Data Center Provisioning Goes Open SourceBy Paula Musich | Posted 2006-09-21 Print
Qlusters releases an open-source server provisioning tool.Qlusters on Sept. 25 will try to tackle the thorny issue of server provisioning when it introduces its open source-based data center provisioning tool.
The new OpenQRM Pro tool automates the process of requesting new IT resources such as servers and software and fulfilling those requests through a Web portal-based system.
It automates the approval process, provisioning and monitoring of the resources, and it maintains detailed reporting of the process. When resources are no longer required, it de-provisions the resources so that they can be reused by others.
As principals in the OpenQRM project gathered feedback, "We kept hearing that provisioning was a problem in the enterprise," said William Hurley, chief technology officer of the Palo Alto, Calif., company.
"Requisitioning a new server for Joe Smith in the enterprise is a very large issue. We found the most efficient companies took two weeks to get a server up and running. Some took up to a couple of months. For one customer we worked with, it took three months to get five servers and a data store [delivered and running]," he said.
Qlusters found that servers don't always exist just in a production environment: They can be bought cheaply by line of business managers and used in various departments or in a lab. That makes it hard to keep such rogue servers up to date on patches, in compliance with policies or regulatory mandates, and it makes it difficult to repurpose those resources when they're no longer needed.
"You'd think the enterprise would have a system for doing this, but it's so cheap to just buy another box, a line manager can put it on their credit card," Hurley said.
OpenQRM Pro brings a greater level of automation to the process by providing a request mechanism in its Web portal that is governed by approval processes that adhere to corporate policy. It can automate the management of timing for when resources are available, and set prioritization for usage.
It also takes advantage of existing user management and role-based security by integrating with LDAP servers. It can be used with virtual LANs, with several storage islands and with virtualization technologies such as those from VMware and XenSource.
The tool's monitoring function enables an audit trail that provides information on "who requested what and who approved what," Hurley said. It supports Linux, Windows, FreeBSD and Solaris.
The tool also acts as a central store for software images, eliminating the requirement to create a new image for each new request.
OpenQRM Pro competes with software provisioning or configuration management systems from Opsware, VMware and BladeLogic as well as IBM's Tivoli. The tool, consisting of the open-source data center provisioning software and proprietary Qlusters plug-ins, is available now.
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