The challenge of managing mixed virtualized Linux, Windows networks

Windows and virtualization are driving need for new management standards, tools

The sprawl of management consoles, the proliferation of data they provide and the rising use of virtualization are adding challenges to corporations looking to more effectively manage mixed Linux, Windows and cloud environments.

Traditional standards are being tapped in order to bridge the platform divide, and new ones are being created to handle technologies such as virtualization that create physical platforms running one technology but hosting virtual machines running something completely different.


SEE SLIDESHOW: Managing in mixed environments

The goal is better visibility into what is going right or wrong -- and why -- as complexity rises on the computing landscape.

Some help is on the way. The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) last month began hammering out virtualization management standards it hopes will show up in products next year. Those standards will address interoperability, portability and virtual machine life-cycle management, as well as incorporate time-honored management standards such as the Common Information Model (CIM).

Vendors such as Microsoft, VMware and Citrix are on board with the DMTF and are creating and marketing their own cross-platform virtualization management tools for x86 machines. Linux vendors, including Novell and Red Hat, and traditional management vendors such as HP also are joining in.

To underscore the importance of heterogeneous management, Microsoft is supporting Linux within its virtualization management tools slated to ship by year-end rather than relying on third-party partners.

And the vendor said in April it will integrate the OpenPegasus Project, an open source implementation of the DMTF's CIM and Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM) standards, so it can extend its monitoring tools to other platforms.

The trend toward services is forcing IT to think about management across systems that may have little in common, including the same LAN. Services are increasingly made up of numerous application components that can be running both internally and externally, complicating efforts to oversee all the piece parts, their platforms and their dependencies.

The big four management vendors, BMC, CA, HP and IBM, are handling the mixed-environment evolution by upgrading their monolithic platforms to better manage Linux as its use grows. And a crop of next-tier vendors, start-ups and open source players are angling for a piece of the pie by providing tools that work alone, as well as plug into the dominant management frameworks.

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