At Credit Suisse Group, necessity truly is the mother of invention, at least when it comes to virtual machine management. The Zurich, Switzerland-based financial services firm recently announced its launch of an independent company to market a virtual machine management product.
The tool was developed internally to solve challenges associated with managing virtual infrastructures. Based in Burlington, Mass., DynamicOps LLC offers a product called DynamicOps Virtual Resource Manager (VRM), which is designed to manage the lifecycle of virtual desktops and servers in heterogeneous virtual environments. Ultimately, the tool's development gave way to a new company as a means to market the new virtualizaiton management offering.Unmet need sprouts new tool, new company
In 2005, Credit Suisse began implementing virtualization. In the process, the company discovered that virtualization technologies added significant amounts of complexity, particularly in areas such as policies, control and security as well as chargeback for its various lines of business at various locations worldwide. So Credit Suisse began a search for an appropriate management tool. When creating and managing virtual machines (VMs), for example, Credit Suisse has to abide by policies that account for factors such as the particular business line, the particular country and the particular operating system. "All of those things are factors when you rebuild or patch a machine," said Leslie Muller, the founder and CTO at DynamicOps, who worked previously as the director of server virtualization at Credit Suisse. And as for desktop virtualization, "you can't just take a workstation away from an investment banker," Muller said. "You first have to talk to your lawyer to make sure that there's nothing on that machine that has to be preserved." When different business lines run VMs on the same box, Credit Suisse also needed to be able to determine how departments used those machines in order to determine payment. In essence, Credit Suisse wanted software that automates the entire cradle-to-grave processes of managing virtual infrastructures. While such tools exist, Credit Suisse's various business units each have different policies and procedures, and no tools allowed for variations in workflow processes. When it determined that no commercial tools fit the bill, the company decided to develop its own. "We developed a product because we couldn't find anything in the marketplace," said Muller. Initially, Credit Suisse built a prototype that the company took to Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Co. to demonstrate the needed functionality. "Their product roadmaps didn't fit our needs, so after 18 months we decided to market the product through the launch of a new company," Muller said.
After putting VRM to work internally, Credit Suisse launched DynamicOps as a standalone company to ensure that the product would receive continuous investment. Software industry veteran Rich Krueger was brought in as the CEO, but the core technical staff come from Credit Suisse.
Managing across heterogeneous virtual environments
DynamicOpsVRM works with a variety of virtualization technologies, from Citrix Systems Inc.'s Xen to Microsoft's Hyper-V to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s xVM and VMware. With the software, organizations can create, track, maintain, provision and retire virtual machines in an automated fashion that adheres to pre-established workflows and policies. DynamicOps VRM integrates with systems and processes such as configuration management databases (CMDBs), resource pools, auditing and chargeback.
Jeff Byrne, a senior analyst and consultant at technology analyst firm the Taneja Group, said that DynamicOps VRM is different from existing virtual infrastructure management and lifecycle management products. "DynamicOps supports an overarching platform encompassing different hypervisor and container technologies," he said. "VRM has an open architecture designed to enable integration with other virtualization platforms and third-party products such as CMDBs, trouble ticketing systems and virtualization management tools."
While lifecycle management tools work with VMware's VirtualCenter (typically by collecting information from VirtualCenter about particular virtual machines), Byrne says that DynamicOps VRM goes a step further by enabling administrators to manage particular instances of VMs.
According to Krueger, other financial services firms use DynamicOps VRM as well as large companies in industries such as health care, manufacturing and retail (the product will be generally available in July). "We've used the product in operations for nearly 18 months, so we knew that it could solve problems around virtual machine management that we faced," Krueger said.