Utility Computing Push

Automation, allocation platforms are key.

Utility computing is the new data center utopia, and server automation and allocation are two of the most critical requirements for achieving it.

Major hardware vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. are at the forefront of the utility computing push and have made major announcements and acquisitions this year. These vendors are on track to release new best-of-breed systems that have the potential to make seamless and robust server automation a reality for large enterprise customers.

HPs UDC (Utility Data Center) solutions allow enterprises to consolidate and dynamically allocate data center resources using virtualization technologies. UDC also provides automated management via Web-based interfaces. HPs UDC technologies facilitate resource optimization and give IT managers a better handle on data center capacity, thus reducing operating costs.

In June, HP announced a partnership with Opsware Inc. to resell Opsware System as part of its UDC strategy. Opsware provides the means to manage configuration changes in large data center environments using a unique model-based approach. (Click here to see eWEEK Labs review of Opsware.) We also reviewed Veritas Software Corp.s OpForce automation software, which provides dynamic resource reallocation capabilities and some levels of on-demand capabilities (see review).

IBM is pushing its line of Tivoli system management and virtualization tools, allowing IT managers to turn on resources on the fly to meet customer or service-level demands or both. IBMs acquisition in May of Think Dynamics Inc. provides an added layer of policy-based orchestration to enhance IBMs automation strategies.

Think Dynamics orchestrated provisioning obtains real-time feedback on the state of the enterprise environment and can dynamically reallocate resources based on pre-established business policies.

Think Dynamics fits into IBMs on-demand strategy because it allows companies to change from traditional "just in case" provisioning with system backups to a more robust on-demand provisioning, where resources can be quickly allocated to fulfill priority business demands.

Suns N1 initiative, announced in November, focuses on making servers and networking and storage systems interact seamlessly using virtualization technologies. Part of the initiative includes Suns acquisition in November of Terraspring Inc., which gives Sun the needed virtualization and automation expertise to compete with HP and IBM in these areas.

Microsoft Corp. and Computer Associates International Inc. have also jumped into the market with announcements of virtualization and automation strategies, respectively.