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Red Hat Adds to the Virtual Clutter


Virtualization solutions have gotten to be about as plentiful as dandelions in the full sun – so it will come as no surprise that Red Hat, which never seemed quite happy with its open source Xen widgetry anyway and had less reason to be after Citrix bought XenSource, has just added to the profusion.

Without abandoning Xen, which is built into RHEL as well as into Linux rival SUSE, Red Hat has started pushing a lightweight embedded Linux hypervisor based on KVM, which is the default virtualization in Linux and the mojo Red Hat always had in its back pocket even before it diffidently went with Xen. (Ubuntu also fancies KVM and has made it its default virtualization.)

The stuff’s not a product yet. It’s an open source beta project called oVirt, thich Red Hat calls the “industry’s first open source virtual infrastructure management solution.”

See, the hypervisor is bundled up with the console, which is supposed to be hypervisor-agnostic.

It’s meant to run on top of Linux and host virtualized Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Microsoft Windows environments. Solaris too, it looks like.

Although there’s no telling when the thing might get productized, Red Hat wants it to “drive enterprise adoption of virtualization” and become – along with Linux – the “next-generation operating system.”

Of course the jury’s still out on whether virtualization should be part of the operating system or separate software.

Red Hat obviously has to play catch-up with VMware and Microsoft – (it’s wonderful how companies only resent dominance that isn’t theirs) – which is why its announcement aligns it with every trendy buzzword in the book from open source and open interfaces to clouds and SaaS, which are of course identified with virtualization.

Anyway, the Red Hat hypervisor, which can fit on a 64MB Flash drive – less over time, it figures – can be embedded in servers and desktops – Novell has claimed it’s more suited to desktops – and it reportedly supports live migration of virtual machines from system to system in real-time. It is also said to have high-availability features.

Red Hat positions it as “the next-generation virtualization technology, following on from the highly successful Xen implementation” and says its “features and cost benefits go beyond competitive solutions.”

The console, written in Ruby using the Ruby on Rails framework, is licensed under GPLv2 and is meant to scale to thousands of virtual machines or as Red Hat says “manage internal clouds.” It is also supposed to manage physical machines.

Then there’s security. As Red Hat notes, virtualization in production environments presents significant security concerns so it’s got a www.freeIPA.org project to advance and deliver integrated security technologies.

According to Red Hat, the dynamic and shared aspects of virtual systems requires identity, policy and audit capability integrated into the infrastructure layer, so that critical resources – such as compute cycles, data storage and network access – are controlled and audited according to business application policies.

This security stuff is supposed to position open source virtualization “to overtake existing virtualization technologies.”

The FreeIPA project is integrating Kerberos, Fedora Directory Server and some related applications into one package and is built into the oVirt appliance.


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