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Q&A: Interview with HotLink, Talking Collaboration with NetApp

HotLink is one of those companies that are always on the move and coming up with new ways to simplify IT management complexity.  I've been fortunate to meet up with Lynn LeBlanc, the founder and CEO of HotLink, over the last two years in person at trade shows like Citrix Synergy and VMworld.  And I've also been fortunate to have the opportunity to catch up with her remotely as well.  Recently, the company made an announcement about collaborating with NetApp to extend NetApp private storage for Amazon Web Services to VMware environments.  So to find out more, I reached out to her once again and asked the following questions.

VMblog:  HotLink recently announced a collaboration with leading storage provider NetApp. What does this collaboration mean for enterprises?

Lynn LeBlanc:  Enterprises want to integrate existing on-premise VMware data centers with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in order to take advantage of the flexibility, scalability and cost savings of the largest and most comprehensive public cloud computing platform available. At the same time many enterprises need full control and security over critical data. By combining HotLink's transformation technology and management plug-in solutions for VMware vCenter with NetApp Private Storage for Amazon Web Services, enterprises can cost-efficiently deploy a turnkey solution that integrates VMware vCenter management, NetApp storage, the computing power of Amazon EC2 and the high-speed, low-latency data transfer of Amazon Direct Connect into a high-performance hybrid IT computing, storage and management infrastructure for VMware environments with full workload portability between VMware and AWS.

VMblog:  Why would enterprises need this joint solution?  And what are the benefits or use cases that would be applicable?

LeBlanc:  The HotLink and NetApp joint solution is designed to support several high-performance use cases within the enterprise, including disaster recovery, business continuity, cloud bursting and testing and development. The combined solution uniquely offers unified hybrid management for VMware and AWS, workload portability, data control and security, low-latency data transfer, and the pay-as-you-go economics and scalable compute power of Amazon. 

HotLink's DR Express solution and transformation technology offers enterprises the ability to extend their VMware vCenter environments for comprehensive virtual machine (VM) protection in AWS including VMware backup, replication, disaster recovery and business continuity - at a price point comparable to basic backup solutions. The addition of NetApp Private Storage for AWS and qualified Amazon Direct Connect providers give enterprises full replication of on-premises data along with the sub-5 millisecond response times between NetApp storage and AWS for the lowest latency hybrid IT environment available.

Additionally, HotLink's Hybrid Express solution extends the VMware vCenter administration, deployment and management of the on-premise virtual data center to Amazon EC2, including hybrid cloning, snapshots, templates, workload conversion and migration. This is perfect for cost-effective cloud bursting and development and test environments. The addition of NetApp Private Storage for AWS and Direct Connect service providers allow enterprises to run high-performance workloads in AWS with high-speed data response times and full security and control of critical data.

VMblog:  Enterprises are turning to the cloud for disaster recovery and cloud bursting. How does this joint solution meet this need?

LeBlanc:  To benefit from the flexibility, scalability and cost savings of the public cloud, data centers need the capability to easily combine hybrid IT resources into a holistic solution that spans computing, storage and management. Together, HotLink and NetApp make this hybrid solution possible, without the complexity and prohibitive costs of past deployments. Whether the application is disaster recovery and business continuity or cloud bursting for peak load, the holistic solution delivered by HotLink and NetApp provides the best of all worlds for VMware data centers: unified hybrid management, workload portability, complete data control, low-latency data transfer, and the attractive economics and scalable compute power of AWS.

HotLink transformation technology unifies AWS with VMware vCenter to provide robust VM protection, including backup, replication, disaster recovery and business continuity. AWS data protection site setup, maintenance, testing and recovery of protected VMs are fully automated. Workloads can be restored in AWS within minutes of a failure and are managed together with on-premises VMs. With AWS as the mirror site, capital costs for computing are zero.

VMblog:  How does this announcement play into the trend of enterprises implementing hybrid infrastructures?  And why are companies turning to this infrastructure model?

LeBlanc:  Enterprises have aggressively virtualized their server resources, largely with VMware, over the past five years because of the dramatic cost savings over physical server infrastructure.  However, for many applications, even greater cost savings can be achieved by running those workloads in a pay-as-you-go, scale-as-you-need public cloud service like Amazon. At 8 cents per hour for computing and 8 cents per GB for storage, AWS provides practically unlimited resources at a trivial cost that's affordable for any size IT shop and simply cannot be achieved by most on-premises operations. This economic model becomes particularly attractive for highly variable or seasonal workloads that scale horizontally and for infrequently accessed use cases like disaster recovery.

However, integrating existing data center operations with public cloud resources and managing data and workloads across both platforms historically posed huge IT challenges. By combining HotLink's transformation technology and NetApp Private Storage for AWS, companies can unify hybrid management, easily move workloads, retain control of their data and leverage AWS's scalable compute power and unique pay-as-you-go economics ¾ all critical components of an effective hybrid IT strategy.

VMblog:  How does this collaboration provide enterprises with the ability to use Amazon services, but retain control and security over the data?

LeBlanc:  NetApp Private Storage for AWS enables enterprises to build an agile infrastructure that accommodates a mix of VMware and AWS resources to best meet business needs and economic interests while providing control and data mobility. When combined with qualified AWS Direct Connect service providers, customers have high-performance, low-latency data transfer between NetApp storage and AWS for the lowest latency hybrid IT environment available. HotLink's technology provides the management and workload interoperability between VMware and AWS that completes the solution stack for easy and cost-effective, hybrid on- and off-premises use cases.

VMblog:  Why is HotLink working with NetApp for private storage and Amazon as the public cloud provider?  Why not other providers or clouds?

LeBlanc:  Currently, NetApp is the only major storage provider that has embraced AWS and productized specific high-performance storage offerings that are integrated with AWS computing. Prior to the collaboration with HotLink, the NetApp Private Storage for AWS solution addressed data but did not offer a solution for virtual machine portability or unified management. The integration with HotLink provides a comprehensive hybrid solution that includes integration with VMware vCenter and virtual machine interoperability and portability between VMware and Amazon EC2. HotLink began offering solutions for VMware and AWS integration more than a year ago because of Amazon's very attractive economic model and scale of public cloud operations. Today, AWS is substantially ahead of the competition for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings.  As other IaaS public cloud platforms demonstrate greater market traction over time, HotLink will expand its offerings to support them. 

VMblog:  So is this a new product?  And what technologies make up the solution?

LeBlanc:  The joint HotLink and NetApp solution combines several technologies from each vendor to provide a fully integrated, high-performance hybrid IT infrastructure for VMware environments with a total cost of ownership that is second to none.  The key technologies that comprise the solution are: 
  • HotLink Transformation Technology: VMware vCenter plug-in solutions that extend full administration and management capabilities to AWS as well as integrated workload conversion and migration to and from AWS.
  • NetApp Private Storage for AWS: Secure, high-performance integration between NetApp and Amazon EC2 with seamless data mobility between NetApp on-premises and NetApp in qualified Direct Connect data centers.
  • VMware vCenter Server: Platform for administering and managing VMware vSphere hosts and virtual machines for centralized visibility, proactive management and extensibility.

The joint solution is available through a network of VARs in North America, including Blue River Information Technology, Clearpath Solutions Group, Day1 Solutions and Integrated Archive Systems.

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Once again, a special thank you to Lynn LeBlanc, CEO and founder of HotLink, for taking time out to speak with us.   Always a great conversation when speaking with one another.

Published Wednesday, November 27, 2013 11:43 AM by David Marshall
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