Opsware app gets virtual server management

New features help IT managers monitor everything from provisioning to patching of virtual and physical server resources

Automation software maker Opsware this week announced it would add features to its software to help IT managers monitor everything from provisioning to patching of virtual and physical server resources.

Opsware Virtualization Director, a new feature in the Opsware System 6 data center automation suite, can manage environments running technologies such as VMware, Microsoft Virtual Server, Sun Solaris 10, XenSource and others, Opsware says.

The software also can help customers create and delete virtual servers, as well as discover virtual server instances and provide a topology of the resources. The software can also show dependencies among the server instances, their hosts, applications, storage and network resources, the company says.

While the use of virtualization technology is increasing, industry watchers argue that management among other concerns is limiting large-scale adoption of virtual servers on production networks. According to Forrester Research, 76 percent of virtualization deployments are on 500 servers or less, and more than three-quarters of virtualization implementations are in test and development environments. IDC predicts that by 2013 72 percent of all servers will be virtual, but Senior Analyst Stephen Elliot says heterogeneous management capabilities will need to emerge before enterprise IT managers depend more on virtualization technology.

"It's an open market when it comes to managing virtual environments today," Elliot says. "Virtualization providers manage their own technology, but it will be a race next year among the likes of VMware, which has management technology at its disposal with EMC Smarts, and BMC, CA, IBM, HP as well as players such as Opsware and BladeLogic."

"If you are a systems administrator, virtualization makes the provisioning process easier, but keeping servers patched and with the right software deployed on them involves more. That's when virtual servers take on the whole life cycle of tasks system administrators must perform on physical machines, and that's when virtualization represents a challenge," says Opsware CTO Tim Howes.

Opsware System 6 uses server software and distributed agents on managed machines. Virtualization Director is an option that can be turned on in the license. The added capability is scheduled to be available by the end of January 2007. Pricing is US$1,995 for the hypervisor on each managed server, plus US$895 for each Solaris container or virtual machine.

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