OVA: Virtualization's Good Eggs

Virtualization's new team just hit the field with some heavy hitters at bat. Watch the home runs fly.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

Last week, my ZDNet Virtualization colleague, Dan Kusnetzky, gave you his take on the new Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA) as, Red Hat-IBM pact, OVA launch will drive more KVM use in enterprise. And, Dan is correct, the heavyweights (HP, IBM, Intel and Red Hat) behind KVM will drive its adoption in the enterprise. But, the key areas that will drive that adoption are virtualized desktops and cloud computing.

The formation of this alliance places its members in direct competition with VMware and Citrix.

Companies wanting to leverage the Cloud for VDI look forward to the alliance and its research, development and support for KVM. KVM, the kernel-based virtual machine, is a hypervisor-powered, full virtualization technology comparable to Xen and ESX.

But, what makes KVM so compelling for would-be adopters over VMware or Xen?

First, you have the support team: HP, IBM, Intel and Red Hat. And, as Dan mentioned, IBM already has a dedicated staff to support KVM. HP, IBM, Intel and Red Hat have years of experience in virtualization, open source technologies and technology support. You can't beat the combined experience, dedication to open source technologies and success of OVA's primary benefactors.

Second, you have KVM's extreme performance. And, face it, performance is what it's all about in virtualization. You've experienced sluggish performance from your current virtualization technology, which results in acquiring more server hardware, higher bandwidth network equipment and more support staff. KVM, being kernel-based virtualization, begins its life as an optimized technology.

The SPICE protocol, now open source, bears responsibility for KVM's remote connectivity performance. SPICE is the Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments and is the remote display software protocol that communicates between client and server.

Third, is KVM's crazy scalability factor. Obviously oriented toward huge cloud-type installations, KVM supports up to 4,096 core hosts with 64TB RAM and 64 vCPU guests using 2TB RAM each. No other virtualization solution comes close by comparison.

Fourth, is the high level of security provided by SELinux. Security-enhanced Linux (SELinux) allows administrators to set advanced security policies for virtual machines.

Finally, KVM offers enterprise-level virtualization at a very low cost. Up to 80% savings over proprietary solutions. 80% could be a slight exaggeration but even at 30%, KVM has a significant financial edge over its competition.

The OVA's mission is to increase awareness of KVM, assist with the adoption of KVM virtualization, help those who want to create supporting products built on KVM and encourage interoperability.

The OVA sounds like the perfect mix of technology, backing and virtualization trust-busting but is there any significant downside to KVM a la the OVA? Its very formation brings up some significant questions for industry observers and participants like yours truly. One question that immediately comes to mind is, "Will OVA members continue to use VMware for their customers?" Another is, "Which technology will third-party software developers support?" And, finally, "Who'll take the fifth and final spot among HP, IBM, Intel and Red Hat on the limited-to-five-members governing board?"

These are questions that I'll answer this week in Virtually Speaking. Until then, what questions do you have for the OVA? Talk back and let us know.

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