Controlling AWS with vCenter – HotLink Briefing Note

Many companies are finding workloads that are much more appropriate for the infinite scalability and cost predictability of the public cloud. They are also finding the public cloud to be an excellent disaster recovery and business continuity resource. The challenges come when you consider that the local data center and the public cloud have two completely different sets of management tools, and moving workloads between them is not that easy.

Companies using VMware are certainly very familiar with VMware vCenter, and those familiar with Amazon Web Services (AWS) are used to its management console. Of the two interfaces, vCenter is more advanced and integrates with a greater number of on-premise and third party tools used by production data centers. The AWS management console, on the other hand, is relatively basic when compared to vCenter. Although Amazon is enhancing the functionality of AWS, its management still operates in a standalone environment; taking advantage of some of the new features requires integrating with an API and is not integrated into mainstream data center tools.

Even if the two management interfaces were of equivalent functionality, it is always challenging to learn and manage two different interfaces that accomplish very similar things. It increases the learning curve and can decrease the depth to which an administrator would learn an interface. You can only go so deep if you must learn multiple interfaces. It can also increase the time it takes to accomplish a certain task. That’s because an administrator might have to stop and think how to accomplish a particular task with a given tool. In IT, this traditional challenge is often met by a third-party that writes a single interface that communicates with other products. For example, consider all the third-party storage management tools and backup reporting tools – each of which manage multiple products with a single interface.

HotLink chose to go a different route. Since vCenter is already very mature and broadly deployed into every VMware data center, HotLink has a patented way to use vCenter to natively interoperate with and manage AWS, including Govcloud. Once set up, Amazon resources appear and behave as vCenter resources. This allows VMware enthusiasts to use their existing knowledge and tools to deploy, administer and manage a completely new resource in the same way a VMware vSphere hosts and virtual machines.

HotLink is able to use AWS as a disaster recovery and business continuity option for vSphere workloads, and is able to easily migrate workloads between the two platforms. It is also able to do this without requiring the installation of guest-level agents. Besides allowing customers to leverage their current knowledge of vCenter, it also allows the use of vCenter-compatible tools to manage their AWS environment. HotLink can reuse existing VMware templates, scripts, and workflows, and use PowerCLI for automation and orchestration.

StorageSwiss Take

While one can certainly not count out companies like Microsoft and IBM when it comes to the public cloud, it is hard to argue against the ubiquity of Amazon Web Services. One challenge, however, comes in having two very different interfaces to manage two very different infrastructures. HotLink’s offering that allows companies to use their existing vCenter knowledge and tools to manage AWS and migrate workloads between AWS and their local VMware environment offers a lot of possibilities across a wide range of use cases.

W. Curtis Preston (aka Mr. Backup) is an expert in backup & recovery systems; a space he has been working in since 1993. He has written three books on the subject, Backup & Recovery, Using SANs and NAS, and Unix Backup & Recovery. Mr. Preston is a writer and has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences around the world. Preston’s mission is to arm today’s IT managers with truly unbiased information about today’s storage industry and its products.

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Posted in Briefing Note
6 comments on “Controlling AWS with vCenter – HotLink Briefing Note
  1. I dont see HotLink a good solution for management. If you are into AWS and want to get the best of it and scale you have to deploy/manage/automate in another way.

    HotLink is just a UI wrapper for the AWS EC2 console exposing limit functionality but if you think about it… most scalable deployments in AWS like netflix they never use AWS EC2 console to manage their instances, everything is automated/scripted/monitored so these tools dont have a real use.

    If you are used to vSphere and want to go hybrid and run some instances in cloud probably vsphere on AWS is going to be the best option here.

    If you want to use AWS for DR there also other good solutions that can replicate and convert VMware VMs to AWS EC instances like Unitrends Boomerang:

    • wcurtispreston says:

      Gracias, Alberto! Honestly, I think you described what Hotlink sees as their ideal customer: someone who is already using vCenter and wants to use it to manage AWS. I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say it’s not a good solution for management. I might say that any GUI — regardless of how good it is — is only going to scale so far. I’m a command line guy thru and thru, but I also use GUIs where they make sense. I think they both have their place. So if one likes and is familar with the vCenter GUI, and wants to use that GUI to manage AWS, that’s what Hotlink is for. If you like the command line, then no GUI is going to be good enough for you. 😉

      Vaya Con Dios, mi amigo.

  2. Alize says:

    I believe it’s a great tool, but need some more features…

  3. Eric Crane says:

    I agree with Alberto, AWS doesn’t really have much in regards to a DR solution, which is the same issue Google Cloud, and Azure are facing as described here.

  4. Blair says:

    I agree with Eric Crane

  5. wcurtispreston says:

    I agree with both of you. 😉 (Although Eric did comment on a blog that wasn’t about cloud DR only to mention that his company has a cloud DR solution.)

    BUT I would also say they have the same level of DR/backup capabilities as VMware did when it first came out. (Remember when the only way to backup a VM was to pretend it was a PM?) And it’s not like there aren’t solutions to the problem; they’re just not offered by Amazon/Google/Microsoft themselves. I don’t really see that as a problem. Oddly enough, I don’t think Eric does either.

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