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Virtualization management in 2012: All about multi-hypervisor

Virtualization management tools will increasingly support heterogeneous hypervisors, and there will be a number of acquisitions in this space next year, IT pros and experts predict.

Heterogeneous hypervisor support and more comprehensive offerings will be mandatory as the virtualization management industry consolidates in 2012, according to IT pros and experts.

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More enterprises will run multiple-hypervisor environments, users and analysts say, and this will drive the need for multi-hypervisor management tools into the mainstream in the coming year.

 “I think you’ll start seeing people pick hypervisors based on what they need to run on top of it, not just based on what they already have,” said Joe Henrich, assistant vice president of technology for a community bank in the Midwest. “Because they’re going to find cost savings when they pick the ones that go with what they’re trying to do.”

Though Henrich is currently a Hyper-V user, VMware isn’t out of the question for some parts of his environment, such as Linux guests. “Right now there’s the attitude that if you have one [product], you don’t normally have the other, but I think we’re going to see that start to break down.”

Test and development environments are also “ripe for VMware competitors to eke out some market share (but not many dollars) while VMware is pushing into more mission critical applications,” said Stu Miniman, an analyst for

Meanwhile, VMware’s deeper forays into virtualization management with vCenter Operations means third-party vendors will have to branch out beyond playing follow-the-market-leader.

“I can see the third-party vendors trying to make sure they have more of a life outside of VMware, especially as VMware encroaches into their [space] more and more,” said Andrew Storrs, principal consultant for Storrs and Associates.

For VMware’s part, CEO Paul Maritz has taken the public position that there’s no point developing management products for hypervisors other than its own. However, this attitude may strengthen headwinds against VMware’s offerings in the coming year, especially as chief competitor Microsoft prepares System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 that can manage Citrix XenServer and vSphere as well as Hyper-V.

Microsoft isn’t the only one looking to make an end run around VMware with heterogeneity; so are Quest and VKernel.

“That’s one place where VMware has a massive challenge, because vCenter Operations is vSphere only, whereas both [Quest] vFoglight and VKernel already support vSphere and Hyper-V,” said Bernd Harzog, an analyst for the Virtualization Practice.

In fact, if VMware won’t add heterogeneity to its virtualization management software, there are already third parties willing to step in, Harzog said. One such vendor, HotLink , is “an absolute wild card,” and could make the virtualization management space interesting along so many different dimensions.”

Experts predict industry consolidation
As comprehensiveness becomes a key strategy for third-party virtualization management players to counter VMware’s advances, experts predict more acquisitions will take place.

“It would make sense to see some of those players who have stuck around independently getting eaten up next year…the HyTrusts and Catbirds of the world,” said Storrs. “At some point some of those things have got to be tempting things to slot in your portfolio, especially if they’re starting to play well with each other.”

Don’t be surprised if it’s the old standbys in the IT management space -- companies such as IBM, CA, BMC and HP -- making the acquisitions, analysts say.

“I believe next year will be the year of accelerated consolidations and buy-outs,” said Edward Haletky, CEO and analyst for the Virtualization Practice. “We are seeing them now, but I think the big boys are going to start to seriously play in the virtualization and cloud markets.”

“I think you will see this in the management tool arena more than any other next year,” Haletky added.

“I believe Quest's purchase of VKernel is a [harbinger] of things to come,” said Jeff Byrne, an analyst with the Taneja Group. “The larger virtualization management players, including VMware, are trying to fill out their product offerings to include performance, capacity and analytics capabilities, and I'm guessing that in some cases vendors will find it makes more sense to buy these capabilities than to build them.”

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for Write to her at

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