One of the companies and technologies to watch is Hotlink with its Cross-Platform Management Technology (winner of Best of Show, VMworld 2012). If you have not heard of this before, I think you will in the near future. This technology allows you to use VMware’s vCenter Server to manage and control all major hypervisors and public clouds to include VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (KVM), CloudStack, and Amazon EC2, all from within VMware vCenter.
The fact that Hotlink is this integrated with VMware’s vCenter Server may be the company’s only Achilles’ heel at the moment, in that to use this cross-platform technology, you must use VMware’s proprietary software. This may make perfect sense now, with VMware’s technology being the current industry leader, but the actual need and use case for a product like this shows that the acceptance of the need for multiple hypervisors and the actual deployment of other hypervisors points to the idea that heterogeneous environments will be the wave of the future. There are going to be some heterogeneous environments out there that do not have VMware’s technology as part of the mix, and depending on which technology really ends up being the industry leader in the future, Hotlink may just miss out on a large number of tomorrow’s cloud deployments.
Then again, does it really matter that Hotlink is this integrated with vCenter Server now? I am going to say, “No not really,” and let me tell you why. The key to Hotlink’s platform, in my opinion, is the integration engine itself. This engine drives the communication between the different platforms and is the secret sauce in how the platform works. The integration engine has all the translations and API calls in place to handle all the communication; this would not change no matter what the management point was. Yes, it will take some work to develop a different front end process and/or method of working with Microsoft, Xen, Citrix, or name your flavour, as well as of taking advantage of the native functionality that each technology brings forward, but that would not be nearly as much work as it took to develop the integration engine and communication abilities themselves. Hotlink’s technology already ships as an OVF appliance and is supported to run on other hypervisors. It is recommended, and makes better sense, to run the appliance in VMware’s hypervisor and keep it as close as possible to vCenter, which is its current management point.
I will call the integration engine the foundation of this platform; it is this main part of the technology that has me looking at Hotlink for the future. Founded in early 2010 by the founders of FastScale Technologies Inc. (acquired by VMware), Hotlink has put forth technology, in under two years, that has the ability to dramatically simplify IT management for heterogeneous and hybrid computing infrastructure. Looking back to two years ago, the gap between VMware and its closer competitors was bigger than it is today, but I can understand completely why Hotlink’s initial release is tied in to vCenter in the way that it is. One of the added bonuses of the way Hotlink’s platform is tied in to vCenter is that vCenter will treat all the hosts and hypervisors the same way, in that you can take advantage of the entire VMware management ecosystem, as well as things like vCenter Operations Manager, across the different hypervisors. If you already have VMware’s ecosystem deployed in your environment, Hotlink’s technology will add incredible value to your infrastructure, as well as put you in a great position to be able to monitor and maintain multiple hypervisors and cloud connectivity.
How long will it take for Hotlink to expand out from vCenter’s coattails? Time will tell on that one, but I think Hotlink is in a great position to be able to move to different management ecosystems to keep in line with the top virtualization ecosystems, no matter who ends up winning the cloud wars.