Hewlett-Packard Adds Virtualization Management Tools

In addition to expanding the virtualization and management capabilities of its HP-UX operating system, HP is looking to take away some of Sun's Unix business.

Hewlett-Packard is preparing to offer a new set of management software tools that will streamline the virtualization capabilities built into its Unix operating system and its Integrity line of servers.

These new management features for HPs VSE (Virtual Server Environment), which the company is slated to announce June 6, are designed to give IT administrators better access and oversight of the virtual environments created by HPs HP-UX 11i operating system, said Ute Albert, HPs virtualization marketing manager.

Besides better management tools, HP, in Palo Alto, Calif., is also looking to offer customers a reason to switch to its Integrity systems, which use Intels Itanium processors. In 2006, HP pledged to invest $1 billion annually into its Integrity systems and Unix operating system to gain a greater share of the high-end portion of the server market.

The new management tools offer one feature – Integrity Essentials Capacity Advisor – that allows a performance agent to collect data from a Sun Microsystems server and provide for the migration and consolidation of that data onto a HP platform.

"Todays announcement extends HPs support to Sun customers that want to migrate to HP servers," Albert wrote in an email to eWEEK. "HP Integrity Essentials Capacity Advisor can now [allow] workloads [to] move in a server pool and [HP customers] can plan consolidations from Sun servers by importing data collected by HP Performance Agent."

Within the Unix market, HP is fighting for market share with Sun and its Solaris 10 operating system as well as with IBM, which released its Power6 processor May 21 and will update its own Unix operating system – AIX – with additional virtualization capabilities by the end of this year.

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The three companies are also fighting for a piece of a market that continues to shrink as x86 systems and Linux servers gain popularity and acceptance, although most large financial institutions still use Unix-based systems for complex and mission-critical applications. According to a May 22 Gartner report, RISC-Itanium server shipments fell more than 15 percent in the first quarter of this year.

In addition to its migrating capabilities, the new HP Capacity Advisor offers capabilities that enable IT managers to project trending and usage patterns in the infrastructure that allow for better planning when consolidating systems that use either an HP-UX, Microsoft Windows or Linux operating system.

Virtualization – the ability to partition a piece of hardware in order to run multiple operating systems at the same time – is increasingly important to HPs Integrity and HP-UX customers, said Albert. In response, she said, these customers have been asking the company to provide enhanced management tools to better monitor and control these virtual environments.

For example, the Global Instant Capacity tool allows administrators to have more granular control of workloads, whether these are customer-facing applications or back-end, mission-critical applications, which enables managers to move spare hardware capacity from one system to another as needed, such as when a server goes offline or in case of a disaster.

"This allows users to prioritize and turn on spare resources as needed," Albert said. "This can also help in creating some savings costs as well as giving more efficient control."

Other software tools that HP has added to its VSE suite include Virtualization Manager, which allows administrators to view applications within the virtual environment, and Global Workload Manger, which automatically accesses a systems spare capacity to better balance workloads.

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In addition to its virtualization management software tool, HP is expanding its Serviceguard high-availability software. The software, Albert said, will now support Linux-based applications running in virtual machines for both its Integrity servers and its ProLiant systems that use VMwares virtualization hypervsior technology.

Although HP partners with VMware, the company does not use the virtualization companys hypervisor technology with its Integrity line.

Finally, HP also is opening a new partner program designed to get more ISVs to develop applications on its Integrity and ProLiant systems. The Partner Virtualization Program offers ISVs a Web portal to design, test and verify applications in virtual environments using HP or VMware software. These ISVs will also have access to test applications with a number of operating systems, including HP-UX, Windows, Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise and Red Hats RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

The management tools will work with the latest version of the HP-UX 11i, and the cost remains $4,000 per core. Most of the new software tools and the ISV access to the Web portal will be available in June.

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