HotLink aims to ease managing mixed virtual environments

Its SuperVISOR for VMware integrates natively with vCenter to manage multiple hypervisors

Startup HotLink has exited stealth mode and launched SuperVISOR for VMware, designed to allow IT departments to mix and match hypervisors from different vendors and manage them all using VMware's vCenter platform, the company said on Tuesday.

Large enterprises tend to use software and hardware from multiple vendors. The same is true for virtualization. Studies show that over 60 percent of enterprises use more than one virtualization platform, according to Lynn LeBlanc, CEO and co-founder of HotLink.

The management complexity that comes with using multiple virtualization platforms is what HotLink wants to address with its SuperVISOR platform.

The company's approach to the issue is to centralize the management of multiple virtualization platforms, allowing them to be natively integrated with existing management tools, starting with VMware's vCenter.

Another, more traditional, way solving this issue is using a product that sits on top of the vendor-specific management platform. But that doesn't allow enterprises to manage all features, because, for example, VMware doesn't expose all the necessary APIs (application programming interfaces) for that to be possible, according to LeBlanc. So you still have to use the vendor-specific management platform for some tasks, which isn't scalable in an enterprise, she said.

"We think our approach is a much more direct solution than the overlay," said LeBlanc.

The heart of SuperVISOR is HotLink's transformation technology, which can collect all the necessary data from each hypervisor and transform that into something the management platform can understand. In fact, vCenter won't be able to tell the difference between VMware's ESX hypervisor and Xen from Citrix, according to LeBlanc.

HotLink's SuperVISOR for VMware allows the IT department to manage Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is based on Kernel-Based Virtual Machine (KVM), using vCenter.

The integration with the vCenter console is done using a plug-in, and all of the features that each hypervisor offer are available, LeBlanc said.

The IT department will, for example, be able to move workloads among different platforms. That allows enterprises to tier their virtualized infrastructure, and mix more expensive and less expensive hypervisors for different tasks, while still being able to unify the management. Doing that will be the most common use of its product, LeBlanc expects.

The company started with vCenter because it is the most mature and pervasive management platform for virtualized environments. The next step for HotLink will be SuperVISOR for Microsoft, which integrates with System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and then extend the platform to work with public clouds, including those from Amazon Web Services and Rackspace.

HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware will be available on Aug. 31, in conjunction with VMware's user conference VMworld, LeBlanc said. Pricing starts at $US25,000 for up to five hosts of any size.

HotLink was founded in early 2010 by LeBlanc and Richard Offer, who is the company's vice president of engineering. Together the two previously founded FastScale Technology, which was acquired by EMC in September 2009 and subsequently by VMware.

Today, HotLink has 18 employees, and seven enterprise customers, including McAfee and Informatica. The others want to "stay below the radar," LeBlanc said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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