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Why hypervisor tiering is the future of multiple hypervisor management

If cost and complexity prevent you from adopting multiple hypervisors, the hypervisor tiering approach may have you rethinking your infrastructure.

Just as tiered storage is an efficient, cost-effective approach to managing a variety of data in your infrastructure,

hypervisor tiering can provide the same management benefits to multiple hypervisor environments.

Storage vendors have long touted the benefits of tiered storage, which places low priority and archive data on cheap storage and high priority data on expensive, high-performance storage. With more of IT's budget going to virtualization licenses and infrastructure clouds, admins should begin auditing these costs and looking for ways to reduce them. In a multi-hypervisor infrastructure, it makes sense to employ a management approach similar to storage tiering.

Let's look at the different approaches to multi-hypervisor management and why hypervisor tiering is a smart approach.

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Approaches to multiple hypervisor management

The concept of hypervisor tiering is new, but so are the other approaches to multiple hypervisor management.

Here are the most common scenarios:

  • Silos -- With a siloed management approach, every hypervisor has its own management application, and you may even have different teams managing those silos. In my opinion, this is tremendously inefficient.
  • Manager of managers -- These are types of software programs for managing multiple hypervisors, including Microsoft's System Center, BMC Cloud Lifecycle Manager and VMware's recent acquisition, DynamicOps. The software provides so-called overlay automation, and their size can make them complex to implement and manage.
  • Centralized with transformation -- In this scenario, you use an existing virtualization management application for multi-hypervisor management (and sometimes for the public cloud) through a so-called transformation engine. The only such engine comes from Silicon Valley-startup HotLink. The software, SuperVISOR, allows centralized management through VMware vCenter. You manage other hypervisor (and cloud) hosts and virtual machines (VMs) just as you manage your vSphere hosts and VMs. Compared to the overlay approach, the HotLink approach is simpler to implement and, assuming you already use vSphere, there is nothing new to learn.

Most admins agree the siloed approach is inefficient and not worth the trouble. The data centers that create manager-of-managers structures, and those that use the transformation engine approach, believe their approach of choice is most efficient. You should test these methods in your own data center to know which will provide the most benefit.

Four reasons to use hypervisor tiering

Hypervisor tiering also allows for multiple hypervisor management and could have an edge over the methods previously discussed. Here are four reasons why this new structure could be the best bet for your data center:

  1. Lower your costs (and maximize ROI) -- Relying on a virtual infrastructure means spending more on hypervisors and cloud infrastructure. Many data centers chose virtualization as a way to maximize ROI. Hypervisor tiering allows you to select cheaper hypervisors when needed, thus ensuring maximum ROI.
  2. Improved hypervisors and clouds -- Lower-cost hypervisors, such as XenServer and Hyper-V, may have been immature in the past, but today these hypervisors showcase powerful advanced features. At the same time, infrastructure clouds have become more reliable and more widely accepted.
  3. New multi-hypervisor management structures -- The siloed management approach used to be the only option for data centers. This is the reason I was originally opposed to a multi-hypervisor structure. But new approaches allow management from a single interface, thus simplifying the process.
  4. Better budget management -- You should not spend more than necessary on your virtual infrastructure. Tiered storage keeps storage spending in check, and so do tiered hypervisors.

As core hypervisor features become more similar, and advanced features provide the services you expect, more data centers are choosing to adopt multiple hypervisors. New approaches to multi-hypervisor management make the process easier and more affordable than ever. Managing multiple hypervisors and cloud infrastructures, all from a single interface, represents the future of virtualization. Thanks to hypervisor tiering, you can get started now.

This was first published in November 2012

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Essential Guide

Do more with less using these virtualization cost-saving approaches
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