Red Hat Takes Hypervisor Control Back From Citrix

Red Hat announced two important moves this week; open sourcing of Red Hat Network Satellite, and its own virtualization hypervisor oVirt. Open sourcing RHN Satellite is fundamentally about showing the industry Red Hat is still the keeper of the open source flame but the real strategic move is the development of oVirt. OVirt is built upon Kernel Virtual Mode, or KVM, which is virtualization built right into the Linux operating system, and has been maturing over the past two years. Until now Red Hat's virtualization strategy has been built around open source Xen, much like other players such as Oracle and Sun.

When Citrix took over Xen, it created a sticky situation for vendors depending on the Xen open source software for its virtualization strategies. Such is the way of open source these days. What is free now, may have some corporate and competitive entanglements down the road. Red Hat's now separated itself from the crowd with oVirt. That's an important strategic move, giving Red Hat control over its own virtualization destiny. But it also means Red Hat must carve a niche in the virtualization market for yet another virtualization technology. Being built upon KVM, something now core to the Linux OS, mitigates that somewhat but the proving is yet to be done.

Red Hat has to court hardware manufacturers to make their oVirt the hypervisor of choice. Red Hat has to develop all of the fancy doo-dad features VMware and others have been putting in their products. OVirt has to gain enough mind share so that it's imperative that virtualization management software, like Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager, add support for oVirt much like Microsoft did for VMware.

The good news is Red Hat's virtualization strategy is now back in its control. The bad news is there's still a ton of work ahead for Red Hat and no guarantees of success. But the good outweighs the bad in this case. OVirt is a very important strategic move for Red Hat. And it's a smart one.

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