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VMware vCenter offering to swell with EMC Ionix buy

EMC transferred ownership of its Ionix server- and application-oriented management tools to VMware, which will incorporate them into the vCenter family.

VMware acquired several systems management products from its parent company EMC on Thursday. The deal promises to add change management, application dependency mapping, provisioning and service desk functionality to VMware's vCenter family.

In an all-cash transaction valued at $200 million, VMware will acquire four titles from EMC's Ionix portfolio: Server Configuration Manager (formerly ConfigureSoft), FastScale application provisioning, Application Discovery Manager (formerly nLayers), and Service Manager (formerly Infra).

Ionix titles that remain under EMC control are its Smarts network management, Voyence network configuration, Data Center Insight (based on nLayers), and -- of course -- Control Center storage management.

In his personal blog, Chad Sakac, EMC vice president for the VMware Technology Alliance, rationalized the split of Ionix assets as "server side and up" for VMware, and "network, storage and unified infrastructure and down" for EMC.

He also described how the Ionix titles could augment VMware capabilities. Server Configuration Manager, for example, will complement ESX Host Profiles, and extend compliance and remediation policies to the guest. nLayers Application Discovery Mapping could be married to VMware AppSpeed to help show interdependencies in the application stack when tracking performance problems.

A fresh start for Ionix
EMC began buying systems management tools in 2006 when it acquired Smarts, and completed its most recent buy -- FastScale -- last summer. But the firm has struggled to make a dent in the systems management market, said Jean-Pierre Garbani, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.

"EMC is essentially a storage company," he said. "Ionix is a side show -- a bunch of guys sitting in the corner of the compound."

Transferring the Ionix assets to VMware, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense, Garbani said. "VMware has a forward-looking culture, a software culture, a data center culture -- all these things are favorable for the things they are acquiring."

Matt Olton, EMC vice president of corporate development, concurred. "We were always very excited about the potential for these technologies, but the transfer takes those strategic directions to a whole new level."

A next generation vCenter will leapfrog offerings from "The Big 4" systems management companies Hewlett-Packard, CA, BMC, and IBM Tivoli, Olton said. The Big 4 systems management products "have become legacy offerings for legacy IT," he said.

VMware and EMC alike believe that "virtualization is a catalyst that creates an opportunity for a new management stack," said Bernd Harzog, analyst at The Virtualization Practice. But while that market is very attractive, it's going to take

time to integrate all the new software in to the vCenter family, he added. "I think it's going to be VMworld 2011 before we see packaged up results from these things."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Alex Barrett, News Director at, or follow @aebarrett on twitter.

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