vSphere 5 Licensing – The Role of Cross Platform Management Tools and the Hotlink SuperVISOR

So you are a loyal VMware customer. You have licenses for vSphere 4 and you are about 40% virtualized. Based upon the revised vRAM entitlements in the revised vSphere 5 licensing, you think you are going to be OK as you progress through the more demanding business critical purchased and custom developed applications that lie in front of you.

But at the end of the day, you cannot know for sure. You cannot know for sure, because of three things:

  1. You cannot know for sure what vRAM configurations will be required for your purchased applications. Many vendors of these applications specify a vRAM allocation, and you could well get hit with a new version that requires an extra gig or two of RAM per VM that would in turn trigger the need for extra vSphere licenses.
  2. You cannot know for sure what the developers of your internal custom developed applications are going to do. Applications tend to expand in functionality over time, and as they expand in functionality they tend to use more memory.
  3. You cannot know for sure what VMware is going to do with vRAM entitlements as CPU price/performance continues down the road of Moore’s law (a doubling of price/performance every 18 months). From VMware’s perspective, this new pricing is simply designed to ensure that the number of vSphere licenses that you require does not get cut in half if you replace 100 existing servers with 50 new ones each of which have twice the memory of the previous one. However, this march toward increased density will ultimately cause many customers to buy more licenses than they had before, which is what people want to guard against.
Virtualization Management Tools as a Isolation Strategy
One of the time honored strategies for dealing with diversity in an underlying layer of infrastructure is to put in place management tools that deal with the differences between the components in the layer. This has worked will for things like switches, servers and operating systems, but it has not worked so well as of yet for virtualization platforms. It would be very nice if this were to work for virtualization platforms, as it would allow you to keep everything that you have to manage vSphere today, and simply add another hypervisor (to perhaps take the non-production non-performance critical workloads and save the vSphere licenses for things that really matter).
Hotlink has just announced a very innovative new approach to virtualization management that is designed to fill in the holes in functionality that traditionally get created when you try to use the management console from vendor A  to manage the virtualization platform of vendor B. This is depicted in the diagram below.

The result of the Hotlink solution is that you can now use vCenter to directly manage Hyper-V VM’s in the same manner that you would use vCenter to manage VMware vSphere VM’s. This is implemented via a vCenter plug-in as shown below.


Finishing the Picture

So let’s assume that Hotlink is successful and that you get to pick your management console (vCenter or MS SCVVM by way of example) and then manage any combination of vSphere, Hyper-V, or ultimately other virtualization platforms like Red Hat KVM or Citrix XenServer.

The next step is to round out the management functionality in your environment around highly functional yet cross-platform virtualization management tools. Some good choices are listed in the table below.

Supported Virtualization
 Performance and Capacity Management Solutions
vKernel vOperations Suite VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V
Quest vFoglight VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V
VMTurbo VMTurbo VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V
NetApp Insight Balance VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V
Microsoft SCOM/SCVMM Hyper-V, VMware with Veeam nworks MP
Xangati Xangati Management Dashboard VMware View (on vSphere), Citrix XenDesktop (on vSphere)
Zenoss Service Dynamics VMware vSphere, Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Red Hat KVM
 Data Protection and Backup
 Quest  vRanger Pro  VMware vSphere only
 Veeam  Backup and Replication  VMware vSphere, Hyper-V (announced)
 Private Cloud and IT as a Service
Abiquo  Abiquo  VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Red Hat KVM
DynamicOPS  Cloud Automation Center  VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V
Gale Technologies  GaleForce  VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer
Platform Computing  Platform ISF VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V
Virtualization/Cloud Security
Catbird  vCompliance, vSecurity, Cloud Edition VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer


Hotlink is breaking new ground by allowing you to use vCenter to manage Hyper-V in the full and rich manner that you would want to manage any virtualization platform from its native console. The timing for Hotlink could not be better, as the new vRAM licensing for vSphere is making many customers look at alternatives – at least for workloads that do not require vSphere’s market leading features. The true cost in adopting a second virtualization platform is not in adopting the platform itself, but in managing it. Hotlink combined with cross-platform tools that address higher level management needs beyond what is in the console may be the best way to minimize the number of management tools, while keeping ones options open on the front of the virtualization platform.