IBM delivers free management dashboard

Free software download to help enterprises manage server resources

IBM Thursday is making available a free software download that the company says can help enterprise IT managers configure, administer and monitor virtual and physical resources across heterogeneous server environments.

Part of IBM Systems Director family, IBM Virtualization Manager is a software application available free to existing IBM equipment customers that will discover and monitor virtual and physical computing resources from IBM and several other vendors. The software, an extension to IBM Director systems management tools, can be downloaded to a management server and will work with existing software agents on managed servers and storage resources to discover, inventory and monitor virtual and physical resources. IT managers work with a Web-based GUI to configure server resources, schedule maintenance on physical boxes or provision virtual servers from Microsoft Virtual Server, VMware or Xen, IBM says.

Virtualization Manager will enable enterprise IT managers to get a consolidated view of the multiple virtual and physical resources in their environments, without having to hop from specialized management consoles for each flavor of virtualization or each type of vendor equipment, IBM says.

"Virtualization has been deployed in silos, but as it becomes more mainstream it becomes important for IT managers to understand the topology of their heterogeneous resources and the relationships among them," says Peter McCaffrey, program director for IBM's Virtualization Strategy.

The software was built using industry open standards, McCaffrey says, to enable the server and storage monitoring capabilities to also work on non-IBM gear. With the software, IT managers can create and delete virtual machines, review the health of server hosts and display physical server utilization, track events on physical machines and virtual server instances, and migrate virtual machines on VMware, Microsoft Virtual Server, and Xen, IBM says.

Industry watchers say enterprise IT managers that rely upon virtualization across their environments will find software such as Virtualization Manager a must-have. Joe Clabby, president of research firm Clabby Analytics, explains that server vendors provide with their gear hypervisors, software that runs on a hardware machine and manages one or more operating systems, and when it comes to virtualization, there is a race going on as to who can provide the manager of managers of hypervisors.

"If IBM were going to establish its software as the lead, it would have to be able to manage all others. Virtualization Manager is a dashboard that doesn't care what the underlying resources are," he says. "Customers are going to use different flavors of virtualization and always have heterogeneous server environments, so the battle here is at the level of managing the interfaces and making them interoperate so the customer can turn to one management console for its entire environment."

IBM will face competition from the vendors Virtualization Manager supports as they work to incorporate multivendor support into their management interfaces, as well as from HP, which has among its products a management dashboard from its OpenView software division.

Virtualization Manager is available now and free of charge for download across IBM System x, BladeCenter and System p servers. The software supports VMware, Microsoft Virtual Server, System p and System i virtualization. Virtualization Manager also integrates with VMware VirtualCenter.

For nonIBM customers pricing starts at US$49.

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