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Egenera runs virty tools on IBM BladeCenters

Control freak spans the Big Three in blades now

Blade Runner

Egenera, the virtualized server infrastructure pioneer, has certified its PAN Manager control freakery to run on IBM's BladeCenter blade servers.

With the certification on Big Blue's blades, Egenera now supports the major suppliers of X86-based blade servers – that's Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Dell – as well as Fujitsu – which has a significant presence in Continental Europe and Japan with its own blades.

The company took the wraps off its latest PAN Manager 7.2 release back in March, which plunks its tools into a virtual machine so it doesn't need a whole blade server to run.

The Processor Area Network Manager – as the original control freakery behind the BladeFrame systems created by Egenera was called – was used to virtualize and manage resource pools running on a frame filled with two-socket and four-socket X86 servers plus switches and storage. PAN Manager could virtualize the bare metal and abstract it into pools without going all the way to a server virtualization hypervisor.

When hypervisors took off, leaving Egenera behind a bit, the company had to shift gears, port its software to other blade servers, and position itself as an orchestration tool for bare-metal and virtualized server instances running on its competitor's iron.

Since then, Egenera has pitched itself as a cross-platform, blade-agnostic tool, and has worked hard to get PAN Manager certified to run on IBM's BladeCenter machines. PAN Manager 7.2 has been certified to run on any Xeon-based blade servers that slide into Big Blue's BladeCenter H chassis, which is the key chassis peddled by IBM, so long as they use IBM's own Blade Network Technology switches.

If customers want it, Egenera tells El Reg that it would be happy to certify IBM's older Opteron blades. IBM has ignored Opteron processors in the latest generations of its blade servers and did not give Opterons any love in its Flex System converged infrastructure server nodes, either. So until AMD shows it can give IBM a competitive edge in peddling X86 iron, expect little in the way of Opteron love from Big Blue on the blade front.

The question now is how relevant blade servers will be and what Egenera can do to support rack-based and modular servers and top-of-rack switches. A lot of enterprise customers perceive these as being a better option than blade servers.

When a company buys a blade chassis, it is generally buying into a management framework as well, and this is increasingly so for modular server designs. (Look at the Unified Computing System from Cisco Systems and the PureFlex machines from IBM, for two examples.)

There are always companies who want tools that span multiple platforms, but the issue is bigger than blades and it is even bigger than any particular server. Companies are trying to figure out how to build and orchestrate clouds, not just virtual machines on a server. ®

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