Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), on the market since November 2009, is now undergoing a rebranding to simply Red Hat Virtualization with the new 4.0 update.
The Red Hat Virtualization 4.0 milestone enters a fragmented market with organizations looking at multiple competitive options, including proprietary technology from VMware as well as open-source container alternatives.
"One of the things we had been chasing in the past at Red Hat is looking at the things that VMware had been doing, and we realized that wasn't the right approach," Scott Herold, principal product manager for Red Hat Virtualization, told eWEEK. "So what we've done from top to bottom is we've looked at our virtualization products to determine what the right position is for Red Hat in the market to have the most success."
Historically, one approach Red Hat had taken was to suggest that potential customers to rip out VMware and put RHEV in its place, but that strategy did not yield great success, he said.
"People had just signed up for multiyear VMware license agreements, and it just didn't make sense to talk to those people about ripping out the massive investment they just made," Herold admitted.
Even if Red Hat is cheaper, displacing VMware from existing deployments is difficult, Herold said. Many VMware customers might have written off the cost of the first year of VMware product licenses eight years ago and now might be paying only a 25 percent support and subscription renewal fee. What Red Hat came to realize is that the lower cost savings that RHEV might offer to an existing VMware customer wasn't enough to offset the potential organizational risks involved with a platform transition.
"What we did realize is that people were continuing to grow with new projects as their environments grow, and that's where things get interesting for Red Hat," Herold said. "When you add in the first-year cost for VMware, plus three years of support and maintenance, over four years, the Red Hat subscription model for virtualization provides a 60 percent savings for what are now identical capabilities."
The 4.0 update of Red Hat's virtualization platform includes a number of incremental improvements such as infrastructure modernization. The prior 3.x platform made use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, while the 4.0 update is based on the newer Red Hat Enterprise 7 operating system.
Additionally, the 4.0 update provides users with new container capabilities with support for running Red Hat Atomic Host, the purpose-built operating system for running containers, Herold said.
"We don't do container management; that's not where our place is, but we do see benefits of running containers in a traditional virtualized world," he said.
For container management, Red Hat has its OpenShift platform, a distribution of the Kubernetes container orchestration project. Functionally, Kubernetes is not an execution engine; it's a scheduling engine that tells containers where to run, Herold explained.
"People still need to have a place to execute container workloads, whether it's a physical or virtual environment," Herold said. "We're working with the OpenShift team to make sure that Red Hat Virtualization is a supported platform for OpenShift bringing in some of the infrastructure-level intelligence."
The rebranding reflects Red Hat's effort to create a broader platform brand, he noted, adding that new areas that Red Hat Virtualization might include in the future are the internet of things (IoT), retail point-of-sale, and perhaps, remote-office and back-office operations.
"We are trying to go from Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization being a product to Red Hat Virtualization being a brand," Herold said. "We'll be looking at different verticals and use cases, and we wanted to have flexibility with a simple branding moniker."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.