Red Hat Is Getting Ready to Take On VMware

Red Hat has announced a family of four new virtualization products that are set to be released in phases over the next 12 months. The products take on a host of established players such as VMware and Citrix.

Red Hat announced a family of four new virtualization products on Feb. 23 that are set to be released in phases over the next 12 months. The products take on a host of established players, including VMware and Citrix Systems.

The Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization family consists of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Desktops, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Making the announcement were Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens and Navin Thadani, Red Hat's senior director of virtualization business. Based on the information released today, here's a breakdown of the product family:

1. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers is a virtual server management system. What I'll look for when I get a closer look at the product is how well the system integrates information from physical hosts and virtual guests to help IT managers make effective and efficient resource use decisions. The new manager was described as using a "new management paradigm" that is search-based rather than the hierarchical and tree-driven management used by currently available products. Red Hat's Thadani claims the system will scale to manage tens of thousands of systems. Among other capabilities Thadani said the management system provides Windows and Linux image management, live migration, high availability, system scheduling, power saving, monitoring, and reporting.

2. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Desktops is a complete VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) management system that includes remote rendering technology based on the SPICE protocol, picked up with Red Hat's acquisition of Qumranet. SPICE is now Red Hat's proprietary Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments. Thadani said the VDI package will provide bidirectional audio/video for VOIP (voice over IP) applications, multiple monitors, HD video streaming, and support for Flash and other graphics. As with all the tools, Red Hat claims this product is more cost-effective than competitors' tools. Red Hat makes some big performance claims for this product and I'll be interested to see what lab testing shows. Look for Citrix to have something to say about this product.

3. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor is a small, stand-alone hypervisor based on KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), the open-source virtualization capability for virtualization-enabled hardware from Intel (Intel VT) and AMD (AMD-V). KVM has been included in the Linux kernel since Version 2.6.20. The stand-alone version will likely appeal to shops that don't currently implement virtualization technology and that want to get up and running quickly. The integrated KVM technology is designed for sophisticated data center use. Red Hat said the hypervisor technology can be installed on the largest x86 hosts to get highest consolidation ratios. According to Thadani, this means a host can have up to 96 cores and 1TB RAM while the guests can be as large as 16 virtual CPUs with 64 GB of RAM. The Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor has a 64MB footprint and includes Memory Page sharing (for virtual machine density) and SELinux-grade security.

4. Red Hat Enterprise Linux-integrated hypervisor technology. This will be based on KVM starting in RHEL 5.4, which is expected in the next several months. Current RHEL users will be supported on the Xen-based hypervisor through the life cycle of RHEL Version 5.

This all comes on the heels of interoperability announcements between Red Hat and Microsoft. I'll be looking to see how the rubber hits the road when the products become available.