IBM and Sun Microsystems are both building software to provide systems administrators with a single, consistent view of their IT infrastructures, from business applications and related servers, through the network and down to the storage arrays.
Users and analysts said they expected such systems to provide managers with far more control over IT operations and need fewer administrators. Director of IBM's BladeCenter server division, Tim Docherty, said the company was working to port its SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and SAN File Manager software to its BladeCenter server systems in order to uncouple applications from physical servers and storage. The project is expected to be completed by year's end.
Docherty said IBM started the integration project with BladeCenter because 50 per cent of those systems were used in storage-area networks and because it could use both network LAN and Fibre Channel switches.
Chief technology officer for Sun's storage practice, Chris Woods, said customers should have access to new Sun software by mid-year that marrieds the Container tool in the Solaris 10 operating system with the StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager software it licensed from AppIQ. The Solaris Container tool creates virtual zones, thereby isolating business applications and their supporting servers. Enterprise Storage Manager created an abstraction layer between servers and their supporting storage infrastructure, Woods said.
Illuminata analyst, David Freund, said the IBM and Sun efforts were part of a trend among system vendors to bring mainframe-like features to distributed environments.
IBM's Docherty said he expected the adoption curve of combined virtual server/storage applications would be slow because "the reality is, customers don't turn on a dime overnight".