The benefits of virtualization are quite obvious but when you start to really increase the density of virtual machines in order to maximize utilization suddenly it ain't such a simple proposition. The latest CPUs from AMD and Intel are more than up to the task of running 10-20 or more applications at a time. Most servers run out of memory and I/O bandwidth well before processing power. Recent announcements from the leading server vendors have been made to address the memory side by packing more DIMMs onto a single motherboard (including blade server boards), but you can only add so many Ethernet cards and Fibre Channel HBAs. Oh yeah, and then there's the switch ports to go with them (blade systems help a lot here).
Earlier this week, The Boston Globe reported that Egenera laid off short of 100 employees under the guise of the weakening economy, but there is more to this story. The reduction also reflects a shift in strategy to increase its focus on PAN Manager, its virtualization management software. Originally tied to its unique BladeFrame hardware products, PAN Manager was freed earlier this year and is currently distributed by Fujitsu-Siemens and Dell. As is often the case for hardware companies, Egenera's crown jewels are in this software and PAN Manager is one of the most mature, feature rich and enterprise tested of the virtualization software managers on the market.
At Dreamforce today, here in San Francisco, Salesforce.com announced a significant, and seemingly long overdue, enhancement to its SaaS offering. They announced Facebook and Force.com for Amazon Web Services that are pre-integrations between their platform and these two other platforms. This new capability lets enterprise customers of their CRM solution (or any other AppExchange or Force.com) provide a public front-end to their instance of these services, directly from these services. The big deal with these additions is that they let you tie third party applications directly into your Force.com applications. In the case of the AWS integration, if you have applications or services built in Java, the LAMP stack or native C code, you can integrate them with your Force.com apps.