January 14, 2008, 9:39 AM — Startup firm Fortisphere
on Monday plans to launch a product suite aimed at managing virtualization "sprawl."
"We spent nine months talking to [data center professionals]," said
John Suit, Fortisphere's CTO. "What was apparent to us was that typically,
how these guys are tracking their virtual machines is with an Excel spreadsheet."
The company's offering, Virtual Essentials, is based on two products. The first
is Fortisphere Virtual Insight, a toolset for tracking, tagging and monitoring
virtual machines as they move throughout their lifecycle, from preproduction
Users get a visual representation of a virtual machines' parent, sibling and
child relationships. There is also a reporting engine and an auditing function
for recording changes and transactions. Fortisphere Virtual Foresight is the
other half, dealing with policy enforcement.
Policy rules are embedded within virtual machines, meaning the information
will remain with each one, as well as any clones and copies, according to Fortisphere.
There is also a repository component, and an analytic engine that monitors risk
and compliance violations by crunching data from virtual machines and hypervisors.
Fortisphere's product uses kernel-level drivers, rather than other means of
interacting with virtual machines, such as agents. Fortisphere contends this
approach affords a great deal of control, while remaining lightweight.
The company is competing with a number of other startups, such as Embotics.
Fortisphere said it has a number of beta customers, but company officials declined
to name any or make one available for an interview.
Pricing for Virtual Essentials starts at "little bit over $10,000,"
including maintenance, according to Fortisphere executives, who declined to
be more specific.
The software was built with a mid-market customer in mind, in terms of its
ease of use, according to Fortisphere.
Mark Bowker, an analyst with Enterprise
Strategy Group, said one strength of Fortisphere is its ability to manage
virtual machines across multiple hypervisors -- VMware,
XenServer and Microsoft's
Hyper-V. "This is a something end-users are asking for as they deploy more
than one solution for server virtualization," he wrote in an e-mail message.