Red Hat throws down gauntlet in virtualisation battle
Last week we wrote about Red Hat’s virtualisation pact with Microsoft and this week Red Hat announced an entire lineup of open source virtualisation tools. Under pressure, industry leader VMWare has already announced its plans to release portions of its software for free, but the battle for the virtualisation space is just starting to heat up and VMWare looks to be facing ever-increasing threats that include Microsoft and Citrix and at least one Linux player.
The tools to be released by Red Hat include the Linux kernel-based KVM on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, two virtualisation management tools for desktops and servers, as well as a standalone hypervisor called Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation (RHEV-H).
The move will not only position Red Hat strongly against industry leader VMWare but will also better position Red Hat against Microsoft which also has a line of virtualisation tools.
A portion of the new Red Hat virtualisation lineup is based on some of the technology that the company acquired when it bought Israeli virtualisation outfit Qumranet in September last year. But the new tools also mark Red Hat’s exit from the Xen hypervisor in favour of the Linux KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine). KVM has been part of the Fedora release for close on two years now but with RHEL 5.4 later this year it will enter the enterprise market.
The standalone hypervisor is also interesting in that it will offer users and unbundled version of KVM. Red Hat’s vice president of engineering, Brian Stevens, describes RHEV-H as a:
Stateless hypervisor, with a tight footprint of under 128MB, which presents a libvirt interface to the management tier. Enterprise servers will no longer need to go through an installation process, and will instead be able to boot RHEV-H from flash or a network server, and be able to immediately begin servicing virtual guests. This stateless model drives down OPEX and enables the scalability required by terascale grids, large datacenters and cloud class compute environments.
The advantage of such an approach, says Stevens, is that as a “bare metal” Linux hypervisor RHEV-H will benefit immediately from the evolution of the Linux kernel and any device – “from the phone, appliance, desktop to server which are increasingly powered by Linux” – will have the ability to host virtualised machines.
Citrix also announced this week that it would be working closer with Microsoft’s Hyper-V and that it planned to offer its XenServer technology for free. The company said that Citrix Essentials software, used to manage virtualisation environments, will be able to manage both XenServer as well as Microsoft Hyper-V environments.
All of which makes virtualisation a major battleground for both proprietary and open source providers in the coming months.