In 2008, Linux vendor Red Hat acquired virtualization startup Qumranet for $107 million. The core team behind Quamranet’s KVM open source virtualization hypervisor has since moved on to found a new startup called Ravello that is aiming to bring enteprise applications to the cloud.
Ravello Systems emerged from stealth this week with a beta product release and funding of $26 million in venture capital.
“The technology that we have developed allows us to completely encapsulate an application and its infrastructure so it can run on any cloud,” Navin Thadani, SVP of Products at Ravello told Datamation.
Ravello calls its technology a Cloud Application Hypervisor and it is initially being offered in a Software-as-a-Service model.
Thadani stressed that the Cloud Application Hypervisor model is different than other past attempts to develop some form of standard hypervisor approach that can run anywhere.
In the enterprise virtualization space, the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) became a standard in 2008. OVF was an attempt to provide a standard format for virtual machines. Thadani noted that OVF is a format for a single virtual machine whereas the Ravello Cloud Application Hypervisor is a format for multiple virtual machines as well as the underlying infrastructure, including networking and storage.
“OVF was meant to be a standard around the virtual machine file format, there was never a claim that an OVF virtual machine could run on VMware and on KVM and in the public cloud without making any changes,” Thadani argued. “OVF didn’t really translate into the run-time.”
The way the Ravello Cloud Application Hypervisor works, an administrator can take a VMware virtual machine that is running in an enterprise and without making any changes, run it on the Amazon public cloud, which is based on the Xen hypervisor.
The networking piece is also a key part of moving applications to the cloud. For example, if an application is relying on static IP, or is using multicast where servers talk to each other in a certain protocol, those applications typically would not work as-is in the cloud without adjustment.
“With our technology, we’re encapsulating the entire environment and we make it completely transparent,” Thadani said.
The way the Ravello Cloud Application Hypervisor technology works today is with a SaaS service. Users upload their virtual machine components, which could consist of web servers, app servers and database servers to the service via a web portal.
Once all the virtual machines are uploaded, the portal dashboard provides a drag and drop interface to build out the application flow and connect the networking. The final step of the process is a click-to-deploy to a public cloud. Currently the system can deploy to Amazon EC2, or to OpenStack based clouds at Rackspace and HP Cloud.
The Ravello technology is built with a new high-performance nested hypervisor called HVX. HVX is a proprietary technology, though it uses some open source components.
HVX today is only available on the Ravello cloud service, though the roadmap is for an on-premises private cloud version.
“A typical hypervisor like VMWare or KVM is designed to run on a physical server, while HVX is designed to run inside of a virtual machine,” Thadani explained. “So we get a virtual machine from Amazon, we run HVX on top of that.”