HP piles into server virtualization

HP piles into server virtualization

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has announced new server management and virtualization products across its ProLiant and mid-range Integrity product ranges.

For ProLiants, it's delivering a package of software based on VMware technology. Essentials Virtualization Management (EVM) software allows sysadmins to migrate physical servers into virtual machines using VMware's ESX and GSX virtualization products. The software plugs into the company's Systems Insight Manager (SIM) 5.0 product, which allows management of ProLiant, Integrity, and HP 9000 servers as well as its BladeSystems and storage ranges. SIM is bundled with the hardware.

EVM consists of two packs, the Virtual Machine Management pack (VMMP) and Server Migration pack (SMP), both of which are designed to manage x86-based machines.

The VMMP allows you to manage virtual machines and ProLiant server resources. According to UK ProLiant product manager Phil MacLean: "It helps you run the same VM on two separate machines, so you can move the VM easily from one to the other. It works through VMware's VMotion, which is part of the bundle, and means you don't have to buy VMotion separately. You also don't need a similar configuration on the two servers."

The SMP consists of a wizard that automates the process of converting a physical machine to VM and vice versa, said MacLean. Unusually, it also allows migration from one type of virtual machine to another - for instance, allowing you to move from a VMware VM to a Microsoft VM and vice versa. MacLean said that "both capabilities are unique. It's the first end-user tool that can do this." He said that gaining access to this feature would normally involve paying VMware for its P2V service.

The bundle also includes VMware's ESX Server, its Virtual Infrastructure Node for resource management -- and which itself incorporates VMotion, SMP and VirtualCenter agents -- and VMware GSX Server for server consolidation, disaster recovery and streamlining software development processes.

The announcement sounds not a million miles from IBM's announcement in May that it would bundle an evaluation version of VMware's ESX Server product with a six-month timeout with its blade servers. However, IBM also supports the development of Xen, an open source equivalent of VMware's products that could challenge the EMC subsidiary's current dominance of the virtualization market.

Integrity range

HP's mid-range Integrity and 9000 series servers also get improved virtualization support in the form of Integrity Essentials software. Also working as a SIM plug-in, the new software will eventually manage all OSes, although HP has prioritized HP-UX, with Windows and Linux support arriving next year.

It also provides capacity planning for virtual machines by displaying usage via a dashboard that shows both how individual systems are being used, as well as showing use across several systems. According to server marketing manager John King, customers can double the use of their environments. "Today's typical utilization is 17 percent, but with the Essentials software, they can easily boost it to at least 34 percent", he said.

Updates for HP-UX

According to King, updates for its HP-UX management software include Instant Capacity, software designed to help sysadmins manage peaks and troughs. You can, for instance, switch off CPUs within a server and turn them on as required. Users get billed for CPU time they use and the meter starts running when they turn it on. Additionally, they can use a CPU free for up to five days at a time to manage emergency peaks -- a figure chosen because that covers most peaks, according to King.

A new virtualization licensing program for HP-UX licenses software for virtual machines and partitions, rather than a full server, reducing costs. Meanwhile, its Serviceguard Storage Management Suite for HP-UX improves data management, performance and cluster manageability.

Itanium virtualization

Meanwhile, HP has teamed up with SWSoft, whose Virtuozzo software "fills a void with its 64-bit architecture", according to Kurt Daniel, SWSoft's marketing director, as VMware's products do not yet include support for Itanium.

SWSoft sees a window of opportunity opening, as it claims to be discussing Xeon support with HP "so customers get one solution". The company also promised lower performance overhead and a better return on investment as a result. However, VMware is stronger in the Xeon range -- its products support Xeon with 64-bit extensions (EM64T) - and the Itanium market is compartmentalized.

HP was planning to make these announcements at its HP Technology Forum in New Orleans this week but the event was cancelled due to the devastation following Hurricane Katrina.

The VMware deal follows a five-year patent cross-licensing deal that in May ended four years of litigation between HP and EMC, VMware's parent company. The settlement agreement called for HP to pay EMC a US$325 million "balancing" payment.

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