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Red Hat takes aim at Microsoft, VMware with virtualization, cloud strategy

Red hat directs attention to hypervisor, virtualization management tools

By , Network World
September 03, 2009 09:33 AM ET

Network World - CHICAGO – Red Hat this week lined up nose-to-nose with VMware and Microsoft laying out its bid to become a top-tier provider of virtualization and cloud computing infrastructure software for both the enterprise and service providers.

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The company released Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4 with an integrated KVM hypervisor and tagged the operating system as the foundation of an expanding virtualization and cloud computing portfolio.

Red Hat plans to add management tools for both virtualized desktops and servers before year-end, and unveiled a new open source project called DeltaCloud.org designed to create a standard way to integrate public and private clouds and manage them from a single console. In addition, the company plans to certify the infrastructure of public cloud providers, like it does today with Amazon's EC2, and give end-users the option to run their Red Hat subscription software from any cloud, public or private.

It is the most ambitious undertaking by the company since CEO Jim Whitehurst came on board early in 2008 and brought to the finish line the resurgence of Red Hat's JBoss business

With that task apparently headed in the right direction after the shipment of JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) 5.0, the company will ramp up its investment in virtualization and cloud technology, according to Whitehurst.

He said the KVM hypervisor and the EAP 5.0 application server give Red Hat what it wants for its end-users, flexibility, openness and commoditized layers in the infrastructure software stack.

"We are not working to build a vision of future computing, we are building components that let others find their future of computing," Whitehurst said.

The effort, however, is not without hefty challenges.

"The problem from a company point of view is that they need to connect the tag line about not imposing visions but letting people create their own, they need to connect that with the low-level product announcements and put them in context, especially in a business context that is really clear," said Laurent Lachal, open source research director for analyst firm Ovum. He said Red Hat has yet to do that.

The company this week began to weave together that message at its annual Red Hat Summit, which attracted 1,500 attendees.
The addition of KVM, a hypervisor that is part of the Linux kernel, is key to that process.

KVM makes RHEL Linux deployments look the same whether they are virtual or physical, Whitehurst said.

"All of those thousands of man years of work put into processes and management for Linux can be applied to virtual instances," he said. "We can take KVM to customers and talk about how we can fundamentally improve the performance of their data center from hardware enablement to distributed management."

The strategy is similar to what Microsoft is doing with its proprietary Hyper-V technology that is built into the Windows operating system, but markedly different from VMware, which offers a hypervisor with a connected set of management tools.
With RHEL 5.4 and KVM now released, Red Hat plans to add to the mix by year-end a standalone hypervisor called Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor and a cache of open source management tools.

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