VMware to Buy B-hive

Can this help customers virtualize back-end systems?

UPDATED: In a bid to fill a long-standing gap in its capabilities, VMware has entered a definitive agreement to acquire application performance management software vendor B-hive Networks.

B-hive's technology is slated to be wrapped into the VMware product suite; VMware will be able to offer customers the ability to manage the performance of their virtual applications. It's a feature that's long been lacking.

B-hive's Conductor product installs as a virtual application on the VMware ESX server's V-switch and listens passively to network traffic, very much like a packet sniffer. It tracks application performance and maps that to components of the enterprise infrastructure.

It exposes Web services interfaces that integrate with systems management frameworks such as Tivoli and HP OpenView, and can trigger an event in Virtual Center, VMware's management console, to re-prioritize resources among virtual machines as needed.

B-hive's Conductor can also move a virtual machine off to another physical server or clone additional copies of the VM if there's a shortage of resources.

The B-hive purchase is timely. A VMware survey last October showed that 54 percent of its customers were running enterprise applications on virtual machines. "As more of our customers move towards virtualizing business critical applications like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Exchange messaging, they'll need this kind of tool to track and manage application performance," Bogomil Balkansky, the company's senior director of product marketing, told InternetNews.com.

All pretty impressive, but VMware is playing catch-up with Citrix here.

Citrix has offered these capabilities since 2006 with its acquisition of Reflectent Software.

Citrix's offering in this space is EdgeSight, of which there are four versions: for XenApps; for Endpoints, which is purely for desktop applications; for NetScaler; and for load testing.

"For five years we've had integrations with Tivoli, OpenView, CA and we've had a module that's integrated with Microsoft Operations Manager and Systems Center," Lou Shipley, Citrix's group general manager and vice president of the Xen products group, told InternetNews.com. Most customers use EdgeSight "in the context of their larger systems management framework," he added.

EdgeSight for NetScaler, "where we look at performance monitoring," is the closest Citrix product to B-hive, Shipley said.

Citrix acquired NetScaler, which developed application networking acceleration products widely used among Fortune 500 customers including Google, Amazon, E*Trade and EarthLink, for $300 million in cash and stock in 2005.

"It's interesting to see VMware aligning itself closer to what Citrix does," Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Mark Bowker told InternetNews.com.

"I think VMware recognizes that they need more than VDI, their current product, to compete with Citrix."

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