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When is it time to consider a multi-hypervisor environment?

Is it time to add a second hypervisor? Licensing, vendor lock-in and technology updates can all play a part in the multi-hypervisor decision.

When is it time to consider a multi-hypervisor environment?

One of the biggest business-side motivators behind adding a second hypervisor is addressing virtualization costs through more favorable licensing arrangements. Virtualization licenses are a recurring cost, and those license costs can become substantial when hundreds or even thousands of servers must be virtualized. Opening the door to a different hypervisor vendor can potentially lower licensing costs -- or at least provide the ammunition needed for a business to negotiate better licensing terms with their primary hypervisor vendor.

Avoiding vendor lock-in is also a popular reason to adopt a second hypervisor. Although hypervisors all perform the same basic suite of functions, each vendor can be very different in its service and support, licensing terms, feature roadmap and so on. A data center that relies on virtualization technology may continually test and work with a variety of hypervisors to ensure that the organization has the know-how required to switch hypervisors if business or technical landscapes change over time. Doing this legwork up front prevents a desperate scramble at the last minute to find an alternative hypervisor product.

A business may adopt a second hypervisor in order to leverage specific features or capabilities that the current hypervisor may not yet support (and which may not even be on the current vendor’s product roadmap). For example, if a company plans to build a private cloud infrastructure but the current hypervisor does not provide that capability, a second hypervisor may be used to provide that capability without necessarily displacing the primary hypervisor.

To a lesser extent, a second hypervisor may be used to improve interoperability -- allowing a business to virtualize some hardware platforms that the primary hypervisor may not fully support.

This was last published in April 2013

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