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Double-Take expands beyond server replication

It's now called workload optimization

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Double-Take Software, a maker of data-replication software for Windows and then Linux servers, has been expanding into the virtualization-management realm to chase a few virtual dollars. To that end has rejiggered its existing products and created some news ones to comprise what it is calling a workload optimization suite.

This is the kind of thing that makes eyes gloss over, I know - unless you happen to be a system administrator coping with physical and now virtual servers sprawling all over the network.

The workload optimization suite has four parts. The first, called Double-Take Move, is a new bit of code that's used to perform all four possible physical and virtual hardware conversions - that's P2V, P2P, V2P, and V2V, in virtualization lingo.

According to Bob Roudebush, Double-Take's director of solutions engineering, Double-Take Move works on any physical 32-bit x86 or 64-bit x64 physical server and is currently certified to do conversions of 32-bit or 64-bit Windows Server 2000, 2003, or 2008 software stacks.

On the hypervisor front, Double-Take Move can convert a physical Windows machine to a VM instance running atop a Hyper-V, XenServer, or ESX Server hypervisor, and - as the V2V abbreviation suggests - it can do conversions of software stacks formatted for one hypervisor to another one. This is not done as a live migration, but rather as a static image of the software running on a physical machine or within a VM, which has to be quiesced before it is captured. Support of physical or virtual Linux instances is in the works for the Move module.

Incidentally, Roudebush says that Double-Take Move makes use of APIs in Hyper-V and ESX Server that allow for the creation of a virtual machine in a programmatic fashion, which means a system administrator does not have to set up the VM on the target machine ahead of time. Double-Take Move can look at how the physical or virtual machine you are starting from is configured and automatically go into the target physical or virtual box and set it up ahead of time before a workload is moved onto it.

Small shops that don't have a central storage area network for their server images will be pleased that Double-Take Move does not require a SAN - although having one will speed up the movement of data if the before and after servers are linked to the same SAN. If not, data is moved across the network from one machine (be it physical or virtual) to another.

The Double-Take Move software is not, by the way, intended as a high-availability failover product. It's meant for conversions, like Novell's recently acquired PlateSpin Migrate tool. And at $495 per conversion, it's not the kind of thing that companies are going to do frequently.

Double-Take Availability, as its name suggests, is a data replication and clustering tool, and it used to be called Double-Take for Windows until this week's rebranding. Double-Take Availability provides a hot backup of a production server where the goal is to switch over to the backup machine within 5 to 10 minutes in the event the primary machine crashes. Right now, the plan is for the Availability module to support both Linux or Windows or Hyper-V virtual machines.

The third module to be released this summer, Double-Take Backup, is a mix of code that the company got through its acquisition in December 2007 of TimeSpring Software, which had a product called TimeData that did point-in-time recovery, and an existing product called Livewire, which does continuous backup of server images and restoration to bare metal servers. Double-Take Backup will also be available later this summer for Windows, with Linux on the roadmap. Pricing for Availability and Backup has not yet been announced.

The fourth module in the suite, Double-Take Flex, is a revamped set of tools that came to the company following its acquisition of emBoot last July. These tools, which used to be called Netboot and sanFly, allow any PC or server to be booted from an iSCSI SAN and can turn a Windows server into an iSCSI SAN from which these devices can boot their images. Double-Take Flex costs $395 per server and $95 per desktop, and it costs $2,995 to buy the Flex server that manages the images streamed out to desktops and servers. ®

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