The industry spoke and the vendors listened. A spate of new server management platforms are about to hit the market that deliver new tools for centralized control of both physical and virtual elements, with the primary focus being to improve resource utilization and lower power consumption.
Microsoft kicked things off this week with a set of new tools for the System Center suite. The Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager and Virtual Machine Manager address what Microsoft calls the "core areas that are top of mind with IT today." These include client and server deployment, virtualization management, business application monitoring, and backup and recovery. The products coincide with a new System Center Alliance program for third-party development.
Meanwhile, HP unveiled new power and virtualization management tools for the BladeSystem c-Class infrastructure, anchored by the Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager. This software extends the company's Virtual Connect platform to up to 100 blade enclosures (1,600 servers) to simplify network and storage connection management. Managers can now use a single console to dynamically shift connections across the datacenter or out to remote sites to meet changing workloads.
And along with new dual- and quad-core models in the PowerEdge line, Dell has loaded version 5.3 of the Dell OpenManage system to provides new power monitoring capabilities and the ability to update SAS drives while still online. Some of the servers will also feature the 45 nm Intel Penryn, which should improve power consumption and performance even further.
One of the key but often overlooked enabling technologies for improved server management is the service processor. These dedicated devices inside the server enable such functions as remote access to power controls, sensor reading and even configurations through the open-source Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) or proprietary equivalents. Although service processors have been embedded in most mainstream servers of late, usage has been limited due to the need for a dedicated Ethernet port and concerns about authentication and security.
The fact that virtualization tools are now part and parcel of overall server management platforms is an indication of how mainstream the technology has become and points up the fact that when it comes to management, resources are resources regardless of whether they are real or not.