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ConVirt Looks to Converge Hypervisor Management

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Hypervisor heterogeneity is on the rise, and over the last few years we’ve talked extensively about multi-hypervisor management tools.

But Convirture is a company that we haven’t taken a close look at, even though it’s quietly been building Virtually Speaking a very interesting product for companies involved in server virtualization.

The San Mateo, CA-based company started by offering tools for managing the Xen and KVM hypervisors, which were bundled with various Linux distributions. These developed into various versions of its ConVirt product, and a big milestone was achieved at the end of 2012 with the release of ConVirt 3.2, which introduced support for VMware’s ESXi.

And now, a twelvemonth later, the company’s ConVirt Enterprise product has “got the set,” so to speak: the latest version of ConVirt can be used to manage Hyper-V hosts and virtual machines as well as VMware, Xen and KVM ones.

“There are a lot of businesses that are looking for a more sophisticated tool than Hyper-V Manager to manage multiple Hyper-V hosts without the expense and complexity of stepping up to System Center, and that’s where ConVirt fits in,” explains Arsalan Farooq, the company’s CEO.

“And if an organization is using other hypervisors and cloud platforms, ConVirt is the single pane of glass to control them all,” he adds. (Is it just me, or are their shades of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “one ring to rule them all” about that last quote?)

By adding ConVirt Enterprise Cloud, a virtual machine and cloud management solution, you can also have a single point of control to manage cloud computing platforms, including Amazon EC2, Eucalyptus and OpenStack.

The new ConVirt Enterprise has a number of features for Hyper-V users that are not available in the standard edition of Hyper-V Manager, and these include:

  • Web console
  • Historical metrics
  • VM scheduling and retirement
  • Multi-administrator annotations
  • At-a-glance metric dashboards
  • Intelligent provisioning

ConVirt is still of interest even if you don’t run the Hyper-V hypervisor. If you’re a VMware shop with other hypervisors then ConVirt Enterprise can act as the single management system for ruling them all. It works alongside vCenter and can handle many of the most commonly executed tasks.

And whatever the combination of hypervisors you are running, ConVirt Enterprise adds automation and orchestration that spans all of the supported virtualization types, with high availability and workload management capabilities that previously did not exist in some of the base virtualization software, the company claims.

This, ConVirt says, gives the administrators powerful functionality that previously wasn’t there, along with visibility across disparate technologies from the central ConVirt Enterprise console. This makes it significantly more efficient and cost-effective versus having individual, multiple consoles along with the expertise required to operate each one.

Of course, if you don’t use VMWare or Hyper-V you can always avail yourself of Convirture’s open source offering, named, rather logically, ConVirt Open Source. ConVirt Open Source can be used for managing open source Xen and KVM environments from a central point — although it does lack advanced features such as dynamic workload management, high availability and storage automation.

For companies with one or more of the proprietary hypervisors, then ConVirt Enterprise is the one to look at. But, as you may imagine, the company is not exactly giving the enterprise edition away. It is available now, but ConVirt Enterprise along with ConVirt Enterprise Cloud will set you back at least $449 per host for single-socket servers.

While that’s certainly not cheap, there is some good news: there’s a free trial available from the company’s website. If you’re just dipping your toes in the waters of heterogeneity, ConVirt could be worth a closer look.

Paul Rubens is a technology journalist and contributor to ServerWatch, EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and EnterpriseMobileToday. He has also covered technology for international newspapers and magazines including The Economist and The Financial Times since 1991.

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