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HP wants to get physical with virtual servers

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HP refuses to let its software partners enjoy all of the virtualization glory. The company today announced a broad virtualization management package that will see HP tread on the toes of partners such as VMware and start-ups such as Scalent.

Witness the power of HP Insight Dynamics - VSE. This management code combines a number of HP applications to let customers install, move and tweak virtual systems. The software will also make use of "Smart Solver" technology birthed in HP Labs to control power usage across many systems. In total, HP claims to give customers a single spot for managing so-called virtual server sprawl.

HP Insight Dynamics - VSE combines bits and bobs found in Virtual Server Environment, Insight Control and Virtual Connect to let customers control their physical and virtual servers via a central console. You can fire up applications on physical boxes and create and move virtual servers within a single physical system or across various physical systems. The management tools include the ability to meter out CPU, memory and I/O between applications.

Along with those management basics, HP is putting the Smart Solver technology to work by analyzing server and power usage across a data center. The software runs historical checks on systems and then advises administrators on changes that might help out with capacity issues.

HP reckons that it's the first vendor "to let customers seamlessly manage virtual and physical servers with a single tool," although plenty of folks out there might beg to differ. A host of start-ups certainly have physical and virtual server management code, and the likes of Sun and IBM offer similar sorts of software. Gaging where one package ends, and the other begins is a difficult task given the intense marketing promises dished out by the vendors.

For its part, HP seems to have just rolled together tools found in its various management packages and added in support for controlling VMware's hypervisor and for the Smart Solver bits. HP plans to offer support for other hypervisors in the months to come.

Customers that want the most out of Insight Dynamics - VSE will need to use HP's C-Class blades, since they're the home of the Virtual Connect technology, which makes it possible to keep virtual servers running smoothly when you're making networking changes to physical systems.

HP claims that it's not really getting in VMware's way. It's just providing a base platform for centralized management. Many customers will still want VMware's goods for advanced functions such as failover or more sophisticated management.

To HP's point, the new software sounds a bit shallow, especially in its beta form.

We, however, don't fully buy HP's argument, especially if you think about where HP might go over the long-term. The whole idea behind offering a single management spot is to make life easier on customers. Why not keep extending what customers can do from their main control point?

HP has yet to set pricing on this new software but expects to ship it in May. Those of you on ProLiant boxes and blades will receive the new software via the Insight Control Environment, while the Itanium crowd will turn to the Virtual Server Environment Suite.

We'd go on to tell you about the wondrous new services offering HP put out today as well, but the company wasn't nice enough to invite us to its party. So we won't Interested folks can look here. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

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