EMC unveils discovery tool for the virtual data centres

LAS VEGAS – Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corp. unveiled the latest version of its application discovery and dependency mapping tool in an effort to give customers better visibility into their virtualized and physical data centres.

Version 6.0 of EMC Smarts Application Discovery Manager (ADM) offers full support for VMware virtualized environments to “give customers insight into how their IT infrastructure is configured and how those configurations are changing,” said the company’s senior vice-president of resources management software group, Chris Gahagan, at the EMC World conference this week.

ADM version 6.0 works by automatically discovering physical servers, the applications running on those servers, the interaction between those applications and the configuration information about those servers and applications.

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Once information on server and application configuration is collected, a repository of those configurations and dependencies is created, thereby allowing IT administrators to perform such tasks as track changes to the IT infrastructure.

“The customer has full control of what they discover, the depth of discovery, so we can get very detailed about operating system configurations, application configuration, ESX configurations,” he said. With that capability IT departments can better support service levels to the business, he added.

The technology doesn’t require software installation on guest operating systems nor the ESX server, relying only on network traffic to perform discovery. This flexibility, says Gahagan, facilitates data centre management: “From a manageability standpoint, that is very critical.”

Use cases for ADM version 6.0 include data centre audit, and change management.

When used in tandem with EMC IT Compliance Analyzer Application Edition 1.1 – also introduced at the conference – ADM version 6.0 grants better user control over virtual environments, facilitating IT compliance within VMware implementation strategies, VMware operational best practices, and regulatory requirements.

Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, said although virtualization technology grants flexibility, agility, better utilization, and low energy usage, “visibility is a real issue with almost any major data centre project.”

“Part of the problem with anything that’s new is going back and showing the benefits that have been achieved and it looks like this helps address that, it provides visibility into the result,” said Enderle.

And, that insight into the data centre not only helps IT administrators support their service levels to the business, it allows them to assure those levels, he said.

Eliminating the need for software installation, too, lowers the cost of entry and helps drive adoption, said Enderle. “If it’s going to take me 40 guys and 60 years, it’s not going to happen. I don’t care what the benefits are.”

The ADM version release reflects EMC’s strategy to provide next generation management tools to help organizations “build a common information repository,” said Howard Elias, EMC’s president of global services and resource management software.

“You can’t manage what you don’t know you have,” said Elias. Individual storage products tend to be very discrete, he explained, but in the past couple of years EMC has been methodically building out a strategic framework to address this. “We’ve got a few more years to go. It won’t happen overnight.”

According to John Sloan, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group, that unified insight into both virtual and physical layers “will be a major theme for data centre management tools this year.”

Sloan cited Microsoft Corp.’s announcement several weeks ago of the combination of virtual and physical management functions within its System Center software. “You are going to hear more of this as various vendors vie for the management high ground as virtualization becomes main stream.”

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