Enterprise Linux Log

Feb 24 2009   7:45PM GMT

Red Hat’s virtualization suite based on KVM

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

Red Hat has announced their virtualization strategy for 2009, kicking off another week with a webcast and press releases on some pretty big changes for the market. Red Hat shared that these changes were in response to market demands for virtualization. Navin Thadani, senior director of virtualization business at Red Hat shared that the big three obstacles for virtualization are cost, performance, security and scalability, and that the company’s strategy aims to help customers overcome these.

The company’s virtualization products (launching in the next three to 18 months) include:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Desktops
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor
  • RHEL 5.4
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform

The biggest change is a shift to using the kernel virtual machine (KVM) hypervisor, and shifting away from Citrix’s XenServer. This move is the next logical step, following Red Hat’s acquisition of Qumranet in September 2008. Qumranet came with virtualization solutions, including its KVM platform and SolidICE offering, a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

In the company’s webcast, the question was asked “Why does the industry need another hypervisor?” Despite the fact that is amused some in the IT world, Thadani coolly stated that while Xen was the best hypervisor on the market in 2007 when RHEL 5 was released, “the KVM hypervisor has demonstrated that it offers superior capabilities… so it will be the strategic direction for the future development of our virtualization product portfolio.” He also explained that Red Hat will continue to support Xen until 2014.

Thandani said that by choosing KVM, performance woes would be resolved, citing up to 98% bare-metal performance. He highlighted that KVM, as part of the Linux kernel, takes advantage of the development work that has gone into Linux, including the hardening effort. Additionally, Red Hat and other developers have worked with the government on SELinux, a built-in Linux security component missing from other hypervisors in the marketplace.

Current virtual machine (VM) deployments max out in the 1,000s of machines, and thus they are unable to meet current business needs for more complex operations. Thadani shared that Red Hat’s Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers is designed for large-scale systems management, and is capable of scaling to thousands of hosts with Red Hat’s new search-driven user interface, which allows administrators to easily manage a large number of machines, scaling up to the tens of thousands of VMs. High-performance virtualized machines is the area that Red Hat is positioning itself to lead in, according to Thadani.

The stand-alone Red Hat Virtualization Manager for Servers is designed to be implemented with shops less familiar with enterprise Linux. According to the company, it is:

A new, richly featured virtualization management solution for servers that will be the first open source product in the industry to allow fully integrated management across virtual servers and virtual desktops, featuring Live Migration, High Availability, System Scheduler, Power Manager, Image manager, Snapshots, thin provisioning, monitoring, and reporting.

Thadani explained the difference between the stand-alone and integrated virtualization management offerings, equating them to the difference between a point-and-shoot camera and a SLR camera.

“From the stand-alone standpoint, we’ve designed it to be easy-to-use and easy to deploy,” says Thadani. “It is for enterprises without a lot of Linux experience, and we’ve made it easy to use. It’s a new market for Red Hat.”

To sum it all up, Red Hat is harnessing the power and current buzz in caused by virtualization technology and taking advantage of the current economic climate to move into new markets. No pricing has yet been released for the products, but it’s open source.

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