Novell Joins Growing VM Management Chorus

Novell introduces tools that manage heterogeneous virtual machine and grid computing environments to help reduce cost and complexity.

Novell trailed into the market for managing virtual machine and grid computing systems in the data center on Nov. 28 when it launched four new ZENworks offerings.

At the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, Novell introduced its first products designed to manage heterogeneous virtual machine and grid computing environments to help reduce the cost and complexity of maintaining data centers with multiple vendors offerings.

The four new ZENworks management tools closely follow the launch of new heterogeneous virtual machine and server cluster management products from CA, IBM, Opsware and Egenera.

Three brand new ZENworks tools work together to manage virtual machine deployments, balance workloads across heterogeneous virtual machines, schedule jobs and automatically provision or deprovision resources based on past behavior.

At the core of the new offerings is the Novell ZENworks Orchestrator, which automatically enforces policies for provisioning resources on demand.

The Orchestrator continuously monitors the performance of virtual machine environments and learns behaviors to be able to optimize resource allocation.

"Say a job is defined with a set of performance requirements. Well monitor that job and determine whether its been over- or under-provisioned and determine where the best place is to run that job," said Alan Murray, vice president of product management at Novell in Waltham, Mass.

"If we recognize a task continues to get spun out at the end of the quarter and more equipment needs to be provisioned then, well learn that and start to pre-provision to make that resource available earlier. Its a constant monitoring and refinement to get the best optimization of the job," he said.

The new Novell ZENworks Virtual Machine Management tool automates deployment and management of virtual machines in the data center, and it dynamically provisions workloads. It manages virtual servers from Xen, VMware, Microsoft and Novells own Open Enterprise Server.

According to Novells Joe Wagner, many competitive VM management tools require operators to manually determine where jobs should go, where to move jobs and then provision more resources.

"Were trying to provide a system that automates all those operator tasks to help reach the promised cost savings enterprises have been trying to achieve," said Wagner, general manager of Novells systems and resource management business unit.

Although Novell is trailing competitors into the market with multi-vendor management of virtual servers, the new management tools maintain Novells relevance in the market, believes Fred Broussard, research manager at IDC in Framingham, Mass.

"Partly what this forces other vendors to do is pay a bit more attention to Novell than what they otherwise would have done," he said.

What might also get competitors attention is the possibility that Novell will collaborate with Microsoft on the management of virtual machines using some of the new technology in this launch, according to Wagner.

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To address management of grid computing, Novell added the Novell ZENworks HPC Management tool to manage the distribution of workloads to be processed in parallel across grid computing environments.

It supports high-speed multicast data distribution to allow operators to move and copy large data volumes for remote processing.

The launch, a part of Novells desktop-to-data-center management initiative, also included a new version of the Novell ZENworks Asset Management tool that can run readiness reports for migrating desktops to Microsoft Vista or Novells own SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 operating system.

Also new in version 7.5 is the ability to track warranties, the cost of hardware depreciation and other contract management functions.

At the same time, Novell added better visibility into how applications are being consumed as well as the ability to track Web application usage.

ZENworks Asset Management 7.5 is available now, and the three new virtual machine management offerings will roll out over the next 60 to 90 days through select channel partners.

Novell, which has not had a large presence in the data center, will work with channel partners to certify them for deploying the Novell offerings in the data center, Wagner said.

Whether Novell has the "necessary channel relationships" to give the new offerings sufficient backing remains to be seen, Broussard said.

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