PlateSpin Improves Virtual Server Replication with PowerConvert 6.6
Published: May 15, 2007
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
For every dominant computer platform, there are always a number of smaller players who fill in the niches left by that dominant player, extending a product or making it easier to use. And while VMware's server virtualization software may not be durable good, like a physical server, this rule nonetheless applies to software as much as it does for hardware. So it is with PlateSpin, which provides add-on capabilities for the VMware Server and ESX Server hypervisors.
PlateSpin, which is based in Toronto, was founded in 2002 in the wake of the launch of VMware's first server virtualization product, GSX Server. While ESX Server, which is at the heart of the Virtual Infrastructure 3 product from VMware today, is a hypervisor that runs on bare metal servers, GSX Server (now called VMware Server) runs atop a Windows or Linux operating system and allows myriad operating systems to run as guests inside of those Windows or Linux boxes. PlateSpin has been there all along, trying to make a living off the things that VMware has not yet done or has decided not to do so its partners can make some money.
PlateSpin has two products. PowerRecon is used to survey the software that is in use on servers. It collects data on operating systems, middleware and applications, and groups them according to functions, which PlateSpin calls a workload; it then provides a reporting capability that allows companies to figure out exactly what they have running. This is an important first step, and one that many companies are not tackling properly as they virtualize on X64 platforms. (PlateSpin currently only supports Linux and Windows on X86 and X64 hardware with its products.)
"Many companies are making decisions about virtualization without knowing the details of their infrastructure," explains Patrick Malaperiman, director of EMEA operations for PlateSpin. "This is an unstructured, unplanned approach to virtualization, which can lead to problems down the road."
The company's other product is called PowerConvert. In concept, this product is similar to physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion tools created by VMware, XenSource, and Virtual Iron. PowerConvert can do P2V conversions, and it can also go the other way, moving a virtualized server environment to a specific physical server in the event that it becomes memory, I/O or CPU constrained in a virtual environment. This latter point is particularly important. If you virtualize a workload and it doesn't work out, it is really useful to be able to move a workload over to a physical box. And, the same software used to doing P2V and V2P conversions can also be used to move workloads from one physical box to another one.
This week, PowerConvert 6.6 was released, and PlateSpin has added a number of goodies to its software for managing virtualized environments. Earlier releases could do data replication between two virtual machines configured for disaster recovery at the file level, but PowerConvert 6.6 can do replication at the disk block level. This means that a virtual machine can be replicated to a separate box, perhaps in the warehouse or perhaps half a world away, and then synchronized such that only incremental data describing the state of the production virtual machine is replication to the backup virtual machine. PowerConvert 6.6 also includes a set of wizards that make it easier to set up and configure various disaster recovery scenarios that mix physical and virtual server resources in the data center.
PowerConvert is sold mostly for VMware Server and ESX Server hypervisors, but Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005, Virtual Iron 3.1, and XenSource 3.1 are also supported. PowerConvert and PowerRecon run on Windows 2000 Server (plain or Advanced Server flavors) or Windows Server 2003; the console for the product runs on these server platforms or on a Windows XP box. Linuxes from Red Hat and Novell can be managed by PlateSpin's products, but the latest releases from these two Linux distributors--that's Enterprise Linux 5 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, respectively--are not yet supported.
PowerRecon costs $299 per server, while PowerConvert costs $475 per server workload (that is operating system plus application stack). PlateSpin also has utility pricing, with PowerRecon costing $1.75 per server per day and PowerConvert costing $175 per server conversion (a P2V, V2P, or P2P transformation all count as one unit of conversion).
Virtual Iron Readies Next-Generation Virtualization, Partners with PlateSpin
Post this story to del.icio.us
Post this story to Digg
Post this story to Slashdot