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HotLink punts freebie SuperVisor virty control freak

Update adds EC2, ESXi 5.1, and vCloud hooks

Security for virtualized datacentres

The SuperVisor control freak that lets VMware vCenter to do unnatural things to non-VMware hypervisors and clouds is getting a 2.0 rev with a bunch of new features. This update comes just as HotLink, the company behind the tool, has decided to make it up in volume and provide a full and freebie version of SuperVisor that we can all mess around with on a modest server/cloud setup.

HotLink came out of stealth mode in August 2011, and had a plan to allow any hypervisor to be controlled from any other server virtualization console so that companies could break the dependencies that server virtualization software makers depend on for their revenues and profits.

So, for example, if you were a VMware shop using the ESXi hypervisor and the vCenter console for management, but you happened to want to snap in some Hyper-V, KVM, or XenServer hypervisors for selected workloads, SuperVisor would sit between the vCenter console and those non-VMware hypervisors and generate the metadata, virtual machine formats, and other things vCenter would expect and would allow those hypervisors and their virtual machines to be managed by vCenter.

Similarly, if you wanted to put virtual machines out on the Amazon Web Services EC2 cloud, SuperVisor could sit between vCenter and the Amazon console and make those EC2 images look like regular VMware virtual machines when they were in fact virty servers running on an external cloud in a custom Xen container.

SuperVisor was also designed to be able to provision software onto bare-metal servers and bring all iron, whether physical or virtual, under the control of one tool. That would be SuperVisor, of course.

The need to support other consoles, which seemed so obvious when the company was founded back in 2010 by Lynn LeBlanc and Richard Offer, has been less of an issue than expected. (LeBlanc and Offer are the founders of FastScale Technology, which had a different twist on virtualization and which EMC acquired in August 2009. This business was transferred to EMC's VMware virtualization subsidiary in February 2010 and it is not clear what VMware intends to do with it nearly three years later.)

The good news for HotLink is that XenServer didn't take off as much as many had expected, and Red Hat still has not gained widespread adoption of KVM. So HotLink has not had to worry much about these integrations, and has instead focused on deeper integration with the VMware stack and clouds.

Microsoft is coming on strong with Systems Center 2012 and Hyper-V 3.0, however, and it stands to reason that at some point SuperVisor will be gluing Systems Center and its Virtual Machine Monitor and other plug-ins to raw ESXi hypervisors. But LeBlanc is not letting the cat out of the bag early on the company's plans.

"We try to follow the market," says LeBlanc, who is CEO at HotLink, which makes sense for a startup with lofty goals but limited resources in terms of time, money, and people. "You can reasonably expect additional integrations with SuperVisor this year, but we are not going to pre-announce."

With the SuperVisor 2.0, the super-control-freak can link into VMware's vCenter 5.1 console announced last summer in conjunction with the ESXi 5.1 hypervisor and the related vSphere stack. The update also has all of the metadata and other tweaks to the API conversion layer so vCenter can reach into Hyper-V 3.0, which is based on Windows Server 2012, and boss it around.

The 2.0 software update also includes the metadata extensions that are required for SuperVisor to boss VMware's vCloud Director cloud control freak around, and also links into VMware's PowerCLI, which itself is an interface into Microsoft's PowerShell interface that allows Windows to manage vSphere. (Man, there are a lot of bossy programs in that stack.)

The SuperVisor 2.0 release also integrates with another HotLink tool that allows vCenter to manage virty machines on Amazon EC2 and CloudStack clouds called HotLink Hybrid Express, which debuted last August. HotLink says SuperVisor and Hybrid Express are "interoperable," but El Reg has a feeling that these are just two different aspects of the same program with two different prices.

The biggest change is a freebie version of SuperVisor 2.0, which LeBlanc says HotLink is doing now because it has enough experience and staff for tech support and sales that it can handle the tidal wave that will now come its way – well, that's the plan anyway, and given the price, this seems a fair point.

The SuperVisor freebie edition lets admins control-freak Hyper-V, XenServer, or KVM hypervisors and their virtual machines from within vCenter, and has all the features of the commercial edition. The difference is that the freebie edition is limited to a maximum of three non-VMware host servers and a maximum of 15 simultaneous virtual machines across the VMware and non-VMware server slicers.

The freebie edition has forum support, and you can upgrade it to the commercial edition. You can download it here.

The enterprise edition costs $22,700 for a license that covers one non-VMware hypervisor plus ten hosts, and you buy a block of additional hosts for that non-VMware hypervisor in a 25-pack that costs $23,400. The Hybrid Express software costs $195 per VM out on the Amazon or CloudStack clouds. And if you like the freebie edition and it is enough for you, you can buy a license for tech support for it for $5,340 per year. ®

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