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Time to manage virtual sprawl

Let's get unphysical

A base configuration of the DSView tool costs $2,995 for 100 managed nodes.

Over at Replicate Technologies, a new company launched today, system management and virtualization and experts from Cisco Systems and Sun have created a new tool called Replicate Datacenter Analyzer, which comes out with a 1.0 release now. Like other tools, this one requires a system administrator.

It goes a bit further than the run-of-the-mill monitoring tool, though, in that it analyzes physical and virtual server environments and the networks that support them and compares the setups that it finds against models. It then does predictive analysis on the real network to warn system administrators of things that could go wrong in the future.

The RDA tool from Replicate is therefore a little different from the normal kind of system monitoring tool, which watches hardware and software, waits for something bad to happen, helps administrators identify the cause of the problem, and then waits for the next problem. In a physical environment that has lots of replicated web, application, and database servers, this approach to problems is workable. But in a virtual environment, where there are a lot more eggs in one basket, a failure can wipe out a lot more applications.

RDA 1.0 supports VMware's ESX 3.5 hypervisor and links into its related VirtualCenter 2.5 management tool. RDA does not reach out and touch anything - it just monitors and predicts failures. You can't have RDA tell VirtualCenter what to do - at least not yet - but RDA pulls lots of information out of VirtualCenter to see what the VMs are doing.

Don't do it yourself

Rich Miller, one of the company's co-founders and its chief executive officer, said it will be ready to support ESX Server 4.0 when VMware rolls it out. Support for Microsoft's Hyper-V is next on the roadmap, followed by support for Citrix' XenServer. Beyond that, supported platforms will be driven by (again) customer demand. RDA 1.0 is available today on a subscription basis for $500 per two-socket server per year.

Of course, if you don't want to manage your virtual infrastructure at all, you could have someone else do it for you. MindShift Technologies, which provides managed services for data and voice networks, has just announced a server virtualization service and a related disaster recovery service for small and medium businesses.

With the server virtualization service, you can buy slices of servers running VMware ESX Server within MindShift's own data centers, or if you like having servers behind your own firewall, MindShift will deploy machines inside your own facility and manage the VMs remotely. The service also comes with disaster recovery for the VMs, which is provided using Computer Associates' XOsoft replication software underneath ESX Server.

In 2009, MindShift plans to launch a variant of these services supporting Hyper-V partitions. Pricing was not available as we went to press for these services.®

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