Red Hat has released Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation 3, a major update to the company's virtualisation technology.
Announced on Wednesday, RHEV3 adds a self-service portal for provisioning virtual machines, access via RESTful API, the ability to store data locally on client machines and, via integration with the company's private cloud management product CloudForms, a limited ability to manage hypervisors from other vendors.
With the release, Red Hat has updated the KVM hypervisor from version 5.7 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) to version 6.2 and has redesigned the Windows-based virtualisation management technology to run on Linux-based software.
"The key thing for RHEV3 is it's the first major release that's on a fully open-source platform," Karl Stevens, a senior solutions architect for Red Hat, said. "The adoption of virtualisation, initially, was quite heavily about consolidation of Windows servers... we see that there's [now] a market for virtualisation amongst the Linux community."
Red Hat is aiming for the technology to be 60 to 90-percent cheaper than a comparable VMware vSphere 5 installation, the company said (PDF). It said RHEV3 will be used by companies that want an alternative virtualisation platform to VMware.
The key thing for RHEV3 is it's the first major release that's on a fully open-source platform.– Karl Stevens, Red Hat
"We're looking at RHEV as the base of the layer of virtualisation above the hardware, but we're also working on products above that, and the product we're working there is called Cloudforms," Stevens said. "With Cloudforms... [RHEV3 gains] the capability to manage workloads across different hypervisors."
By moving to an IT stack with Java on top of JBoss middleware, Red Hat has moved away from the Windows components that underpinned previous versions of RHEV, he said. RHEV used to be based on Windows-based technology from Qumranet, acquired by Red Hat in 2008.
The company hopes that by embracing a Linux-based IT stack, development of the open-source KVM hypervisor will be spurred by code contributions from the software development community.
"The fact that it's baked into the Linux kernel means we don't need to develop our own memory and schedule management and I/O subsystems — that's already there in Linux," he said.
No attempt to displace VMware
The main hypervisors used by the industry — VMware's ESX, Microsoft's Hyper-V and Citrix's Xen — dwarf KVM installation numbers, so Red Hat's tactic is not to displace VMware, Stevens admitted, but to offer an alternative for enterprises keen to hedge against their main virtualisation technology.
"We're not trying to displace VMware at the moment — we recognise they've got a good product, a great market presence and a lot of good features — but we see demand from customers for an alternative to run alongside VMware and that's where we're pushing RHEV initially — something [with] all the enterprise feature set you need at a basic level."
Red Hat expects the KVM hypervisor will be adopted by IT departments within large companies as a platform for test and development. It could also be used for some back-office applications where companies are already running financial and customer relationship management applications on top of RHEL, he said.
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