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Dell enters PAN Manager's Labyrinth

Egenera makes a new friend

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When the server administrator elite hold their secret meetings in a dark, underground data center somewhere in the desert, they often talk about Egenera's PAN Manager software. By most accounts, the Egenera code is really quite something when it comes to managing lots of gear as a cohesive system.

Michael Dell must sit in on those secret meetings because Dell has agreed to sell PAN Manager as a management package along with its PowerEdge servers.

Egenera started out fine-tuning PAN Manager to work with its own BladeFrame servers. Last year, the company then decided to sell the software to other hardware makers. Fujitsu-Siemens bit on the offer, and signed an OEM agreement to move PAN Manager in Europe.

By May or June, Dell will offer the software on a number of PowerEdge boxes too. Company spokesman David Lord told us that Dell will likely focus on pimping PAN Manager on larger systems, its virtualization appliances and blades. Pricing for the software has yet to be released.

Dell customers will gain access to code that handles both physical and virtual server management tasks. PAN Manager does the whole "pooling" of resources thing, letting administrators tweak CPUs, networking and storage as needed.

Customers can also pair PAN Manager with Egenera's vBlade software for a host of higher-end tasks such as failover, disaster recovery and live migration.

As mentioned earlier, those customers we've talked to who are familiar with PAN Manager give the software top marks. It bests many of the virtualization-heavy management packages out there. In addition, it can perform tasks such as the rewiring of physical and virtual machines across storage systems similar to HP's Virtual Connect technology on any x86 system rather than requiring customers to buy a specific server as HP does by tying Virtual Connect to its blades.

For the moment, however, the virtualization features are geared toward Citrix's XenServer software only. Egenera plans to offer VMware support "very shortly," according to CTO Pete Manca, and support for Microsoft in the future.

Egenera must be thrilled to claim the scalp of an OEM the size of Dell, while Dell gains access to some fine software it would not have built in-house. We'll be curious to see if HP, IBM and Sun follow. ®

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