For all of the efficiencies it has contributed to the modern data center, the phenomenon of virtualization has also ushered in a new set of management challenges.
Issues such as sprawl, capacity and inventory management can be particularly difficult for businesses in the early stage of their virtualization deployment, according to Embotics, an Ottawa-based firm specializing in technology to help virtual environments scale and the construction of secure internal private clouds. Likewise, enterprises with more established virtual infrastructures often struggle with provisioning and resource optimization, along with a host of other issues.
"Almost every enterprise is now a user of server virtualization, with the predominant platform being VMware," said Embotics CEO Jay Litkey. "Given this, everyone will experience management challenges as they scale their virtualization usage."
The company's flagship product, V-Commander, is an automated, policy-driven software platform that integrates with the virtual data center and provides continuous monitoring, control and optimization of an enterprise's virtual infrastructure.
With the private cloud supported by V-Commander, businesses can manage capacity, performance, lifecycle, changes and configuration through a Web portal, which also supports chargeback and costing initiatives through the software's monitoring and reporting.
V-Commander is designed to be hypervisor-agnostic, although Embotics explains that it has a "deep integration" with vSphere, VMware's virtualization operating system. That integration comes in the form of a vSphere plugin that enables users to tap into V-Commander functions from within vSphere and provides a unified management console.
What's more, the product is said to install within minutes and become operational in an hour. (The company's website bears the tagline: "Private cloud in 60 minutes.") An operative part of the company's sales pitch is that clients can achieve a return on their investment in V-Commander faster than other, more complex virtualization and private cloud solutions.
V-Commander can run as either a stand-alone server or a virtual appliance, and it provides self-service management and provisioning that the company says can help businesses improve their administrator ratios. The self-service provisioning enables end users to request and manage virtual machines 9VMs) without giving them any vCenter rights.
Embotics boasts that some customers have achieved server virtualization rates of 99 percent in their production data centers.
The V-Commander software is available either as a one-time purchase or through a monthly subscription model, with pricing determined by the scale of the deployment.
"Both the purchase and subscription models are metered by the number of CPU sockets running on the physical hosts within the virtualized, cloud infrastructure," Litkey said. "So in essence you need one license per host CPU socket. This allows customers to take advantage of more powerful servers, driving up consolidation ratios and VM densities without incurring any extra cost."
Launched in March 2006, Embotics coalesced around its founders' observation. As the nascent virtualization market gathered steam, businesses would soon be grappling with new challenges in areas such was VM sprawl and a lack of visibility into the data center operations.
Now, with virtualization and the attendant cloud architectures firmly in the mainstream, Embotics operates in a crowded market, where an inordinate amount of marketing and media hype surrounding the new technologies has created "cloudy confusion for users," according to Litkey.
"We believe the biggest challenge is cutting through the hype and getting to the bottom of what really differentiates one vendor from the other," he said. "With respect to Embotics, we believe in keeping things simple. So we've decided to focus on ensuring our product can deliver a private cloud faster than anyone else and with the least amount of pain."
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here