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Red Hat throws down gauntlet in virtualisation battle

By   |  February 25, 2009

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.

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3 Responses to “Red Hat throws down gauntlet in virtualisation battle”

  1. Eldon
    February 26th, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

    If Red Hat is laying down the gauntlet, shouldn’t start by being less than 3X the footprint of VMWare’s more mature offering?

    VMWare ESX has had diskless hosts since 2.5 and 3i brought a 32MB lean ESX host that can be booted off flash, ROM or network storage. Makes Red Hat’s 128MB seem a bit heavy. Put small guests on top of that with something like SUSE JeOS what is it exactly that Red Hat is bringing to make this major on VMWare?

  2. sileNT
    February 26th, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

    @Eldon: You’re missing the point.

    In 99% of cases it doesn’t really matter if the host is 32MB or 1 GB big (I mean operating system on disk/flash). This is not where the virtualization race is.

    32MB virtualization host which doesn’t support iSCSI or FC properly, which can’t do bonding and have problems with bridges and VLANs and can be installed on merely 5 servers from hundreds available on the market is a toy really, nothing more.

  3. abby
    July 15th, 2010 @ 6:26 am

    😐 who’s better? vmware or redhat?

Comments are closed