IBM to bring Linux KVM virtualization to its Power server line

IBM to bring Linux KVM virtualization to its Power server line

Summary: Linux has its own built-in hypervisor, KVM, for x86 virtualization, and now IBM is porting it to its Power architecture.


IBM announced on June 11 at the Red Hat Summit in Boston that it will be bringing Linux's built-in Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) to its Linux-only Power servers.

IBM is bring Linux's KVM virtualization to its Power architecture.

What's technically interesting is that while the KVM hypervisor is an integral part of the Linux kernel, it's a feature that's only been available on the x86 architecture. Specifically, KVM needs either the Intel VT or AMD-V virtualization extensions in the chip to work.

So for IBM to make KVM available on IBM’s Linux-only Power Systems product lineup by 2014, IBM will need to port KVM to its Power chips. While IBM was short on details on how it will do this, IBM has been working on bringing KVM to Power since 2011 (PDF Link). It seems a safe bet that IBM will be able to bring KVM to its Power Systems server line within the next year.

In the meantime, to encourage users to use KVM on Power, IBM is opening two new North American IBM Power Systems Linux Centers. At these, IBM will help users get to know how to use Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) on Power and, eventually, on KVM running on Power.

One former IBM engineer speculated that since, "PowerVM is a very sophisticated and advanced hypervisor." IBM must be "porting KVM to Power so that it would have seamless integration into their existing cloud."

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Topics: Linux, Cloud, IBM, Servers, Virtualization

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  • The GPL at work

    IBM's not legally aloud to port KVM to it's proprietary AIX kernel without the permission of the developers, unless it releases the source code for it, but it can port it to Linux/POWER.
    John L. Ries
    • Yep

      I was just going to say that!
    • Is this strictly true?

      Could not IBM port KVM to the AIX kernel under the following circumstances?

      o as or in support of an internal research project,
      o a private cloud solution to be used internally,
      o a cloud solution to be used externally by a third party as long as the cloud assets at the customers site belong to and are managed by IBM or
      o a publicly-available PaaS cloud solution that IBM itself owns and manages on its premises

      I thought that it was only necessary to release the source code if one is distributing the original source code plus one's source code changes to 3rd parties ...

      And hasn't Google done something similar with its custom, distributed Linux servers used as the backbone of its various services? Another example would be Google's cloud solution for the City of Los Angeles. In these cases, however, the OS is Linux, but Google has extended the source code without releasing it. No? Or have I missed something?

      P.S. Am not saying that it would be in IBMs economic interest to port KVM to AIX, but, rather, am exploring various possibilities that would be possible under the GPL.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Exactly

        Put another way, the GPL is *not* an End User License Agreement that restricts what you can do with the software yourself, it is merely a Distribution license that enables you to distribute the work of others when you meet certain criteria, such as making the source code available with the distribution.
      • True...

        ....but KVM code could not be included in a proprietary AIX kernel distributed to customers without the consent of the developers.
        John L. Ries
    • They have no need to port it to AIX...

      That would be dumb since IBM's existing on hardware hypervisor is superior to KVM...
  • The article says NOTHING about AIX!

    The article is strictly about using Linux on IBM's Power Servers, which has been happening for more than a few years. Power Servers don't use Intel or AMD architecture so the Linux KVM extensions aren't available to Power Servers running Linux. IBM is porting the **Linux** (NOT AIX) KVM extensions over to run on the Power Server architecture.
    • No it doesn't

      But AIX is IBM's own UNIX, so it seemed relevant.
      John L. Ries
    • No it doesn't

      But AIX is IBM's own UNIX, so it seemed relevant.
      John L. Ries