As virtualization technologies continue to gain traction in the enterprise, IT departments have been struggling to manage a growing thicket of hybrid solutions across an array of disparate platforms.
HotLink, a two-year-old startup based in Sunnyvale, Calif., addresses this challenge with an approach it calls platform transformation, a unifying technology that provides for a single point of management for the various platforms within a virtualized data center.
"Virtualization has profoundly altered the landscape and economics of IT," said Lynn LeBlanc, HotLink's founder and CEO. "[D]espite the fact that two-thirds of enterprises have deployed heterogeneous virtual infrastructure, hybrid management solutions have been quite limited in capability."
LeBlanc explained that conventional hybrid management tools function as an "overlay" on the management consoles for virtual infrastructure, such as VMware's vCenter. That approach is sufficient for basic functions, but it can get bogged down with more advanced hypervisor features that really rely on the native management console.
HotLink pitches its platform transformation technology as a method for achieving greater flexibility in the data center, enabling customers to cut costs avoid vendor lock-in.
"With platform transformation, the underlying virtual platform is abstracted so IT organizations can deploy multi-platform infrastructure but manage it just like a single platform, utilizing their existing management toolset. No additional dashboard is required," LeBlanc explained. "In this way, IT organizations can standardize on a management solution while deploying the right hypervisor for each workload, use case or economic constraint."
HotLink's SuperVISOR technology, which the company first brought to the market late last year, enables users to extend their VMware vCenter deployments to offer native support for Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and Red Hat KVM, just as they already can provide for VMware's vSphere.
LeBlanc argued that as enterprises evaluate their IT strategy, they must move away from the splintered, heterogeneous platform management model that has begun to pervade the data center.
"To provide the server agility needed by IT in the future, system management solutions must become holistic to the largest degree possible, including flexibility to incorporate future requirements," she said.
LeBlanc noted that traditional data center providers, such as IBM and HP, achieve holistic system management with sophisticated product suites and professional services portfolios, but they deliver solutions that are ill-suited to the dynamic and rapidly shifting currents in IT infrastructure. VMware and other virtualization outfits, on the other hand, can provide integrated solutions under a single platform, but that singular focus falls short when customers want a diversity of technologies.
"We believe that addressing holistic management through platform transformation is a more straightforward and cost-effective approach to the management complexity of diverse infrastructures," LeBlanc said, explaining that abstracting the software platform enables businesses to manage multiple infrastructure platforms through a single management console.
"This bottom-up approach provides dramatically better scalability and interoperability than a top-down overlay solution and much more flexibility than a single vendor approach," she added. "It also provides an extensible foundation for enterprises to evolve to cloud-based infrastructure as their business needs dictate."
After a year-and-a-half in stealth mode, HotLink introduced SuperVISOR at VMworld late last year. Initially, the company sold directly to enterprises for an on-premises deployment alongside VMware's vCenter, with a heavy focus on the California market. HotLink licenses SuperVISOR either on a perpetual or subscription basis, with the cost determined by the number of cross-platform hosts under management.
Thanks to a strong response from the market, HotLink rolled out a VAR program that gives it access to all of North America and an inroad to the mid-market segment in March, a year ahead of the original schedule.
In the coming year, HotLink is looking ahead to new functions in its core platform. It plans to release management plug-ins to infrastructure other than VMware's and extensions related to cloud computing.
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here