VMware, Xen plug-ins boost open source systems management

OpenQRM systems management project was given plug-in support for Xen and VMware this week, signaling a convergence between virtual deployments and systems management applications.

Systems management was given a virtual boost today as open source project openQRM received plug-in support for

the Xen, VMware and Linux VServer virtualization from parent company Qlusters Inc.

An open source systems management application, openQRM is designed to manage enterprise-level data center virtual environments and for data center automation. It was developed by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Qlusters with an open plug-in architecture that enables integration with existing data center applications like Nagios or VMware. <

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p>The plug-ins were crafted with the help of the open source developer community that surrounds the openQRM project on Sourceforge.net, one of the leading online repositories for open source projects and code.

Each plug-in will implement openQRM's "virtualization layer" to assist in the installation of physical environments, the shared partitioning of host virtual environments, flexible and dynamic partition creation and user friendly transparent management of different virtual partitions, said William Hurley, chief technology officer at Qlusters.

To allow support for Xen and VMware, Hurley added, the openQRM platform is pre-configured with a generic, logical layer called a "partition engine." This engine provides virtualized server-resource partitioning that is then used in the same way as a physical system with no configuration changes required on the application's file system images.

Many in the virtualization industry saw the announcement as reflective of a larger trend where IT managers are asking for better integration between virtual environments and existing systems management deployments. Part of that trend involves automating physical and virtualized environments with projects like openQRM, said Fabrice Bellard, the founder of QEMU, an open source processor emulator that works with openQRM.

And mid-market data centers and IT departments are looking more to companies like VMware and XenSource to provide virtualization management tools that meet their specific needs, said Joyce Thompson Becknell, a senior analyst with The Sageza Group Inc., based in Union City, Calif.

The reason for more specifics was that the top vendors in the space – HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli and CA -- develop huge software packages that tend to cover every aspect of systems management, she said. "The real problem for systems management today is that these big vendors each tend to be focused on different areas -- no one is offering the perfect application," Becknell said. "What's interesting with openQRM's approach is that it is modular, and it offers an alternative to the framework approach of these bigger vendors."

Becknell said the modular approach helps IT managers by providing specific plug-ins for multi-OS environments that could be using several different virtualization technologies.

According to a Yankee Group Research Inc. survey, out this month, approximately 25% to 30% of mid-sized corporations and large enterprises plan to use more than one server virtualization product. The survey also said that server virtualization migrations have become extremely swift, which lends itself well to the plug-in format of projects like openQRM.

Because openQRM is an open source project bodes well for its success since these kinds of projects are typically cheaper to deploy than their proprietary brethren, Becknell said. "Qlusters does control [the project], but at the same time, a user is not locked into a vendor agreement that might lead to a technology they don't need," she said.

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