Red Hat claims virtualization improvements in RHEL 6.1 released today

Using hardware optimized for virtualization, Red Hat says KVM performs as good or better than VMware

Red Hat released RHEL 6.1 today and proclaimed its latest Linux server distribution as being the best at virtualization. Red Hat has really been out there pounding its chest on the virtues of its current virtualization platform, KVM.

According to Red Hat, improvements in 6.1 include:

  • More options for advanced storage configurations with improvements in FCoE, Datacenter Bridging and iSCSI offload
  • Enhancements in virtualization, file systems, scheduler, resource management and high availability
  • A technology preview of Red Hat Enterprise Identity (IPA) services, based on the open source FreeIPA project
  • Support for automatic failover for virtual machines and applications using the Red Hat High Availability Add-On
  • Integrated developer tools that provide the ability to write, debug, profile and deploy applications without leaving the graphical environment
  • Improvements to network traffic processing to leverage multi-processor servers that are getting increasingly common

The company also touted RHEL 6.1's virtualization performance when used on new hardware setups optimized to be virtualization hosts. Red Hat and HP say that using the distro's KVM on a HP ProLiant BL620c G7 20-core Blade server delivered "a record-setting SPECvirt_sc2010 benchmark result." Red Hat and IBM also crowed about some impressive virtualization benchmark results achieved on a high-end IBM system.

Take these claims with more than a grain of salt and, if you have access to your own benchmarking suites, test it yourselves. SPECvirt benchmarks are conducted by the companies and then submitted to the SPEC Benchmark site for publication.

So what was this record breaking result? According to the SPEC Benchmark site, virtualization performance of RHEL 6.1 on a 20-core, HP ProLiant BL620c G7 was 1820@114 (this represents the overall performance score @ number of VMs before performance degradation occurred). Higher scores equal better performance results.

This is a little better but not gangbusters better than the performance score that VMware submitted on the same model of HP server: 1811@114.

Red Hat did hit big performance number for KVM virtualization with it's previous version of Linux, RHEL 6.0, on IBM hardware. It scored a whopping 7067@432 ... but look a little closer and you'll see, the server was running an 80 core IBM Corporation x3850 X5.

It all adds up to show that KVM may not be a dog, but it might not be a pony either. If you haven't done so already, time to take it for a test run. If you are a VMware shop, it certainly can't hurt to have an alternative in your data center when contract negotiation time comes rolling around.

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