HotLink has just beefed up its ultra-clever SuperVISOR for VMware hypervisor management system, and if it does what it says on the box, it will be easier than ever for administrators to oversee heterogeneous hypervisor environments from vCenter.
HotLink launched last year, and its product is designed to translate hypervisor management system commands into a form understood by different hypervisors, thus making it possible to manage Hyper-V, XenServer or KVM from VMware's vCenter. vCenter is probably a sensible choice for HotLink. That's because despite its horrendous cost, the majority of companies involved in server virtualization use VMware as their primary hypervisor (67.6 percent according to the latest V-Index figures).
SuperVISOR for VMware can already carry out basic virtualization housekeeping functions like launching virtual machines, so what does the latest release (version 1.5) bring to the party?
Three key new features are:
- It introduces a Snapshot Manager function, giving administrators the ability to create, use and manage cross-platform snapshots inside the VMware vCenter console, providing a single point of management for heterogeneous virtual machines.
- It implements a Template Manager, which enables users to create and deploy a single template across all target hypervisors, eliminating the need to keep building and maintaining hypervisor-specific virtual machine templates.
- It enables Homogenous Live Migration. Through SuperVISOR 1.5 for VMware, vCenter can manage the live migration of Hyper-V, XenServer and KVM virtual machines within homogeneous clusters -- Hyper-V host to Hyper-V host, for example.
This live migration functionality is pretty slick, but what would be even slicker is if machines could be migrated from one virtualization host to another without worrying about which hypervisors are involved. In other words, wouldn't it be nice if it were possible to move a VMware VM to a Hyper-V, XenServer or KVM host at the touch of a button (or even better, automatically), if that would result in the most efficient use of resources?
One way to achieve that would be by carrying out virtual-to-virtual (V2V) conversion on the fly, and Lynn LeBlanc, CEO and founder of HotLink, hinted that HotLink is working on this. Such a feature might be introduced at some point in the future. Note, however, that VMware's Distributed Resource Scheduler doesn't extend to other hypervisors.
SuperVISOR works using what it calls its Transformation Engine, which abstracts virtual infrastructure metadata and decouples VMware vCenter from the underlying VMware vSphere hypervisor. Since this effectively makes vCenter "compatible" with other hypervisors, an additional benefit of SuperVISOR for VMware is that plugins to vCenter intended to work with vSphere also work with other hypervisors. That's the theory anyway. In practice, it works most, if not all, of the time. Your mileage may vary.
One final thing: SuperVISOR is available now, but like VMware's virtualization technology products, it doesn't come cheap. Pricing starts at $25,000 (perpetual) or $6,000 (annual subscription) for a SuperVISOR server managing five physical hosts running non-VMware hypervisors and goes up from there.
Still, it's probably much less expensive than running your bog-standard non-mission-critical workloads on vSphere when they could just as well be run on XenServer or KVM, but managed conveniently from a single pane of glass through your existing vCenter server.
Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.