Major Channel Vendors Boost Virtualization Offerings

Hewlett-Packard, BMC Software and Fortisphere, each of which depend heavily on channel partners, have introduced new infrastructure management tools for virtual machines. The actions stoke growing channel interest in the technology.

Channel players Hewlett-Packard, BMC Software and Fortisphere have unveiled virtual infrastructure management tools designed to tap into the growing need of large businesses for virtualization solutions. For HP and BMC, the new offerings extending their physical IT infrastructure management tools into the virtual environment. For its part, Fortisphere rolled out a new version of its virtual environment management application.

The three companies enter a market already brimming with early movers looking to cash in on a need for management tools. Their announcements also come two weeks before VMworld 2008, VMware's user conference in Las Vegas, during which several more vendors are expected to announce new products.

One way the newest entrants expect to stand out is that all three support hypervisors from multiple virtualization vendors, including Microsoft.

Working with different types of hypervisors is essential because "organizations will have three or four virtualization technologies in their environment over time," said BMC chief technology officer Tom Bishop. BMC derives about one-third of its sales through the channel.

By adding virtual management capabilities to their existing tools for managing the physical environment, HP and BMC are aiming to bring critical management capabilities to the virtual infrastructure, such as application lifecycle management features, combining version control and change, configuration , release and asset management.

"You have to manage virtualization in the context of everything else you have to do," Bishop said.

It's also a good selling point because it lets enterprises leverage their existing tools.

Customers "don't want to have more tools, they don't want new processes, they want processes and tools they're already using to support both their physical and virtual resources," explained John Bennett, HP's worldwide director for datacenter transformation solutions.

That's borne out by a recent Symantec survey, which found that when it comes to backing up virtual servers, the biggest problem for 44 percent of North American respondents is the plethora of different tools available for physical and virtual environments.

BMC has unveiled nine solutions to manage both physical and virtual environments. These are based on process workflows developed by the firm that automate management of the environment.

That's important because virtualization "is a trade-off between agility and control, and intelligent automation is the solution to that trade-off," Bishop said.

Automated recovery tools are critical in disaster recovery, especially when it comes to simplifying the task of recovery on virtual machines. The lack of such tools posed a problem for 41 percent of respondents to the Symantec survey.

Meanwhile, HP has enhanced its Business Service Management (BSM) and IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions with virtualization monitoring and support capabilities. In addition, HP is announcing new agreements with Red Hat  to jointly develop integrated solutions in HP's BSM and Business Service Automation lines. These will let customers "seamlessly automate the management of Red Hat servers in heterogeneous environments with HP tools," Bennett said.

HP and Red Hat have been partnering for several years. In November, HP released new Multi-Level Security (MLS) Services for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 to support the latter's federal government push. In April, Red Hat reciprocated by announcing users could achieve significant virtualization performance gains when coupling high-performance device drivers with Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors in HP ProLiant DL585 G5 servers. 

Like the larger vendors, Fortisphere, which also relies on channel partners for sales, is seeking to leverage existing systems and infrastructure management tools. The company, which provides policy-based virtualization management software, unveiled Fortisphere Virtual Essentials 2.0, which can work with existing physical infrastructure management tools from various vendors, the company said.

New capabilities in this release include agentless inspection of offline virtual machines (VMs), more information about VM configurations and an enhanced policy framework.

Several solutions already exist for managing the virtual and physical environments. Players include IBM, ManageIQ, Avocent, Apani, KACE, the SAS Institute, and CA. Microsoft is scheduled to ship Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 to manage Hyper-V toward the end of the year, and Novell announced in February that it would buy PlateSpin, whose products manage virtual and physical environments, for $205 million.

(This article was adapted from

TAGS: Microsoft,virtualization,HP,VMware,BMC

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