The challenge of managing mixed virtualized Linux, Windows networks

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

Open source

Standards efforts are being complemented by open source vendors who are aligning their source-code flexibility with the interoperability trend.

Upstarts such as GroundWork, Centeris, Hyperic, OpenQRM, Zenoss and Quest's Big Brother platform are working the open source route to build a united management front.

"We picked [tools] most people pick when they use open source, and we packaged them together," says Dave Lilly, CEO of GroundWork. The company's package includes 100 top open source projects, including Nagios, Apache and NMap.

GroundWork also includes a plug-in it wrote to integrate Windows systems using Microsoft's native Windows Management Instrumentation.

"We don't provide the entire tool set you may want, but we at least take the time and energy out of providing the monitoring infrastructure," Lilly says. Via standards, GroundWork can plug into other management tools such as service desk applications.

Other open source management resources include Open WS-Man, an XML SOAP-based specification for management using Web services standards. The project, which focuses on management of Linux and Unix systems, is an open source implementation of WS-Management, an industry standard protocol managed by the DMTF. There are other WS-Man variations such as the Java implementation called Wiseman.

"Interoperability is the end game," DMTF's Bumpus says. "You can have all the specs, but if you don't have interoperability who cares."

In today's evolving data centers and services revolution it turns out a lot of IT managers are beginning to care very much.

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