According to Red Hat, going the open-source, link-to-the-OS route helps ensure the highest performance and flexibility at the lowest cost.
When youre creating virtualization, youre essentially building a new operating system, Crenshaw said. You have to do all the things that operating systems do. You have to run applications, be compatible with hardware, manage and abstract resources like memory, I/O and so forth.
Crenshaw pointed to KVM as an advantage from that standpoint, since it is included in the mainline Linux kernel.
KVM is not a separate module; its part of the operating system, he said. What this means is that when we optimize for security, scalability, performance, or compatibility with new hardware platforms, we do the optimization once and it works across all types of servers, be they physical or virtual servers.
Its a compelling argument, but with KVM being open source, its not a proprietary competitive advantage. If Red Hats vision plays out, expect to see others in the space start building on the hard work done by Qumranet and Red Hat.
This supports the argument that the virtualization fight is moving away from the hypervisor. The real battleground for virtualization, whether its server, desktop or storage, will be with management capabilities, Madden said.
We respect VMwares lead in this early stage of virtualization, Red Hats Crenshaw said. Theyve done a good job consolidating relatively simple workloads, but only about 10% of the worlds servers have been virtualized.
Red Hat contends that having success with the low hanging fruit, such as file and print servers, doesnt necessarily prepare you for the challenges of virtualizing a CRM or ERP database. There, the Red Hat argument goes, the tight integration with operating systems will be critical.
We have an ecosystem in place that we can leverage for virtualization. We already have thousands of applications that are written and drawn on RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux], and we have the broadest base of supported hardware configurations. Crenshaw said. To get good performance, scalability and security, you have to tune virtualization to the operating system. Otherwise, if you try to run something like Oracle on top of your virtualization layer, performance will slow and it will stop scaling as you add CPUs.
The ability to size environments correctly, optimize them, handle bottlenecks and deliver consistently high performance will be where customers are won and lost eventually. Today, everything is still about cost. Microsoft has already tried to peg VMware as an overly expensive solution. Dont be surprised if Red Hat gets in on that game too.