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Red Hat Sketches Out Its KVM Virtualization Plans

It aims make virtualization ubiquitous with the products it means to field

Red Hat, which is coming from behind and has to mange a change in strategic direction, moving its followers from Xen to KVM virtualization, is putting together a new portfolio of virtualization products that's supposed to break down the existing barriers to virtualization adoption and take the company into the cloud.

See, as chi-chi as virtualization is supposed to be, Red Hat says companies aren't virtualizing mission-critical environments or virtualizing major server installations of 50,000 servers - even many with a thousand servers - in part because of security issues and the fact that I/O-based applications and programs sensitive to delay like databases and ERP software aren't easy to virtualize.

It aims to change all that and make virtualization ubiquitous with the products it means to field in the next three-18 months.

Said widgetry is supposed to run the entire spectrum of enterprise workloads on a common infrastructure and includes RHEL 5.4 with KVM - the next Red Hat release - a search engine-based Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Desktops, and a standalone Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor.

The unbundled stateless hypervisor, aka RHEV-H, is supposed to appeal to folks without a Linux background and take Red Hat into new markets. It fits in a small footprint of less than 128MB and enterprise servers won't have to go through an install, according to CTO Brian Stevens. They'll be able to boot RHEV-H from flash or a network server, driving down operating costs and enabling the scalability required by terascale grids, large data centers and clouds.

The company is also reassuring its ISV ecosystem that its 3,000-strong applications tested and certified to run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform are virtualization-ready for its platform and will need no modification, saving no end of aggravation.

The magic comes complements of an Application Binary Interface (ABI) guarantee and the tight coupling of its operating system and hypervisor layers.

Red Hat is also promising tools and services that will move customers from their RHEL 5 Xen deployments to KVM. KVM, which is very different from Xen, is integrated into the Linux kernel and enables the kernel to be used as a bare metal hypervisor.

It's supposed to be a slicker architecture that benefits from Linux upgrades, according to the senior director of Red Hat's virtualization business Navin Thadani, and makes use of the kernel's scheduler and memory manager.

It is unclear when the management stuff will be open source, Thalani said during a webcast; it depends on Red Hat developing "its own cross-platform solution."

The widgetry is supposed to manage across both virtual servers and virtual desktops, featuring live migration, high availability, a power manager, image manager, snapshots, thin provisioning, monitoring and reporting.

The desktop kit is supposed to manage both Linux and Windows desktops. It's a commercial version of the SolidICE virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) widgetry and SPICE remote rendering that Red Hat acquired when it bought Qumranet, the Israeli creator of KVM, last September for $107 million cash. It's supposed to make a thin client very PC-like.

IBM is anticipating supplying KVM on its x86, Power, mainframe platforms.

Xen only made it into RHEL 5 a year ago and will be supported through the RHEL 5 lifecycle, but it is not Red Hat's destiny. As an indication, Fedora 11, due in May, will default to KVM and only KVM. Fedora 10 currently has both Xen and KVM.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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