I've followed PlateSpin for a number of years and have always found the pragmatic, productive approach taken by the company to be refreshing. I had an opportunity to speak with Stephen Pollack, Founder, CEO of PlateSpin, the other day. Here's a quick summary of our conversation. PlateSpin offers products and services targeting the following systems management areas:
- Data Center Relocation
- Refresh and Consolidation
- Workload Protection for Disaster Recovery
- Application Lifecycle Optimization
What's clear is that PlateSpin has evaluated the issues a virtualized data center creates and thought differently about the solution. In PlateSpin's approach, only two tools are needed to accomplish all of these tasks - PowerRecon and PowerConvert. PlateSpin would explain the capabilities of these products in the following way.
- PowerRecon offers the capabilities required to do the planning and analysis necessary to successfully execute plans for server consolidation, disaster recovery, capacity planning, asset management and green data center initiatives. It is able to discover and analyze virtual and physical resources available in the data center. The software runs in a Windows environment but has the ability to see Windows, Linux and Solaris systems as well as virtual resources managed by VMware ESX Server, Microsoft Virtual Server and Virtual Iron (Xen).
- PowerConvert provides the tools necessary to configure and optimize the data center by streaming workloads over the network between physical servers, blade infrastructures, virtual hosts and image and backup archives.
At first, I thought that having only two products to address this broad set of requirements might not be very flexible. I was thinking back to my conversation with Sun a while back (see What does it take to manage virtualized environments? Here's Sun's view). When I listed Sun's breakdown of functions and asked the good Mr. Pollack what he thought, he suggested that his team had looked over the same requirements and believed that a more efficient approach would be to move to a higher level of abstraction, one that would simplify product requirements. The end result was the two products they're currently offering.
My next concern was scale. As physical sprawl is being rapidly replaced in the data center with virtual sprawl, data center managers are having to deal with thousands to, perhaps, tens of thousands of systems (physical and virtual). I was thinking back to my conversation with my conversation with John Engates of Rackspace (see Conversation with John Engates, Rackspace's CTO) and the fact that Rackspace has many data centers with something on the order of 30,000 physical resources to manage). Sure enough, PlateSpin believes that it can address very large environments although Stephen was quick to point out that the company has not tested its products in environments as large as 30,000 physical servers. Here's my snapshot analysis of PlateSpin's products.
- Strengths - PlateSpin has taken a clever, pragmatic approach to managing virtual and physical resources that appears to offer the features and functions necessary to create a highly adaptive data center
- Weaknesses - PlateSpin is a relatively small company and overcoming all of the noise in the market being made by competitors will be difficult to overcome. PlateSpin is taking a careful, deliberate approach to this issue and has generated an amazing list of alliances and partners who can help.
- Opportunities - Only a small portion of organizations have "virtualized" their data center. As this number grows, PlateSpin has the opportunity to grow as well.
- Threats - This is a highly competitive market at this moment. I can think of at least 15 competitors who are offering products that, on the surface, could be seen as competition for PlateSpin and that's without conducting extensive research on the matter. PlateSpin has some very interesting capabilities and, yet, is likely to have to wage a long awareness campaign to even be considered as a potential solution.
In summary, those considering how to manage and optimize their data center would be well advised to become familiar with PlateSpin and its products.