For the last few years, VMware engineers have been turning out a number of free experimental tools that operate within the company's server virtualization platform. Dubbed Flings, these VMware Lab creations are defined by VMware as "a brief casual relationship" intended to be "a short-term thing." While these interesting freebie tools are not part of any official product offering, they have been well received within VMware's community of virtualization users.
There is one important aspect to these Flings -- useful though they may be -- that needs to be mentioned over and over again: VMware clearly states that these tools are intended to be played with and explored, but they do not come with VMware support and therefore shouldn't be used in production environments.
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That said, you might be asking yourself whether VMware really intends to stand behind these tools once the goodwill gesture runs out.
While we can't predict the future with any certainty, we do know Flings have been going strong for more than three years and VMware has amassed a list of 46 different Flings currently available online for download. I would argue that these tools have been proven useful by the community, and they're probably here to stay.
Not only are VMware engineers still coming out with new and interesting takes on Flings, but VMware is still putting its full faith and effort behind them as well.
Recently, one Fling graduated from short-term status to a longer-term and fully supported product component. In February 2011, scientists at VMware thought it would be fun and useful to allow VMware administrators to gain visibility and management capabilities within a Microsoft Hyper-V environment from within their VMware vSphere Client. To make that possible, they created the vCenter XVP Manager and Converter Fling.
Fast- forward nearly two years later and that Fling has become the first fully supported product, called VMware vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager (MHM). Much like XVP Manager, MHM has introduced many of the same key capabilities provided by the Fling:
- Third-party host management support including add, remove, connect, disconnect and view the host configuration
- The ability to edit virtual machine settings
- Automatic discovery of pre-existing third-party virtual machines
- The ability to perform power operations with both hosts and virtual machines
- The ability to connect and disconnect DVD, CD-ROM, and floppy drives and images to install operating systems