Management in Multi-Hypervisor Environments

Arthur Cole
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Make the Financial Case for Virtualization and Cloud Computing

When it comes to hardware infrastructure, the single-vendor environment is practically unheard of. So it stands to reason that enterprises would be just as willing to adopt the same multi-vendor attitude for the virtual layer.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, virtual environments are becoming increasingly heterogeneous in many large and mid-sized enterprises, leading to demand for multi-hypervisor management stacks and other tools that bridge single-vendor environments. This has become a high priority for many third-party management firms since market leader VMware shows no inclination to sharing its hefty customer base with anyone.

Irony being what it is, however, there's a certain joy to be had in Microsoft's new-found love of shared environments. The company recently announced the addition of a hypervisor-agnostic fabric controller for System Center 2012, which, coupled with flat-fee support for unlimited virtual machines, takes dead aim at vCenter's hold over VMware virtual environments. Under the platform, enterprises will be able to coordinate pools of compute, storage and network resources across internal and external cloud architectures, and will most likely boost interest in Microsoft's Azure platform for PaaS and IaaS environments.

The very fact that most virtual environment are, or soon will be, reaching into the cloud makes multi-hypervisor support almost a necessity across a wide range of management tools. Shenick Network Systems, recently introduced the diversifEye VM IP test and measurement system aimed at tracking data flow in the cloud. By working across hypervisor platforms, the system is able to emulate and analyze IP traffic down to the application level, where it can streamline data loads and migration functions across virtual environments.

The reality of multi-hypervisor environments is also starting to influence developments elsewhere in the enterprise, such as the storage farm. Virsto Software, developers of the so-called "storage hypervisor," now offers Virsto for vSphere and Virsto for Hyper-V 2.0, providing enterprises that employ both environments the ability to streamline storage infrastructure to more easily accommodate the dynamic workflows and provisioning requirements of virtualized server infrastructure. The company says it can reduce storage requirements up to 90 percent by abstracting the storage layer to make it more flexible and responsive to VMs, virtual desktops and virtual management suites.

Virtual environments are tough enough to manage on their own, so enterprises should tread lightly when it comes to adding multiple hypervisor platforms to the mix. That being said, however, cloud users are sure to encounter the full spectrum of virtualization in their quest to find the most cost-effective infrastructure. Before you become too dependent on the broad range of platforms in the cloud, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with multi-hypervisor management at home.

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