Unicenter Goes Virtual

CA releases new software aimed at managing virtual servers and server clusters.

CA on Nov. 27 will broaden the range of options for managing a heterogeneous mix of virtual servers and server clusters when it launches the next major version of its Unicenter Advanced Systems Management software.

With the adoption of server virtualization and clustering ramping up quickly, a lot of IT shops are beginning to struggle with the complexity that those technologies introduce. And, as it turns out, a lot of data centers implementing the technology are compounding that by using multiple vendors virtualization wares.

Paula Daley, director of product management at CA, in Framingham, Mass., claims CA is unique in the breadth of coverage its new Unicenter ASM r11.1 brings to monitoring and managing virtual servers and clusters.

The list of environments ASM r11.1 covers includes Hewlett-Packards HP MC/ServiceGuard, IBMs HACMP (High Availability Cluster Multi-Processing) and pSeries LPAR (logical partitioning) capable eServers (P4 and P5), Microsofts Virtual Server and Cluster Server, and Red Hats Red Hat Advanced Server cluster. Also included are Sun Microsystems enterprise and midrange servers as well as Sun Cluster and Sun Fire servers, Veritas Cluster Servers running Suns Solaris and Windows, and VMwares ESX and GSX servers.

"Were platform-agnostic. We dont have a particular dog in the fight on which is the right virtualization platform or vendor. Our objective is to provide organizations with as much flexibility as they need on the investments theyve made and not have an agenda to push for a hardware platform," said Daley.

That kind of flexibility, along with having a common look and feel across multiple virtual servers and clusters, is key for one current ASM user evaluating the new release at WellSpan Health, in York, Pa.

/zimages/6/28571.gifeWEEK Labs reviews Unicenter NSM r11.1 Global. Click here to read more.

"In a perfect world, it would be great to have only one type [of virtualization technology], but in health care, we do best of breed on applications and have to live with the hardware [and virtual machines] those run on," said John Coleman, manager of technical services at WellSpan. "With ASM, we get a look and feel into clusters and virtual servers thats the same no matter whats underneath," said Coleman, who uses Microsoft server clustering, IBMs HACMP and LPAR servers, and VMware virtual servers in WellSpans data center.

CAs Unicenter ASM r11.1 follows on the heels of competitive new offerings from Opsware, with its Virtualization Director; Egenera, with its vBlade; and IBM, with its recent addition of the Virtual Manager dashboard. Those offerings also cover a mix of virtualization technologies.

CA officials also claim that ASM r11.1 is unique in its dynamic resource brokering capability, which Daley said "optimizes server resources available to applications running in an on-demand basis."

"Its a different twist on the rest of the market," Daley said. "We first look at optimizing within a virtual machine itself, maximize and understand what resources are truly available, and do constant dynamic reallocation to ensure processes running on a virtual machine get the best performance. Then we look across the machine and work on our own or with other virtual machine technologies for migration. When we target applications or processes for migration from one machine to another, we target those that are lowest in priority so [the migration] is lower-risk."

Despite the breadth of coverage, ASM is still limited in its appeal because it requires CAs Unicenter network and systems management software, said Stephen Elliot, an analyst with IDC.

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