Running Multiple Hypervisors Under vCenter: A Quick Look At Hotlink

Over the last couple weeks a very common question I am getting from customers is around switching off of VMware and onto another hypervisor. Usually when we go through the exercise to determine if this is something within their comfort zone we find quickly that the idea of rip and replace is much more of a burden than keeping the current infrastructure. But with that said, things are a changing and people are looking at a plan B so they are not married to a specific vendor incase of some sort of dramatic change, lets say pricing or feature set for example.

Until recently I could honestly say there wasn’t any alternatives that we would recommend that was apples to apples in features and scalability etc. Plus, even if a customer moved to a lateral competitor (Citrix or Hyper-v) they same “locked in” situation would occur. Now, only if there was a product that could manage all the different types of hyper-visors with the best of bread management software on a single platform?

Well we are all in luck because there is a new company that promises to help with this situation. Hotlink was founded last year and will be launching their new product, Hotlink SuperVISOR, very soon and I can say looking over their spec sheets that I am excited to see if this will be as advertised!

What Is it exactly:

In its simplest form it is a layer that sits in-between the hypervisor layer and your management console (vCenter for example).  Using their unique tools set including virtual object bus, transformation technology, proxy and integration services it allows for heterogeneous environment. This means, good or bad, you can run a multitude of different hypervisors under one single platform.


One thing that I do like about this technology is that it does take advantage of your best of breed products. For example, its first management plugin is designed for VMware vCenter and looking over the feature set this is a wise decision. Customer familiar with working in this management console will find the transition smooth with little to no disruption allowing them to leverage existing skills.

As well, you can now mix and match your hypervisors to match your application needs. This both increases efficiency and decreases cost as you put enterprise class programs on VMWare which is expensive and put tier 3 applications on Hyper-v which is less expensive. This puts you in a position to avoid vendor lock-in and if you are already running multiple hypervisors provide a single management console reducing your opex.


I want to be careful when pointing out good vs. bad when reviewing this product because to be transparent I haven’t seen a demo copy or tested it in the lab as of yet. So instead I just have a lot of questions about the functionality, performance and other technical details.

For starters, I am not sure on the performance overhead of my host machines? I don’t know what this does to my environment if lets say I structurally built around VMware now running several different products under the same hood? I don’t know how this would affect my storage infrastructure and included API’s from EMC, NetApp, etc? Design, deployment, troubleshooting are all questions at this point. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I will say I would be a bit nervous putting this layer in my environment without a firm understanding of all impacts it would put on my infrastructure.

What it won’t solve:

It still won’t address any licensing issues around cost reduction. True you could say move your file servers to Hyper-v which is free with Windows server licenses and only keep your primary machines under VMware but that falls into the 80/20 principle and willing to bet that most of your production applications are high to mission critical and cannot afford any downtime, which is why people move to VMware and pay the extra premium.  However it could help lead down the path were you could give VMware a solid threat to migrate and have a powerful tool at your disposal.


The base price for the SuperVISOR platform is $25k, which includes support for vSphere + 1 other hypervisor and 5 hosts. That is all the details I have at this point. As I hear more I will update this posting.


Overall this is a great step forward and depending on execution could change the virtualization landscape. I would assume that there will be a group of similar products over the next couple months as this idea gains traction. So I will be curious to see how fast Hotlink can move to market and get adoption going. Looking to seeing more updates.

Running Hyper-V in vCenter!

With the announcement of vCenter Operations a few months ago I was thinking about how vCenter and how useful this interface has become over the last few years. For whatever reason I started to wonder if vCenter could handle the management of non-vSphere virtual machines. As I had a few conversations I was met with some weird expressions and utter confusion. “Why would you want to?” seemed to be a common response, more on that later.

I knew that Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager claims to manage VMware VM’s (I wouldn’t vouch for the performance ) so I was sure VMware had some sort of tool of their own, right?  After some research it turns out I was half right.


Lets back up and explain the why. First and my favorite response is always “why not?” If it can be done, why not prove it. Second and a more responsible and applicable reason is because hyper-v is free.* I am not saying replace your VMware environment, I am saying from a cost perspective if you wanted to spin up a few fully functioning VM’s for test/dev or branch office tier 3 applications hyper-v is a good and inexpensive choice.

The Solution

The part why I was only partially correct. So it turns out there is a program called vCenter XVP Manager and Converter, and it does just that.  As stated from their website.

VMware vCenter XVP Manager and Converter provides basic virtualization management capabilities for non-vSphere hypervisor platforms towards enabling centralized visibility and control across heterogeneous virtual infrastructures. It also simplifies and enables easy migrations of virtual machines from non-vSphere virtualization platforms to VMware vSphere.

But, and it’s a big but, it is part of VMware Lab’s department and isn’t fully supported. So while it is a tool that exists, I can’t claim it is a full-fledged product. With that said use at your own risk.

Fine Print

It is new and doesn’t look like it was tested very much as the forums are looking a bit full. The technical requirements are a little strict. For example you actually need Virtual Machine Manager running and the host must also have Windows Remote Management (WinRM) v1.1. Performance and features are limited with its primary purpose bridge to managing a mixed environment.

*I don’t want to get bogged down on true cost of Hyper-V, it has been overly communicated if you want more information feel free to Google it, but just know nothing is free and you do end up paying something for Hyper-V.

Below is some more details and I have provided some links.


  • Management of the following Microsoft Hyper-V platforms:
    • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (64-bit) with Hyper-V role enabled
    • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V role enabled
  • Familiar vCenter Server graphical user interface for navigating through and managing non-vSphere inventory
  • Ease of virtual machine migrations from non-vSphere hosts to vSphere inventory
  • Compatible with VMware vCenter Server 4.0 & 4.1
  • Scalable up to management of 50 non-vSphere hosts

If you find it interesting:

-Here is a link on a guide to Hyper-V Features for the VMware administrator.

What Can You Officially Virtualize With Windows Hyper-V?

I will be the first to admit. I don’t write enough about Microsoft Hyper-V. This is partly due to popularity of VMware and Citrix, but also because Hyper-V at times isn’t as flashy as the alternatives. So in the spirit of fairness, I thought I would spend sometime evaluating Microsoft offerings.

One place I wanted to start with was the supported Microsoft server software that can be virtualized using Hyper-V. Since the majority of the environments I work with are Microsoft centric it is a good start. Hopefully this quick list will help when deploying that new Microsoft application. Below is the list:

  • Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 or later. (Management Server, Publishing Server, Sequencer, Terminal Services Client, and Desktop Client).
  • BizTalk Server- 2004, 2006, 2006 R2, and 2009.
  • Microsoft Commerce Server– 2007 SP 2 or later.
  • Dynamics AX-2009 or later.
  • Dynamics GP -10 or later.
  • Dynamics NAV– 2009 or later.
  • Exchange Server 2007 SP1 or later.
  • Forefront Client Security.
  • Forefront Identity Manage– 2010 or later.
  • Microsoft Intelligent Application Gateway (IAG) – 2007 SP 2 or later.
  • Forefront Security for Exchange (FSE) – SP1 or later.
  • Forefront Security for SharePoint (FSP) SP2 or later.
  • Microsoft Host Integration Server-2006 or later.
  • Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server.
  • Groove Server– 2007 SP1 or later
  • PerformancePoint Server– 2007 SP2 or later.
  • Office Project Server– 2007 SP1 or later.
  • SharePoint Server/SharePoint Services- 2007 SP1 or later/3.0 SP1 or later.
  • Operations Manager (MOM) 2005.
  • Search Server- 2008 or later.
  • Essential Business Server 2008– 2008 or later.
  • Windows Small Business Server 2008- 2008 or later.
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008
  • Configuration Manager-System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Service Pack 1 (both server and agents) or later.
  • Data Protection Manager- Supported with limitations.
  • Microsoft System Center Essentials-2007 Service Pack 1 and later.
  • Operations Manager– 2007 (both server and agents) or later.
  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • Microsoft System Center Service Manager- 2010 or later.
  • Server (SMS)– Systems Management Server 2003 Service Pack 3 (agents only) is supported.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Team System– 2008 or later.
  • Microsoft Windows HPC Server 2008– 2008 or later.
  • Windows Server 2003 Web Edition– Windows Server 2003 Web Edition with Service Pack 2 or later.
  • Microsoft Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)– Update Services 3.1 or later.
  • Windows Web Server 2008
  • Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007- 2007 Feature Pack 1 (FP1) (with the latest updates) and later versions are supported.
  • Microsoft Office Web Apps

More information can be found here.