PC blade maker steps up management focus

ClearCube is stepping up its focus on tools to manage its PC blades, as well as those from other vendors, as enterprises show growing interest in centralizing their computing resources.

The recently launched Sentral 5.0 product provides a single console for managing and monitoring hundreds or thousands of centralized PCs. The product consolidates several of ClearCube's existing management products and provides new functionality, including the capability to manage desktops running in virtual machines.

PC blades separate the guts of a PC from the client device, putting the processing power in data centers or computer rooms. Proponents say the approach streamlines management and heightens security by putting hardware in a centralized location.

While ClearCube created the market in 2000, HP and IBM have introduced PC blade offerings in the past year. Analysts say the idea of PC blades is catching on, especially as enterprises tap into virtualization to get more out of their IT resources.

With Sentral, which replaces ClearCube's Control Center management suite, customers can manage virtualized desktops, allocating resources as user needs demand, says Trent Fitz, software product manager at ClearCube.

"It can manage virtual machines, and that means mapping users to VMs, stopping virtual machines and restarting them," he says.

The software supports VMware, as well as Microsoft Virtual Server.

Other features in Sentral include a centralized dashboard for viewing all physical and virtual desktops, including utilization metrics, such as memory and network bandwidth; alerts for monitoring the health of physical machines; and the ability to create a custom view of devices, grouping them by geographic region or business unit, for example, for monitoring and management.

In addition to Sentral 5.0, ClearCube also announced updates to its Dynamic Allocation Module and Switching Module. The Dynamic Allocation Module lets users connect to active sessions from any client device, while the Switching Module enables administrators to switch users between blades.

Sentral is in beta now but will be generally available in June and priced at just under $US300 with both the Dynamic Allocation and Switching modules, Fitz says.