical hardware and those applications that are running in virtual environments. With this RCVE, Fujitsu is looking to offer management resources that compete with those of IBM and HP.

Fujitsu, which reorganized its North American operations into a single company in September, is looking to push its technology further into the data center with a new management tool that will give IT managers the ability to control both physical blade servers and applications into virtual environments.

This management tool, called the Fujitsu Resource Coordinator Virtual Edition, or RCVE, is being offered by the company in North America. The Fujitsu RCVE, which the company officially released Dec. 2, is part of the company's ServerView system management suite and is essentially a piece of software that controls physical and virtual environments in a blade chassis through a single management console.

Fujitsu originally planned to release RCVE in October but then cancelled the official announcement.

For now, the RCVE management tool works only with Fujitsu's Primergy blade servers and chassis, although Fujitsu does have plans to offer the software with its other server system offerings. Eventually, Fujitsu will allow the tool to work with systems from other hardware vendors as well. The Fujitsu RCVE management software integrates with Microsoft Windows and Linux as well as with VMware in virtual environments. Fujitsu plans to add support for Microsoft's Hyper-V and hypervisors based on Xen - such as Citrix XenServer - in the coming months.

The RCVE tool can also work with a number of SANs (storage area networks) as well as with other management software, such as IBM's Tivoli.

Ed Franklin, a senior product marketing manager for Fujitsu, said his company is looking to offer a product that addresses not only the physical world but the increasingly important virtual environments that companies such as VMware, Citrix and Microsoft are making available through their hypervisor technology.

In this new world, Franklin said businesses are looking for new ways to allocate compute resources, whether physical or virtual, in the simplest way possible. In some ways, this is creating the promise of cloud computing, where compute resources are allocated on demand within both the physical hardware and the virtual environments where applications are residing.

"The challenges that we are looking at is this brave new world where you have virtualized systems and the dynamics that come with that along with customers trying to get the most out of their hardware," said Franklin. "This isn't a world where we have physical stuff and virtual stuff but it is a world where we have both. The question now is how do we optimize it? We are also seeing a world with more blade applications and we best leverage that technology as well."

In Fujitsu's case, the company's engineers built RCVE on top of its own ServerView management tool and created a way to manage the physical hardware and virtual environments through a single console and GUI (graphical user interface.). This also allows for the IT manager to view the different physical and virtual machines within a chassis.
The RCVE allows the user to create policies that allow one physical server to automatically roll over its workload to another server when needed in much the way VMware's Vmotion allows users to roll over virtual machines one system to another.

Fujitsu also created a feature that allows for sharing a spare blade within the chassis.

This technology allows one blade within the chassis to be partitioned into multiple environments and allows for a native OS to roll over as well. The RCVE tool also allows for virtual I/O, which enables the physical hardware to keep its network addresses, including the SAN and LAN connections, during a roll over.

Other vendors, notably IBM and Hewlett-Packard, are also looking to make it easier to control virtual environments and physical resources, especially when it comes to blades. In late 2007, HP rolled out technology that allowed IT to control virtual environments across its blade architecture, while IBM offered a similar set of functions with its Open Fabric Manager.

Vernon Turner, an analyst with IDC, believes that since virtualization is becoming more of a standard technology in the data center, customers are now seeking easier ways to monitor and manage both the physical and virtual resources. At the same time, HP, IBM and now Fujitsu are each trying to address these problems by simplifying how all these different pieces can be managed.

"There are a couple of sweet spots here that Fujitsu is trying to figure out," said Turner.

"The most important thing is that [Fujitsu] is trying to roll as much functionality to manage this virtual environment into one product, which is where the pain points are," Turner added. "We have seen the virtualization message go from 'you have to do this for consolidation' to 'now we believe in it but the management piece of this is tough because the management standards from some of the vendors don't lend all their products to work under a single banner or single interface.' It's important to work all these interdependencies out and make sure that they are presented as one deliverable to the customer."

The Fujitsu RCVE will cost $7,600 per Primergy blade chassis and the management console with control of up to five chassis. The package also includes a blade agent for each chassis.