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Egenera Reaches Into the Cloud to Expand Mixed-Environment Offerings

When Egenera launched 13 years ago, it provided proprietary blade server hardware and management software. Then, it morphed into a supplier of fabric-based infrastructure. Now it's off to the cloud races, with additions to its infrastructure management and automation software portfolio announced this week.

The company says that while it's traditionally served mixed environments, which meant physical and virtual, cloud is increasingly showing up. In response, it's introducing PAN Cloud Director, a self-service cloud management tool, and PAN Domain Manager, which offers scalability and support of mixed hardware environments.

"So this will be our entry into the cloud space," says John Humphreys, VP of marketing at Egenera.

PAN Cloud Director, which will ship next quarter, is a self-service portal designed to allow enterprises and service providers to enable the consumption of both physical and virtual resources. It also offers single-click VMware deployment and is hypervisor-agnostic. Upon release it will support the two dominant hypervisors, VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V; support is planned for Red Hat and KVM, as well as the open source Xen 4.0.

PAN Domain Manager, also available in the third quarter, enables mixed hardware environments, including the ability to fail over and perform full disaster recovery between blades from different server OEMs. It also extends PAN Manager support to up to 256 servers with 20-Gb fabric throughput to each blade. Finally, the company will release an enhanced PAN Manager in the fourth quarter, with many-to-one disaster recovery targeting as well as a VMware vCenter Orchestrator plug-in for access to PAN environments from VMware vCloud vDirector and vCloud.

The ability to scale to 256 servers initially, and more later, is important as Egenera pushes into the cloud, Humphreys explains. "Customers are looking for more blade support, which gives them more flexibility and the ability to do more with less. I think it's important as we push into cloud to operate at cloud scale," he says.

Donna Scott, a VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, called the cloud offering the most significant part of Egenera's announcements. "PAN Cloud Director offers a new catalog and service request system in order to design and order infrastructure as a service. It enables provisioning across multivendor infrastructure and eases the implementation and deployment of Egenera's software through a much-improved administrator and user interface."

The company faces a lot of competition from a host of infrastructure suppliers and independent software vendors that offer IaaS and enable provisioning of infrastructure and virtual machines through integration of the hypervisor, she adds. "There are scores of vendors offering this type of capability, including infrastructure vendors (like Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, VCE), hypervisor vendors (like Microsoft, VMware), management software vendors (like BMC, CA, HP, IBM) and emerging or pure-play vendors (like Adaptive Computing, DynamicOps, ManageIQ, ServiceMesh)."

Most of the infrastructure vendors offer functionality for only their hardware only, she says. Egenera allows for the provisioning of server, storage, network and virtual machines for multivendor hardware. "They are effectively providing what we call 'fabric-based infrastructure' in software, and can unify across multivendor hardware and software. In addition, some software providers do not talk to the physical layer--Egenera does talk to the physical layer and can resize resource pools and manage resource utilization at that layer. Moreover, few solutions include HA/DR in the solution itself; however, Egenera delivers in that respect."