IBM, Sun look to simplify IT infrastructure

IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are both building software to provide systems administrators with a single, consistent view of their IT infrastructures, from business applications and related servers, through the network and down to the storage arrays.

Users and analysts said they expect such systems to provide managers with far more control over IT operations and need fewer administrators.

Tim Docherty, director of IBM’s BladeCenter server division, said IBM is working to port its SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and SAN File Manager software to its BladeCenter server systems in order to uncouple applications from physical servers and storage. The project is expected to be completed by year’s end.

Ken Westerback, information technology architect at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said he likes the idea of fewer management points. However, he does not care whether virtualization is on his BladeCenter or on an appliance in front of all his storage.

“As far as a single point of management for servers and storage, we’re not doing it,” he said. However, “I certainly believe the fewer management points, the better.”

St. Michael’s uses IBM’s SVC product to pool storage capacity from two IBM midrange FAStT arrays and a high-end Enterprise Storage Server.

Westerback also purchased three IBM BladeCenter products over the past 18 months and is looking to add a second BladeCenter rack.

Docherty said IBM started the integration project with BladeCenter because 50 per cent of those systems are used in storage-area networks and because it can use both network LAN and Fibre Channel switches.

Chris Woods, chief technology officer for Sun’s storage practice, said that by midyear, customers should have access to new Sun software that marries the Container tool in the Solaris 10 operating system with the StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager software it licensed from Burlington, Mass.-based AppIQ Inc.

The Solaris Container tool creates virtual zones, thereby isolating business applications and their supporting servers. Enterprise Storage Manager creates an abstraction layer between servers and their supporting storage infrastructure, Woods said.

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