by September 6, 2008 0 comments



It’s no secret how quickly technology changes; you buy a product and couple
of months later you find the technology in it is outdated. This fast changing
technology phenomenon significantly impacts servers. A change in processor
technology or OS technology or even change in architecture of motherboards is
bound to impact server market.

In the last couple of years, Virtualization in some form or the other has
been evolving in server technology space. Same has been the case this year too.
Most of the latest developments and new technologies we are witnessing are
related to virtualization.

So let’s start with virtualization and take a look at some of these new
technologies, hardware, and software standards.

Hyper-V
One of the major server launch this year has been Windows 2008 Server. Initial
release of Windows Server 2008 contained beta version of Hyper-V and its final
version was released couple of months back. Hyper-V is a hypervisor from
Microsoft, it supports 64 bit architecture and broad OS support, i.e. you can
simultaneously run any OS on top of it.

Also Hyper-V can support up to 16 cores in the host machine and distribute
them to the virtual machines. It also comes with Symmetric Multiprocessors
support (SMP), i.e. it can support up to four multiple processors inside a
virtual machine environment. Hyper-V includes new virtual switch capabilities.
This means virtual machines can be easily configured to run with Windows Network
Load Balancing (NLB) Service to balance load across virtual machines on
different servers.

One of the main reasons why few people have not moved to virtualization even
though so many solutions are available is because managing a huge pool of
virtual servers can be a hard thing to do. Microsoft is going to launch new
version of its System Center Virtual machine manager 2008 soon to address these
issues. Currently in its beta, VMM 2008 allows users to manage virtual machines
running not only on Windows Server 2008 but also on other platforms like VMware
etc. VMM 2008 will support few unique features like intelligent placement,
Self-service portal, Fail-over cluster support, etc.

PowerVM Technology
PowerVM is a virtualization platform from IBM for Linux, Unix, and Servers
running POWER6 processors. IBM recently launched POWER6 processor. It supports
features like Live Partition Mobility which allows users to move a running Linux
or AIX partition from a physical server to any other compatible sever without
stopping the application.

Another interesting feature in PowerVM technology is Shared processor logical
partitioning (LPAR). This allows users to create virtual partitions in a machine
and dynamically change allocation of resources to an application.

Also present is a Virtual I/O server which is mainly a hosting partition to
provide Virtual Input and Output resources to the client partitions. Main aim of
Virtual I/O server is to
reduce costs as no additional network adapters and disk drives are needed.

HyperTransport 3.1
New specification of HyperTransport 3.1 was released in the month of August.
Just to refresh, HyperTransport technology is a high speed, point-to-point
technology to connect processors to each other or processors to I/O or
peripherals in servers, embedded systems, computers, etc. This technology is
licensed by HyperTransport Technology Consortium which includes members like
AMD, Cisco, Apple, Sun, etc.

HyperTransport 3.1 aims to provide improved power management and performance;
this new specification will provide maximum clock speeds up to 3.2 GHz which is
a significant improvement from its HTX3.0 that provides clock speeds up to 2.6
GHz.

Also the specification will provide maximum aggregate bandwidth up to 51.2
GB/s. And as per the new specification HyperTransport link can split into two
links on a single connector. This enables HTX subsystem to connect to separate
CPUs, and offer RAS support as well as improved clustering performance.

If you want to know more about this specification, you can find complete
specification at http:// www.hyper transport.org

Microsoft Essential Business Server preview
Microsoft is going to launch Windows Essential Business Server in
November this year. Essential Business Server is mainly targeted at midsize
enterprises. It is an integrated solution available in two versions:
Standard and Premium.

In its Standard edition, Essential Business Server comes with a
Management Server, Messaging Server, and a security server. Its Management
Server contains a copy of Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft System Center
Essentials.

Its second component, Messaging Server, will again contain a copy of
Windows 2008 Server with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 standard edition
with Microsoft forefront security for exchange servers. The third component,
Security Server, is largely meant for providing edge security to midsize
organizations. The Security Server will contain a copy of Microsoft Threat
management gateway medium business edition and next version of Microsoft
Internet security and Acceleration server.

In Essential Business Server Premium edition, in addition to three
components of Standard edition a Database Server is also present. This
Database Server again contains a copy of Windows Server 2008 and MS SQL
Server 2008 standard edition.

Dynamic Power Datacenter Manager
This is a software technology from Intel that provides thermal and power
monitoring and management for servers and racks. Currently available in its
Alpha, node manager will be part of Intel’s upcoming Server chipset Nehalem. It
allows users to perform policy-based power management for individual servers. It
supports agent-less model and allows users to import data from configuration
management (CMDB) or through XML model. Users can also receive custom alerts
about thermal as well as power events and handle events through actions like
change of power threshold.
Another interesting feature present in datacenter manger is Intelligent power
capping which can automatically manage group and rack power consumption and
protect from sudden power disturbances like spikes. More information about this
technology can be found at
http://xrl.us/on8tg.

3D Datacenter
With many companies looking to outsource their datacenters or the ones who have
their datacenter in another country and manage from another which is not an easy
job, IBM has recently launched 3D datacenter technologies through which a
virtual world of datacenter can be created which receives real time data from
the real datacenter. Through this 3D virtual world, administrators can
effectively manage their servers, racks and other equipment, visualize data
flow, respond to events immediately etc.

3D datacenter is basically an interactive application built using virtual
world technologies. This virtual world is an exact same virtual image of the
real IT datacenter which can be hosted at a far off place. To link real
datacenter with the virtual world one, IBM uses holographic enterprise
interface, which basically is an integration middleware. This Holographic
Enterprise Interface can be configured to send data, alerts, and events coming
from real datacenter to virtual world.

This 3D datacenter also gives customers ability to perform simulation
experiments and perform what if scenario tests. Since it is a multi-user virtual
enviornment, users can also communicate with each other through instant
messaging and have shared 3D experience of datacenter in real as well as
simulation modes.

Windows Home Server
Whether we will see Windows Home Server in India is not yet known, but our labs
feel that it might come as the most innovative solution around. This is largely
because our homes are
slowly getting digital and as we are relying more and more on IT for various
functions, there is actually a need of a solution which can manage it all.

Microsoft is targeting homes with multiple PCs. Home Server will allow them
to automatically back up their data and share files with friends, and in case of
a PC crash restore the entire system to a previous point in time. Also with Home
Server users can remotely connect to their home computers and Windows Home
Server console as well as shared files and folders. It also lets you centrally
monitor health of home computers running Windows Vista and XP. Media present in
Windows media connect-supported devices and Xbox 360 can also be accessed
through this server.

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