Red Hat Ramps Up Virtualization and Cloud Initiatives

Wednesday Nov 6th 2013 by Paul Rubens
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Can Red Hat virtualization finally capitalize on new opportunities that will help it emerge from the enormous shadow cast by VMware, Microsoft and Citrix?

Red Hat virtualization is a bit of a strange one. Its KVM is very much an "on the one hand … on the other" type of hypervisor when you think about it.

On the one hand, the technology is good, and Red Hat is clearly committed to its Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), and now also to its Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure IaaS offering. (The company introduced the IaaS offering back in June: Virtually Speaking It uses RHEV in conjunction with the company's Red Hat CloudForms cloud management platform and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack cloud platform.)

On the other hand, the virtualization and cloud markets are dominated by news from VMware, Microsoft and Citrix. Red Hat barely gets a look, and you could be forgiven for thinking that its technology hasn't made a huge impact on the world of virtualization and the cloud.

And in fact, you'd be right: Red Hat's market share is small, even if it is growing strongly, with help from IBM — a significant contributor to KVM.

But Red Hat is not giving up, and towards the end of October the company announced the availability, albeit in beta, of RHEV 3.3. And although – as usual – it got little fanfare, it's worth taking a look at what RHEV 3.3 has to offer.

First, there's the usual in-house virtualization capabilities, which Red Hat — in a clear dig at VMware's premium pricing model — describes as something that enables organizations to "commoditize and lower virtualization costs, reduce silos, and standardize on the common underlying services and management technologies for traditional workloads."

Straight-forward virtualization fare, at a sensible price, in other words. Or, as Red Hat explicitly puts it: "A platform that is better performing and a better value than a proprietary virtualization platform." Which platform could they possibly be referring to? (Perhaps the dig is aimed at Microsoft too? Who knows…)

But there's also the more exciting cloud stuff: RHEV 3.3 provides "an on-ramp to high-level cloud functionality based on OpenStack," according to Red Hat.

This is one of the key areas that Red Hat sees as an opportunity, and it describes the new cloud (and other) features like this:

  • OpenStack Network Service (Neutron) integration enables advanced networking capabilities for consumption by hosts and/or virtual machines;
  • OpenStack Image Service (Glance) integration, which provides a library of images and instances that can be used by Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and OpenStack, thus providing a common set of building blocks;
  • Dynamic workload balancing, a pluggable feature that allows users to write their own workload balancing scripts for specific and unique setups that require customization;
  • Deeper integration and support for Red Hat Storage, incorporating Gluster 2.5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 to enhance performance;
  • A new SLA manager for network compute CPU memory, providing VM quality of service;
  • New pluggable scheduler for initial placement scheduling, allowing customers to build in rules and policies or overwrite with their own compliance rules; and
  • Self-hosted Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager engine, providing high availability and hardware consolidation.

So, having failed to grab significant market share in the standard server virtualization marketplace, Red Hat is aiming to leverage RHEV3.3 to get a good strong foothold in the cloud — while beefing up its standard server virtualization capabilities too.

It's a sensible strategy, and one that could – finally – help RHEV achieve more recognition and uptake than it has to date.


Paul Rubens is a technology journalist and contributor to ServerWatch, EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and EnterpriseMobileToday. He has also covered technology for international newspapers and magazines including The Economist and The Financial Times since 1991.

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