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Network World - Few New Data Center architects need an introduction to VMware server-virtualization software, but some might not be familiar yet with the latest version - VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3), which offers increased power for virtual machines, upping the symmetric multiprocessor support from two to four processors and increasing the overall memory limit from 4G to 16GB. Additionally, VI3 rounds out storage support with iSCSI and network-attached storage interfaces.
The VirtualCenter management tool also has become significantly better with the new release. It now supports resource-pooling and automated distribution of server and storage resources on the fly. Plus, it now includes a distributed-resource scheduler that load-balances and distributes resources to virtual machines, and VMware HA, a high-availability feature that moves and restarts virtual machines off failed hardware.Longtime user Bruce McMillan, manager of emerging technologies at Solvay Pharmaceuticals in Marietta, Ga., says he especially likes the latter feature. "In the past, if an ESX Server went down, I'd have to go into VirtualCenter and manually start up another one," he says. "With VI3 and HA, it's all automated. That's huge."
What if you could move and access data as quickly and as easily as you can deploy a virtual machine? That's the idea behind Tangosol's Coherence. The software, which runs on most commodity servers, provides in-memory data management for high-transaction applications, thus eliminating delays that might result from fetching data from a disk or storage area network. Because Coherence runs on multiple servers in a fault-tolerant, clustered fashion, as you add or remove servers, the cluster dynamically reorganizes itself and all the information that it's managing," says Cameron Purdy, Tangosol's CEO. That information is virtualized across those servers, making it available to applications seamlessly as needed.
Wachovia Bank, a financial services firm in Charlotte, N.C., is making good use of Coherence's on-demand capabilities. The bank uses another best product, DataSynapse's FabricServer, to virtualize its Java applications across the enterprise and to broker computing supply and demand, ensuring that each job is performed by the best resource.
"But FabricServer can't leverage the memory of many machines at once, and it doesn't synchronize the data. I need that kind of transactional capability and management, and Coherence solves that problem," says Tony Bishop, director of product management at the bank. With Coherence, performance has improved by as much as 100 times, Bishop says.
DataSynapse's FabricServer is all about matching processing needs to computing resources on the fly. The software provides a control layer that acts as a broker between applications and their computing resources, essentially virtualizing applications so they can be processed by the best available resource. A centralized broker in the software employs user-defined rules to determine that allocation. If an application is deemed time-sensitive and mission-critical, for example, a rule would determine that it be processed only by the fastest, most powerful servers in the data center. Software on each pooled resource communicates with the central server to identify available CPU memory and processing power, says Shayne Higdon, a DataSynapse vice president.