Volume 4, Number 32 -- September 6, 2007

Virtugo Expands Virtualization Management Tools

Published: September 6, 2007

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

As soon as commercial-grade server virtualization hypervisors were launched three years ago, everyone in the server racket knew that over the long haul--which is not very long in the computer business--the hypervisor would become a commodity and all of the money would soon drift up the stack to the management tools that made hypervisors and their guest operating systems do interesting things. This, of course, has turned out to be the case, and Virtugo Software is, like many other players, building out a set of tools to chase the opportunities.

You might have heard of Virtugo Software earlier this year, when a systems management company called uXcomm, based in Beaverton, Oregon, acquired Virtugo in April to add virtualization capabilities to its tools. At the end of June, uXcomm changed its name to Virtugo Software.

uXcomm was founded in 2003 and brought a policy-based systems management tool called XManage to market in 2006; it was updated in the fall of 2006, and by the end of the year, with XManage 2.1 release uXcomm's tool was able to discover, monitor, and manage not only physical servers out there on the network, but also instances of virtual machines and the operating systems embedded inside of them using the Xen hypervisor from XenSource. uXcomm sells its software on an OEM basis, and then vendors make it part of their products; Linux cluster server maker Penguin Computing licenses as part of its Scyld Beowulf systems, for example. uXcomm bought Virtugo to get management tools for VMware ESX Server partitions and to integrate with Microsoft's Operations Manager systems management tool for Windows servers. Virtugo's VirtualSuite allocates CPU, memory, and disk storage resources on VMware partitions in real time (and works as a complement to VMware's own VirtualCenter management tools), and it includes a rules-based engine that stores policies to automatically track who is using what IT assets inside the virtual machines and charge back the costs of those resources to the department and end users who consumed them. VirtualSuite also included capacity planning and resource capacity planning tools. With the addition of Virtugo, uXcomm grew to more than 25 employees.

With VirtualSuite Release 6, announced this week, the company is putting five modules into the market to manage VMware ESX Server and Xen environments. The Optimize module, which is the core piece of software that uXcomm bought earlier this year, dynamically tunes ESX Server and Xen hypervisors and their guests. According to Chris Dickson, vice president of marketing for Virtugo Software, VirtualSuite Release 6 does not manage VMware Server hypervisors and their guests (this is the freebie, hosted version of VMware's hypervisor) or VMware Workstation images, and Release 6 does not support the Xen hypervisors that Red Hat and Novell have buried inside their respective Enterprise Server 5 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 Linuxes. Like other virtualization tool vendors, Virtugo Software is waiting for customers to ask for capabilities before committing to development--especially important since ESX Server is the dominant hypervisor out there in data centers.

The Virtugo Perform module in Release 6 is a graphical performance monitoring tool that shows real-time usage of CPU, memory, and I/O resources, while the Capacity module tracks usage of resources in host servers and inside their virtual machines at a higher level to enable capacity planning for changing or future workloads. The Meter module gathers up physical and virtual resource usage statistics and allows the monitoring of resources by users and applications to enable IT managers to do proper chargeback to company departments for the resources they use in the virtualized environment.

"With the capability in this suite, IT organizations can not only tune up their virtualized environment, but they can explain to users that if they want more resources, they are going to have to pay more--and show them how much depending on when they want to use the resources," explains Dickson.

The final module, Virtugo VDI, is a set of tools for the configuration and patching of physical and virtual PC desktops; this module does automatic discovery of physical PCs and their software out there on the network. It is based on the various server tools in the suite, but bent to the task of managing virtualized PC images.

VirtualSuite Release 6 is available now, and costs $349 per processor socket for the machines under management for the Optimize module and $1,699 per socket for the whole suite. Virtugo Software does not charge by the number of nodes under management, the number of hypervisors, or the number of processor cores in the nodes under management.

Dickson says that 60 customers are using the Optimize software or the beta for the Release 6 suite. The company's customers include retailer JC Penney, which has 100 ESX Servers under management. MCI, Amtrak, Enterprise Car Rental, and Qualcomm are also reference customers for the VirtualSuite tools.


uXcomm Buys Virtugo to Bolster Virtualization Management

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
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