Red Hat's biggest enemy? VMware

Red Hat's biggest enemy? VMware

Summary: Guess who Red Hat, the Linux giant, thinks its biggest enemy will be by 2016?


Let's play a game. Who do you think Red Hat's biggest enemy will be in a few years? Will it be Microsoft, Linux's traditional enemy? Could SUSE, the number two business Linux distributor, make a try for the top? Might Ubuntu's Canonical make its big break into corporate Linux? All good guesses, but Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, is pretty sure that Red Hat's biggest competitor in 2016 will be VMware.

I know, I know, you're thinking, "VMware? VMware!? The king of virtualization? A company that doesn't even have an operating system or a middleware stack?" Why not Oracle? I mean Oracle makes no bones about wanting to take Red Hat on... and bury then.

VMware pushes enterprise hybrid clouds in first VMworld announcements

Whitehurst, knows all that and has good reason for seeing VMware as Red Hat's real rival in the decade to come. At LinuxCon in Vancouver, British Columbia explained his reasoning to me. First, he sees the future as heading of high-end computing going to Platform as a service (PaaS). In the PaaS view of cloud computing, both the computing platform and software stack are abstracted. Current examples of the PaaS approach include's, Google's App Engine, and Microsoft's Azure.

So how does Red Hat play in this? By offering companies not so much Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL); Red Hat's JBoss middleware and Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python stack by themselves but all of them on Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)s on whatever  cloud strikes your fancy. It's that KVM part, in particular that Whitehurst sees as powering Red Hat into business computing's future.

Red Hat, along with IBM, along with the Open Virtual Alliance (OVA), which supports KVM adoption in the enterprise, to make KVM the business virtualization program of choice. That puts them, as Whitehurst well knows, on a collision course with VMware, today's virtualization super-power.

Through KVM, Whitehurst said, "Red Hat will becomethe datacenter abstracter for x86." To enterprises, Red Hat will provide scalable commodity computing. With Red Hat KVM and RHEL, Whitehurst also observed that companies won't have to worry about extracting their value from the cloud. If, for example, you don't like your cloud provider, or you just want to move from say a private cloud to a public one, the Red Hat KVM-based PaaS will let you shift cloud providers easily.

That is not the case, according to Whitehurst, with companies that use VMware-based solutions. In the long run, by 2016, corporate users will be moving to Red Hat and other OVA partners from VMware solutions. Whitehurst believes

Whitehurst also sees VMware as being more of a pure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), ala Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (AWS), play. IaaS' are fine, as far as they go, but Whitehurst believes that Red Hat's KVM-based solution simply offers more power and ease of use to corporate customers.

Whitehurst admits that Red Hat is later to the market with KVM than its rivals. But, he also believes that KVM will prove to be the best of breed virtualization technology and, with the help of IBM and others, it will place Red Hat in the drivers' seat for the twenty-teens virtualization and cloud technologies.

IBM is going to be more than happy to help Red Hat to achieve this goal. When I spoke to IBM's VP of Open Systems Development, Dan Frye in Vancouver and he told me that "The most important technology we're looking on today in Linux is KVM. We're telling all our new virtualization customers to use KVM. No, we're not going to end of life Xen or end VMware support--one size doesn't fit all--but for most users KVM will be the better solution."

What about Microsoft's Azure, Redmond's cloud solution, or Hyper-V, Windows' virtualization software? "We don't see them in the marketplace," replied Frye. But, as for Red Hat and KVM in specific, Frye said, "We're tied at the hip."

So, look out VMware, if you didn't know it before, you know it now. Red Hat and IBM, along with the rest of the OVA crew, are gunning for you. There will be interesting times ahead in the enterprise datacenter and cloud.

Related Stories:

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Red Hat CEO thinks the desktop is becoming a legacy application

Red Hat CEO: Google, Facebook owe it all to Linux, open source

Red Hat-IBM pact, OVA launch will drive more KVM use in enterprise

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Virtualization, VMware

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  • In short

    To summarize, Whitehurst is betting the farm on KVM.
    Your Non Advocate
    • Open Virtualization Alliance


      Is betting the farm on KVM.
      Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • Not very likely

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

        The OVA does not have any farm to bet. Out of its members, HP is equally aligned with other virtualization solution partners. Only IBM and RedHat are at significant risk if KVM fails -- and it is still too soon to tell if the general interest in KVM today will equate to market share in 2016.
        Your Non Advocate
        • It's a sunny day

          Don't forget your umbrella!
          Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • RE: Red Hat's biggest enemy? VMware

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

        Actually, from real experience in multiple, heterogeneous VM deployments covering multiple vendors... KVM will not fail. Tile/server, it is the best offering, imho.

        Xen is not too far behind either, but I think they're hitting some walls. Their feature set is impressive, especially PCI passthrough, but KVM is developing in rather explosive chunks.

        The second that they make use of dynamic storage de-duplication with, say, CLVM, it will be gg.
  • FYI, I'll be doing a RHEV-D POC

    after Labor Day.

    Target: Windows Fat Clients
    VM: KVM 3.0, Type 1 hypervisor

    Includes a wholesale replacement for RHEV-M Windows-based VDI console manager, written in Java.

    Fat clients will be replaced if all goes well with:
    SPICE Thin Clients (no RDP licensing cost)

    When you do the ROI/TCO calculator on RedHat's website, RHEV comes in way under VMware.

    Effectively, all of the Windows Desktops, ill-behaved or otherwise, move into the cold room and run in an SELinux sandbox--centrally managed.

    We'll see if it meets all our use cases/certification testing.
    I am very optimistic.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Red Hat's biggest enemy? VMware

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      I'm quite optimistic also. Looking at the matter as objectively as possible, the management suite is quite sleek in RHEV's most recent version (Windows-less one).

      Not to mention, SPICE adds plenty of itself to your environment... Rocks very hard. Fantastic little protocol.
  • RE: Red Hat's biggest enemy? VMware

    The problem with VMWare, VirtualBox, KVM, etc., is that it abstracts the hardware away from the OS, but the interaction and monitoring of the hardware by the OS is where the innovations are currently happening. What data center really reconfigures all the servers all the time? Data centers want availability. Virtualization is great for initial deployment, but it just gets in the way once the servers are deployed.
  • Biggest Enemy?

    The biggest competitor might be VMware, although I wouldn't underestimate the good folks at SUSE.
    • Red Hat's Enemies

      @ianrbruce I would classify both Microsoft and Oracle as Red Hats' biggest enemies, and not by just their market caps. They both compete in the same markets with Red Hat including virtualization, operating systems and middleware. Remember, Steve Ballmer called Linux a cancer and has made patent threats against both Red Hat and its customers. In addition, Microsoft has made some noise about partnering with CentOS (a RHEL derivative) for Hyper-V deployments. And Oracle is attempting to undercut RHEL with Oracle Enterprise Linux (another RHEL derivative), instead of partnering with Red Hat to run Oracle's enterprise application software on RHEL using Oracle's SPARC hardware.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • RE: Red Hat's biggest enemy? VMware

    Red Hat had batter watch out for Canonical. Their push into the server market will eventually eat into RH's installed base.

    I don't see Microsoft gaining any ground in the sever market as administrators have seen the light with Linux and its many advantage in infrastructure deployment.
  • RE: Red Hat's biggest enemy? VMware

    Aah, they mean servers. My home PC with VMWare Workstation flies under the radar.
    Now if RH offered a way to virtualise my home PC, then install RHEV on it, maybe i'd use it - and get enthused enough to suggest the same at work. Oh well, I guess I'm not the target audience.