Scalent beefs up virtualization wares

Virtual Operating Environment stretches data-center resources.

Scalent this week is expected to release Version 2.0 of its software designed to help corporate users virtualize the server, network and storage resources in their data centers.

Scalent's Virtual Operating Environment (VOE) supports virtualized servers, virtual machines on a single server, network connections and storage arrays. The software lets users change on the fly which servers are running, the software those servers are hosting, and how those servers are connected to the network and to storage devices - without having to touch their physical infrastructure, such as cables, switches and server racks. It also virtualizes all IP and storage addresses to provide the flexibility for such change.

Scalent says the software aids in business continuity, development and testing, operational efficiency, and consolidation. "With the virtualization we can dramatically cut our hardware investment," says Bill Rierden, president of RecoverySquad, a start-up offering disaster-recovery services focused on getting applications up and running. He says his hardware costs have dropped 50% to 60%, and VOE helps the company move workloads quickly to available processors, servers and other resources.

"This has allowed us to address the application layer and help customers image their applications and then quickly bring them up," he says. That means RecoverySquad can get applications and associated data back online in hours instead of days or weeks.

In the newest version of VOE, Scalent has added support for Solaris 10 on x86 and Sparc chipsets to its current support for servers running Windows and Linux. In addition, Version 2.0 will support Ethernet switches such as the Cisco 6500 series, and Scalent is adding support for Web services and Java interfaces for integration with third-party systems.

The VOE environment consists of three pieces: the Controller, which runs on a Linux operating system and sits on any x86 server; the Console for Web-based management; and a set of agents deployed on every physical machine in the environment. A kit for software developers is available.

The Controller, which is also available as an appliance, manages the physical hardware, software and network configurations. A typical deployment calls for two Controllers to ensure redundancy and failover.

The Console is hosted on the Controller and is used to configure and monitor the physical and virtual assets in the VOE environment. The Console has GUI and command-line tools.

The agents are installed on every server image being managed. They get configuration data about each server from the Controller and provide the Controller with server status information.

Users store their server configuration on a central storage server, on which those configurations can be maintained and pushed out to server hardware. "Any physical machine can take on the [characteristics] of any other physical machine at any time," says Kevin Epstein, vice president of marketing for Scalent. "All those network cables are acting like shacklers tying your servers down."

Epstein says a key part of the Scalent infrastructure is its deployment outside the normal data paths that run across the network, so even if the Scalent software goes down, the network continues to function. In addition, VOE supports physical and virtual machines, including technology from Microsoft, VMware and Xen. VOE costs $2,000 per managed server.

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