BladeLogic brings order to datacenter chaos

Vijay Manwani

Back in 2001, around the time the dot-com bubble burst, Vijay Manwani was well aware of the hype surrounding utility computing, but he saw greater potential elsewhere.

“While everyone wanted to do everything with the magic touch of a button, we saw the need to first solve the problem of datacenter automation [DCA],” Manwani says.

Administrators face increasingly distributed, heterogeneous datacenters. Applications need deploying; OSes need patching; security policies need updating and enforcing — particularly in this age of regulatory compliance. Attending to those tasks and others on a server-by-server basis can gobble up staff hours and increase human error. 

As  co-founder and CTO of 5-year-old BladeLogic, Manwani draws on his previous experience as a system administrator in his new role as the guiding force behind the company’s Operations Manager. Unlike competitor’s management solutions, which tend to be geared toward managing physical devices, Operations Manager turns complex server and application infrastructure, such as provisioning and configuration management, into a collection of transparent, easy-to-manage virtual IT services. The end result: IT staff can easily and quickly translate business requests into operational tasks.

Virtualized shared services combined with blade-server management and clustering done in high-performance labs will lead to utility computing — but not for a while, Manwani predicts. “Real utility computing isn’t going to start happening in earnest until 2008 to 2012.”

For Manwani, successful DCA is all about maintaining balance while retaining business agility. You need to balance the needs of the applications team and the operations team so that business processes can flow, despite constant change to your systems, and while ensuring that you’re maintaining compliance, he noted.

With a DCA solution, you also need to walk the fine line of satisfying the needs of both Windows admins and Unix admins. Version 6, released last October, brings support for Suse Linux. “A lot of the tools out there are either optimized for Windows platform or for Unix platforms. Ours is evenly balanced across those two platforms,” Manwani says.

Operations Manager also provides a valuable view into how a company is using its resources to help eliminate duplication. “Say you have 10 instances of Apache running across five departments. You can look at aggregate needs of all the departments before deciding to scale up or down,” Manwani says.