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Beyond Virtualization: True Service-Oriented Infrastructure for Data Centers

Fusion Dynamic has announced today the general availability of its DynamicOE(R) "operating environment" for data centers -- a new class of operating software that dynamically links the key hardware and software resources in a modern data center into a flexible, adaptive, fault-tolerant, and self-healing infrastructure. The "service-oriented infrastructure" created by DynamicOE permits data centers to be provisioned, managed, replicated, and maintained from a high-level, abstract, "application and service delivery" perspective, rather than from the low-level, physical-resource perspective that consumes growing amounts of personnel and capital in virtually every commercial and enterprise data center today. The result is high availability of services, combined with a significant reduction in capital and operational expenses.

According to Asaf Mohr, CEO of Fusion Dynamic, the service-oriented infrastructure is a crucial and significant evolutionary step in the final transformation of computing into a pure utility. "In the 21st century enterprise -- in fact, in everyday life -- the services provided by data centers are becoming like air; they're all around us, and necessary for life. The infrastructures of even the most technically-advanced data centers have to support this reality."

As businesses move to transform themselves into adaptive, "service-oriented enterprises", the truths in Mohr's analogy have become widely understood. Consequently, there has been much innovation, both in thinking and in practice, to attain data centers that can adapt dynamically to changing internal and external situations. Microsoft, HP, and Fujitsu, in particular, have done innovative work in promoting the concept of the "dynamic data center", reports Mohr. And particularly significant has been the progress in "virtualization" -- the ability to represent -- and more important -- allocate and manage resources as abstract -- rather than physical -- entities. "The virtualization trend is perhaps the most significant thing to happen to enterprise computing in recent years," ventured Mohr. "It's everywhere -- in most trade articles, in every conference, and in most datasheets. And yet, by itself, it's not enough. We have to go beyond virtualization."

What's beyond virtualization, says Mohr, and beyond the dynamic data center, is an organic model -- supported by a new, software-driven operating environment -- that takes a holistic view of all available resources, and is capable of allocating and managing them collectively, to deliver the desired services and service levels. "This is the service-oriented infrastructure," said Mohr.

Service Delivery Focus

Mohr said that the business issues notwithstanding, a service-delivery focus has become even more important with the emergence of the "Service-oriented Architecture" (SOA) model for software. Under SOA, the massive, monolithic applications of the past are gone, replaced by cooperating groups of applets -- called services -- that run on servers distributed around the world. "It won't do", he says, "if 10,000 enterprises are depending upon an accounting applet running in Bangalore, and the server melts down, or one fetal monitor is streaming data to the Johns-Hopkins data center and the router hangs. One has to think about the data center in terms of end-to-end service delivery."

The service-delivery focus, both to support the service-oriented enterprise, as well as the service-oriented architecture, led the Fusion Dynamic team to define a minimum set of criteria for a true, service-oriented infrastructure:

-- Metrics and control processes that focus upon the successful delivery of services to the end user (or client application, in the case of Service-oriented Architecture);

-- Virtualized, high-level, abstract view of all resources and processes, and an ability to provision, manage, and modify them at this level with a "drag-and-drop" model;

-- Automated, integrated, and secure infrastructure management;

-- Automated provisioning and re-provisioning of services that incorporate all resources in the data path (servers, operating systems, network, and storage);

-- Automated deployment and re-deployment of applications to arbitrary servers on an as needed, ad hoc basis;

-- Intelligent and efficient service availability management, including a high-availability model that could reduce standby (backup) equipment by 90%.

Needed: A New Operating "Environment"

Accomplishing these objectives, Mohr and his associates believed, would require a new type of operating system that acted across the various resources of a data center. To avoid confusion with classic CPU and network operating systems, with their intra-hardware focus, Fusion Dynamic chose to call its concept an "operating environment" -- to highlight the inter-resource -- inter-software, inter-hardware, inter-operational -- nature of its capabilities.

From these broad goals, the company produced, after 3 years of development efforts, a complete, dynamic operating environment that it dubbed "BladeFusionOE", and released it to run on the IBM blade server chassis -- what some have dubbed a "data center in a box." As part of the Fusion Dynamic's proof-of-concept strategy, BladeFusionOE was deployed with over a dozen enterprise class companies worldwide, including several in the Global 2000 category. Each was a revenue deployment in a mission-critical application.

Based upon customer experience and real-life operating experience, Fusion Dynamic has developed the successor product for general release, and now announces its availability as DynamicOE.

Fusion Dynamic's DynamicOE

Fusion Dynamic's DynamicOE offers a near-turnkey operating environment that provides end-to-end service modeling; dynamic binding of applications, servers, network, and storage; automated provisioning and availability management from high-level, service-oriented models; replication of service models across data centers (i.e., from OE to OE), and dynamic, real-time, automated adjustment of service capacities.

The secure infrastructure management provide by DynamicOE includes the provisioning and management of the network topology; drag-and-drop configurations, end-to-end network high availability, and the ability to bind in critical, third-party services such as a unified threat-management solution into a dynamic environment that can run without manual intervention.

DynamicOE's single or multiple model-based control structure provides simplicity and visibility for the control of any application services, including the configuration of network paths, and the deployment of network storage. The operating environment implements service management policies across heterogeneous operating systems and virtual operating systems that can include Linux, Windows, and various security OS images.

Automated provisioning and prioritization capabilities optimize high quality of service (QoS), and both N+1 and pre-emptive high availability features can coordinate server, application, and secure network failovers (see Note).

Availability and OEM Program

Fusion Dynamic is actively working with tier-1 software and hardware providers to embed portions of the highly modular DynamicOE operating environment in their product offerings, giving those vendors attractive, out-of-the-box functionality enhancements; the opportunity to extend features of the DynamicOE for their own product differentiation; a plug-and-play strategy as the DynamicOE becomes more widely deployed; and, when so licensed, co-marketing rights for the DynamicOE.

In addition, an enterprise version of the DynamicOE that runs on the IBM BladeCenter is currently being offered under a carefully-controlled, strategic partnership program. Contact the company for details. An extended, cross-chassis implementation will be announced in the near future.

"Fusion Dynamic's offering of a dynamic, data-center-wide operating environment will enable enterprises to transform their data centers into truly agile, integrated infrastructures closely aligned with business needs and goals," said Michael Dortch, principal business analyst and IT infrastructure management practice leader at Robert Frances Group (www.rfgonline.com). "In addition, the company's strategy to OEM the various components of its platform through leading software and equipment vendors will undoubtedly hasten the spread of this important, new technology." Dortch has written extensively on the need to re-architect IT infrastructures for the service-oriented enterprise.

Published Wednesday, September 06, 2006 2:02 PM by David Marshall
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