I've spoken about Egenera several times in the past and pointed out that it was one of the very earliest players offering blade computers and the related management software. Egenera called this software PAN (Processing Area Network) manager. PAN manager, at first, was a tool that allowed organizations to orchestrate the use of their stateless, diskless processing blade. It was a tool that accessed proprietary hardware that was part of Egenera's products.
Last November, Egenera announced that they were setting PAN manager free and allowing it to work with blade computers offered by other suppliers. Since that time, Egenera has announced partnerships with other suppliers of blade computing systems and I expect we'll hear other announcements in the near future. This, in my view, is a good thing. PAN manager is quite a powerful tool.
Here's how Egenera describes PAN manager
PAN Manager replaces hardware components found within traditional servers with software, as well as much of the connecting "glue" that typically connects servers to other data center components (such as networks, storage and management), and significantly reduces the amount of switching infrastructure within the data center itself.
"Servers" are no longer physical devices with a specific hardware configuration—operating system, application, revision level, etc.—but software-based "assets" that can be dynamically applied to computing resources (processors and memory) as needed. As a consequence, these computing resources can be used much more efficiently, capital and operational expenses are reduced, and servers can be provisioned and re-purposed in minutes rather than weeks or longer.
Virtualizing infrastructure is just the start. The extended value of PAN Manager software comes from the services provided on top of the data center virtualization architecture. These include:
Provisioning and management
- Create virtual resources and resource pools
- Create servers
- Monitoring and events system
- Virtual remote management
- Online server re-configuration
- Dynamic repurposing
N+1 High Availability
- Automatic server failover
- Application clustering
N+1 Disaster Recovery
- Cost-effective, full system failover
- Secure partitioning
- Administrative roles and privileges
- Multi-frame management
- Multi-frame N+1 high-availability
Snapshot analysisAs I mentioned in my last few posts on the company, Egenera has long offered the tools to make a blade computing system act a great deal like a single symmetric mulitprocessing computer. The system’s workload could be orchestrated to make the best possible use of the available hardware and respond to planned and unplanned outages. Although this software was very powerful, it relied upon the features of Egenera’s own systems to work. This meant that companies who had selected another vendor’s hardware could not deploy Egenera’s PAN Manager regardless of well the product’s features and strengths fit their requirements. Egenera has certainly addressed that issue and has started building a network of friends and partners who are interested in using the capabilities of PAN manager to help sell their own blade computing solutions.
As I mentioned before, Egenera now faces competition from companies such as, Cassatt, Scalent Systems, Surgient, Novell/PlateSpin, and others offering management products for virtualized resources. Although Egenera would point out that they've been in business longer, have a larger number of partners and have a large installed base of satisfied customers, they still need to be aware that competitors exist and are offering interesting technology.
Egenera clearly has addressed many of the technical challenges to making general purpose blade systems act in similar ways to their proprietary systems. Helping CIOs and IT decision-makers become aware of Egenera, its products, and how those products still appears to be a challenge. As Egenera develops partnerships and alliances, the news about PAN manager is very likely to spread.