Software company BMC, known for its monitoring and control of complex environments, has tackled the population explosion of sometimes unofficial virtual servers, launching a whole-hearted venture into the virtualisation market with a family of nine products.
These run from helping early evaluation of where to use virtual servers in a heterogeneous configuration through ensuring efficient configuration and compliance of servers with organisation-wide standards, to assessment and reconfiguration where necessary.
Much of the move is a translation of what BMC has done historically in the enterprise, but there are some elements that are specific to virtualisation, for example using accumulated statistics to decide on an optimal assignment of virtual servers to physical equipment.
Translation of BMC’s tools to the virtual environment has two facets, says chief technology officer Tom Bishop; there is what BMC calls "tolerate”; ensuring the application will still work with the virtual environment, where, for example, a server is no longer uniquely associated with an IP number, and “exploit”, where the software has been given new capabilities to interpret the overview of the whole virtual and physical environment and deliver efficiencies.
What customers want to do is to reduce capital expenditure by increasing utilisation of woefully under-utilised physical servers, Bishop says, but at the same time to preserve “agility” – the ability to create, reconfigure or remove virtual servers in a matter of minutes. BMC tries to deliver both objectives.
By contrast, rival utilities, such as those from the virtualisation companies themselves, are often limited to optimising single virtual machines in isolation. Vitualisation should not lead to a restoring of the “silo” mentality, says Bishop.
He concedes, however, that competitors in the network management world such as HP, CA and IBM-Tivoli are making increasingly credible competitive offerings. BMC has to co-operate and interface with these while competing, Bishop says.
“We can’t ask our customers to be 100% BMC or nothing.”