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V/OE 2.5 - a real-time swapper

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Start-ups in the systems management arena tend to scare us. They promise the world and usually deliver a rundown village mired in a drought. But every now and then, a company like Scalent Systems pops up that actually seems capable of performing a practical task.

Scalent this week released Version 2.5 of its V/OE (Virtual Operating Environment) software package. This code delivers much of the promise around virtualization, letting customers move their applications around both physical and virtual machines without requiring networking and storage reconfigurations. The fresh releases nudges the technology forward with an added dash of flexibility.

Where most of the virtual set pushes virtual machines, Scalent quite frankly doesn't give a damn about where you run an application. So, Version 2.5 of V/OE ships with something called Infinite Virtual Transition where you can move OS and application images between physical and virtual machines and across different hypervisors without any conversions.

"Before this, you had to do a conversion which meant taking a few hours to copy the OS and application image to a new disk drive or volume in the SAN (storage area network)," Scalent CEO Ben Linder told us. "Then you had to make changes to run in a virtual machine. Once you did that, you were kind of stuck in a virtual machine.

"We can adjust the image in real-time to boot on the correct, desired device. You can also move the images back and forth between physical and virtual machines in a matter of a few minutes."

The new technology arrived by tweaking the V/OE boot process to make it "more intelligent" about virtual machines and hypervisors, Linder said. Scalent also dug deeper into VMware Virtual Center software and made some proprietary tweaks to work around the conversion process.

Version 2.5 of the software features a couple more additions. Scalent has included support for Sun Microsystems's LDom - logical domains - and has added support for Microsoft's full iSCSI stack. That last bit builds on Scalent's ability to boot either Fibre Channel or Ethernet servers from an iSCSI box.

We may sound more than a tad optimistic about Scalent's technology, but that's the result of numerous favorable reviews from customers and partners. Scalent appears to have a very nice way of dealing with system failures and large scale failovers without requiring administrators to do much at all to cope with the problems. In addition, its technology seems to beat out things such as HP's Virtual Connect system when it comes to keeping the networking and storage bonds between servers and storage systems in a virtualized world.

Companies such as Dell and VMware count Scalent as a partner, although none of the Tier 1s go out of their way to promote V/OE. Linder argues that the lack of big daddy fanfare is a result of the technology's new place in the market.

"The demand for our product his risen exponentially in the last year," he said. "We're positioned in the right place at the right time."

We shall see. ®

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