We all understand what it means to virtualize CPU and memory (compute). This is what VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V have been doing for years. We are starting to get our arms around what it means to virtualize networking and storage, as VMware progresses down its path to virtualize all of the key resources in the data center as a part of its software-defined data center strategy. Now, along comes Intigua with an offering that virtualizes the management stack in your virtualized data center.
The Evolving Definition of Virtualization
Before we go into Intigua, lets take a step back and review the evolving definition of what it means to virtualize something:
- When VMware got started, virtualizing CPU and memory simply meant that the one-to-one correspondence between operating systems, their associated middleware and applications, and the server that they ran on was broken. It became possible to run many virtual servers (virtual machines) on one physical server. This seemingly simple innovation lead to huge hard dollar cost savings associated with server consolidation and drove the creation of an entire new category of data center software, led, of course, by VMware.
- As a part of virtualizing a server, the responsibility for scheduling the CPU and allocating the memory on the physical server moved from the operating systems to the hypervisor.
- What it meant to virtualize compute expanded to include things like being able to assign to VMs virtual resources, like virtual memory and virtual CPUs, that were independent of the actual composition of the underlying physical resources. This means that the configuration of how resources were allocated inside of hosts was now done in the virtualization software.
- Then, VMware announced Storage I/O Control and Network I/O Control. These features allowed you to allocate network and storage bandwidth to your hosts and your virtual machines based upon the priority of the workloads. This meant that the control and scheduling of these resources moved into the virtualization software and become part of the definition of virtualization. Note that this happened before VMware actually announced and delivered either its official network virtualization offering (NSX) or its storage virtualization offering.
- Then VMware delivered VXLAN, and it announced NSX and VSAN. At this point, the definition of virtualization included configuring all of the resources in the data center and, crucially, making the virtualization platform responsible for doing at least some of the work. For example, in the case of both network virtualization and storage virtualization, some of the responsibility for doing the actual work lies with VMware’s virtualization software.
Intigua’s Virtualization of the Management Layer
When Intigua first arrived on the scene, it offered a variant of application virtualization that put the management agents from a variety of vendors into a bubble (think of ThinApp or App-V for Tivoli, CA, HP, and IBM management agents). This allowed those management agents to be isolated from the guest operating systems in which they ran, and it allowed Intigua to control the resources allocated to them and ensure that they were operating properly.
Today, Intigua announced a major expansion of its offering:
- The ability for organizations and service providers to use a new Intigua Self-Packager to make it easy for third parties to extend the management capabilities of Intigua
- Integration with OpenStack
- Enhancements to the existing integrations with VMware vCloud Automation Center and vCenter Orchestrator
- Support for Amazon Web Services.
Intigua’s strategy is to add virtualization, configuration, and control of the management stack in virtualized data centers and clouds to the existing virtualization of compute, networking, and storage. This means that the configuration, deployment, and control of the operation of the management stack can be moved from the disparate members of the management stack into Intigua’s software. This is a bold attempt to establish a new category of virtualization—which, if it succeeds, will solve a really important problem.