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This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. The opinions expressed within are my own and should not be attributed to any other Individual, Company or the one I work for. I just happen to be a classic techie who is passionate about getting things to work as they should do (and are sometimes advertised and marketed as being able to?) and when I can I drop notes here to help others falling in to the same traps that I have fallen in to. If this has helped then please pass it on - if you feel that I have commented in error or disagree then please feel free to discuss with me either publically or privately? Cheers, Dave
Thin Clients, VDI and Linux integration from the front lines.... Raw and sometimes unedited notes based on my experiences with VMware, Thin Clients, Linux etc.

So I was reading these two articles in todays IT Section and it started me thinking about the fact that I hadn't really looked through Opsware's web site to see what it did, and then it started to dawn on me that not only is Opsware looking really good, it also looks like a shift for HP in that this does a lot of the tasks that are currently done by Altiris Deployment Manager (OEM'd by HP as the Rapid Deployment Pack (RDP)).

It can build from bare metal, offers Config Management, Patching, Compliance, etc. - but not only for Servers, but Network Appliances and Devices as well. Then it struck me that there is no mention of Client Devices in the Opsware stack? Is this piece still to be done? Currently all HP Thin Clients come with an Altiris Client, is this going to change? In the future will it be the Neoware Management tool that does the Thin Clients?

More than that, Neoware's Device Manager is quite similar to Wyse's in some ways in that it is quite capable of carrying out Administrative functions for PC's, etc. as well - it makes me wonder how this part of the market will shape up to be in the next 12 - 18 months?

Automation key to HP next-gen strategy

Barbara Gengler | August 21, 2007

HEWLETT-PACKARD'S next-generation strategy includes expanding its enterprise IT management software business as well as controlling the increasing complexity and cost of managing the data centre.

As part of its focus on offering a comprehensive software line, HP says it has agreed to purchase data centre automation software provider Opsware for about $US1.6 billion ($2.7 billion).

HP also says it plans to acquire NeoWare for $US214 million to help with its thin-client technology. HP says Neoware's client management capabilities will complement Opsware's network and server management tools.

HP plans to have Opsware chief executive Ben Horowitz lead its business technology optimisation group and Opsware will become part of the HP software business.

Marc Andreessen founded Opsware as Loudcloud in 1999, went public in 2001, and changed its name to Opsware in 2002.

HP officials say combining the technologies of the two companies will enable better IT automation in large, enterprise-class data centres.

HP software senior vice-president Thomas Hogan says the deals are a "coincidence from a timing perspective, but there could be some synergy and value between the product lines sold by Opsware and Neoware".

more at source...

Keeping virtual server sprawl in check

Eric Wilson | August 21, 2007

ANALYSTS seem to be all at sea when it comes to predicting whether virtually sharing IT resources over common hardware will simplify or magnify system management.

Keeping virtual server sprawl in check   <<<Surely these Dell Servers are packed so close that they might cause a fire?

It's not clear how much management is needed for virtual systems on common hardware

As management problems relating to virtualisation start to surface, management software makers with mainframe experience such as CA and IBM are quietly licking their chops.

The flexibility that virtualisation offers for organisations to enjoy IT on demand will inevitably require extensive management to keep these dynamic environments under control.

Sun Microsystems Solaris marketing vice-president Marc Hamilton says the problem is one of scale when it comes to cutting server costs.

He cites the case of a US bank, which charges its business units $US10,000 a month for a physical server, plus a $US10,000 set-up fee after a two-month delivery time. If that department asks for a virtual server instead, it's a flat $US1000 a month, ready to start in 24 hours.

This allows new tactical sales and marketing systems to be created, run and retired before previous systems could have been installed.

CA enterprise systems management technical specialist Stephen Witchelo says this ease of deployment means virtual server numbers will grow rapidly, often with their management being only an afterthought.

"Initially the consolidation projects get rid of hardware, usually, but once they're completed, most of our clients suffer from virtualisation sprawl," Witchelo reports. "It's so easy to run up a virtual server, rather than taking six to eight weeks with a large capital expenditure."

Hewlett-Packard South Pacific IT consolidation and virtualisation lead Craig Dobson says virtual machines can also be managed with tools bundled free with many of its servers, such as its Systems Insight Manager.

However, the dynamic appearance and disappearance of virtual servers may lead to server licence management problems with commercial software, which will also need to be managed.

Using HP enterprise management tools with change and release management controls in place, organisations can report on their licence usage and frequency of change, Dobson says.

Independent software vendors will have to accept and change their licencing policies based on users or virtual CPUs. The ability to allow changes on a monthly basis in quantity usage will require better reporting mechanisms for use of licences.

IBM Tivoli Software automation systems business unit executive Lisa Buchan says the problem with virtualisation sprawl is that some customers have been "caught by surprise with the additional administration resulting from this proliferation".

"Load balancers, clusters, virtualisation and network redundancy can create hundreds of pathways for an individual transaction to take. For this reason, the IBM application management systems focus on following individual transactions through their actual pathway."

This is necessary because virtualisation makes everything appear simple to end users and developers by transferring all the complexity into the fabric of the IT infrastructure itself.

There are different layers of virtualisation, allowing the load to be moved between application runtimes, operating systems and hardware platforms as the management environment, or lack of it, sees fit.

Transaction paths will typically be split between hardware and software vendors, while some systems for performance reasons will remain on dedicated non-virtualised hardware.

With standardisation still embryonic the native management subsystems in all these layers don't necessarily talk to each other, while new servers and applications dynamically shift the infrastructure's centre of gravity as they appear, and disappear, on demand.

Hamilton says Sun and the mainframe vendors understand this complexity, as 80-processor machines host tenanted systems, each with multiple operating systems, applications and users.

Now, however, what was formerly contained in very large and expensive proprietary environments is being dynamically distributed across virtualised infrastructures.

"Once a single base operating system is supporting 80 machines, how will a human administrator ever manage that complexity," Hamilton asks. "It will become more confusing until the management tools catch up, and it's harder in an open-standards environment, where you don't control the whole software stack."

Buchan says this often means standard built-in tools for functions such as performance or impact analysis become "fuzzy and no longer able to provide a complete end-to-end picture".

"In the storage arena, which is where virtualisation usually starts, IBM recognised this very early," Buchan says.

"We ensured that disk virtualisation conformed to open standards and that management software understands, and can work through, a virtual layer. On the positive side, customers have experienced huge increases in the quantity of data a storage administrator can manage, primarily due to the physical simplicity the virtualisation provides."

The tricky bit is to get management software working beneath the virtual operating systems running on top of virtualised storage, as well as within them, right up through server and application services layers to the end user experience on top.

The trouble is, management tools with virtualisation software report little more than rudimentary life signs such as operating system CPU and memory usage.

That's not enough to maintain availability and guarantee performance.

"If the database is short on resources, it may not necessarily be visible to the operating system to transfer it to another server," Witchelo says.

"For a database, it may be the number of queries in a queue waiting to be processed or the number of locks on a table or the average time to process."

IBM and CA say their management software breaks through all the layers to give a single management view of both physical and virtualised systems, ranging through the stack from storage to application delivery, travelling over different vendors' systems.

This can be done, they say, through layers of transactions over entire business processes, from order to cash for example.

HP also appears to be in the race with its Opalis Integration Server.

For its part, Sun says its servers need less management, being based on simply cloning the underlying Solaris operating system.

Witchelo says, however, dedicated management tools are a long way ahead of those bundled with virtual operating systems.

Even if EMC were to integrate its tools into VMware, it would still require ``a couple of years of considerable development effort'', which wouldn't necessarily have all the other pieces of the IT management puzzle, he says.

Both Witchelo and Hamilton agree that although Microsoft's offerings seem a long way behind, it will catch up.

"IDC figures show that 6 per cent of servers are virtualised, so it's still early days," Hamilton says. "Enterprises denying that it is valuable will have departments that deploy on their own, but ultimately, companies that become successful will manage it."

Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 1:14 PM IT Management , VMware and other Virtualization tools | Back to top

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