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Egenera enhances PAN Manager, courts OEMs

Egenera Inc.'s PAN Manager virtualization software now includes features that enable it to be added to other management software suites, and OEMs have been courted as resellers.

Egenera Inc. has beefed up its Processing Area Network (PAN) Manager software with open application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable easier integration with management suites and other perks to help Egenera court more OEM resellers.

For more on Egenera:
Egenera I/O virtualization software to ship with Dell PowerEdge servers

PAN Manager 5.2's new open APIs will enable customers and third parties to integrate PAN Manager commands and functions into existing software, said Ken Oestreich, the vice president of product marketing at Marlborough, Mass.-based Egenera.

"If you use Citrix or VMware, or you use a control center like [IBM] Tivoli, rather than going through our GUI, users can use the APIs to control PAN within their existing management infrastructure," Oestreich said.

PAN Manager virtualizes server components so they can be moved around easily, which is an important capability as virtual machines (VMs) are added to physical servers. Egenera has also embedded Citrix 4.1 virtualization technology into version 5.2 as part of PAN vmBuilder, which adds Live Migration, support for Red Hat 64-bit operating systems and dynamic memory allocation. Egenera also supports VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization, so either option can be built into PAN Manager as well, Oestreich said.

Other major features in PAN Manager release 5.2, include the following:

  • Linux 2.6 kernel compatibility to run PAN Controllers;
  • Support for Virtual Logical Area Network (vLAN) technology for greater flexibility within the processing area network; and
  • Support for Windows Pre-installation Environment 2.1 (WinPE 2.1), so IT can use industry standard tools to manage their Microsoft operating system.
PAN everywhere
While Egenera still sells its own blade servers, the company spun off PAN Manager as a standalone business last year and, in March 2008, scored a deal with Dell to ship PAN on its PowerEdge servers. Dell also plans to ship PAN Manager on its M-series PowerEdge1000 blade servers sometime in Q1 2009, Oestreich said. Now Egenera has pushed a "PAN everywhere" mantra through its indirect sales channel model. Previously it bundled software on its own blade servers and sold it directly. But now the company is talking with other vendors about reselling it. Oestreich, however, would not provide details.

When you add 10 VMs to a server, you have to change the entire infrastructure. .... That is the dirty little secret of virtualization.
Ken Oestreich
VP of
product marketingEgnera Inc.

One could assume the list of potential partners doesn't include Hewlett-Packard Co., which already has its own flavor of component virtualization called Virtual Connect, which pools and abstracts component connections to servers and VMs within HP's BladeSystem.

Illuminata Inc. analyst Gordon Haff said he can't imagine other top-tier vendors such as IBM or Sun Microsystems Inc. picking up PAN Manager either. "IBM has their own open fabric software and Sun really has a different approach to blades that's more targeted at very large-scale installations in markets like HPC [high-performance computing]."

But that isn't to disparage Egenera's technology; it has a place in the virtualization market, he said. "Egenera was the first blade vendor to make a real I/O virtualization play, and complete virtualization – that is, the abstraction of resources-- requires virtualizing compute, storage and I/O," Haff said.

Virtualization's 'dirty little secret'
PAN Manager software logically abstracts – or virtualizes – I/O infrastructure, including Ethernet network interface cards (NICs), Fibre Channel, host bus adapters (HBAs), and networking switches. That gives IT departments a way to move components around using a mouse instead of changing all these pieces manually. Oestreich said.

"There is all of this plumbing that goes on with servers, whether you are virtualizing or not. … That is what our software takes care of," Oestreich said.

"When you add 10 VMs to a server, you have to change the entire infrastructure as well. That is the dirty little secret of virtualization that no one talks about, because it isn't sexy, but it is a fact," Oestreich. "PAN Manager does all the infrastructure reconfigurations that the IT ops guys would normally have to do. It lets them click their mouse to redistribute systems with the right pieces … in about two minutes."

Egenera designed PAN Manager to be software and hardware agnostic, so it can be used on any type of server, and Egenera has high hopes that it will be. The software includes high availability and disaster recovery (DR) features, so it can be used in DR environments as well, said Christine Crandell, Egenera's executive vice president of global marketing.

Egenera would not disclose software pricing information because PAN Manager is sold through channels and the cost varies depending on the configurations, Oestreich said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer. And check out our Server Virtualization blog.

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