Hotlink and their Cross-Platform Cloud Management technology have been in the news recently with the announcement of the latest release and the release of the free version of their flagship product, Hotlink SuperVISOR for VMware vCenter. This technology extends the VMware vCenter management capabilities to Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (KVM). Bernd Harzog did a great post covering this latest release so no need to repeat things, but I would like to share my thoughts on how this type of technology has the potential to fundamentally change the direction of virtualization and/or cloud computing.

One of the secret ingredients in Hotlink’s technology is the Transformation Engine, which basically decouples VMware vCenter from the vSphere hypervisor so that multiple different hypervisors can be controlled via VMware vCenter Server. The Transformation Engine is what I would call the integration engine, in that it performs the translation between technologies. I wonder if during the Hotlink development, the ability to decouple and manage all the different hypervisors was the project plan all along, or was it an added bonus discovered during development of the Transformation Engine?

Additional feature or added bonus, call it what you want, but I think this is going to open some doors in cross platform features. Hotlink is just the first of what may be many different cross-platform strategies. In the way that Hotlink has made VMware vCenter Server the centralized management point, I think there will be other companies that will present similar technology; having Microsoft’s System Center as the management point would be just one example.

Now here is where it can get really good. Once the cross-platform management concept really takes off, when we really have a choice of which technology we want to use as the central management point, we could really get to a point where certain features could be cherry picked and used with all systems. What I mean is hopefully there will be the ability to take advantage of specific features that are available for a specific technology. One example with the Hotlink technology is taking advantage of VMware’s Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and expanding the use of the technology to a Microsoft Hyper-V Cluster. An additional bonus features would be the ability to take advantage of VMware’s vCenter Operations.

Would it be too much to think that in the future we might be able to take advantage of different features from the different platforms to pick which features we could use and apply to the infrastructure as a whole? Why not?  The integration engine is the key to keep everything talking to each other.

By design or by accident, cross-platform cloud management has opened a door to a possibility that I don’t think VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, or any other hypervisor vender would have thought might happen. Will this “feature” continue to grow and expand or will functionality be diminished or removed? Time will tell and we will just have to see for ourselves.

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Steve Beaver (158 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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