Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers

Red Hat is attempting to use KVM as a weapon to defeat VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle and the like. Organizations will need proof that it is better.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Red Hat launched Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers on November 3rd. Although KVM isn't currently in a leading position in the market, it offers a number of features, including performance, that many find attractive.

What Red Hat had to say about its new products

In September 2009, Red Hat delivered the foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, which offers next-generation Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) virtualization technology.

Today (November 3rd), Red Hat delivers the next phase of the portfolio with the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers, which includes the following components:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor: A standalone, lightweight, high-performance hypervisor designed to host Linux and Microsoft Windows virtual servers and desktops. It provides a solid virtualization foundation for cloud deployments and other highly dynamic IT environments. Using KVM technology, the hypervisor provides high performance and security coupled with memory sharing technology, which permits more efficient guest consolidation, and enterprise features such as live migration.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers: A platform for configuring, provisioning, managing and organizing virtualized Linux and Microsoft Windows servers. It is designed for customers who seek to reduce the cost, complexity and time required to manage large-scale virtualization deployments. With a rich set of management capabilities and powerful search and grouping features, Virtualization Manager equips customers with the ability to efficiently control a virtualized infrastructure.

Snapshot analysis

At this point, VMware holds the lion's share of the virtual machine software market. As I pointed out in the post VMware facing challengers on all sides, however, the company faces stiff competition from Citrix, Microsoft, Oracle/Sun and Red Hat.  Each of these competitors is working hard to create a strong ecosystem, distribution strategy and industry-leading capabilities.

Citrix, Oracle, Sun and Red Hat are playing the open source card in their competitive positioning. Each would claim that this allows them to offer technology with a pricing and licensing advantage that would be attractive to organizations building their own private cloud computing environments or managed and hosting services organizations offering public cloud offerings.

Managed and hosting services organizations are seeking the lowest possible software costs and the most liberal licesning from their suppliers.  This had lead many of them to seek out and deploy open source technology whenever possible.  They also, of course, support the most popular options as well to satisfy the specific requirements of their largest clients.

Red Hat hopes to lure these organizations away from Xen technology, and, of course, the major proponents of that technology (Citrix, Oracle, Sun, etc.) with the claim that KVM is better integrated with the Linux kernel and thus would be able to offer a higher performance implementation of hypervisor technology. The Xen community would fire back that Xen is a pervasive technology at this point and has a larger developer and user community.

Unasked for shoot-from-the-hip advice

Red Hat, your claims of technical superiority and higher performance need to be demonstrated with real-life examples. I would suspect that you are currently generating a long list of satisfied clients - a few of which were mentioned in your press release.

It might be worthwhile having some graphic examples presented on youtube showing actual comparisions of scalability, performance and the like.

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