Red Hat finally unveils its new virtualization strategy

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With the acquisition of Qumranet in September 2008 Red Hat raised a lot of interest.
The customers that trusted the company when it was promoting its Xen implementation all over the place want to know what will happen to them.
The potential customers that are interested in an open source hypervisor but  dislike the idea of Citrix indirectly controlling how Xen, want to know how serious Red Hat is about KVM.

Last week, finally, the company announced its commitment:

  • Next versions of Enterprise Linux (RHEL) will feature KVM.
    The exiting versions featuring Xen will be supported for the full lifetime of RHEL 5.
  • Red Hat will release a brand new Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor (a minimal version of RHEL only supporting KVM and a selected number of drivers).
  • Red Hat will release a brand new Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers featuring Live Migration, High Availability, System Scheduler, Power Manager, Image manager, Snapshots, thin provisioning, monitoring and reporting.
    This product will be able to manage both RHEL and RHEVH.
  • Red hat will rebrand the Qumranet connection broker and management console SolidICE as Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Desktops.

All the products above will be delivered sequentially over the next three to 18 months, with delivery dates beginning in the middle of 2009.

Of course the biggest concern about KVM is that ISVs are not supporting it. And because something like 95% of the existing virtual machines run Windows guest operating systems, a partnership with Microsoft is fundamental.

This is why just two weeks ago Red Hat joined the Microsoft Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP).
Without it, the company could sell its new virtualization platform only to those customers that run Linux guest OSes, and that is a small niche compared to the huge virtualization market.

Yet, much depends on how the new platform will be priced (something that the company didn’t announce yet).
The free XenServer can damage Red hat much more than VMware.