Red Hat details plans for virtualization

* Red Hat's virtual vision

Red Hat last week laid out its server virtualization plan, and the details look impressive, but the timeline is long.

The Linux vendor will start by rolling the open source Xen machine virtualization package into the upcoming Fedora Core 5 release due this month. In the summer, an almost-prime-time version will be released with Red Hat in beta, and a production-ready version is due by year-end with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.

Red Hat's CTO Brian Stevens says most servers run at only around 15% to 25% CPU utilization; consolidating multiple server instances on a single hardware platform can shrink the amount of wasted processor power in a data center and save administration and hardware costs, the company says.

Key to Red Hat's virtualization move are its partners: AMD and Intel, the hardware on which most Red Hat Linux servers operate; and XenSource, the company that packages the Xen hypervisor into a commercially-supported product. Bringing these players into the fold is a good sign that Red Hat's virtualization services will be well supported.

The move will also put Red Hat in competition with EMC's VMWare virtualization software, which up until now has been a kind of de-facto standard for organizations running virtualized Linux servers on top of Intel boxes in production. The question is, will Red Hat's virtual platform support multiple instances of Linux, or Windows, as VMWare does? Not likely. And this is too bad, since - as server admins know - the real benefits of server consolidation involve crunching multiple, heterogeneous operating systems under one hardware umbrella.

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