Crossing the Hypervisor Divide

Arthur Cole

Management of one virtual platform is complicated enough. But what happens when you start introducing two or even three types of hypervisor into the mix?

That question is becoming increasingly less academic as enterprises find themselves turning to a multitude of solutions - both within the data center and on the cloud -- to address specific business needs.

One of the most fundamental problems is migration from one platform to another. Once assigned to a particular hypervisor, applications and data are essentially trapped in that realm for the duration of the project.

One company looking to overcome that restriction is Abiquo, which just launched version 1.5 of its flagship virtualization management tool that automates cross-platform migration between VMware and Hyper-V. The system features a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to easily move workloads from one environment to another, taking care of management tasks like data translation and provisioning in the background. It also provides the ability to share images across multiple VMs. The company is looking to bring in additional virtual platforms in the near future.

Whenever an industry is dominated by a single player, heterogeneity usually becomes the goal of upstart competitors. The irony here is that in this case, the entrenched company is VMware and the upstart is a little runt called Microsoft. And while Microsoft may have to answer to critics about its handling of the operating system over the years, when it comes to virtualization there's no hesitancy in supporting heterogeneous environments. Witness System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), which offers management capabilities for both Hyper-V and VMware (but strangely, not Xen.) The package does include a healthy dose of live migration and other tools, but it does not work across platforms -- virtual environments remain their own silos even though they are under the control of SCVMM.

Multi-platform support is becoming a crucial element when it comes to storage management. Companies like Xiotech are quickly adding support for VMware, Citrix and Microsoft as they seek to eliminate the bottlenecks that arise when too many virtual machines seek access to the same storage pathways. Xiotech's Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) system now enables autoprovisioning and resource reporting to XenServer, Hyper-V and the various VMware platforms, while new storage adapters enable direct plug-ins for Citrix and VMware management systems.

VMware, Microsoft and Citrix are the big three when it comes to virtualization, but they are not the only ones in need of integrated management systems. CA is lending a hand to Oracle/Sun users with newly added support for the Solaris Zones platform in its Service Assurance and Business-Driven Automation system. The support extends through the company's Spectrum infrastructure and automation management modules, as well as the eHealth Performance Management system, providing a single management pane for both virtual and physical environments.

One of the primary advantages of virtualization and the cloud is the pooling of resources -- the ability to leverage tremendous amounts of scalability to ensure data needs will always be met. With that scalability comes the need to manage your environment as a single unit. But without the ability to manage multi-platforms structures, you'll find yourself limited to the shallow end of the resource pool.

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Mar 24, 2010 11:42 AM Kevin Chin Kevin Chin  says:

Thanks for highlighting what I also think is an important consideration, as virtualization teams "test out" the latest hypervisors to keep their options open... In case you were not aware, PlateSpin Migrate from Novell offers a solution for hypervisor conversion (V2V) as well, and currently supports all the major hypervisors:  VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Microsoft Virtual Server, Virtual Iron, SUSE Linux Enterprise with Xen, Citrix XenServer, and Solaris Containers.  As an added bonus, not only does it offer V2V, but also P2P, P2V, V2P, V2I, P2I, etc. so you have many many options to explore.



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