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.

Microsoft Extends VDI/Citrix Offer

Great news…if you were still looking at a VDI solution with Microsoft and Citrix they have extended their promotion.

The deal can help you save as much as 50% and help with a quick start launch of VDI in your environment. Or at lease help make the sell a little bit easier to management.


  • 50% off retail price of the Microsoft VDI suite and the Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition
  • Eligible customers will receive a 70% discount off the estimated retail price on Microsoft VDI Standard Suite subscription license and a 50% discount on Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition annual licensefrom their reseller of choice
  • This promotion is for up to 250 devices at $28 per device, so for around $7K you could have the base solution
  • To be eligible, you must have a Core CAL EA with active SA or a Select Agreement, it also open to Open Value customers as well
  • Offer Ends June 30th 2011

Details and link here:

Introducing XenClient

Citrix has been around making virtualization products for almost 20 years now. While their application publishing has gotten most of the attention over the last few years they have rolled out a pretty innovative product recently, XenClient. Before I go into the details, lets quickly recap the basic product lines so you have a full understanding of how this product actually fits into the virtual realm.

  • XenApp – is the most popular and most installed of their offerings. This product gives you the ability to publish and deploy applications in a virtual shell. Mostly used for custom apps, thin client, and other non-compatible friendly programs (ERP, HR, Accounting programs, etc..). The Hypervisor is application based.
  • XenDesktop– Citrix version of VDI (Virtual Desktops), sits on a server and publishes complete desktops to “virtually any devices.” Really a hot topic right now and fits well in a lot of different environments. Primarily competes with VMWare View, but several other companies are releasing similar products. The Hypervisor is Server/Desktop based.


Now to the new release, XenClient is a bare metal hypervisor that actually sits on a laptop (not a server) and can provide the ability to run multiple versions of client operating systems, think Windows 7 or Vista. Very similar to VMware workstation, except VMware is considered a tier 2 hypervisor (meaning it sits on a native OS before it virtualizes) and XenClient is a true tier 1 hypervisor sitting directly and interacting directly with the hardware.

The idea here is to be able to push the client OS management side locally versus hosting on a shared resource such as server and storage that would be found in a typical VDI environment. This frees up resources and allows more freedom when it comes to working off the network or offline.  As well, there is going to be more features released soon to provide compatibility between applications and OS’s. For example you could run office 2010 in Windows XP while sharing that app with Windows 7 and work together, getting the best of both systems. Finally, it would provide flexible environments for independent tasks (demos, test dev, and so forth).

Why is this innovative?

One, it allows the ability for IT to build desktop standards and have the end user handle a lot of the disaster recovery and other technical issues. This is because the Citrix receiver backs up the client (change only) pc every time it connects to the internet, So if a laptop is lost, stolen, fails etc. user can actually self service and restore their virtual machines onto any XenClient machine. This could save a large amount of time!

The other innovative idea here is security. It is pretty basic; you send out a corporate laptop with a virtual layer (XenClient). It gets lost or an employee goes awol. A quick click of a button and you can send a kill pill to the machines and make it useless for whoever has the device. Pretty straightforward, and since all the data was backed up, you could retrieve the data in no time.

The bad?

It is very new and still unproved for the most part. It has to be hardware compatible, and there is only a small handful of models that will work.  As of this writing, OS compatibility is limited to a few versions (Windows XP, Vista, and 7). Lastly, to take full advantage it would be recommended to have a existing Citrix environment in place.

With that said, it is a one of a kind product that should catch on and provide an extra layer of virtualization for remote users.