VMware may be in a hypervisor war with Citrix, Microsoft, Oracle, and Red Hat, but it also finds itself in a battle over virtualization management control. Third-party vendors have been evolving their management technologies for years, often out-navigating and out-innovating VMware. While VMware ostensibly welcomes management products from ecosystem partners like SolarWinds, Veeam, VKernel (now part of Dell), VMTurbo and Zenoss, it is still very much a frenemy situation.
Though third-party companies in VMware's ecosystem are coming out with fantastic management products, the majority of virtual administrators simply do not want to give up using their vCenter clients. At the same time, they need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability, which often means managing with multiple panes of glass in their environment. One of the main marketing mantras these other management vendors all share (which VMware does not) is the idea of heterogeneous virtualization management.
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Since its beginnings, VMware has downplayed other virtualization platforms, never really acknowledging them as a significant threat. But with more and more organizations creating mixed-mode hypervisor data center environments, the need for a cross-platform management product becomes more important. In July 2011, VMware engineers began experimenting with heterogeneous virtualization management within vCenter, and one year later, with the acquisition of DynamicOps, the company showed signs of moving toward managing and interacting with other hypervisor technologies from within its own interfaces. By doing so, VMware seemed to be slowly legitimizing the competition.
During VMworld Europe 2012, VMware announced that vCenter Server 5.1 would soon be capable of managing Microsoft Hyper-V servers. The new add-on to vCenter Server that allows this functionality is something called vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager (MHM).
Up until now, management of Hyper-V servers by VMware software was limited to using one of VMware's free but unsupported plug-ins that was cooked up in a laboratory by VMware engineers –- that's the freebie dubbed as a fling. This particular fling, called vCenter XVP Manager and Converter, was described as providing "basic virtualization management capabilities for non-vSphere hypervisor platforms towards enabling centralized visibility and control across heterogeneous virtual infrastructures." In other words, users could manage competitor hypervisor platforms and their virtual machines from within a VMware vSphere Client.
Keep that description in mind, because it's going to sound awfully familiar. In many ways, it sounds like this fling has grown up to become a full-fledged product, leaving its experimental brothers and sisters behind in the VMware lab.
But unlike its lab-created predecessor, vCenter Multi Hypervisor Manager is far from experimental. In fact, it is an officially supported, production-ready vCenter Server 5.1 feature that will be a separate installable package and delivered as a C# VI Client plug-in.
The new software is made up of three components: a new MHM Extension into vCenter, an MHM Server that talks to the Hyper-V or third-party host infrastructure (actually translating the language of third-party hypervisors so that vCenter Server can understand it and manage it from the same user interface), and a vSphere Client MHM client plug-in that visualizes these third-party components into the infrastructure client.