The Virtualization Room

Sep 23 2011   8:24PM GMT

OVA working to boost KVM exposure

AlyssaWood Alyssa Wood Profile: AlyssaWood

The Open Virtualization Alliance, founded in May to promote KVM, has grown to more than 200 members since its launch, seeing specific interest from cloud-focused companies. But KVM isn’t exactly the first hypervisor people think of when they want to deploy a private cloud, so why the growth? 

Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA) board members credit the growth to increased awareness of the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, freedom of choice, and KVM’s features. Founding members of the OVA include BMC Software, Eucalyptus Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Red Hat and SUSE. Now, more than 50% of OVA members focus on cloud computing.

Despite this growth, many users are still unfamiliar with KVM. To increase understanding, the OVA is developing KVM best practices documentation. This fall, the alliance also plans to create forums for users to share best practices, as well as webinars, webcasts and learning events.

KVM deployments certainly face an uphill battle against the virtualization market leaders, and Red Hat’s KVM offerings still lag VMware in features. But for now, “[KVM] certainly will become more noticeable in the landscape,” said Inna Kuznetsova, OVA board member and vice president of IBM Systems and Technology Group.

KVM keys to success: Performance, security, management

OVA board members tout that KVM achieved the highest virtualization performance levels in SPECvirt benchmark tests, but it is KVM’s security features that appeal to some cloud providers. The hypervisor uses Security-Enhanced Linux, developed by the U.S. National Security Agency.

“Once you’re on a cloud, you have a multi-tenancy environment, so you want to have a high level of security,” Kuznetsova said. “And that’s what makes KVM attractive.”

Companies have eyed KVM for its price as well. With security features already built into the hypervisor, admins can spend less on virtualization security tools, Kuznetsova said.

Kuznetsova also pointed out KVM’s various virtualization management capabilities. The hypervisor relies on libvirt for basic management, and administrators can add advanced tools such as Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization or IBM Systems Director with VM Control. With these kinds of tools, you can manage multiple hypervisors, including VMware, Hyper-V and Xen.

The speed of innovation in open source development has also contributed to increased awareness of KVM. Because so many developers work on open source offerings, the technologies can advance very quickly, Kuznetsova said.

“The world of open source changes so fast, you always need to go back and see what’s changed,” she said.

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