After a second beta for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization was released last April, I've been waiting for the actual product release. Red Hat announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 2.2 and first release of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktop.
Here's what Red Hat has to say about Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 2.2
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 2.2, capable of hosting and managing both Microsoft(R) Windows(R) and Linux virtual machines, provides a single infrastructure from which customers can manage their server and desktop virtualization deployments. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops, introduced in today's 2.2 update, allows customers to deploy Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD) configurations, also known as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), bringing scalable, centralized provisioning and management of their desktop systems. It provides a web-based connection broker that allows end users to access their hosted virtual desktops, coupled with the open source SPICE remote rendering technology, which offers a rich multimedia experience, including multiple monitors, HD-quality video and bi-directional audio/video for video conferences. Other features, such as templating, thin provisioning and desktop pooling, are also included. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops supports Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP, Windows(R) 7 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop.
With the 2.2 release, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization also features industry-leading scalability, supporting guests with up to 16 virtual CPUs and 256 gigabytes of memory per virtual machine. The release additionally provides new virtual machine conversion capabilities through a V2V tool designed to automate the conversion of VMware or Xen virtual machines for use within Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. To further simplify moving virtual machine images between environments, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 2.2 also includes the ability to import and export virtual machine images and templates with the Open Virtualization Format (OVF).
Snapshot AnalysisIt was clear from the moment Citrix acquired XenSource (see Citrix Acquires XenSource for $500 million for more analysis of that move) back in August 2007 that Red Hat wasn't happy with the likely direction Citrix would take both the Xen hypervisor and related software. Furthermore, although it had a good relationship with VMware, it was also clear that Red Hat wasn't happy with the idea of giving up control of the hypervisor and with it, the physical machine upon which all workloads actually ran.
At that time, Red Hat started talking about how the design of the KVM hypervisor was technically better than that of the Xen hypervisor. It also pointed out that both Xen and KVM were open source technology as an obvious strike against both Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's technology. It also started hinting about moving away from Xen as the focal point of the company's virtual server and virtual desktops. The company continues to work closely with both Microsoft and VMware to assure interoperability and compatibility of all of the companies' technology.
Red Hat executives must have spent some time thinking about what to do about the XenSource acquisition and in September 2008, it acquired Qumranet (see Red Hat acquires Qumranet for more analysis of that move.) At that time I posted:
With the addition of Qumranet’s technology, Red Hat will find itself in a position few other suppliers are in. They’ll have a powerful operating system, development environments, database software, virtualization technology of several types and access to a dynamic open source community. Only Oracle and Sun have a similar portfolio.
Since that time, Oracle acquired Sun and Red Hat has lived up to expectations as distanced itself from Xen and jumped onto KVM with both feet.
If we look just at this announcement, we can see that Red Hat (including the team and the technology it acquired from Qumranet) has taken a running start. It has built up what appears to be a strong platform for both server and desktop workloads.
This platform also would be very attractive to service providers planning platform as a service or infrastructure as a service offerings. Since this is all open source software, it may offer advantages over the offerings made by VMware and SUSE in the recent past.