T.O. firm tries free software giveaway at VMworld

A Canadian ISV is hoping to get noticed among the hundreds of companies exhibiting at VMworld 2009 this week by offering up more than $80,000 in free system management software to virtualization customers.

Uptime Software Inc., based in Toronto, was scheduled at press time to make two draws before the end of the day Wednesday that would include a package with 50 licences of its flagship software, its monitoring station and a year’s worth of free support. Uptime’s products are designed to help system administrators monitor the applications, storage, network and workloads of both physical and virtual infrastructure through a single, unified view.

Michael Bailey, Uptime’s director of technology, said the giveaway reflects one of the biggest challenges IT departments face amid a global recession.

“The demographic of this show are the practitioners or system administrators, the ones who are keeping it going day to day in the trenches,” he said. “Their challenge is procuring tools. This should give someone a nice footprint of Uptime.”

Uptime has been around for several years but made a strategic decision to focus more closely on VMware Inc. and its growing set of virtualization customers, Bailey said. This is the firm’s second time at the event, and he said he has noticed a change in the average attendee’s priorities and concerns.

“Most of them were going through the consolidation phase. This year is a completely different world. What they’re trying to do now is maximize their investment,” he said. “System admins are taking existing technology and wrapping management tools around them, get more value from them. So the questions are, can you look at balloon memory? Can you follow dynamic environments so if I spin up a VM for a business user, what does that do to a monitoring system? These are all the things VMware has been predicting (would become a focus) for years.”

In fact, VMware CTO Stephen Herrod on Wednesday used his keynote speech to look back on the company’s momentum in managing dynamic environments as well as talking about the future. He said the VMware’s VMotion, software which helps users migrate a virtual machine from one physical server to another, has been used more than 350 million times, and estimated that it continues to be used in data centres about once every two seconds.

“This is something you can use for load balancing, but also deal with scheduled downtime remotely so that you don’t have to come into the office,” said Herrod, joking that this capability has saved at least 73 marriages within the IT department community. VMware and Cisco Systems Inc. also demonstrated a technique at VMworld this week to use VMotion to migrate virtual servers between data centres that are spread across long distances.

Herrod also demonstrated VMware’s recently announced ConfigControl, one of the tools announced this week under its on vCenter suite of management products. Bailey said Uptime sees the vCenter products as complementary to its own, and has worked with VMware for six months on integrating VMware Orchestrator, for instance, into its own product set.

Bailey used the example of a company which takes a snapshot of a database running on a virtual machine. Databases tend to write blocks quite wide, he said, but companies often fail to take that into account when they are setting up their storage for a virtual environment. Orchestrator and Uptime could work together to let a system administrator know, for instance, that disk space is at 80 to 90 per cent capacity because of the snapshots and deploy a policy to filet the snapshots and get the storage down so that the VMs don’t fall over.

“We used their APIs to bring the workflows and hook them up to our alerts and notifications,” he said. “So you can take that event correlation stack and integrate that with a remedy. You get actionable insight.”

VMworld 2009 continues until Thursday.

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