The multi-hypervisor management tool landscape

Multi-hypervisor management tools solve a growing need, as more organization run multiple platforms. But the options are few and far between.

There is a small, but growing market for multi-hypervisor management tools, as more companies turn to mixed virtualization environments to defray costs and add features. But the viable options are mostly limited third-party management tools.

It seems obvious that hypervisor vendors won’t offer robust management support for other platforms. After all, making it easy to manage other hypervisors may tempt customers to migrate.

According to CEO Paul Maritz, VMware doesn’t have plans to develop multi-hypervisor management tools. Instead, the company will focus on bolstering vSphere’s reliability and quality of service. (But VMware offers the unsupported XVP fling to manage Hyper-V). Similarly, Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 and Citrix Essentials can manage other hypervisors, but in a limited capacity.

Even if the virtualization vendors won’t acknowledge the need for robust multi-hypervisor management tools, third-party products have filled the void.

Third-party management tools for multi-hypervisor infrastructures
There is a small demand for multi-hypervisor management tools. Think of an organization that recently acquired several companies and it needs to integrate various hypervisor platforms.

And, where there’s a demand, there’s normally a product. For example, HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware extends the vCenter Server management suite to Hyper-V, XenServer and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. From the SuperVISOR interface, you can migrate virtual machine snapshots between hosts, regardless of the underlying hypervisor.

Novell PlateSpin Orchestrate is another multi-hypervisor management tool, and it’s been around for a long time. The product supports VMware, Xen and Hyper-V, and it can carry out various administration tasks -- such as creating, starting, stopping and deleting virtual machines. Since Attachmate’s acquisition of Novell, however, PlateSpin Orchestrate’s maintenance and development status remains unclear, and the product hasn’t been updated in a while.

Additionally, there are management tools that are designed for private clouds, such as VMware vCloud Director or SCVMM 2012’s Project Concero. But these products from VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems focus more on a single platform, rather than tying in multiple hypervisors.    

There are some private-cloud management tools that aim for integrated solutions, however. Eucalyptus Systems, an open source software provider for creating Infrastructure as a Service clouds, has multi-hypervisor management tools that support the major platforms, making it possible to deploy virtual machines across different platforms from a single interface.

Solving a niche problem
These products solve a growing need, but multi-hypervisor management tools aren’t a major issue for most users. Many organizations that use multiple hypervisors have several IT departments that choose their own platforms, and there is little need for integration. Other companies segregate workloads by hypervisor and manage each platform separately.

But dedicated tools, such a PlateSpin Orchestrate and SuperVISOR, are a boon for organizations that want to simplify multi-hypervisor management behind a single pane of glass. And cloud providers, such as Eucalyptus Systems, have an incentive to support as many hypervisors as possible, because the cloud is the next step after a virtualization deployment.

This was first published in November 2011

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