Red Hat Undercuts Microsoft With Server Virtualisation Tool

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Red Hat is rolling out its Enterprise Virtualization for Servers platform, which is aimed at heterogeneous server environments and cloud computing deployment

Red Hat is continuing to expand its virtualisation strategy, rolling out the latest parts of its enterprise portfolio that is aimed at heterogeneous servers and cloud computing environments.

Red Hat Nov. 3 unveiled its Enterprise Virtualization for Servers platform, which includes a standalone hypervisor and a management product for servers that run Linux and Windows workloads.

Red Hat officials say the platform addresses the key concerns—including performance, ecosystem support and cost—that are holding back the wider adoption of virtualisation in the data centre. The virtualisation platform offers better performance at a lower price than competing products from VMware and Microsoft, they said.

In a Webcast announcing the new offerings, Navin Thadani, senior director of Red Hat’s virtualisation business, offers the performance and scalability that businesses are looking for in their virtualised environments, all at a cost that can be more than a third less than competing offerings from the likes of VMware and Microsoft.

“Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is ready to make virtualisation pervasive throughout the data centre,” Thadani said.

The platform comes in two pieces, the first of which is the RHEV (Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization) Hypervisor. The standalone virtualisation technology can host Linux and Microsoft Windows virtual machines and desktops. It is based on Red Hat’s KVM (Kernal-based Virtual Machine) technology.

KVM, which was introduced in September as part of the company’s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 5.4 release. KVM is essentially integrated into the Linux kernel, which gives it all the inherent benefits—from management to security to performance—inherent in the kernel itself, said Brian Stevens, CTO and vice president of engineering at Red Hat.

The hypervisor can scale up to 96 cores on the host and up to 16 virtual CPUs and up to 1 terabyte of capacity.

The second part is RHEV Manager for Servers, which enables IT administrators to configure, provision and manage virtualized Linux and Microsoft Windows servers. It offers such features as high availability, live migration, system scheduling and power-saving capabilities, such as the ability to concentrate more virtual machines on fewer physical servers during off-peak hours, Thadani said.

The new Red Hat offerings come with a large ecosystem—they can run more than 3,500 applications and run on more than 1,000 hardware platforms—and cost $499 for the Standard Edition and $749 for the Premium Edition.

The key difference between the two is that the Standard Edition comes with 12-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week tech support, while the Premium Edition comes with 24/7 support, Thadani said.

The new offerings and RHEL 5.4 with the KVM technology are key parts of a larger enterprise virtualisation strategy Red Hat laid out in February. Another key part—RHEV for Desktops—is in beta and will be generally available in early 2010, Thadani said. The desktop product is essentially an entire VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) management tool, he said.

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