Red Hat Revs up Virtualization, Without Windows

by Sean Kerner

RHEV 3.0 hits beta, finally removing the dependency of prior versions that required users to run Windows.

As a Linux vendor, Red Hat obviously wants its customers to run its technologies on Linux. In the case of the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) management system, customers to date have had to run the system on Microsoft Windows.

That's now about to change.

"The management system has been re-written as a Java app that runs on top of a RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] server," Navin Thadani, senior director of Red Hat's virtualization business, told InternetNews.com. "So we've removed the Microsoft Windows server dependency."

Thadani noted that RHEV will still support Active Directory for authentication work. The system now also uses the open source PostgreSQL database. The new RHEV update will be a zero-downtime upgrade according to Thadani. As well, the new Windows-free management piece will not cost anything extra than what Red Hat has previously charged for the RHEV versions that had Windows dependencies.

"The way we price RHEV is that we don't charge for the management system separately," Thadani said. "Ours is a single price for the management system and the hypervisor baked into a dollars-per-socket, per-year price."

Thadani said enterprises just need to count the number of CPU sockets they will use, and that's what they'll pay for. He added that in his view, Red Hat's pricing can be one-seventh the cost of VMware. VMware recently changed its pricing model for vSphere, with pricing based on virtual RAM allocations.

In addition to the new management serer, the other big change in RHEV 3.0 is a new version of KVM, which is the core virtualization hypervisor that powers the solution.

"We've replaced the underlying hypervisor to the new KVM that's going to be shipping in RHEL 6.2," Thadani said. "With that, we've picked up performance enhancements, including Transparent Huge Pages for database performance, paravirtualized interrupt controllers, async I/O and an entire rewrite of the networking infrastructure."

Thadani explained that the networking stack has been moved from userspace to kernel space to deliver better performance. The system can now scale up to 128 CPUs with 2 TB of RAM at the host level providing for large virtual machines.

Additionally, Red Hat is making it easier to provision and deploy new virtual machines, create templates and monitor virtual machines. There is also a new built-in reporting infrastructure that leverages an embedded Jasper Reports engine. The reporting engine gives users historic views on usage and management.

RHEV isn't just about server virtualization either. There is a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) component as well.

"We've made improvements to VDI in the area of WAN optimization," Thadani said.

The last major release of RHEV was version 2.2, released in 2010. Thadani was unable to give a precise number of customers for RHEV. That said, he said he thinks RHEV is in use by major Red Hat customers, including Qualcom, BNP Paribas and DreamWorks.

"We've got many, many customers around the world and across industry segments," Thadani said.

RHEV 3.0 is currently in beta with general availability expected before the end of the year.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Aug 17th 2011
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