10 Ways To Add Value To Virtual Environments

VMware held its annual VMware Partner Exchange earlier this month, and used the conference to talk about virtualization and cloud computing.

For VMware, the so-far undisputed virtualization leader, its conference was a chance to discuss virtualization and cloud computing with the 2,600 technology and channel partner attendees and the need to start looking at how the two tie together.

For many of VMware's technology partners, VMware Partner Exchange was also a chance to unveil new products and programs to solution providers looking for ways to help build on customers' virtual environments to offer new value-added services, including new ways to handle their storage and start moving to cloud computing.

Check out some of those opportunities.

BlueLock, an Indianapolis, Ind.-based provider of cloud computing and managed IT services, unveiled its new BlueLock CloudSuite set of cloud computing solutions at the conference.

BlueLock CloudSuite includes four public and private cloud computing solutions.

BlueLock vCloud Express is a public cloud solution for test and development teams, startups, and departments. Customers can log in and start testing in minutes, with the service billed directly to a credit card.

BlueLock Virtual Cloud Professional lets customers move production environments to a hosted and managed cloud-based platform, and provides additional security and performance over BlueLock vCloud Express.

BlueLock Virtual Cloud Enterprise provides a resilient and scalable cloud hosting environment for such mission-critical environments as life sciences, financial services, and government with strict compliance, performance, and disaster recovery requirements.

BlueLock Virtual Private Cloud can be installed at a customer's data center or inside the BlueLock facility to provide a private cloud with its own dedicated capacity and security features, but with the ability to burst into the BlueLock Cloud if needed.

Centrix Software, a U.K.-based provider of solutions for optimizing how IT infrastructures deliver applications, services, and content, is now shipping two new IT intelligence solutions as part of its Centrix WorkSpace Suite.

The new products help provide in-depth data on application and desktop environments to help build business cases and feasibility studies for virtualization projects.

WorkSpace Discovery is a free desktop audit package that helps companies identify installed applications and hardware and understand how they are being used, and can be used to provide customer assessment services, the company said.

WorkSpace iQ provides enterprise-wide monitoring and metering of application access and consumption as well as assessment and asset discovery. It helps customers do strategic planning and decision-making around server, application, and desktop virtualization implementations, and supports reporting on application usage and charge-back and billing for IT services. Solution providers can use WorkSpace iQ to sell SaaS in-house, hosting services, managed services while helping customers get ready for cloud computing.

Centrix Software is also looking to recruit new solution providers to work with the company.

Chelsio Communications, Sunnyvale, Calif., showed its new Unified Storage Router appliance, Unified Storage Server software, and Unified Manager management software.

Chelsio's Unified Storage Router, model USR-1100, offers high-performance iSCSI-to-Fibre Channel mapping for building modular multi-protocol SANs designed for scalable and stable storage infrastructures. It supports virtualized iSCSI initiators with a focus on VMware-ESX-based hypervisors.

The Unified Storage Server (USS 1.1) is a software solution that lets solution providers turn any 64-bit Intel-based or AMD-based server into a complete NAS or SAN storage target. USS 1.1 can run as a guest application on a virtual machine on VMware ESX, thereby remapping the captive direct-attached storage of the server as SAN or NAS storage, making it available for other guest operating systems to use.

The Unified Manager software is aimed at reducing the time an administrator spends managing the network and SAN. This tool can be run from a virtualized desktop or laptop environment using Linux or Windows, and allows for centralized management through an simple graphical interface.

Cisco used VMware Partner Exchange to show its new Overlay Transport Virtualization, or OTV, aimed at easing the dynamic allocation of resources across multiple data centers using VMware's virtualization technology.

With OTV, customers can connect data centers together with a few mouse clicks. While OTV will eventually work with different types of networks, its initial implementation will be to extend LAN traffic across multiple data centers.

This is aimed at helping provide disaster recovery to remote sites and extend VMware virtual environments across multiple sites using such functions as VMotion.

OTV will also help customers with Microsoft exchange or with clustered applications pool resources across data centers to take advantage of available resources wherever they are.

OTV utilizes existing data center connectivity, including dark fiber, which enables solution providers to help existing customers easily take advantage of the technology.

OTV is slated to be available as a software upgrade to Cisco's Nexus 7000 switches in April.

Compellent used its time at the conference to show its new Storage Center 5, a storage solution aimed at simplifying disaster recovery and enabling cost-effective automated tiered storage for enterprises of all sizes. The modular system can scale in capacity with business requirements without the need to rip-and-replace existing systems.

Introduced last month, the Storage Center 5 scales from six SAS hard drives up to 384 SAS drives with a mix of capacities and speeds within the same enclosure, and supports Fibre Channel or iSCSI front-end server connectivity.

It also offers a portable volume feature which lets customers replicate data to portable, external hard drives which are protected by 128-bit encryption for overnight shipping to remote sites.

Also new are virtual ports, which allow Fibre Channel or iSCSI connections to be shared or moved using software to provide flexibility while enabling high data availability and reducing the number of physical I/O ports by up to 50 percent.

The Storage Center 5 also includes server mapping, which allows simultaneous setup and configuration of identical thin-provisioned volumes for multiple physical and virtual machines.

DataCore, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., used the conference less to talk about products and more to discuss its central theme for 2010, "Virtualization in 3-D."

Storage virtualization is the third dimension after server and desktop virtualization, according to DataCore, which also said that the fundamentals of a virtualization solution are not adequately addressed until the software tackles storage-related challenges.

Augie Gonzalez, director of product marketing at DataCore, said that, while servers and desktops deserve much attention, disks represent a constant source of upheaval in virtual environments.

He also said DataCore lets customers provision, share, reconfigure, migrate, replicate, expand, and upgrade storage without impacting production environments, and virtualizes disks across pools of tiered storage devices to overcome incompatibilities between different generations, models, and manufacturers of storage devices.

FalconStor, Melville, N.Y., gave solution providers at the VMware Partner Exchange a sneak peek at the latest version of its Continuous Data Protector (CDP) software, which is now certified by VMware for that company's vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) for replicating data in heterogeneous storage environments.

VMware vCenter SRM is aimed at simplifying and centralizing the process of creating, updating, and managing recovery plans. It automates the recovery process and integrates with storage replication software from several storage vendors.

FalconStor CDP combines local and remote protection into a single disk-based solution that can recover data back to the most recent transaction.

Wendy Petty, vice president of sales for FalconStor, said solution providers can use FalconStor CDP to go to VMware customers who do not have remote backup sites and help them implement disaster recovery with automatic failover and failback with any third-party site.

"Anybody can do failover," Petty said. "We're the only ones to do failback."

FalconStor can be implemented as a virtual appliance without the need for additional hardware. It is priced at about $1,000 per virtual appliance, Petty said.

iLand, a Houston-based provider of cloud computing infrastructure via its six high-availability data centers in North America and Europe, used the conference to discuss its new status as a Premier-level partner in the VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP).

iLand works with solution providers to deliver private cloud solutions with a full range of virtualization solutions. Solution providers can work with the company as an agent earning commission and leaving the billing up to iLand, as a reseller, or as a referral partner who gets a one-time fee for bringing in a client.

Partners can help customers use the iLand Continuity Cloud to test disaster recovery plans without impacting their production environments, replicate both physical and virtual environments, connect to the cloud via VPN over different types of networks, and collocate hardware for infrastructure elements which cannot be virtualized.

At VMware Partner Exchange, Lakeside Software, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., introduced SysTrack Site Visualizer, the newest member of the SysTrack product suite. SysTrack Site Visualizer gives systems integrators and their customers a unique view of computers, applications and people that helps facilitate virtualization assessment, design, and planning to help improve the efficiency of virtual and physical desktop environments.

Qualifying, designing, and planning for large-scale virtual desktop implementations can be a time consuming and slow process because of the inherent complexity of such operations, according to Lakeside Software. The company's new SysTrack Site Visualizer uses analysis, modeling, and automated design to help cut the effort required in the assessment and planning stage, increase end-user confidence in project plans, and accelerate the adoption of desktop virtualization.

SysTrack Site Visualizer also helps customers manage and maintain both physical and virtual desktop installations via software dashboards that detect developing problems and help ensure resources are applied to problems that most impact the user community.

SysTrack is available through a worldwide dealer network, and is distributed in North America by Arrow ECS.

StorMagic, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based developer of software for managing storage in core and VMware virtualized environments, unveiled new features of its channel partner program.

New incentives from the company include an additional discount for opportunity registration, onsite StorMagic training, as well as lead sharing. All solution providers get a complimentary SupportSuite contract with access to the knowledge base, technical support, and online chat.

Partners can also receive two licenses to StorMagic's SvSAN software with unlimited capacity management and high availability features for demonstration and evaluation purposes to allow their customers to better understand those features in their VMware environments.

StorMagic also said it has signed more than 60 resellers since the launch of its SvSAN storage virtual appliance a year ago. During this time, users have downloaded more than 3,000 copies of the StorMagic software.