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Cash and Burn: Of Standards and 'Marketecture'

Without the collaboration of competing vendors, UXcomm's SOMA looks less like a solution to managing the virtualized data center and more like a marketing move at short-lived media attention.

Virtualization is hot. That's no secret, but along with its ability to simplify and consolidate server operations, there lies an unexplored minefield that comes from adding any new layer of complexity to an existing system.

Today, most data centers contain a hodgepodge of equipment from different vendors, all of which come with proprietary management systems. Virtualization adds another challenge--namely, correlating what's happening on the virtual machines with what's occurring on the physical servers. Throw in a cool tool like VMware's VMotion, with its ability to move VMs at will, and you've got a management challenge that can't currently be met.

UXcomm hopes its SOMA (Service Oriented Management Architecture) will be the solution to managing the virtualized data center. SOMA creates a Web services interface for network and systems management. Instead of writing management agents to a weak interface--like SNMP, or worse, a proprietary one--third-party device vendors write to an open (in theory) Web services specification. Equipment manufacturers could then publish these SOMA-compliant WSDLs (Web Services Description Languages), enabling any SOMA-compliant console, such as UXcomm's XManager, to manage those devices. Such an architecture provides for heterogeneous systems management without the overhead, lock-in or a high-cost, high-end management platform.

UXcomm also hopes to be one of the first vendors to bridge the gap between physical server and VM management. With its recent acquisition of Virtugo, UXcomm has the pieces for managing VMware with Virtugo's VirtualSuite, and for managing physical hardware with its own XManager. A successful integration of the two products should provide capabilities not found in systems-management products.

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