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.]]>
I was reading Beth Pariseau’s story on KVM’s slow go of it in the virtualization market, and I started to sense a pattern: A lot of the reasons that Red Hat Summit attendees gave for not moving to KVM were the same reasons that other IT pros have given for not deploying Microsoft Hyper-V.
To illustrate this point, here are some snippets from that story, with one change: I replaced “KVM” or “open source software” with “Hyper-V.” Check it out:
It just goes to show that you can talk all you want about the benefits of KVM being part of the Linux kernel, or about Hyper-V’s low price tag, but VMware’s head start and maturity continue to set it apart. If there were really major flaws in VMware’s technology, or if VMware adopted Oraclean pricing, those would be specific missteps that Red Hat and Microsoft could exploit.
But when people say, “We’ve used VMware for a long time, and we like it,” there’s really not much competitors can do — except invent a time machine and enter the server virtualization market a couple years earlier.]]>
Matthew Booth, a Red Hat senior software engineer, revealed a few expected improvements at the Red Hat Summit this week. RHEL’s P2V conversion tool, virt-p2v, is still fairly new, so the company is working on faster conversion times and improved fixed-storage transfer options, Booth said.
If your organization is just starting to virtualize, P2V conversion is a critical first step. Slow conversions can complicate virtualization implementations, so RHEL 6 needs to step up its game in this area.
When it comes to V2V conversions, Red Hat is better prepared. RHEL 6 supports the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) instead of the previous versions’ Xen hypervisor, so many admins are now tasked with converting VMs from Xen to KVM.
Summit keynotes stressed the idea that open source offers choice — something that’s reflected in RHEL’s virt-v2v conversion tool. It supports conversion from Xen to KVM, RHEL 5/6 KVM to Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) VMs, and even VMware ESX to RHEL 5/6 KVM or RHEV.
RHEL 6.1 will also offer new V2V features. For one, the virt-v2v tool will be able to convert a VM’s storage format and convert from pre-allocated to sparse storage.
RHEL 6 live migration
Migrating VMs from one host to another in RHEL 6 or RHEV is similar to VMware vMotion or Hyper-V Live Migration. But vMotion offers something that RHEL 6 live migration does not — the ability to migrate VMs from one data center to another, using Cisco Systems’ Overlay Transport Virtualization.
Live migration between geographical locations is invaluable for disaster recovery (DR). After a failure, you can simply migrate your VMs to a remote DR site. But, Jesse Stanley, a virtualization solutions architect at Red Hat, said even live migration across different regions in the United States isn’t recommended with RHEV, particularly because its success depends on Ethernet speed and other external factors.
Still, live migrations within the same infrastructure are pretty impressive. I was able to watch Stanley live-migrate a desktop to a laptop with a single right-click — all while the desktop played a YouTube video with no interruption. The live migration took only a couple minutes.
In RHEL 6, Red Hat also improved the performance and speed of live migrations with large memory VMs.]]>
Local Tech Wire, an IT blog based in Red Hat’s home state of North Carolina, reported on the SAP/Red Hat rumor this morning. Several Wall Street analysts came across the rumor yesterday, and Red Hat’s vaguely worded “product roadmap” announcement — scheduled for tomorrow — only bolstered the speculation more.
Virtualization clearly wouldn’t be the driving force behind an SAP/Red Hat acquisition. From a tech standpoint, Linux is a favorite among SAP shops, so there would be some natural synergies there, as they say. Or, like the Intel/McAfee deal, it could just make good financial sense.
But an SAP/Red Hat acquisition would definitely affect the virtualization market, even though SAP and Red Hat aren’t exactly leaders. Let’s take a look at where they stand:
So where would that leave KVM? It’s unlikely that SAP would break off its relationship with the virtualization market leader to go with a relatively new, unproven technology. SAP probably wouldn’t kill off KVM, but it doesn’t send a good message when even your parent company doesn’t use your own virtualization technology. Whatever KVM momentum Red Hat has built up over the past year or so would pretty much disappear.
Of course, the SAP/Red Hat acquisition is all speculation at this point. But these days, every vendor has some stakes in the virtualization ground, and it’s interesting to examine how every move — or potential move — could affect the market.
SearchSAP.com News Editor Courtney Bjorlin contributed to this report.]]>
The Xen vs. KVM debate is not new, but it has definitely been picking up steam as of late. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 has given Xen the “let’s just be friends” speech and moved in with KVM. Several major hosting providers are switching their platforms from Xen to KVM. And many Linux diehards say Xen is a huge pain to manage.
The battle lines are drawn, and the fate of the open source virtualization market hangs in the balance. (How’s that for overdramatic? I think I’ve been watching too many “Lost” commercials.)
Anyway, the ramifications of this potential shift may also affect the open source OS market. Leading the charge on this side of the battle is Citrix CTO Simon Crosby, the co-founder of XenSource. Red Hat is trying to move customers off Xen, and now he’s trying to move customers off Red Hat.
“If you approach your virtualized world with a Linux/RHEL based mindset, then I recommend you consider switching to Oracle Enterprise Linux,” he blogged last week. “It is a superior, enterprise class version of RHEL. … Alternatively, if you’re wary of giving Larry more control than he already has over your environment, Novell SUSE Linux offers a superb enterprise Linux platform.” (Note that Crosby linked Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s name to a picture of his massive yacht.)
I’ve previously said that Red Hat has nothing to lose by switching from Xen to KVM. I meant that in terms of Red Hat’s standing in the virtualization market. VMware, Microsoft and Citrix are way ahead of Red Hat there. (And as Crosby blogged, “Having failed to capitalize on Xen, Red Hat needs a ‘differentiated’ story in virtualization in order to regain credibility.”)
But Red Hat has a ton to lose in the enterprise Linux server OS market, where it’s the leader. Sure, the Linux community may be in love with KVM, but Red Hat butters its bread thanks to the IT admins and systems engineers who work with RHEL. The company can’t afford to turn off these core customers in its pursuit of the virtualization market.]]>
The company is developing a KVM hypervisor called AlacrityVM, as virtualization.info points out. The move follows in the footsteps of Red Hat, Novell’s open source rival, which moved from Xen to KVM with its latest release, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4.
KVM is still a relatively unproven enterprise technology with a very small user base. Its biggest advantage over Xen, the leader in Linux virtualization, is that it is built into the Linux kernel. And that’s just not enough of a reason to switch for most people.
The proprietary virtualization platforms, VMware and Hyper-V, are far and away the market leaders. Behind them are the Xen platforms, led by Citrix XenServer but also including Oracle VM and others.
Red Hat and Novell are even further behind. They really have nothing to lose, so they both can afford to take a shot on KVM. If the technology catches on, they can ride the wave and prosper. If not, they won’t be much worse off.
For more on Linux virtualization trends, check out this Xen vs. KVM face-off between experts Andi Mann and Sander van Vugt.]]>
Xen 4.0 will feature fault tolerance and the Open Virtual Switch, among other new features. Open source virtualization expert Sander van Vugt said the Open Virtual Switch “will take networking in Xen to the next level.”
“I’m convinced that this release is going to be huge,” he wrote in an email.
The new release comes at a crucial point for Xen. Citrix, the company most closely associated with Xen, faces constant questions about its commitment to XenServer and the server virtualization market as a whole.
Meanwhile, as virtualization.info’s Alessandro Perilli points out, Oracle is looking to become a bigger player in virtualization. Its Oracle VM is also Xen-based, so Xen 4.0 could help its charge into the market. (But then again, so could the rumored Oracle-Citrix acquisition.)
Xen also has an emerging open source challenger on its in hands in KVM, which is built into the Linux kernel. Although van Vugt took the side of KVM in our recent Xen vs. KVM debate, he still predicts good things for the future of Xen.
“Currently, VMware clearly is the more complete virtualization solution,” he wrote in his email. “Releasing the Xen 4 hypervisor will put Xen completely back in the picture, not only for Citrix, but for all other players in the Xen area as well.”]]>
Sounds good so far, right? Well, there are a few things Red Hat neglected to mention in that press release. First, there’s this sentence buried in the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization data sheet, about the system requirements for management servers:
“Windows Server 2008 not supported.”
Isn’t that kinda like coming out with a hot new car and saying, “unleaded gasoline not supported”?
In our recent “Virtualization Decisions 2009 Purchasing Intentions Survey,” 51% of respondents said they have Windows Server 2008 installed, and 36% said they use Windows Server 2008 for mission-critical applications. It was the second most popular server OS, behind Windows Server 2003.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux was the third most popular server OS among our survey respondents, with a 36% installed base and 29% use for mission-critical applications. And here’s the kicker: Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers won’t support that OS either!
The data sheet doesn’t explicitly say there’s no RHEL support, like it does for Windows Server 2008, but the management server requirements specifically say that you need an x86 server with the U.S. English language version of Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2, .NET 3.5 or later with the Application Server role installed.
Red Hat is trying to become a bigger player in the virtualization market. The company has taken a different approach, embracing the KVM hypervisor over Xen. And this new Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers platform is its most ambitious attempt yet.
But by not supporting management servers that run Windows Server 2008 or RHEL (or any other OS besides Windows Server 2003), Red Hat cuts out a huge chunk of potential customers and makes its uphill climb in the market even steeper.
Hat tip to @nickyp, who pointed out the Windows Server 2003 requirement on Twitter.]]>
The Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) suite will hit general availability Sept. 1, according to LeMagIT — which, for those of you who don’t parlez francais, means “The IT Mag.” Sept. 1 is the first full day of VMworld 2009, when VMware typically makes most of its major announcements.
RHEV marks a shift from Xen to KVM as Red Hat’s open source virtualization technology of choice, as senior virtualization director Navin Thadani said on last week’s edition of This Week in Virtualization.
(Shameless plug: Subscribe to This Week in Virtualization on iTunes!)
The suite is in private beta now, but Red Hat had been keeping its release date under wraps.
Red Hat’s attempt to turn VMworld into KVMworld is just the latest of several attempts to grab headlines during VMware’s show. Citrix dropped its free XenServer bomb at VMworld Europe in February, and Microsoft handed out its infamous “VMware Costs Way Too Much” poker chips at VMworld 2008.]]>