Four tools for managing a heterogeneous environment

Not all heterogeneous environment management tools are created equal. Check out four popular options to determine which are worth a second look.

Formerly a taboo topic, managing heterogeneous environments has become common practice for many IT departments....

Two years ago, when I hosted a conference session on the topic, many people believed it was the wrong path for IT to take. Today, some 65% of respondent organizations to a recent survey said they actively use more than one hypervisor in their environment. Many data centers even have a private or public cloud that is virtualized with multiple hypervisors, and the focus has become how best to manage that heterogeneous environment.

Virtualization vendors have jumped on the bandwagon by developing tools designed to assist admins. Is the software merely a flash-in-the-pan trend, or should you take a closer look at the offerings?

What's in a heterogeneous hypervisor management tool?

Vendors have thrown more support behind multiple hypervisor management over the past year. This trend is evident in feature releases and service packs, as well as new product versions showcasing do-it-all capabilities, regardless of the hypervisor backend. Let's take a look at four tools that you should consider when creating a management plan for your heterogeneous environment.

In this context, I'm referring to tools that perform actual administrative tasks, such as creating a VM, editing its settings and powering it on and off. Some multi-hypervisor management tools also have capacity planning, performance monitoring and chargeback capabilities, but do not perform the aforementioned basic administrative tasks, and I have left them out of this comparison.  

PowerShell

More info on heterogeneous environment management

Multi-hypervisor management predictions

Navigating the heterogeneous hypervisor management tool market

Easing multiple hypervisor management

First and foremost, you should learn PowerShell. I say should, but this really is a must-learn skill. The top five hypervisors -- Hyper-V, vSphere, Virtual Box, KVM and XenServer -- all support it, and Hyper-V relies on PowerShell for almost everything. VMware even has a dedicated development team for its own PowerShell interface, named PowerCLI. You can execute administrative tasks at great speed with PowerShell, and the task-based command language is flexible, scalable and could be adapted to almost every platform. Many of the heterogeneous hypervisor management products on the market today actually use PowerShell behind their software.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1 (SCVMM)

This product has evolved from being strictly Hyper-V-centric to managing XenServer and vSphere through both PowerShell and application program interfaces. SCVMM works hand in hand with the other System Center products (especially Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager), and its maturity makes it a good all-around hypervisor management tool.

VMware vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager

I was shocked to hear this tool introduced at VMworld 2012. VMware had never before used the words "heterogeneous" and "hypervisor" in the same sentence when talking about one of its products. VMware vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager (MHM) is a module in vCenter that allows third-party add-ons to manage other hypervisors. Unfortunately, VMware isn't actually creating the tools for admins to manage multiple hypervisors; rather, they are giving you the means to add them to vCenter. MHM relies on other software work with the proverbial other kids in the sandbox.

HotLink SuperVISOR

This heterogeneous hypervisor tool can manage vSphere, XenServer, Hyper-V and KVM and can perform many quick administrative tasks with ease. The biggest drawback to SuperVISOR, in my opinion, is that it requires VMware vCenter. You must have vSphere in your environment to use the product. If HotLink used a standardized rather than a vendor-specific platform, I guarantee it would reach more customers.

If your IT team has decided to explore a heterogeneous environment, take a closer look at the available multi-hypervisor management tools. The facts and trends indicate multiple hypervisors in the data center is the future of IT, and these tools could help make your transition an easy one.

This was last published in January 2013

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Which multi-hypervisor management tool is most appealing to your business?
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HotLink SuperVISOR is the perfect solution for VMware-centric shops that want to easily incorporate other hypervisor into their environment.
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HotLink provides an enterprise-class, fully automated platform for deployments spanning all major virtual and cloud-based infrastructures including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Red Hat KVM, and Amazon EC2. In fact, HotLink provides the industries simplest solution for managing multi-platform environments all natively inside VMware vCenter – No additional consoles are required.
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To my best judgment, SuperVISOR by Hotlink is the best solution to meet the need of Multi Hypervisors Management,
Most companies are VMware users and the only smooth way to move to a multi-tier management is by using SuperVISOR, which allows you to continue manage with vCENTER tools, even extend it and at the same time using any other hypervisor or hybrid platform to create VMs
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You should really include OpenVDC in here. OpenVDC is a great management tool, which also let's you give out VM's to users/customers. It works with VMware (direct hosts & vCenter) and XenServer (direct hosts & pools). They have Hyper-V 3 support on route, beginning of Q2.
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VCenter is Windows Free... :)
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