By promising a set of tools it dubs "integrated virtualization," RedHat has staked its claim on what used to be called the mainframe space.
Support for virtualization gets Red Hat away from the commodity side of Linux and aims it at the heart of the corporate data center, where the service revenues are more lush.
RedHat is not going alone, of course. Representatives from Intel, AMD, Network Appliance and Xensource told a press conference today they are along for the ride. That last name is the most important. Essentially RedHat is integrated Xen into its Enterprise Linux. The chip-makers promise to get it working on their chips. Network Appliance is handing the storage side of the puzzle. (IBM representatives were doubtless in the background.)
Here is the money quote from RedHat CTO Brian Stevens. "Conservative estimates show that servers typically operate at between 15-25 percent of CPU capacity, but with virtualization that could improved to 80 percent." Doubling or tripling the capacity of a server cluster is a very big deal.
Stevens said Fedora Core 5 will have a "preview" of this technology, and it will be generally available in RedHat Enterprise Linux v. 5 later this year.
While Stevens talked a lot about "server consolidation," reducing hardware costs, something tells me folks will create uses for all that extra capacity. The grid just got a bit more powerful.