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Issue Date: November 2006

Symantec steps up application management

1 November 2006
Tim Stammers

Symantec has taken a step towards fulfillment of what were Veritas' data centre management ambitions, by launching software that also moves the company up the application management stack.
The software is a new module within Symantec's Veritas Server Foundation suite of server management tools, and is the most important part of a wider update to that suite.
Called Application Director, the module automates the process of moving multitiered applications from one set of servers - virtual or physical - to another. For complex applications, this can involve days of work for multiple IT staff, Symantec claimed.
"We are not just talking about moving one instance of Oracle or Exchange, but whole interdependent groups of applications that might be on database servers, application servers, Web servers. Move one, and there could be a ripple that will affect other applications," said Matt Fairbanks, senior director of product marketing at Symantec.
The software will have already been made aware of the dependencies between the application tiers, and it will bring down and then restart the applications in the correct order. It will also bring up applications depending on their business priority.
"We are controlling when, and where applications run," Fairbanks said. While the software will be used to move applications for maintenance purposes, or to keep services running after hardware failures, Symantec said that it could also be used as a daily load balancing tool.
"If the load is going to go up, you could add resources for a service. That would be a classic use for Application Director," Fairbanks said.
The software is being aimed at large data centres with ‘hundreds or thousands of tiered applications, and thousands of servers’. As Symantec said, server virtualisation in some ways is increasing complexity. Five or 10 companies have been part of the beta program, of which the only one that could be named was British Telecom.
Symantec is not the only company pitching into application management, and it said that the highest profile rivals in this field are OpsWare and BladeLogic.
"Data centre needs do not stop at the automation of server management tasks like provisioning or patch management. Every systems vendor has tools for that but they cannot move applications from system to system, or stop and start them," Fairbanks claimed.
Symantec also repeated Veritas' standard argument of hardware and platform neutrality. It said its software will support Windows, Linux and all major Unix operating systems.
Four years ago when Veritas Software - now owned by Symantec - bought start-ups Precise Software Solutions and Jareva Technologies, it promised to develop utility computing systems that would allow dynamic load-balancing of applications across farms of low-cost servers.
"We are delivering on that," the company said. Ironically, the Jareva and Precise software is not part of the Application Director code. Although it will work with servers set up by the Jareva-based provisioning tool within Server Foundation, it does not require that software to be present.

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