The virtual machine software wars continue - Red Hat launches RHEV 3.4

Red Hat -- like all of the other suppliers in the industry standard virtual machine software market -- is in a feature, function, performance and integration war. Red Hat's new RHEV 3.4 matches the bar set by some and raises the bar in others.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Red Hat just launched version 3.4 of its Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) for servers and desktops. The company is demonstrating that it is serious about being a major player in the virtual machine software market and being a major player in several other virtualization markets, including application virtualization, processing virtualization, storage virtualization, network virtualization and both management and security for virtualized environments. This announcement also fits hand-in-glove with Red Hat's moves to be a major player in the cloud framework market.

What Red Hat has to say about RHEV 3.4

This newest release of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization enables organizations to scale their traditional virtualization workloads to an enterprise-scale level, while providing an on-ramp to deploy cloud-enabled workloads based on OpenStack. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization has enabled global enterprise customers to streamline and optimize their traditional virtualization infrastructure while building a foundation for private cloud capabilities.

With Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.4, Red Hat is delivering virtualization enterprise features that enable organizations to build highly available and scalable IT infrastructures including:

  • Upgraded affinity/anti-affinity groups, enabling groups of virtual machines to run together on a single host or independently across alternative hosts to facilitate setting service levels for load-balanced applications;
  • Template versioning, allowing users to easily update templates for minor revisions and to use a parent template when provisioning a new virtual machine, making it ideal for VM pools. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.4 also offers full support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 and earlier versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux guests;
  • Enhanced networking through a multi-host network configuration, providing a simple mechanism to update and synchronize network configurations across a large number of hosts. This upgraded configuration also simplifies provisioning and management of a large number of Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) within an environment;
  • New Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) notification service within the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.4 infrastructure, enabling users to monitor the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization manager with preferred third-party monitoring tools; and
  • Mixed storage domains, enabling shared, different protocol types to exist within the same datacenter, including Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI); Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP); Network File System (NFS); Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) and Gluster.

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.4 also includes a broad suite of features to help future-proof a traditional virtual infrastructure, as more advanced virtualization users are adopting cloud-based workloads and exploring OpenStack deployments. As more enterprises embrace the cloud to bring agility to their environments, they are turning to OpenStack to build open and scalable private clouds with streamlined management capabilities.

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.4 offers advanced tech previews of core OpenStack features, enabling organizations to eliminate silos and facilitate the journey to the private cloud, including:

  • OpenStack Image Service (Glance) integration enhancements, enabling users to import a Glance image as a template to use in provisioning a new virtual machine; and
  • OpenStack Networking (Neutron) integration enhancements, extending beyond regular Neutron capabilities by enabling users to create and delete networks on an external Neutron provider.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Smart Virtualization

For enterprises seeking to optimize their virtualized infrastructure for Linux workloads while reducing cost, Red Hat offers Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Smart Virtualization to further extend the benefits of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. This offering combines the performance, scalability and security featuresof Red Hat Enterprise Linux with advanced virtualization management capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for enterprises looking to get the most out of their deployments.


Virtual machine software has become established as a basic part of the foundation of workloads that execute on industry standard X86 systems. Industry standard environments, however, are just the newest platforms to experience this important structural change.

Midrange systems based upon many different vendors' system architectures and operating systems experienced this change several decades ago. Mainframes experienced this shift several decades prior to that.

All of the VM suppliers face the same challenges

The challenge faced by suppliers of virtual machine software for industry standard systems (such as VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle, the Xen community, the KVM community and distributors of Linux) is making an invisible layer of technology that executes several layers below the applications that help individuals and organizations do what is needed. When you consider where virtual machine software lives in the stack of technology that supports applications and workloads, this is a serious challenge.

Building a simple function into ever more complex environments

Virtual machine software, regardless of which flavor and vendor selected, really does something simple (but technically very complex). It isolates and encapsulates an entire system image, from the operating system all the way up to application software, and then makes it possible for more than one image to reside on a specific physical system at the same time.

This makes it possible for the physical system to be treated just as a processing resource, something to be used and reused in the most optimal way. All of the various virtual machine software products handle this quite well.

Getting public attention

To be noticed above all of the other competitors, vendors of virtual machine software have to consider how to add important functions to their overall computing environments that turn that basic encapsulation and execution function into a valuable, noticeable part of an organization's overall IT infrastructure.

Today's expectations and requirements

Red Hat and the other competitors have all thought of, and added technology to, their virtual machine environments that accomplish the following things in the hopes of making their virtual machine technology more desirable than all of the others.

  • The ability for virtual machines to utilize all or a specific number of physical processors or cores so that ever more complex applications can be supported. It is now expected that virtual machines can execute on 16, 32 or even 64 virtual processors, based upon available physical hardware and the needs of a given application.
  • The ability to assign applications to specific processors to achieve needed levels of performance
  • The ability to place virtual machines that make up a single complex workload on several different physical systems to improve overall performance and not create performance problems when multiple high resource consuming tasks end up competing for the same physical resources on a single system
  • The ability for templates to be developed that fit the requirements for specific workloads so that new virtual machines can be spun up and provisioned quickly to address growing workload requirements
  • The ability for virtual machine key performance indicators to be monitored and managed using tools that use standards such as the simple network management protocol (SNMP) by exposing a standard management information block (MIB). This makes it possible for just about any management tool or framework to work with the virtual machines.
  • The ability for virtual machines and the data they're managing to reside in virtualized storage. This means that important data can reside in just about any type of storage, just about anywhere, and that virtual machines can be moved from one physical processor to another. It also means that organizations can choose storage network media and the type of storage used to best fit their budget and needed performance profile.
  • Making available virtual machine movement software so that executing virtual machines can be moved from one physical machine to another without losing data or crashing. This function can be the foundation for application clusters, high-availability clusters and even sophisticated back up and disaster recovery functions.
  • Making virtual machines fit nicely (read integration) into a growing number of cloud computing frameworks, such as AWS/Eucalyptus, OpenStack or CloudStack. As organizations increasingly organize their internal resources as on-premise clouds or utilize resources offered by cloud services providers, this level of integration can become a key requirement when organizations purchase virtual machine software.

Let's look at Red Hat

Red Hat, not to be outdone by all of the others, has been enfolding KVM in an ever more sophisticated array of technology that does all of the above and more.

Is RHEV the best choice for your organization? That is a simple question that has a very complex answer. The simple answer is "yes, RHEV can be the foundation for your enterprise tasks." Another simple answer is "no, there isn't enough change to force organizations that have standardized on VMware, Microsoft, Oracle, or Xen to abandon their favorite virtual machine platform and go to RHEV.

All in all, RHEV can do just about everythin enterprises are likely to ask of their virtual machine platform and would be a good choice for new workloads.

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