When enterprises implement virtualization in their datacenters, they can drastically reduce the number of physical servers they have, as physical servers are only switched on and deployed when business needs peak.
This has led to savings, but also to a new problem: Provisioning (define) a virtual machine (VM) from a physical server is much easier than doing the opposite. Reprovisioning a physical server from a virtual one, known as going V2P in the trade, takes a lot of work.
Scalent claims to have solved that problem with version 2.5 of its Scalent Virtual Operating Environment (V/OE), unveiled Wednesday.
It says V/OE 2.5 lets IT departments rapidly provision entire virtual or physical systems and their associated storage and network setups, further cutting costs and improving server utilization.
"Moving from virtual machines back to physical servers is tricky because you need different sets of drivers for different physical servers," Ben Linder, Scalent's CEO, told InternetNews.com.
"We've created technology that lets build Windows and Linux images that can boot on both physical and virtual machines interchangeably; it loads all the necessary drivers into the image at the same time as we load the virtual machine or the physical machine."
"That lets you prepare the image for both virtual and physical machines at the same time."
"You can't just bring up a physical server online; you need to connect it to VLANs [virtual local-area networks] and the SAN [storage area networks]," Chris Wolf, senior analyst for virtualization at The Burton Group, told InternetNews.com.
"When you're talking about going V2P, you have a whole bunch of variables -- different motherboards, a lot more moving parts."
Scalent V/OE 2.5's Infinite Virtual Transition feature lets enterprise IT "take a server and, within minutes, move it from V2P [virtual to physical] or P2V without requiring a change to the image," Linden said.
That capability in V/OE 2.5 allows for greater flexibility in IT infrastructure, Donna Scott, vice president at research firm Gartner (NYSE: IT), told InternetNews.com.
The Burton Group's Wolf said that Scalent has "set itself apart from other vendors" by provisioning the entire infrastructure rather than just server workloads.
"As long as you're aware of what the target is, Scalent can insert the device drivers when the system boots so the experience is transparent to the user or organization," he added. "The only thing its competition can do is provision the server."
Being able to provision servers dynamically sharply reduces waste in the datacenter. "Utilization in server farms tends to be 5 to 10 percent, and some of the larger enterprises have tens of thousands of users," Linden said, adding that the basic reason for the waste is that servers are allocated to their functions statically.
Scalent "makes the allocation of servers completely dynamic; you can repurpose what a server does in five minutes or less when it's no longer needed," Linden said.
V/OE 2.5 supports Microsoft iSCSI, a virtual storage technology.