Every vendor of a virtualization platform (VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Red Hat) also offers at least one and in some cases a suite of virtualization management tools. VMware and Red Hat only support their own platforms in their tools. Microsoft offers limited support for VMWare in System Center Virtual Machine Manager, primarily with the intent of making it easy to migrate a VMware VM from the VMware platform to the Microsoft Hyper-V platfrom. Citrix supports both its own Xen platform and the Microsoft Hyper-V platform in its Essentials product.

But the really interesting action is on the part of the third party virtualization management vendors. This action is interesting because these vendors always have to balance how much resource they devote to adding features for existing customers (who are almost all VMware), vs. how much time to devote to putting in features that address an expected shift in the market. Obviously addressing expected shifts in the market is always very important for these smaller vendors since if they time these shifts correctly they can establish a leadership position based upon the shift.

It is with this idea of shifts in the market in mind that it is worth taking a look at the support for Microsoft Hyper-V in these third party management products. This is interesting because in general, a enterprise only starts to look for a third party virtualization management tool when they perceive or feel that they have outgrown the capabilities and scaling of the tools that came with the virtualization platform. This means that the market for third party virtualization management tools is concentrated in the larger and more sophisticated enterprises that have pushed virtualization the furthest – enterprises that are likely close to 100% VMware in their choice of their implemented virtualization platform.

The table below shows the breadth of support for virtualization platforms on the part of the virtualization platform and virtualization management vendors. Of the 11 independent virtualization management vendors, 6 currently support Micrsosoft Hyper-V, with Embotics expected add support in 2010.

Virt Management Platforms

This support for Hyper-V on the part of these independent virtualization management vendors is notable for the following reasons:

  • As mentioned above, the vast majority of the large scale virtualization implementations that require third party virtualization management solutions are running VMware today.
  • These independent virtualization management vendors are for the most part venture funded startups, who need to generate significant customer and revenue traction in order to keep their investors happy.
  • Given these pressures the tendency would be for these vendors to focus upon where the current revenue comes from which is clearly VMware
  • However, it is clear that some very smart and very rational people have allocated support to Hyper-V.
  • The support for Hyper-V is clearly in some part motivated as a hedge against VMware’s strategy of building its own management stack in competition with these vendors (detailed in this post on VMware and Microsoft Management Stack Strategies).
  • However, it is also in some part a forecast on the part of these vendors that Hyper-V is going to mature with the release of R2 and start to gain some serious traction in these kinds of enterprise deployments.

The support for multiple virtualization platforms on the part of these third party virtualization managements vendors also raises an issue and an opportunity for enterprises with large scale VMware deployments. The issue is to determine if the enterprise is going to end up with more than one hypervisor. If the answer is yes, then the opportunity is to look at a virtualization management solution from a vendor like Dynamic Ops, Fortisphere, ManageIQ, Platform Computing, Surgient, or VizionCore. These third party virtualization management products often scale to levels not matched by the management consoles from the virtualization platform vendors, and also address issues like collaborative and self-service provisioning that is outside of the scope of the platform consoles. Finally, investment in a third party solution provides the enterprise with negotiating leverage against all platform providers as it mitigates against lock-in to a platform unique management stack.

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Bernd Harzog (324 Posts)

Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud).

Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets.

Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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