Egenera is launching two cloud-management platforms that enable more efficient use of server infrastructure by provisioning resources through an abstraction layer regardless of who made the underlying infrastructure and whether it is physical, virtual or a mix.
The first new product, PAN Cloud Director, dishes up a self-service portal that streamlines provisioning of infrastructure so that end users can request resources without needing IT to do it for them.
Customers see an abstracted version of the infrastructure presented as a service that has been set up by IT professionals. Services can be defined by capacity, service level and pricing so usage can be billed back to departments or, in service provider environments, to commercial customers.
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The interface is drag and drop, so the person setting up the services that are presented in the portal can drag in a Hyper-V or VMware virtual server and connect it to particular switches, for example. The alternative would be to configure the requested service manually via Egenera's flagship product, PAN Manager. Instead, PAN Cloud Director provides an abstraction layer that automates work flows for PAN Manager.
Donna Scott, an analyst with Gartner, notes that via PAN Cloud Director IT executives can choose a limited set of infrastructure that end users can provision themselves in order to keep a rein on how resources are consumed. In a service provider environment, this could be a way of defining service grades, such as a gold level that incudes disaster recovery versus silver level that does not, she says.
The second new product, PAN Domain Manager, handles pools that are a mix of physical servers, virtual servers and different manufacturers' products, all treated as a single set of resources. This pooling extends to failover and disaster recovery between server blades made by different vendors. So it enables failing over from any brand of physical or virtual server to any other type and brand, the company says, effectively unifying the virtual and physical infrastructures.
One upside of this is that customers will be able to manage their server infrastructure more efficiently because they won't rely on individual manufacturers' management platforms to handle each type of server, says Scott.
This is useful in cases where one company buys another; the two companies have different infrastructure vendors and they want to pool all their server resources, Egenera says. Similarly, it gives customers more flexibility when it comes time to refresh their servers because they can switch vendors without ripping and replacing their existing gear, the company says.
The big caveat in all this is that there is no integration with Cisco gear, so if customers have Cisco products as part of their infrastructure, they must be managed separately and deployed in separate domains.
PAN Domain Manager also enables customers to boost the number of server chassis and blade servers that can be managed as a pool from four chassis up to 16, which brings the number of blade servers it supports to 256, the company says.
Scott says the main competition for the new products will be individual vendors' management platforms in single-vendor environments that have to be manually coordinated in mixed environments. Some other platforms such as BMC Software's can do this and more, so they may be overkill for customers who don't want to take monitoring and management higher in the stack, she says.
The company is also upgrading its flagship PAN Manager software to work with VMware's VCloud Orchestrator and its disaster recovery functionality so it can manage through the VMware platform with greater granularity than before.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene.