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Red Hat Enters Enterprise Virtualization Space

Another vendor has thrown its hat into the enterprise virtualization ring. This one is red.

Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat, Inc. unveiled today a roadmap for a suite of enteprise-ready virtualization products. They include a new, standalone hypervisor, management products for both servers and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and a new direction for its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.

Brian Stevens, Red Hat CTO, and Navin Thadani, senior director for virtualization strategy, laid out a 12-month plan to release the products, and gave brief details of each. They include:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor. This new, standalone hypervisor comes in at 64MB and is the base product for virtualization. Hypervisors create virtual machines (VMs) which run various applications, operating systems or desktop environments.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Servers. The manager will control both Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL) hosts and the enterprise hypervisor. Red Hat did not say whether the manager would be able to manage physical as well as virtual machines, but the implication from a company press release is that it will be virtual only.

  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager for Desktops. This is Red Hat's VDI piece. Red Hat entered the VDI space last September when it bought Qumranet, makers of a desktop virtualization solution called SolidICE. That purchase forms the foundation of this product. Along with SolidICE, Red Hat got Qumranet's Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), another key component in the suite of products.

  • The only product not new is RHEL, but Red Hat announced a new direction for it: it will be phasing out support for Xen-based versions of RHEL, and moving to KVM-based RHEL. Xen, an open-source hypervisor, is the basis for a number of hypervisors from vendors like Citrix, Sun, Virtual Iron and others, but Red Hat signaled its impending divorce from Xen when it bought Qumranet.

Thadani tried to assuage the fears of companies that currently use RHEL and might be concerned that Xen support will vanish. Red Hat, he said in a Webcast this morning, is "fully commited to supporting Xen through RHEL 5. Existing customers need not be concerned about continuing its use in production." He added, however, that the "future direction [of RHEL] is KVM." New RHEL customers will be steered toward KVM, Thadani stated.

Red Hat's annoucement marks the second such push into the enterprise virtualization space to be trumpeted today. Earlier, Citrix touted its own new suite, called Citrix Essentials, designed for exactly the same role as the Red Hat offering. This may indicate that the next hot area in virtualization is enterprise-level functionality, which will be critical in the forthcoming cloud computing initiatives that are cropping up among every major IT vendor.

Red Hat declined to give more specific product delivery dates, or pricing information.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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