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New RHEV gears up to be serious contender

The upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) version includes new tools, the KVM hypervisor and an affordable price tag to compete against market leaders such as VMware.

Solution provider takeaway : While the new Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) version is still being finished, Red Hat is looking to make a splash in the virtualization market. There are a few reasons your customers would be drawn to the new offering, including cost-efficiency, tools for virtual machine (VM) migration and the kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) hypervisor.

The virtualization market is dominated by VMware Inc. at the moment, but a new player is trying to gain ground. After acquiring Qumranet Inc., the company behind KVM, Red Hat Inc. is approaching the virtualization market more seriously with RHEV. It's offered as a separate solution from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and KVM is included in RHEL as a virtualization alternative. But just offering KVM in RHEL is not enough to compete against other key players in the market.

To prove to customers that it's taking virtualization seriously, Red Hat has to make implementation simple and affordable, especially for companies that are just entering the virtualization market. This is why it offers RHEV as a separate product that is purely focused on virtualization. An important question for solution providers is whether RHEV would add a new element to currently existing solutions from VMware and Citrix.

So why would you even consider recommending RHEV to your customers? Red Hat's Product Marketing Manager Geert Jansen, who's responsible for enterprise virtualization in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, thinks cost and innovation are the keys to adoption and also believes that much of the virtualization market isn't tapped into yet.

"About 80% of all companies worldwide don't have a virtualization solution yet, and many of them are going to implement a solution in the next couple of years. And for those companies, price is going to matter," Jansen said. "Due to the current economic situation, companies no longer start [with] the solution they need and accept the price that is asked for that solution. They start [with] a budget and see what they can get for that budget. And RHEV is a much cheaper offering compared [to] other players in the market."

Is RHEV mature enough?

RHEV version 2.2 is the most current offering and is still largely based on Qumranet's KVM platform, which was developed in .NET and, therefore, runs on a Windows Server only. Red Hat is working to change the code to Java so that it will be possible to run RHEV on top of any platform a customer uses.

The company is also working to improve the migration process for Xen virtual machines to KVMs. The current migration process involves a lot of manual work, but the next release of RHEV will include tools for making migrations easier. For example, the upcoming version of RHEV will include virtfs, a file system that allows solution providers to directly change items in the VM file system.

It is also important to note that RHEV is part of Red Hat's cloud offerings. The company's cloud portfolio includes RHEV, RHEL, Red Hat Network Satellite, Red Hat Enterprise MRG Grid and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. Red Hat currently puts a lot of emphasis on RHEV and wants to convince the market that it is ready for enterprise-level virtualization and can compete against Microsoft and VMware's cloud tools.

Customers vouch for RHEV

Even though RHEV is still young, some customers have already voiced their approval.

"Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization not only reduced our operational costs, but more importantly, [it] made our business more [able] to rapidly respond to ever-changing business needs. It also helped us to build an ideal infrastructure platform for the future," said Ashish Mehta, director of IT and infrastructure for Euronet Worldwide Inc.'s Asia Pacific and Middle East regions.

RHEV also received a stamp of approval when deployed as a part of a cloud offering. "Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization provides the high availability, reliability, security and scalability that we desired for the foundation of our new cloud offering," said Masato Minamisawa, executive manager of the IP technology department and business network services division at NTT Communications. "We believe that Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is the efficient virtualization technology to run the workloads that our enterprise customers will deploy on our cloud service today."

RHEV is a lot cheaper compared to VMware, and it is based on the popular KVM hypervisor, which is rapidly becoming the standard in enterprise virtualization. Given these two facts and Red Hat's diverse virtualization portfolio, Red Hat's RHEV has a good chance of gaining ground in the virtualization market. Right now, however, the product isn't integrated properly in Red Hat's product line, which uses Linux as the core element, and everyone is waiting for the release of RHEV that will run on RHEL.

About the expert
Sander van Vugt is an independent trainer and consultant living in the Netherlands. Van Vugt is an expert in Linux high availability, virtualization and performance and has completed several projects that implement all three. He is also the writer of various Linux-related books, such as
Beginning the Linux Command Line, Beginning Ubuntu Server Administration and Pro Ubuntu Server Administration.

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