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As the hypervisor turns, Red Hat leaves XenJay Lyman, April 27, 2010 @ 5:49 pm ET
With its recent beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Red Hat is taking its most pronounced step away from the Xen hypervisor in favor of KVM, which it sees as a step forward for performance, flexibility and support, particularly for virtualization and cloud computing.
It is interesting to watch how Red Hat and Linux rival Novell are moving forward regarding hypervisors. Back a few years ago when Xen, and the hypervisor for that matter, were relatively new to the scene, particularly if it wasn’t VMware’s hypervisor, there was far different positioning from the big Linux vendors Novell and Red Hat. Novell was eagerly incorporating Xen into its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server software, ready to take advantage of the move to virtualization to consolidate servers and support, which was particularly popular with Linux. Contrast this to Red Hat, which was still holding off on actually incorporating Xen into its Red Hat Enterprise Linux, in large part based on RHEL’s key verticals and customers such as financial services and telecommunications companies that were more committed to stability than to jump into Xen. We also saw a little bit of this story repeating itself on real-time Linux a couple of years ago.
Now contrast this to today’s situation, where Red Hat is eagerly and rapidly moving its support, resources and customers to KVM, which it sees as advantageous all around with performance, manageability and other benefits of being integrated into the Linux kernel and being newer. Novell, meanwhile, isn’t being quite as reluctant on a move to KVM, since it benefits from the same integration on SLES (Novell contributes to the Linux kernel and KVM and also supports KVM for customers in a service pack to SLES 11). However, Novell is likely in no hurry to see Red Hat’s $107m Qumranet acquisition and KVM support pay off, and it is likely more than content to continue to support and work with Xen and the many customers using it.
So while Red Hat can rightfully claim the lead on KVM development and pushing it into the market, Novell may benefit from spreading its support more evenly among the various hypervisor and virtualization management technologies that continue to get customer and cloud use, including KVM and Xen and VMware. Regardless of where these and other vendors are placing their hypervisor, virtualization and cloud computing bets, it is certainly intersting drama to watch.
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