Last year the term, “software defined”, started to be used to describe how hypervisors like VMware, Hyper-V and KVM could be used to allow IT to virtualize their entire infrastructure via the software hypervisor. There is software defined networking, software defined storage and of course the software defined data center. The objective of leveraging a software approach is to avoid getting locked into any one vendor or methodology. The one exception in the market, however, has been virtual server hypervisors. In the hypervisor market you have generally been locked into using one vendor’s offering due to the integrated nature of each platform and associated administration and management console.
In addition VMware’s dominant market position has become a top concern among IT professionals. Along with rising licensing costs, it has also become increasingly complex to manage what licenses you own. Furthermore, VMware’s de facto standard market leadership hasn’t exactly enabled users to negotiate from a position of strength. The goal of HotLink’s SuperVISOR product is to virtualize the hypervisor layer and decouple it from the native administration and management console, making it software defined, and break IT users free from hypervisor lock-in.
Clearly there are alternative hypervisor options available from vendors like Xen, Microsoft and Red Hat. Even Amazon and CloudStack providers offer hypervisor like capabilities. The problem is a move to these other platforms means settling for another “all or nothing” hypervisor strategy or dealing with a very complex administration and management environment supporting multiple hypervisors.
Hypervisor overlay management software purports to solve these problems but they have a minimal amount of features. They typically can only power on/off a VM, clone/migrate VMs or view the attributes. These applications are really more monitoring and orchestration tools than they are actual management applications. Any real work requires launching the management console of the VM’s actual hypervisor.
As the screenshot shows, HotLink takes a different approach by providing native interoperability inside of existing management infrastructures. Essentially it makes VMware vCenter, the management interface that most administrators are familiar with, the primary console to administer and manage all hypervisors and their VMs. Integrating in this way provides heterogeneous cloning, templates, snapshots and migration, including live migrations.
This means that administrators can virtualize on other hypervisors that are less expensive without increasing their management complexity. Instead of a “virtualize first” strategy, administrators can now take a “virtualize cheap first” strategy. VMware can always be used as a fall back if an application requires it.
In addition to this capability HotLink provides a product called “Hybrid Express”, which extends the VMware vCenter management capabilities to Amazon EC2 and CloudStack. This means that administrators can manage public cloud resources within the vCenter console and provides the same feature interchangeability as described above (except for live migration). The move to the public cloud for bursting or resource optimization becomes as simple as a VM migration.
Storage Swiss Take
We attend a lot of briefings at Storage Switzerland and it is very rare for a product to get a “WOW!” rating. HotLink gets the first of 2013 from us. The solution should appeal to almost any sized shop with a VMware investment and mounting licensing expenses. The ability to quickly shift to another hypervisor or even to a public cloud provider, yet maintain the existing investment in vCenter skills, should make HotLink a top consideration for data centers this year.
HotLink is not a client of Storage Switzerland